What About Abuse?

When we talk about standing for your marriage or keeping your covenant, often people in abusive relationships believe we are saying they should continue taking abuse in the name of faithfulness. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Abuse, whether verbal, physical, psychological, or sexual, is one of the many ways the enemy attacks relationship. When you make the choice to stand against the enemy and agree with God, it is important that you separate natural things from spiritual things.

People who abuse others are operating out of their own wounding and many times have been abused themselves. I am not excusing the behavior, but I do acknowledge that Jesus Christ died for that person and wants to see him or her healed and restored just as much as He desires the same for the one being abused.

Many times abuse begins long before marriage. The one being abused grows to accept the behavior and might even expect it to change after the wedding. As you well know if you have been abused, it only gets worse as time goes on.

Whether abuse begins early in a relationship or develops over time, it demoralizes the one being abused. Fear, guilt, blame, and shame accompany abuse. In the cycle of abuse, the one being abused may assume responsibility for the reaction of the abuser. “If only I hadn’t done this or said that. It’s my fault.”

Additionally, the abuser often follows abuse with a showering of attention and/or gifts to reaffirm his or her “love” for the one abused. This can give hope to the abused one that things are changing. Promises that it will never happen again, though, soon disappear as the cycle repeats itself over and over again.

If you are in that type of relationship, you need to seek help. Standing for your marriage does not mean accepting abuse. If you or your children or another member of your family is in physical danger, you need to take measures to get out of danger. There is a huge difference between that, though, and divorce.

The world, and unfortunately many Christian counselors, believe the only way to deal with abuse is to get rid of the abuser. Finding a counselor who will help you reach a safe place and help you heal, but not tell you to walk out of the marriage is extremely difficult. If we were simply dealing with human behavior and the world’s way of handling it, I could understand their point. But we are not!

Scripture tells us that we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus. His blood paid the price to overcome sin. The power of His love and forgiveness are not reserved just for those that we deem “redeemable”, but extends to all through His faith for them. Scripture after scripture speaks of the power we have in the Spirit to overcome and to walk in victory. We are not victims when we are in Christ. We are victors!

I know that what I am saying is not easy to hear, but far too often we have seen people walk out of a marriage without ever dealing with their own issues. Often they walk right back into a similar situation. You are not responsible for the behavior of the abuser, but you can be obedient for yourself and allow the Lord to bring healing and restoration to your life

As you begin healing and growing stronger, you can start to identify the enemy operating through your spouse and learn to take authority over that activity. Again, it does not mean you have to subject yourself to the behavior, but you learn that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. My husband was never physically abusive, but his verbal abuse viciously attacked both our children and me. Over time I learned how to silence those spirits when they were in my presence because they had to submit to Jesus Christ within me. Eventually they had to release their hold on my husband as the transforming power of Jesus changed his heart and life.

So, if you are married to someone who is abusing you, get help. Recognize the difference between finding a safe place and divorcing. Find a counselor who will help you face the issues of your own heart and help you heal. Learn who you truly are in Christ and how precious you are to Him! Grow strong in the Spirit. And then ask the Lord how to stand and pray for your spouse to be set free from the enemy’s hold. Love, Marilyn

Romans 8; 1 John 4:4; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Nehemiah 4:14

Author: Marilyn Phillipps

Married 49 years, we have three children and six grandchildren. My initial career of nursing prepared me to work with marriages that are wounded and in need of healing. For 35 my husband and I have led 2=1 International, a ministry to marriages and families around the world. We have seen miracle after miracle when many had given up hope.