Three Truths for the Abused Woman this Valentine’s Day

I wrote this a few years ago in honor of survivors that I know. I hope it reaches the ones who need it this year.

Your best IS good enough.

You try to do your best for him, but it’s never good enough, right? You follow all his rules, you don’t do any of the things that might make him mad, you try to always look good and say the right things… the list can go on and on, but inevitably, it’s not enough to keep him from hurting you again. And of course, it’s always YOUR fault when he does something hurtful to you. Let me remind you that you are human. You are not perfect, and you never will be in this world. Still, your best efforts are all that can be asked of you. In a healthy relationship, your best is good enough, and a mistake is never justification for doing harm. If you think that you will somehow get to a point where you make no “mistakes”, and then the abuse will stop, I am afraid that you will only discover that day will never come. Furthermore, I placed the word “mistakes” in quotations to make the point that most of the actions he calls mistakes on your part are not even errors, but rather behaviors that he sees as a threat to his control and power over you.

You are NOT alone, and others WILL believe you.

Google “Power and Control Wheel” and you will find a long list of abusive behaviors, some or many of which may resonate with you. I used to hand a paper copy of this list to women in court, and have seen so many respond by saying, “This is my life.” They thought no one would believe them if they attempted to describe their partner’s crazy behavior, and here they find that it’s so accurately delineated on this piece of paper. That can also be a powerful moment of the discovery of: “It’s not me; I’m not the problem!” The same discovery was also common in support groups, where women would hear others describing the abuse they endured and find their experiences to be so similar. In addition, let me just tell you that, in the time that I worked as a victim advocate and ever since, I have had so many individuals come to me to talk, either because they were in an abusive relationship or because they had a friend or family member in an abusive relationship. Let me assert: It’s everywhere! You may not realize just how many women are going through it, or have been through it before, because there’s often so much secrecy surrounding it. But let me assert one more time: You are not alone, and there are absolutely others who will believe you, because they have lived it!

The Bible does NOT condone domestic violence.

I once had a client whose “pastor” told her that if she left her husband, who had literally tried to kill her, she would go to hell. Let me first say that your eternal destiny depends on accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Let me also remind you that many who think they know what the Bible truly says are either misguided, deceived, or willingly twisting the truth. Let’s take the infamous “submission” passage so often thrown at women by abusive partners. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands,” the Bible says in Ephesians 5:22. Shall we keep reading the passage? “ Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it,” verse 25. If you read that entire passage, you find that it says a whole lot more to the husband than it does to the wife, including a command to love her as Christ loves the church. Christ gave his life for the church, He is forgiving, He is loving, He is patient, He is a best friend, He is kind. What a high level of behavior is expected then, even commanded, of the husband. Did you know that the Bible even tells the husband that his prayers to God will be hindered if he does not show honor to his wife? (I Peter 3:7). A further search of God’s Word will reveal many other passages that make it very clear that abusive behavior toward a wife and children are not condoned by Holy God. So, if your source is telling you otherwise, trying to use religion to control you, remember that Jesus Christ offers a relationship of love, freedom, rest, and peace, not a religion of bondage.

Much love to you, beautiful woman created by Almighty God. He has a plan for you. He can turn your weakness to strength, He can restore the years the locusts have eaten, and He can replace ashes with a crown of beauty.

May our nation put forth its best efforts to educate our youth about partner violence, and to protect those in danger.

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