The Story of Moira Greyland (Guest Post)

Powerful, personal, and blushingly detailed story from someone whose parents’ are representative of a “lifestyle” that no one INSIDE wants to speak this honestly about.

*WARNING* May be triggering for survivors of abuse, especially those who were homosexually abused…

askthe"Bigot"

I was born into a family of famous gay pagan authors in the late Sixties. My mother was Marion Zimmer Bradley, and my father was Walter Breen. Between them, they wrote over 100 books: my mother wrote science fiction and fantasy (Mists of Avalon), and my father wrote books on numismatics: he was a coin expert.

What they did to me is a matter of unfortunate public record: suffice to say that both parents wanted me to be gay and were horrifed at my being female. My mother molested me from ages 3-12. The first time I remember my father doing anything especially violent to me I was five. Yes he raped me. I don’t like to think about it. If you want to know about his shenanigans with little girls, and you have a very strong stomach, you can google the Breendoggle, which was the scandal which ALMOST drummed…

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Not Your Usual Father’s Day Cheer

Overheard:

“Happy Father’s Day, I guess.”

There are many a meme on Facebook, many sermons from pulpits, innumerable blogs on the internet, and gazillions of cards stuffed into envelopes that will be sharing wonderfully affirming and loving words about fathers today.

And that is a wonderful thing…for many. Congratulations to all those with terrific dads – truy delighted for you, I am

But there are others among us who despise and detest Father’s Day. There are those among us whose memories of dear ol’ dad are a less than wonderful.

You see, for them, the word “dad” means “terrorist.” The memories of dad still cause deep feelings of shame, self-contempt, and of being “less than.”

Memories of words used as hatchets on a soul. Memories of hands (and feet) that were harsh and cruel instead of gentle and strong.

Memories of a mother or a sister treated more like an object most foul than a person to be cherished and loved.

There are memories so painful that the mental video causes the heart to cringe still today.

No apologies, no heart contrite over the evil inflicted, no repentance for the death of the relationship, no authentic remorse over abandoning the role of father as God intended it to be from the beginning.

Thank God, that isn’t the end of the story!

Praise God that He is a better father than even the best human father could possibly be!

Rejoice to the heavens that the Heavenly Father is personally invested in His beloved children, even when they are at their worst!

And place your deepest trust in the love of the One who intentionally and purposefully made you to fill a specific place in His plans and His Kingdom!

In God’s divine and infinite “beingness”, there is nothing unintentional, nothing insignificant, nothing unplanned for, and nothing unknown.

When I look back at the gross mistreatment my family and I suffered, I stand with Joseph in Egypt and proclaim, “You meant fully to do me evil; BUT GOD intended it for good!”

God has brought me out of that darkness, and He has poured deep healing and comfort into my life. As a result, He has used me almost daily to pour that same comfort and healing into the lives of multiple hundreds who have suffered as we did.

God did not cause what I suffered anymore than He caused you to lie the last time you did, or wronged the last person you wronged.

Instead, God knew what He had made me of, and He knew what He was going to need me for, and He knew that I had what it takes to get to the other side of the darkness and into the light.

And it is standing and reflecting the Light of the World that gives my life meaning.

So, for those who have cherished memories and learned important lessons and shared precious times with the fathers, I am delighted for you.

For those of us whose experience was otherwise, there is a Father in Heaven whose delight in each of us is as if we were each His favorite.

And that’s the kind of Father love that only God Himself is capable of.

Soli Deo Gloria

Blessed Father’s Day

Hyper-Headship and the Scandal of Domestic Abuse in the Church

(Reblogged from The Gospel Coalition Blog)

by Jared C. Wilson

 

(NOTE: This is the kind of thing I have been praying for – no, BEGGING for – to see happen in the church for a VERY long time. His word-picture about the 3 doors parallels what I have often said: “When it comes to abuse, there is no ‘Switzerland’ – you either side with the abuser or the abused; there is no third choice.”)

Jason Meyer, pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, gave a powerful and important sermon this past Sunday.

In it, he defined things like “hyper-headship”:

Hyper-headship is a satanic distortion of male leadership, but it can fly under the radar of discernment because it is disguised as strong male leadership. Make no mistake—it is harsh, oppressive, and controlling. In other words, hyper-headship becomes a breeding ground for domestic abuse.

