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ML Community Speaks Out on Spousal Abuse

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Last week, momlogic brought you the story of Sheri Ferber, who was violently attacked by her husband on the way home from Sunday service.

Her church took her husband's side, using Biblical verses and church teachings of submission to bring the couple back together despite her repeated cries for help.

husband assaulting wife

Our community responded in full force to this heavy tale of domestic violence:

I had a similar story. When I spoke with a church counselor about past abuse from an ex, he tried to counsel me on what I needed to do to make the marriage work since they didn't believe in divorce and felt that I should submit to that demonic man. I left him and that church. Well that was 15 years ago and since then I have been in a loving, "Christian" relationship with mutual respect and honor.

WOW. I am shocked I thought Rick Warren was a great pastor. I have even done his studies, I too was in a horrible abusive relationship that I am lucky I got out of and I am so glad my church was there all the way with me helping me not sure what I would have done without them. I am so sorry you went through all this. I will keep you in my prayers.

I have been involved with several evangelical churches. None of these churches would have supported an abusive husband in this manner. The husband is head of the household. This means he is to have his family covered in prayer, lead them spiritually on a proper, Biblically-sound path. This does not include misusing scripture or authority. All Christians should not be involved with any organization that condones any form of violence, whether it be spousal abuse or abortion.

The Bible does not say the husband is the head of the household, the house or even the family. The Bible does use the analogy of a husband and wife being like a head and body. Head not meaning, "boss." In other words, the two become one flesh. They need each other, and submit to one another. The Bible talks about mutual submission (no dictator, but one team!). This incident makes me so sad, because these folks are twisting what the Bible says.
Keri Wyatt Kent

There's no excuse for any man to beat a woman, it does not matter what "his side of the story" is. And that goes for abuse from a woman to a man, a parent to a child, etc. It is foolish to think violent actions of any kind can be justified. Justification is what brings violence and ill-will into our lives because someone thinks they have a "good reason" to hurt or even kill someone else.

Once again, we turned to momlogic expert Dr. Michelle Golland for additional insight:

How important are support systems for women who are in abusive relationships and, in this case, how much can it hurt a woman's mental state when that support system denies her refuge?

A support system is critical to a woman trying to leave an abusive relationship. They are often isolated and their self-esteem has been damaged, so if they reach out and are rejected -- as in the case of the church -- it can be doubly damaging to the woman. If a church, where one should be able to get solace and support, blames the victim or worse, tells the abusive spouse (as in this case), true physical harm could come to the victim due to her "betrayal" of the abuser. The abuser blames the victim, so if her "support" system does the same, she can slip further into self-loathing and depression.

How typical is it of the abusers to find a way to justify their actions? For example using Biblical verses, etc.

Abusers will always find excuses for their violent behavior. For instance, if this abusive behavior is accepted by the church he belongs to, then all the more buoyed they will feel in their rageful and manipulative actions. Using "God" or spiritual beliefs to justify this also adds another layer of abuse the victim experiences. They not only lose their self-esteem through the abuse, but can also lose their spiritual connection.

What other thoughts do you have for us after reading this article?

It is very important that as a society we address the institutionalized violence in our culture and speak out against it in our own organizations, churches and synagogues. Many people don't want to deal with these issues because they don't want to draw attention to their own subgroup, and that only serves to deepen our denial of this issue. The goal should be to bring these issues into the light of the day -- no matter where it is happening. Only then can we truly address it properly for the victims and make it safer for others to come out of the darkness of relationship violence.

What can a person do if they think their friend or relative is in an abusive relationship?

You can give the person information about Domestic Violence. Look up local agencies that will assist them in leaving the situation. A good place to start is the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).

You can also offer to take them to a women's group and go with them to be supportive. Many people feel so ashamed and isolated that getting support to understand how universal the experience of DV is can be freeing and start them on the road to health and healing.

For more reader commentary, visit the momlogic Community.

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous August 15, 2009, 3:06 PM

religious husbands usually are wife beaters

ame i. August 15, 2009, 8:31 PM

My father rarely went to church when I was I child but that doesn’t change the fact that I spent many nights as a child with my pillow clamped around my head to keep out the sounds of horrible words & of the thumps against the living room walls and floors. Despite the pillow, I remember more of those words from his mouth and the sound of my mother trying not to sob loud enough to be heard than I care to.
I remember her tight smile when he would come home from a 12 hour shift, spend 1/2 an hour in the bathroom showering, fixing his come-over, spraying on cologne & coming out to announce he had to leave to “take care of some business-at least 3 days a week. I didn’t really catch on until a couple of friends asked who that dark-haired woman was riding in the car with my dad late at night. It was supposedly my (kick-butt sports car, ha!)but he always seemed to drive it when he went out to “take care of some business”. I had an earlier curfew than my friends so at least I never had to see them together but I know who she was.

cg August 16, 2009, 9:48 PM

what a broad statement, one that you are undoubtedly entitled to make- but just for the record not every religious husband is guilty of the hurt disrespect and humiliation that this particular man is accused of. there are many religious men that actually take God’s admonition to “love your wife as your own flesh” “for no man ever hated his own flesh but he feeds it and cherishes it” this is found in God’s own word at Ephesians chapter 5 verse 8. the verse goes on to say that “he who loves his wife LOVES HIMSELF” and therein may lay the problem: a self hatred that causes him to lash out. whatever his personal issue was he used his freedom as a “christian” to abuse the god given headship he had and was not properly dealt with by his religious leaders but rewarded for his cruelty this is why God will exact a greater punishment from them because they were supposed to help not make things worst.

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