12. Insincerely repentant. He/she will swear to never “behave like that again.” But unless an abuser receives professional help and solid accountability it’s unlikely the abuse will disappear.    

After marriage these behaviors typically escalate, therefore it’s crucial to recognize the warning signs now. Tell someone you can trust, and get help. And don’t believe the lie that it’s not abuse until he/she hits you.

When an abuser loses control they often react with rage and the abuse intensifies. Therefore, make a plan before breaking off the relationship. Contact a counselor or local domestic abuse hotline and/or safe house in your community.

This insight is for church leaders. In my 20 years of ministry I’ve watched numerous abusers deceive and manipulate the church. He/she often knows exactly what to say and do to get the church “on their side.” Although Christians are called to be loving and kind, we should not ignore toxic, sinful behavior. That is neither love or compassion.

Copyright © 2009 Laura Petherbridge. All rights reserved

Laura Petherbridge is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on relationships, divorce prevention, and divorce recovery. She is the author of When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce, and a featured expert on the DivorceCare DVD series. Her newest book The Smart Stepmom, will be released in September of 2009. Her website is www.Laurapetherbridge.com.


[1]  USA Today, July 1, 2009, “Sanford Speaks of Forbidden Love”