Meyer also addressed the issue of domestic abuse, highlighting three lessons in particular they had learned:

  1. Not all abuse cases are the same, even though they may share certain things in common. If you have seen one abuse case, you have seen one abuse case.
  2. We need to distinguish between two types of marital sinfulness: normative sinfulness and abusive sinfulness.
  3. There are spectrums and varieties of domestic abuse. A good working definition of domestic abuse is “a godless pattern of abusive behavior among spouses involving physical, psychological, and/or emotional means to exert and obtain power and control over a spouse for the achievement of selfish ends” (John Henderson).

Calling it a “draw-a-line-in-the-sand kind of moment” for the church, Meyer read a statement from the elders about domestic abuse:

We, the council of elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church, are resolved to root out all forms of domestic abuse (mental, emotional, physical, and sexual) in our midst. This destructive way of relating to a spouse is a satanic distortion of Christ-like male leadership because it defaces the depiction of Christ’s love for his bride. The shepherds of Bethlehem stand at the ready to protect the abused, call abusers to repentance, discipline the unrepentant, and hold up high the stunning picture of how much Christ loves his church.

The statement goes on to give information about whom to contact when abuse is occurring.

Meyer addressed abusers:

If you are an abuser, I call you right now to repent and bear fruit in keeping with repentance. The only hope is on the other side of repentance—getting out of denial so you can own your sin. That is the only hope because if you confess it as sin, there is a sacrifice for sin. There is no sacrifice for denial.

He addressed victims:

If you are being abused, the bulletin gives information on next steps. Please let us help. God hates abuse, and so do we. We are committed to help. If you have come to us for help before and have been disappointed, please give us another chance. We believe that the tide of awareness has risen on all three campuses and that positive changes are happening.

And he addressed children:

If you are a child and have seen one of your parents abuse the other, it is not right, and it is not your fault. You are not to blame. We want to get you help as well. You may think telling someone will tear your family apart, but it may be the only thing that can bring your family back together. If you are a child and you are being abused, let us help. Don’t walk this road alone. Tell someone. Please tell the children’s pastor or your youth pastor or a Sunday school worker.

He then closed with an address to men in particular:

Men of Bethlehem, let me address you. I will lay it on the line. At first glance, it looks like there are three possible doors the men of this church can take.

  • Door 1: side with the abusersm
  • Door 2: take no side, or
  • Door 3: side with the abused and stand up to the abusers.

If you are tempted to open Door 2, please know that it is a slide that just takes you to the same place as Door 1. Doing nothing is doing something: it is looking the other way so the abusers can do their thing without worrying who is watching. Saying nothing is saying something—it’s saying, “Go ahead, we don’t care enough to do anything.”

I would strongly encourage you to read the entire sermon, which contains careful definitions of the various kinds of abuse and various principles about abuse. You can listen to the audio here.

For some resources on abuse, see Justin and Lindsey Holcomb’s resources:

See also:

How Do You Know You’re Repentant? – Reblog

(Reblogged from Gospel Coalition Blog)

Jared C. Wilson

How do you know when someone is repentant? In his helpful little book Church Discipline, Jonathan Leeman offers some guidance:

“A few verses before Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 18 about church discipline, he provides us with help for determining whether an individual is characteristically repentant: would the person be willing to cut off a hand or tear out an eye rather than repeat the sin (Matt. 18:8-9)? That is to say, is he or she willing to do whatever it takes to fight against the sin? Repenting people, typically, are zealous about casting off their sin. That’s what God’s Spirit does inside of them. When this happens, one can expect to see a willingness to accept outside counsel. A willingness to inconvenience their schedules. A willingness to confess embarrassing things. A willingness to make financial sacrifices or lose friends or end relationships.” (p. 72)

These are good indicators, and I believe we can add a few more.

Here are 12 signs we have a genuinely repentant heart:

1. We name our sin as sin and do not spin it or excuse it, and further, we demonstrate “godly sorrow,” which is to say, a grief chiefly about the sin itself, not just a grief about being caught or having to deal with the consequences of sin.

