2. Chris Moles is teaching some things about domestic abuse well
Here are the helpful things Chris Moles is saying to the visible church:
- He has a pretty good definition of domestic abuse.
- He dispels some of the myths about domestic abuse.
- He describes the tactics used by abusive men.
- He understands the impact on children.
- He gives some good advice to pastors and counselors.
- He explains the language tricks which are used to make perpetrators invisible.
- He encourages the church to improve its theology of oppression.
- He gets the gender thing right. ( I will cover that in my next post in this series.)
My citations of Chris’s work are almost always given in bullet points. The source of the citation is shown in grey with each source designated by a different capital letter. The Chris Moles Digest has a legend which links to each item by Chris Moles signified by a capital letter.
1. He has a pretty good definition of domestic abuse
He defines it as an abuse of power manifested through selfishly motivated patterns of behavior to exercise or maintain control. (C 24:40, 37:38, 55:09)
2. He dispels some of the myths
- It is wrong to think that domestic violence is primarily a criminal justice problem (C 4:50, M 12)
- It is wrong to think that the wife is responsible for domestic violence because she’s not submitting enough or whatever (which is victim blaming and very dangerous) (C 15:25, M 15)
- Domestic abuse is not an anger problem. (M 10, C 10:25,)
- Domestic abuse is not a marriage problem. (M 13, C 12:20)
- Domestic abuse is a problem in the heart of abuser. (M 17)
- Abusive men desire to gain or maintain power and control. They use a variety of tactics to achieve this: physical force, intimidation, ridicule, isolation, denial and blame, using the children, male privilege, economics [financial abuse], and coercion and threats. (M 22-27)
- The abuser’s hurtful behavior escalates as time goes on (E 21:00).
3. He describes the tactics used by abusive men
- He gives many illustrations of coercive control, verbal and emotional abuse, physical abuse, economic abuse, threats, isolation, sexual abuse, intimidation. (C, E, M chapter 2)
- He mentions some of the big red flags for lethality: abuse of pets, threats of suicide, strangulation (E).
But note: he doesn’t mention rape as a red flag for lethality. If the abuser rapes the target woman, she is at higher risk of being killed than a woman whose abuser does not use rape as part of his arsenal.
One flaw in his work is that he doesn’t discuss sexual abuse much at all. I wish Chris would read our Don Hennessy Digest. But at least he recently shared on his blog the 3-part series by Darby Strickland on sexual abuse in marriage.
4. He understands the impact on children
His presentation The Impact of Abuse on Children (G) is excellent apart from one very weird ‘joke’ he makes at 49:17.
5. He gives some good advice to pastors and counselors
- It’s simplistic to think, “We just have to break the Cycle of Abuse.” Each victim’s experience is different, and not all victims experience the Cycle of Abuse. (P)
- He tells church leaders, “Don’t steam roll the victim; don’t pretend you are the victim’s messiah.” (C 1:06:45).
- The “witnesses” in a Matthew 18 process can be a victim’s diary entries or electronic/digital evidence of the abuser’s conduct. (L 41:10- 42:14)
- If you are a pastor and receive a disclosure, believe her. Listen and affirm what you’re hearing. … Assure her. Assist her. And document: you never know when it may be necessary to disclose that info for her protection and safety. (F 48:20)
- He describes coercive control using the metaphor that ‘we [pastors/counselors] never see the whole train’ (E 01:00).
- He mentions the case of Stacey Peterson who disclosed the abuse to her pastor Neil Schori, and was later killed by her husband.(F) That case shows how important it is for pastors to document everything the victim has disclosed about her fear of her husband and his conduct. And he mentions the Document The Abuse app.
- He understands that it is appropriate to set boundaries on abusers and give them consequences if they break the boundaries, and that forgiveness does not remove consequences (even jail) (F 54:20, M 91)
- He reminds pastors that God hates the wicked and those who love violence. (M 88)
6. He explains the language tricks which are used to make perpetrators invisible
“John beats Mary,” becomes “Mary was beaten by John,” becomes “Mary was beaten,” becomes “Mary is a battered woman.” The perpetrator has been rendered invisible and Mary’s identity is flattened so that she is seen as simply and only a “battered woman”. And Mary’s abuser has become invisible. (F 23:38)
7. He encourages the church to improve its theology of oppression
- In some circumstance suffering can and should be avoided. (F 34:05)
- If we don’t balance our theology of suffering with our theology of oppression, we run the risk of putting the victim in harm’s way. (C 18:32)
He articulates how he applies a theology of oppression to abusers:
- Psalm 34 says, The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their cry, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
- He says he loves the language of God towards oppressors in the Bible. It’s imperative that we love men enough to tell them and show them how opposed they are to God. (C 43:45)
- If the sheep are suffering from wolves, what shepherd blames the sheep? Can you imagine the shepherd offering excuses for the wolves? … No, the shepherd gathers the sheep for protection and when possible addresses the behavior of the wolves. (M 15)
Our Chris Moles Digest has links to all the posts in this series, and a legend for the cited items.