You have heard that a woman in your church left her husband. You have also heard that she is claiming he abused her. While you have never seen signs of this (he was such a great guy at church!), it is her claim. You are baffled because she never told you while she was with him (you wonder why? Kind of hurts a bit, even, that she didn’t mention it). You observe her in person . . . or on her blog or on Facebook. What makes things worse is that she seems to vacillate between this “hyper freedom cheer” and fear. She seems free . . . yet afraid . . . yet free . . . yet afraid. At times, she even seems angry. Angry at the church, at friends, at family, at the world. It seems she is going through a trauma. There are two paths you can take. You want to help. What will you do?
First, you could get on her blog and start posting about how Christians should not be angry, should not be disrespectful to their husband or should not (NOT) speak ill of the church. You could even contact her abuser and ask him whether or not he “really did it”. You could shake your head about the pain divorce causes. You could kind of stay away for a while because it is hard to know what is going on with her — she seems erratic! You could send her an email, maybe demand an explanation from her (surely, she has time for that, trauma or no trauma). Maybe she needs correction. It sounds like she is bitter . . . she needs a “sister” or “brother” to come alongside of her and point this out.
Sadly, friend, this is what I have seen in my life and in the lives of many abuse survivors I know. Don’t go this route. It will break her spirit. I promise. There is a better way . . .
Love her. I know it is challenging but, get your hands dirty. And I’m not talking about the “I will love her regardless of what she has done” kind of love. (We’re all in this boat together, aren’t we?).
What does she need right now? Do her children need clothes? Or Christmas gifts? Do they have food? Are they paying the bills? Does she need someone to watch the kids so she can heal? Or just go to the grocery store? Do you know a good counselor? Can she cry with you? Is she free to do that? Oh friend . . . please do not assume you know or understand her story. She, most likely, has so much unraveling to do. Her body might even be going through shock. She might be gaining new illnesses due to trauma. Does she need protection? Is she afraid? Is there a way to make her feel safe? These are all questions that will help you to think through the process of loving her.
She cannot handle inquisitiveness. She is trying to survive. Uphold her for a time. Find ways to support her. But, by all means . . . love her. Please.