2. We actually confessed before we were caught or the circumstantial consequences of our sin caught up with us.

3. If found out, we confess immediately or very soon after and “come clean,” rather than having to have the full truth coaxed out of us. Real repentance is typically accompanied by transparency.

4. We have a willingness and eagerness to make amends. We will do whatever it takes to make things right and to demonstrate we have changed.

5. We are patient with those we’ve hurt or victimized, spending as much time as is required listening to them without jumping to defend ourselves.

6. We are patient with those we’ve hurt or victimized as they process their hurt, and we don’t pressure them or “guilt” them into forgiving us.

7. We are willing to confess our sin even in the face of serious consequences (including undergoing church discipline, having to go to jail, or having a spouse leave us).

8. We may grieve the consequences of our sin but we do not bristle under them or resent them. We understand that sometimes our sin causes great damage to others that is not healed in the short term (or perhaps ever this side of heaven).

9. If our sin involves addiction or a pattern of behavior, we do not neglect to seek help with a counselor, a solid twelve-step program, or even a rehabilitation center.

10. We don’t resent gracious accountability, pastoral rebuke, or church discipline.

11. We seek our comfort in the grace of God in Jesus Christ, not simply in being free of the consequences of our sin.

12. We are humble and teachable.

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.– 2 Corinthians 7:9-11

(I have put my signs in the first person plural not because it is always inappropriate to seek to gauge someone’s repentance, but because we should always be gauging our own first, and because the truly forgiving heart is interested in an offender’s repentance but isn’t inordinately set on holding up measuring sticks but holding out grace.)

Depression and the Christian

Overheard:

“I feel depressed, but believers aren’t SUPPOSED to be depressed, are they?”

Depression isn’t simply a matter of being a sin problem, or being a spiritual problem, or being an emotional problem, or being a physiological problem – it is a combination of many things working together that brings depression.

We are synergistic wholes – our minds, our emotions, our bodies, and everything that comprises us impacts every other aspect of us – all the time.

The physiological part is easy to address, so we will start there.

There are several studies that have been done around the world that show one of the most common physiological contributors to depression is “leaky gut.” (Normally the digestive system is surrounded by an impermeable wall of cells. Certain behaviors and medical conditions can compromise this wall, allowing toxic substances and bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Lots of things can cause leaky gut.)

Being tired and run down can contribute to depression. So can long-term anxiety. So can severe crisis (and this is subjective to the individual – there is no objective standard of what “should” or “shouldn’t” constitute a crisis).

The emotional/spiritual part are interwoven.

So, what is depression?

Simply put, depression is “silent rage”; it is bitterness turned inward. At base, bitterness is deep-seated, long-term unforgiveness.

The sow-and-reap principle of life expressed in Galatians 6:7 is ever-present and universal. And it has great significance when discussing depression.

Let’s look at bitterness first.

When we allow unforgiveness to take root in our heart, bitterness sprouts up and permeates every aspect of our lives. The person we are embittered toward gets to live rent-free in our head, and we suffer far more than they do. In fact, they often have little if any idea that we are holding a grudge against them or that we think they owe us something.

Often that person has gone their own way, never knowing or caring that we are bitter or, in other cases, fully aware of our bitterness and actually enjoying our misery. While the person we despise is often unaware of the fact, we are slowly but quite certainly destroying ourselves and everything good in our lives.

Let’s look at how we end up in a place of bitterness.

Bitterness

Unmet Expectations: Expectations are like the ceiling; people can jump up and touch it, but they can’t live up there. So it is with the expectations we have of others. Often our expectations are rooted in a sense of entitlement (we believe we are entitled to have our wants and needs met when we want, the way we want). When our expectations go unmet, we experience

Disappointment: Our hopes are dashed on the rocks and we feel sad that things didn’t go as we expected. Holding on to that disappointment quickly leads us down lower and into

Disillusionment: Now we aren’t just disappointed about a situation or with a person, now the shiny picture we had of that person and the relationship is dark and dingy; we are losing hope. Remaining there long drops us even lower and we fall into

Despondency: This we call the “Eeyore Level.” This is where we are pessimistic not only about relationships, we are pessimistic about our own worth and value.

