Domestic Violence Is Evil And Hurts Gods Heart

by Yvonne Chase on October 4, 2021

In my last post, Agape Love Does Not Stay In Abuse, I talked about the church’s response to domestic violence. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. According to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) and the CDC:

  • On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
  • On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
  • Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.
  • Domestic victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.
  • About 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men report having experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • For black men and women, the numbers are disproportionately higher due to systemic racism. 45.1% of Black women and 40.1% of Black men have experienced intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.
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So, what is IPV? Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), often known as domestic violence, is any pattern of behavior intended to maintain power and control over an intimate partner in a relationship. It can be physical, sexual, emotional, financial, or psychological. Threatening to cause harm of any kind is IPV and it includes any behavior that intimidates, terrorizes, manipulates, hurts, humiliates, blames, injures, or wounds someone.

IPV Typologies Include:

Intimate Terrorism (IT)
  • Battering
  • One directional
  • Mostly male perpetrated
  • Goal: to gain power and control over a partner
Violence Resistance (VR)
  • Victim uses nonviolent and violent acts to retaliate against partner’s control
  • Goal: regain control. Mostly women find themselves in IT
Mutual Violence Control (MVC)
  • Both partners commit IT
  • Each exerting control and wrestling for control of the relationship
Situational Couple Violence (SCV)
  • Intermittent pattern of minor violence during conflicts
  • Asymmetrical/symmetrical
  • Men and women
  • Usually not fearful
  • Goal: to gain control of a specific situation

The most severe form of IPV is Intimate Terrorism. The most common form of IPV is Psychological/emotional IPV because it is highly debilitating and has long-lasting effects like chronic illness, depression, and increased anxiety levels. Combined with partner control, it is a significant predictor for negative mood and psychosomatic complaints. Homicide is the least likely outcome of SCV; however, it is the most feared outcome by victims of IT and much more likely to happen in IT than in SCV. Women are most likely the victims and males the offender. Unfortunately, we saw this in the case of Gabriel Petito. As with most abusive relationships, the public image (Instagram photos that show a happy couple) does not match the private reality.

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In an interview with People magazine, Gabby’s father said her story has given others the courage to leave toxic relationships; “So many stories are sent to us about relationships being left with proper planning for safety, and people are being found due to her influence. We have much more work to do, but it’s a start.” Although Gabby’s story is not connected to the church, it is a cautionary tale for pastors and leaders to get the proper training to provide wise counsel. They need to know that the most dangerous time for the abused is when they decide to leave; therefore, safety planning needs to be in place.

I believe Gabby wanted to leave that relationship but like many victims, she was afraid. Even when the police pulled the van over and asked her about the physical scars and offered her a way out, she blamed herself by saying she slapped Brian first. Abuse victims often blame themselves because they are gaslit into believing it’s their fault. I hate everything about this story because Gabby didn’t have to die. More could’ve been done during the traffic stop to prevent it. I hope they find Brian Laundrie soon and hold him accountable for her murder.

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When it comes to marriage, leaving doesn’t always mean divorce. It didn’t for Donna, who says:

Yvonne, standing with you on this, I was in an abusive marriage, and praise God my pastor counseled me to "leave." He did not recommend I immediately pursue divorce but to remove myself from harm and get to a safe place. He said it was NOT love to stay in that situation. He counseled us individually and eventually together. God did work in the situation, healing my husband and subsequently our marriage. We will celebrate 34 years of marriage this December, which would never have happened apart from my pastor's counsel. I realize not all abuse stories have a happy ending (My daughters' is one example), But no woman should stay in an abusive relationship; that is not love. I remember my pastor said marriage is to be an illustration of Christ and His bride the church; an abusive marriage mars that image, and apart from God's healing, it should not continue.

At the website abusecare.org, run by Charlene Quint, J.D. Certified Domestic Violence Professional, and the author of Overcoming the Narcissist, Sociopath, Psychopath, and Other Domestic Abusers, Charlene says, “Women of faith stay in abusive marriages and relationships significantly longer than other women. Many women of faith mistakenly believe, or have received misguided advice, that the Scriptures command them to stay in abusive marriages.” Charlene believes the church must call domestic abuse what it is: evil and it must support victims of abuse, hold abusers accountable, and have nothing to do with those who abuse. Amen!

In closing, abuse is about power and control, the opposite of God’s plans for husbands, wives, and families. If the church doesn’t change its counsel to women and people in abusive relationships, what happened to Gabby Petito could very well become the norm. The church must have zero tolerance for abuse and they must understand the cunning and calculated behavior of abusers like Brian who are cooperative and polite in public but monsters in private.

Something to think about…

What say you? How can the church do better in it’s response to domestic violence? 

Here are 2 things I’d like you to do now:

1. Leave a comment below

2. Share this post if you like it

If you or a loved one is a victim of domestic violence please reach out. It could save a life. For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

References

Barnett, O., Miller-Perrin, C.L., & Perrin, R.D. (2005). Family Violence Across the Lifespan: An introduction. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Hines, D.A., & Malley-Morrison, K. (2005). Family violence in the United States: Defining, understanding, and combating abuse. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

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