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Don't Tolerate Abuse

  • Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
  • 2001 1 Sep
Don't Tolerate Abuse
When someone is constantly criticizing or controlling you, it's easy to feel bad about yourself. But you're made in God's image, and therefore are very valuable. Your dignity should always be respected.
Abuse is especially difficult when you have a close relationship with the person abusing you. But God never expects you to tolerate abuse, and will always help you overcome it.
Here are some ways you can deal with abusive behavior:

  • Realize that God has created you to be a unique person with unique perspectives, and that you have a right to your points of view. Give yourself permission to reflect on your own thoughts, feelings and circumstances in life, perhaps through journaling. Pray for God to give you confidence in yourself as His unique and beloved child.
  • If the abuse is physical or sexual in nature, you should immediately escape from the situations in which you encounter the abuse and isolate yourself from the person abusing you. This is vital for your own protection. Realize the extreme seriousness of physical and sexual abuse - they're both considered crimes. Pray for the courage to escape from danger, then contact a domestic abuse hotline (listed in your phone book) or a trusted friend or family member for support. You may be able to return later if the person who was abusing you seeks help for his or her behavior and undergoes healing so he or she can relate to you in healthy ways.
  • If the abuse is verbal or emotional, it's still serious in God's eyes. Know that if you change your behavior as you interact with the person who is abusing you - even if that person doesn't change his or her behavior - the dynamics of your relationship will change. Encourage the person abusing you to seek counseling or other help for his or her behavior, but realize that you cannot change him or her, no matter how hard you try - only God can -- if the person is willing. But realize that you have the power to impact the person abusing you by acting differently yourself.
  • Make time every day to seek God's will for how you should deal with your particular situation. Spend at least a few minutes praying about the abuse and listening for God's direction through Scripture and the Holy Spirit.
  • Train yourself to listen to God's voice rather than the voice of the person abusing you. Be honest with yourself about the extent to which abusive words and actions are damaging you. Embrace God's truth about yourself.
  • Confront abusive words and actions by communicating that you don't agree with them. Demonstrate self-respect to show the person abusing you that you have newfound confidence.
  • Seek regular support - through prayers and other help you might need - from people in your congregation, other friends, and family members. When discussing the abuse with them, however, try not to use them as vehicles to get revenge on the person abusing you. Instead, keep the goal of potentially reconciling with the person in mind, and embrace the hope that God offers you for the future.

Adapted from When the Man You Love Treats You Like the Woman He Hates: How to Deal with Abusive Behavior from Those You Love the Most, copyright 2001 by David B. Hawkins. Published by Victor, an imprint of Cook Communications Ministries, Colorado Springs, Colo., www.ivictor.com, 1-800-437-4337.

Dr. David B. Hawkins is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice who specializes in domestic violence, adult and family issues, and marriage enrichment.

Have you ever known anyone in an abusive relationship? If so, how have you seen God at work in that situation? Visit Live It's forum to respond, or to read what others have to say. Just click on the link below.