“I’m leaving (if anybody cares)”

“Of course this fell apart—I’m stuck with the same idiots I’m always stuck with?!”

“What did I expect? That things would magically be different than they always are?”

We don’t have to live here long before our unrelenting anger about how long we have been mistreated this way results in

Bitterness: Bitterness is rooted in deep-seated, long-term unforgiveness—usually, unforgiveness over someone (or multiple someone’s) not living up to our expectations.

The only difference between Bitterness and Depression is the direction the anger is turned. Bitterness has an outward focus; Depression has an inward focus.

Depression

Again, we need to remember that bitterness harms us far more than it harms the one we are embittered toward.

Let’s look at the devastating consequences of bitterness in our lives:

  1. It will harm us physically.
  2. We become enslaved to our bitterness.
  3. Bitterness flavors every relationship in our lives.
  4. It is a sin that will keep us from God’s forgiveness.

FIRST, bitterness harms us physically. The negative health effects of bitterness/unforgiveness have been well-documented, with research showing a link between prolonged anger or resentment and a host of heightened medical risks. Because of the ways in which resentment and unforgiveness interact with the brain, the body’s reactions can lead to chronic—and sometimes serious—physical ailments. In fact, prolonged bitterness can make people 500% more likely to die before the age of 50. And, over time, we even show the effects of this stress in our faces: We begin to look “hard.”

SECOND, we become slaves. We are enslaved by our bitterness. We are emotionally tied to the person we are bitter toward. Everything they do or don’t do affects us, whether we want it to or not. We spend so much time nursing our animosity that we hinder our ability to have a useful and productive life. Someone said that “unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

THIRD, bitterness flavors every relationship in our lives. Read carefully Hebrews 12:15 (and its referent, Deuteronomy 29:18). In both places, it speaks about a “root of bitterness.” A bitter spirit toward one person will contaminate every other relationship in our lives. It is like the rotten apple that spoils the whole barrel; like a cancer that, unchecked, destroys us from within.

FOURTH, unforgiveness is sin and it keeps us from having God’s forgiveness. Read carefully Jesus’ instruction on prayer in Matthew 6:9-15. Especially note versus 14 and 15. An unforgiving spirit keeps us from God’s forgiveness. After all, why would God forgive us if we are unwilling to forgive someone else? It would also serve well here if you study Jesus’ parable in Matthew 18:21-35.

Several earlier posts discuss forgiveness in-depth (Forgiveness – Part 1, Forgiveness – Part 2, Forgiveness – Part 3, Forgiveness – Part 4).

Here is an overview on forgiveness from a Biblical perspective:

Forgiveness is poorly understood and even more poorly taught in much of Christian circles today. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which are poor hermeneutics (breaking the rules of proper Bible interpretation), bad logic, and weaving together ideas that don’t really go together. The following section is intended to help us understand forgiveness from God’s perspective. We trust it will be a help.

Three Kinds of Forgiveness

There are three kinds of forgiveness described in the Bible. One is completely up to God, one is up to us, and one cannot and should not happen without a certain amount of work on the part of the offending party.

  1. Judicial Forgiveness: This is the complete [pardon of all sin granted by God that only He can provide to a person when they confess their need for and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, then repent of their sin. There are many instances in the Bible where, even though God forgave the sins of a person or of the people, He did not remove the consequences of their sin (David, 2 Samuel 12:7-13; Children of Israel, Numbers 14:20-23).
  2. Internal Forgiveness: This is where we extend mercy to the person who has wronged us to the degree that we completely forsake retaliation and revenge, leaving that person in the hands of God. Our best plans for revenge will fall far short of what God has planned. He does have a plan (See Genesis 50:20). This does not mean, however, that the person is not held accountable for their actions, nor does it mean that we stuff our emotions about what happened and ignore them. That set us on a downward spiral into the same destructive lies we have been working on becoming free of.
  3. Relational Forgiveness: God does not forgive without confession and repentance on our part, and he does not require or allow us to do so either (1 John 1:9; Luke 3:8). They not only are in full agreement on the exact nature and character of their wrong (the meaning of the Biblical word “confess”), but they also invest much energy and effort to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8; Ephesians 4:22, 24, 28).

