Many who have never experienced abuse wonder why people choose to stay in it, why they never escape the perpetrator when they have the chance, or why they do not seek help.
(The following is from a perspective of a woman, understanding that males are abused as well.)
Women who are abused mentally, physically, or sexually endure extreme trauma. They are threatened with their life, with losing their children, with so many things in their life that it seems if they leave they will not even make it out alive. Their perpetrator holds so much over them or in front of them that they are not able to see the light at the end of the tunnel if they seek help.
Abused women are often not even capable of seeking help because they are watched so closely. If they are caught stepping outside of the line their abuser has placed them in, it is very likely that they will be battered even more so than normal for attempting something that is unapproved of by the abuser.
More often than not, you see these women that are being abused in your daily life. The woman with marks all over her where she fell into something or the cat scratched her, read further into what she is saying. She is afraid to tell you because of the backlash she will get from telling you. The woman who is not allowed to hang out with any of her friends, the one that is not allowed to work and must stay home by force, the one who is not allowed out of sight of her male counterpart when in public, all of these women need your voice to speak up for them.
If anyone ever confides in you about any type of abuse they experience, they need you. They need you to listen to them and to support them. They need to be able to trust you and not be afraid of telling you. They need you. Try not to question them in a degrading manner. Questions such as “Why in the world are you not leaving him?” “Well girl just hit him back!” and other such questions/remarks. That portrays to her that you are not willing to be understanding and is most likely going to tear down her courage she worked up to tell you about what she’s going through. Rather, listen to her. Try to pick up all of the details. Encourage her to get help. Help her find help. Find her a safe place to stay whether with you, with family, or in a safe house. Safe houses can be hard to find because they are secret to the public. Because they are intended to be a “safe” house. Contact your local police department to inquire about these options. They may not be open to telling you about the safe house due to keeping it a secret. Don’t be offended, it is for the safety of the people who have to stay in it for the safety of their lives. Gather your friend, tell her you have help for her and encourage her to try it out. The information can and will be given to her. Her safety is of utmost importance.
Most likely she will be emotionally distraught and you will probably not even understand her rationale or emotions on what she says and thinks, just be there to listen. Build her up with confidence and surround her with safety.
You may encounter women who have experienced abuse in their past and no longer live in it. Remember that even though they no longer experience such abuse on a daily basis, the memories live on in their head. Many survive the abuse in their life but have a daily battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). When she jumps out of her skin hearing someone yell, a door slam, or a husky voice that sounds all to similar to her perpetrator, say something kind to her to bring her back to reality. Wrap her in a hug “just because”. You don’t have to mention that you know what she is going through unless she invites you too, but just let her know you are there and try really hard to bring her mind back to the moment where she is safe and unharmed. Encourage these friends to go to therapy. Therapy can carry such a stigma in many peoples minds, but y’all therapy is so beneficial to so many. Therapy can help tear away the woman’s PTSD, it can help her to find confidence and courage in her day to day life, and it can be helpful for her to just voice everything she has been through in her mind. Often times being able to voice what you witness and experience is one of the best ways to get it off repeat in your mind.
Your most powerful tool for these women and men is prayer. Pray so fervently for these people. Pray for a way of escape. Pray that they will see the light at the end of the tunnel and have the courage to escape their abusers. Pray for their safety. Pray for their children. Pray for the things you cannot comprehend knowing the Lord understands and He can intervene. Prayer is the best tool you have. Use it!
Another thing to keep in mind is the children. Children are often abused in these situations as well, but when they are not abused, they still encounter it. They deal with the same trauma, so everything that is said for the abused woman goes for the woman’s children as well. If your own child tells you things that seem a little off about one of their friends at school be aware of it. Try to watch for signs and clues so that you may help that family. You may be the only one that notices these things. You may be that family’s rescue. Not to put pressure on you because things happen and they are out of our control, but just simply trying is what is most important.
So guys, be aware. Be aware that there are people who are abused every single day. You probably walk past a multitude of them in the grocery store. You literally see them on a daily basis. They are disguised. They are hidden behind fake smiles. They are silent when with their partner. They are skittish. Be aware friends. Help save a life ❤
National Domestic Violence Hot line: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
A Live Chat for domestic violence: https://www.thehotline.org/what-is-live-chat/
If you are a woman or man that is abused, be encouraged to reach out to someone. Find someone who is trustworthy and tell them. You DO NOT have to stay in this. You CAN be given safety.
The true meaning of love is this: “1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
No form of abuse is justified at all by God’s word. You do not have to stay in it friend. Reach out. Seek help.
Friends who are not abused, do not be intimated, but be encouraged to help your people find safety.