from “BHCM Planning Manual – Chapter 13: Domestic Violence and Abuse”

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WHAT IS ABUSE?

Abuse is any attitude or behavior that endangers a person’s emotional, physical or spiritual well-being, endangers his/her life. That prevents a person from reaching his/her full potential or prevents developing a close relationship with other persons and his/her Lord and Savior.

The person sitting next to you in church may be a victim of abuse. You will not see the wounds and scars caused by abuse because the victim usually is careful to keep them hidden. The victim frequently protects the abuser out of fears, love, shame – sometimes all three. Victims often take out their frustrations and rage upon others. Entire families are adversely affected by abuse. And, abuse can become a vicious cycle passed on from generation to generation.

Adults may not realize that they are abusive when they scream at, hit, neglect, demean or sexually molest others in their family. Such behaviors may seem normal to them since such behaviors were part of their own upbringing. The cycle of abuse must be broken, but it will probably not happen unless the abuser recognizes the problem and is willing to change.

Victims of abuse, both children and adults, often hide their wounds by calling them “accidents.” Emotional wounds become emotional scars that may last a life time.

The root cause of abuse is the need for power, to exert power over someone. Abusers MUST have power and control over their victims. Power may be gained through the use of intimidation, threat, isolation, emotional or physical battering, economic control, or sexual abuse. Ninety percent of reported cases of abuse are against male abusers. The low incidence of reports against female abusers may be because men are slow to admit that they are victims.

Some Definitions:
-Battering is a pattern of physical assault, threat or restraint.
-Emotional abuse includes behaviors that degrade or make a person feel worthless, helpless or afraid.
-Sexual abuse is mistreatment through sexual name-calling or forcing sexual activity upon an unwilling partner.

WHAT CAN WE DO?
1. Ask the Lord to help us deal with this grave problem.
2. Acknowledge the reality of abuse.
3. Study the issue of abuse and domestic violence to minister to both the abused and the abuser.
4. Teach adults and children how to protect themselves from abuse and work to stop abusive behavior.
5. Help families break the cycle of abuse or prevent it through positive family life education.
6. Offer support and healing resources to those victimized by abuse.
7. Reach out to abusers and work therapeutically to help them change their behaviors.
8. Help dysfunctional families find appropriate counseling.

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