Thursday Thought — Helping Victims
Not all victims leave abusive relationships. Sometimes a victim will stay in an abusive relationship even when her Christian supporters believe that she should separate for safety’s sake. Often the victim will go back to an abuser many times, despite the doubts of others about the abuser’s genuine repentance.
Supporters can do some things to help such a victim assess the reality of her situation: listen with concern but without judgment, help her to think about her predicament, show you care for her safety and explain the biblical principles covered in this book. The abuse has eroded her sense of value and autonomy; she needs to redevelop it and can only do this if she is encouraged and allowed to make biblical choices at her own pace. A victim needs to know that her supporters will be available, providing nurture and guidance, whether she stays in the relationship, or whether she leaves.
A female victim is at greatest danger around the time of separation. The risk of being murdered by her husband goes up by about 50% when she leaves him. Post-separation abuse often continues for months (years in the most serious cases). The practical life issues the victim faces are usually very complex. Finances, safety, arresting, property and other issues are often intertwined.
The pastor cannot necessarily assist with all of these areas, but the wider church community can help if they are motivated and equipped. Secular organizations can provide advice and literature to help equip a congregation in many of the practical details. However, the role of remedying the victim’s spiritual misunderstandings rests primarily with the church. Often victims are not ready to look at the scriptural issues until months or years after separation when life has become more settled. Other victims need answers to the scriptural aspects first, before they dare take action on the practicalities.
(excerpt from Barbara Roberts’ book, Not Under Bondage. p33)