Discipling people with addictions

These are pages taken from our ‘Good News For Real Life’ booklet. They contain short introductions to some common pastoral struggles. Think of them as conversation-starters to help us begin to understand and respond to complex issues. Not as experts but as brothers and sisters in Christ — pointing one another to Jesus with words of hope and grace.


In other words: to walk together as those with good news for real life

WHAT IS DOMESTIC ABUSE?

Families are supposed to be places of safety and love but all too often they are places of pain. Domestic abuse is the term that describes the worst of that pain. It covers a range of problems between adults in the family home including: violence, threats, sexual coercion, emotional manipulation and the exercise of control by removing someone’s access to friends, money or freedom. It can occur between husbands and wives, grown-up siblings or adult children and their parents – both women and men can be victims. 

HOW DOES DOMESTIC ABUSE WORK?

It often begins with one person seeking more control – and assuming they are entitled to get that control. Maybe they want something simple like a quiet life, an ordered home, but they want it so much they are willing to wound others to get it. At first, the demands for order may seem reasonable but then threats and fear are introduced. Soon one person lives under the power of another, feeling they have no voice of their own. Violence may be meted out when the victim fails to comply with their abuser’s unreasonable demands. Victims often remain silent assuming no-one will believe their relative could ever act in that way – or assuming they deserve the pain they are receiving. 

WHAT IMPACT DOES DOMESTIC ABUSE HAVE?

The effects of domestic abuse can be devastating. Sometimes the physical wounds can require hospitalisation – sometimes they even lead to death – but even when violence is absent, the victim can quickly lose their sense of identity and hope. They may believe their abuser’s lies that the problems in the home are all the victim’s fault. They tend to see themselves as useless, worthless individuals who fail at every turn. And they often earnestly believe that if they could just try harder, everything would be OK. Sometimes they think God must view them in the same way, that their heavenly Father is a hard task-master who sees them as unlovable and expects them to work at being better before they can be accepted.

HOW CAN I HELP SOMEONE WHO IS STRUGGLING WITH DOMESTIC ABUSE?

Believe them and listen to their story – show them they are not alone

If there is risk to life, call 999 – if children are involved, notify the safeguarding team

Pray for them and the person hurting them

Help them understand that violence and manipulation is never OK (Amos 2)

Help them see that biblical submission is not the same as accepting abuse (Ephesians 5)

Ask if they want to report ongoing abuse and, if they do, offer to stand by them

Encourage them to get medical help and to explore housing / legal options

Help them see themselves as God sees them (Ephesians 1)

Help them see we are saved, and called to live, by grace not law (Ephesians 2)

Help them know that God wants them to have a full life (John 10)

Help them to run towards God when they are feeling scared (Psalm 18)

Help them see the power of the Spirit who equips them to move towards freedom

FURTHER READING

Walking with Domestic Abuse Sufferers by Helen Thorne (IVP)

National Domestic Violence helpline: 0808 2000 247

More about the author :

Helen Thorne

Helen Thorne