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Healing begins with understanding

For 24-hour help contact National Domestic Abuse Hotline

Understanding destructive relationships

Domestic violence is all about power and control. It is characterized by a pattern of abusive behaviors that are intended to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner. It can be emotional, physical, sexual, economic, spiritual, or psychological, and can include any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone. If you constantly find yourself “walking on eggshells” in order to avoid upsetting your partner, you are likely in an abusive relationship.

When one person in the relationship clearly has more power than the other and consistently uses it to promote selfish interests,

that’s a clear sign that the problem is far more than just a marital problem. We believe one reason domestic abuse is so often mishandled and misunderstood is that it is often so covert. Most often, there is no physical injury at all. Victims describe themselves as anxious, confused, or depressed, but generally fail to identify what is truly happening in their relationships. 

To identify whether or not a relationship is abusive, we need to look for an overall pattern of coercive control. Do you feel free to express yourself? Do you feel as if the relationship is one-sided and only your partner benefits from it? Do you often feel afraid of upsetting your partner? Abuse can be very subtle, but the bottom line is that it diminishes who you are and gives extreme power to your partner. *

*Taken from Called to Peace: Companion Workbook by Joy Forrest . Blue Ink Press. Kindle Edition.

An introduction

Week after week in our support groups we have women who wonder if they really belong there.  Not only that, but pastors and counselors are hesitant to offer full support to a victim because they aren’t sure who or what to believe. It’s easier to believe it’s a marital problem rather than oppression. However, there are some rather clear patterns when it comes to domestic abuse.  At Called to Peace Ministries we seek to provide education and support to those in abusive situations, and to equip those who desire to help them.

Many survivors report their churches tend to only provide help if the abuse has been physical, not when the wounds are caused by harsh words and controlling behaviors and the victim is living in fear. Often church leaders are confused about how to proceed. We want to help guide you through these challenging situations.

Is it abuse?

Individuals affected by domestic abuse may experience many challenges, including: severe emotional distress and confusion, lack of effective counseling, and basic necessities, such as housing, employment, childcare and transportation.  Many choose to stay in abusive situations simply because of these limitations.

How we help

CTPM provides crisis counseling, advocacy, support groups, and practical support to survivors of abuse in order to help them bridge the gap from crisis to peace.

The Power and Control Wheel is based on surveys from over 200 victims of abuse. It reflects their common experiences of abuse. Called to Peace Ministries finds this tool to be accurate to the experiences of the women we serve.

What does Scripture say about abuse?

Using power and control to diminish others and to promote selfish interests stands in direct opposition to God’s heart for the weak, needy, and oppressed. Scripture uses the term oppression to describe such behavior and God clearly hates it (Is. 1:17, Ps. 147:7-9 Ex. 22:7). He commanded his people not to “lord it over” others (Mt. 20:25-28,1 Pet. 5:3). The Bible is filled with passages on God’s heart for the oppressed. In the New Testament, the religious leaders who opposed Jesus and the disciples provide us with clear examples of the abusive mindset—prideful, entitled, self-righteous, and self-promoting. Their agenda was to have more power than Jesus, and they stopped at nothing to get it. The same is true of abusive people. Therefore, we should never underestimate the potential for danger, even if the control has not yet escalated to physical injury. We should also understand the multiple impacts of all forms of abuse.

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, we find that these abusive traits are the exact opposite of God’s definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. We often ask those suffering in destructive relationships to read this passage, because it can also be a great way to help them determine whether their relationships are abusive. If you find yourself confused about what is happening in your relationship, you can take our quiz to learn more of the warning signs of abuse. Remember that God’s heart is for you, and he is calling you to peace (Ps. 56:9, 1 Cor. 7:15).

“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalms 82: 3-4 ESV