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Summary: This teaching is taken from my book “Beaten, Battered, Bruised & Blessed” (Christians Recognizing and Responding to Domestic Violence) more information can be found at www.c21c.org My prayer is it will help you in Pastoral ministry.

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This teaching is taken from my book “Beaten, Battered, Bruised & Blessed” (Christians Recognizing and Responding to Domestic Violence) more information can be found at www.c21c.org My prayer is it will help you in Pastoral ministry.

Catching Sight of the Signs of Domestic Violence

Social awareness of domestic violence often fails to recognise the extent of the abuse. Media reports of domestic murders tend to give high priority to the present situation, which is often when a person has been killed, they frequently fail to report or highlight the years of domestic violence that women and/or children suffer before they either hit back or are killed.

Because of the misrepresentation of the issues involved in domestic violence it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of domestic violence, particularly if you are concerned about the domestic circumstances of a woman. However, it would be wise not to jump to conclusions and bear in mind there may be another and reasonable explanation to the following.

David in Psalm 140 clearly knew what it was to live with the threat of violence;

Rescue me, O LORD, from evil men; protect me from men of violence, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips. Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from men of violence who plan to trip my feet.

Signs of Physical Injuries

If a woman has a noticeable physical injury, enquire about it with sensitivity. Don’t close your eyes to it. Your enquiry may be the opportunity she has been waiting for. She may not have the confidence to talk to someone, she may be thinking no one cares or no one will believe her especially in a church environment. It will be a relief for her to verbalise it. Continue to be sensitive to her embarrassment and don’t push too hard for an explanation, wait for her response don’t jump to the conclusion of your suspicions. She may, because of the control she is under, not want to tell anyone by insisting that her injuries have been caused by an accident. Suggest that you feel there may be another explanation without accusations, assure the woman of your availability to discuss other explanations, in confidence. Respect her decision to remain silent but be observant for the occasion on which she may change her mind. The knowledge that you are there and willing to believe her story can be a factor in coming to the point of taking positive action to break the cycle of abuse.

Violence and violent men is clearly something that God hates and will punish;

The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulphur;

a scorching wind will be their lot. (Ps 11:5-6)

Symptoms of Depression

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, Prov 12:25

Be watchful for indicators of depression and anxiety which may indicate long term emotional or psychological abuse. These symptoms can be demonstrated in anger, low self esteem, suicidal thoughts or a lack of personal hygiene. Women vary in their reactions to violence in the home. Bear in mind non-physical abuse can have equally devastating effects as physical assault. In communicating the issue of depression or discouragement consider mentioning that a root of a woman’s depression could well be domestic violence

Serial Medical Problems

If you are concerned about a woman’s continual and perhaps unexplainable health problems, this may be an indicator of domestic violence. Does she have chronic complaints of poor health? Does she make frequent visits to the doctors or hospitals? Does she overuse tranquilizers or alcohol or abuse drugs? Does she talk about sleeping difficulties?

Stories of Violence

Listen to how a woman you are concerned for talks about her family background. She may reveal information that she or her partner grew up in a family where the mother was a victim of domestic violence. Domestic violence is sometimes excused “because that’s just the way it is in our family,” so therefore, talking about a family history of domestic violence may well be a victim’s means of justifying the evil of this abuse.

Soliciting Financial Support

The woman you are concerned about may be in a relationship where she suffers economic abuse. The soliciting loans from the church and its members may be an indicator of domestic violence. Enquiries about how much control she has over their finances may help you to discover that the issue may not be one of her poor financial management but that she has limited control over or access to domestic finances. There may well be threats hanging over her, that if she does not provide she will suffer for it, however, she may not have enough money to provide for daily necessities.

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