True repentance is a grieving over sins one has committed, an open acceptance of responsibility for the evil suffered by those we have wronged, a complete forsaking of those sins and anything that makes that sin easy to recommit, and a replacing the sinful attitude and behavior with the opposite righteous attitude and behavior for the sake of God and others (See Ephesians 4:28).

Summary:

The Bible teaches us that knowing the truth will set us free. It is hard for us to practice good until we know what is good. Once we have recognized and accepted the truth, we are free to practice the truth. A person who does not know the truth is like someone blind in a strange place. That person stumbles around, never sure of himself and always lost.

For most of us, the first step to God has to be a willingness to internally forgive those who have wronged us. We must not continue in unforgiveness, knowing that this is a path to self-destruction.

Christians, Please Proceed With Caution

Very well written piece by a man who well summarizes the schizophrenic narrative that passes for American Christianity…

the sanctified muse

culture_hunter_big1I have been feeling serious misgivings lately about my sometimes aggressive discussion of cultural hot-button issues. This was actually pointed out to me by one of my most faithful readers. Am I grateful? Yes. But rather than ceasing to discuss these things, I want to find the most gentle, godly way to go about it.

I see the need to defend Biblical morality for the right reasons (eternal ones), but I often find that I am getting just as political as my counterparts on the other side of the debate.

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What IS Domestic Violence?

What is Domestic Violence?

ARTICLE BY   SEPTEMBER 2014
abuse, generalThe month of October has been designated Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The goal of this month is to raise public awareness about domestic violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to recognize, prevent, and respond to domestic violence.
This article is the first in a series that will focus on the topic of domestic violence. For more on this issue, you can read Is It My Fault?: Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violence , which is written by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb.
 
