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.
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.
Caught in Domestic Violence
This is perhaps the most difficult aspect of domestic violence to understand, “Why on earth do women stay?” The explanations of course are not simple and it is hoped that the following explanations will provide you with some insight into the dilemma that many victims find themselves in and thus increase your understanding, compassion and patience. Becoming frustrated with the victim who seems unwilling or unable to change her circumstances is only playing into the perpetrator’s evil scheme of isolating his victim from those who care.
Economic Dependence, Many victims of domestic violence find themselves trapped in a prison where they are bound by financial dependence upon their abuser and the constant fear of reprisals keep countless sufferers of domestic violence locked within a marital hell. Often victims have little or no access to domestic finance yet they are still expected to provide for the family. I have repeatedly heard stories of families where men have purchased top quality food and either locked it in the larder or displayed it with threats that he will beat anyone who touches it. Which, of course, is a form of physical abuse.
Emotional Distortion, Many victims of domestic violence find themselves trapped in a prison of emotional self blame, or the perplexing emotional feelings of loving their abuser. Because they know what he was like before the violence, they cling to the hope that this phase in their relationship will pass. For Christian women, there is the pressure to believe in the power of prayer to change their abuser. Of course, God is a miracle working God and he can change any perpetrator. However, until that moment comes, victims should be encouraged to consider their, and possibly their child/ren’s, safety. A victim does not need to stay and be a martyr to see her perpetrator changed.
Serious Responsibility Despite the irresponsible behaviour of their partner towards his children, victims take their responsibility for their children seriously, sacrificing their own safety for their children and even projecting the reputation of their father, by covering up for him. The reality most likely is friends, family and even the child/ren, already know of the evil behaviour, but fearful if they say anything it will only make the situation worse.
Fear of Reprisals, Many women are justifiably fearful that leaving the relationship will not end the violence. Many women are pursued and further abused when they leave. It is a ’Catch 22’ situation, whereby they are beaten if they stay and risk being killed if they leave. Many women are more at risk of being killed either at the point of leaving or when they have just left.
Lack of knowledge and access to help, Many people don’t consider an issue until it knocks on their door and so many women have little awareness of the support and services that are available to help them deal with domestic violence. Ministers and Church Workers would be of tremendous support if they kept themselves up to date with local support services for victim. Recently I spoke to several Ministers about what they do when victims of domestic violence come to them for help and advice, all said they would refer them to the local shelter. What they all failed to realise was that the shelter they were sending victims to had closed down a year previous!
Social Isolation, Feelings of “Shame” because society will label their marriage a bad marriage or she is a bad wife or mother, often force victims to isolate themselves from friends and family, this feeling of “Shame” is more intense within the Christian community. Many victims isolate themselves simply because others don’t seem to believe or understand their abuse. Some victims have been restricted by their partner because they fear another beating.
Stockholm syndrome, Suggests that because of the threats of death from a victim’s abuser not being carried out, create feelings of gratitude and interdependence that keeps the victim with their abuser.
The following is excerpted from Domestic Violence Response Training Curriculum, November 1991, by Jeri Martinez.
The Stockholm Syndrome is an emotional attachment, a bond of interdependence between captive and captor that develops ‘when someone threatens your life, deliberates, and doesn’t kill you’. (Symonds, 1980). The relief resulting from the removal of the threat of death generates intense feelings of gratitude and fear which combine to make the captive reluctant to display negative feelings toward the captor or terrorist. In fact, former hostages have visited their captors in jail, recommended defence counsel, and even started a defence fund. It is this dynamic which causes former hostages and abuse survivors to minimize the damage done to them and refuse to cooperate in prosecuting their tormentor.