What do you consider “normal” conflict in a relationship? Seriously, think about it. What’s normal? Is it normal to fight? Is it normal to have a little jealousy from time to time? What about being critical or bossy?
So how far is too far?
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, and my entire life is now committed to raising awareness of this evilness that often gets overlooked or even excused!
The above examples are completely normal parts of many relationships. We are human, and humans don’t always treat other humans like priceless treasures – that’s just fact.
Another fact, however, is that there is a subset of the population that sees other humans as prey. They want to manipulate and control others, crave power and even sometimes fame, and they will stop at nothing to get it. These people are called abusers and some of them fall into the category of narcissists, psychopaths, and sociopaths.
The people that abuse others lack empathy, meaning they can’t “put themselves in someone else’s shoes,” and they are addicted to power and control. Not all of them are easy to spot though – and sometimes abusive relationships fly under the radar for DECADES.
The following examples are red flags that something has gone wrong and it’s time to get out and get safe..
- Blame-shifting and imposing unearned guilt
- Denying abuse
- Gas-lighting (presenting an alternate reality and making you believe it so you think you’re crazy)
- Habitually insulting their spouse or partner and putting them down
- Controlling who their partner talks to, where they go, who they hang out with, and when they can leave the house
- Making their partner or spouse feel like they are worthless and can’t do anything without them
- Physical violence (This can be bodily harm AND/OR property damage)
- Threats and intimidation
- Forced sex or uninvited sexual advancements (Even if you’re married!!)
- Claiming spiritual authority over others
- People walk on eggshells around them
- Perfection that is followed by consequences for failure
- Consistently crossing personal boundaries
These are just a small handful of some red flags associated with domestic abuse (aka intimate partner violence).
So why is it so important that we raise awareness?
Because so often the victims don’t know what’s going on, don’t realize they’re being abused, or are denying it and it ends up causing life-long trauma to their brains, bodies, and families. Did you know that according to the CDC, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience some form of intimate partner violence at some point in their lives? (That’s a lot, btw). Even more – 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetimes. With these statistics, it’s incredible the number of people who have no idea that someone close to them is being abused. What’s worse – when the light finally is shed on the situation, so many people have no clue what to do! Victims so often don’t know how to get out, and families and loved ones don’t know how to help, most of the time.
Here are some tips for helping someone if you suspect abuse:
1. KNOW THE SIGNS. Don’t overlook or excuse the red flags and signs that you’re noticing. Pay attention.
2. LISTEN. Listen to them. Don’t pry, don’t push, and don’t get frustrated. They know what they are experiencing – but they may not know what to call it. So let them talk to process it.
3. BE PATIENT. It can take a long time for someone to accept the truth. They won’t be able to hear it and accept it until they are ready. So continue to listen and be patient in their process.
4. BE SUPPORTIVE. Even if you know the truth and they don’t see it yet – let them know that you support them. They won’t leave until they are ready, but if you continue to be supportive along the way, they will know who to turn to when they are ready. Being unsupportive of their process can push them away and deeper into the abuse.
5. BE A SAFE SPACE. Let them know that you won’t judge them for anything that they say – AND THEN KEEP THAT PROMISE. Let them know that what they say is safe with you.
6. PRAY. There is power in prayer. Pray for safety. Pray for light to be shed. Strength, courage, and comfort. Pray also for wisdom to know how to help them in their specific circumstance. Pray for POWER and guidance! Pray for peace and healing.
God’s daughters are worth more to him that keeping a marriage together!!
If you or a loved one need help, please contact me for assistance and resources.
Also be sure to pick up a copy of my new book You Think You Know, But You Have No Idea… that describes what it’s really like to be in a Christian marriage plagued by emotional, spiritual, sexual, and financial abuse. Being aware and knowing what to look for is so powerful – most abuse happens when no one is looking. I share red flags, ways to take power back, and hope and healing for the future!
Plus for the entire month of October, $5 of every copy sold is being donated to Stand Up Survivor to help spread Domestic Violence Awareness!