Defining
“Domestic violence” is used as an overarching term to encompass a large number of behaviors–physical, verbal, and psychological–that violate the well-being of an individual and his or her ability to act.
Historically, “domestic violence” was mostly associated with physical violence. “Domestic violence” today, however, has a much broader legal definition, which includes sexual, psychological, verbal, and economic abuse.
Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling, or abusive behavior that is used by one individual to gain or maintain power and control over another individual in the context of an intimate relationship. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, exploit, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound an intimate partner.
As such, domestic violence can take many forms, including willful intimidation, physical assault, sexual assault, battery, stalking, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, economic control, psychological abuse, spiritual abuse, isolation, any other abusive behavior, and/or threats of such. Of course, threats of abuse can be as frightening as the abuse itself, particularly, when the victim knows the perpetrator may carry out the threats.
Domestic violence includes the establishment of abusive control and power over another person through fear, isolation, and/or intimidation.[1] Abusive behavior often is thought of as direct “hands-on” infliction of pain but also includes implied threat or actual physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, including withholding finances and medical equipment.[2]
This understanding of domestic violence gets beyond our society’s narrow understanding of the issue and expands the spectrum of actions to be considered domestic violence. A comprehensive definition and understanding of domestic violence includes several elements. Each element is important in understanding domestic violence:
  • Intentional: The abuser consciously or subconsciously sets out to use deliberate abusive tactics to achieve his/her ends. The abuser chooses to abuse and he can choose to stop abusing at any time.
  • Methodical: The abuser systematically uses a series of abusive tactics to gain power over the partner and to control her.
  • Pattern: The abused partner often at first sees the abusive tactics as isolated and unrelated incidents, but they are really a series of related acts that form a pattern of behaviors.
  • Tactics: The abuser uses a variety of tactics to gain power and
 to control his partner such as threats, violence, humiliation, exploitation, or even self-pity.
  • Power: The abuser aims to acquire and employ power in the relationship. For example, the abuser may use force or threats of physical harm to intimidate his or her partner, thereby gaining physical and emotional power. Or the abuser may prohibit the partner from working, making the partner financially dependent on the abuser, and thereby gaining financial power.
  • Control: With sufficient power, the abuser can control his partner–forcing or coercing her to do as the abuser wishes. For example, the abuser controls the decision making for the relationship, or controls who has social contact with the partner, or determines the sexual practices of the partner. The goal of the abuser is to force compliance.
  • Desires: The abuser’s ultimate goal is to get his emotional and physical desires met and he aims to selfishly make use of his partner to meet those needs. Most abusers are afraid their desires will not be fulfilled through a normal healthy relationship. Fear motivates them to use abuse to ensure that their desires will be met.
Domestic violence is a pervasive, life-threatening epidemic and crime that affects millions of people worldwide in every community.
It takes place across all races, ages, socioeconomic statuses, geographic regions, religions, nationalities, and education backgrounds, including traditional, nontraditional, teen dating, and adult dating relationships as well as older populations.[3]
A National Problem
Domestic violence is dangerously good at hiding itself, yet it is extremely prevalent–and extremely damaging–in our world today.
Domestic violence exists in every community and culture (including communities and cultures that we might perceive as happy and “normal”). The number of occurrences of domestic violence is staggering. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused at some point during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
Intimate partner violence is pervasive in U.S. society. The prevalence of domestic violence in the United States is difficult to determine because the crime is vastly underreported, yet the statistics are still overwhelmingly high: one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.[4]
Nearly three out of four (74%) of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. Approximately 30% of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year.[5]
In terms of lifetime abuse rates, various studies show that 22-33% of American women will be assaulted–including rape, physical violence, or stalking–by an intimate partner in their lifetimes.[6] Young women are particularly at risk. Women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence and sexual assault.[7] Similarly, women who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.[8] And among teenage girls, one in three reports knowing a friend or a peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, or physically injured by a partner.[9] Violence against women is primarily intimate partner violence: 64% of women who reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/ or stalked since the age of 18 were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabitating partner, boyfriend, or date.[10]
Children
Even if the recipient of abuse is the mother (and not any children), children are affected by domestic abuse in staggering and long-lasting ways. And it is here, among some of the household’s most vulnerable members, that we see some of the most toxic effects of the cycle of abuse. If you have children, this section will be especially hard to read, but please bear with us, because we think it’s important that you know this information.
To begin with, studies suggest that between 10-15 million children are exposed to domestic violence every year.[11] And for these children, abusive adults can cause tremendous long-term physical, emotional, and spiritual damage in their lives. This is true even if the the mother is physically abused (but the children are not physically hurt), though roughly half of men who physically abuse their wives also abuse their children.[12] Bruce Perry, one of the top neurological trauma researchers in the world, has conclusively shown that when young children merely witness domestic violence, this trauma exposure creates long-term physiological changes, including significant structural alteration and damage to the brain.[13]
The aftermath of abuse comes out in children’s behavior as well. Children exposed to violence are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, be exploited in teenage prostitution, and commit sexual assault crimes.[14] Children who witness violence at home display emotional and behavioral disturbances as diverse as withdrawal, low self-esteem, nightmares, self-blame, and aggression against peers, family members, and property.[15]
The damage also occurs in more intangible ways. Children who witness the abuse often experience their mother’s powerlessness and humiliation. Many lose their childhood innocence because their sense of security has been violated and they feel dramatically unsafe. Children often develop anxiety in anticipation of the next attack, blame themselves for the abuse, and fear abandonment – especially if they should fail to keep the violence secret. They are left isolated and frightened as they carry the weight of shame, responsibility, guilt, and anger.[16]
And here, among children, we see one of the most toxic effects of the cycle of abuse: Witnessing violence from one parent or caregiver to another is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next.[17] Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.[18] Men exposed to physical abuse, sexual abuse, and/or domestic violence as children are almost four times more likely than other men to perpetrate domestic violence as adults.[19]
The most common factor among men who abuse their wives is that they experienced (received or witnessed) domestic violence themselves in childhood. Again, this history does not excuse anyone from choosing destructive behavior, but it does illustrate the far-reaching effects of abuse.
Additionally, we know that girls who grow up in physically abusive homes are more likely to be physically and sexually victimized by their own intimate partners in adulthood. Daughters are more than six times more likely to be sexually abused in homes where intimate partner violence occurs.[20] Children in homes where domestic violence occurs are physically abused or seriously neglected at a rate of 1500% higher than the national average in the general population.[21] And even when they grow into adults, children who’ve grown up in abusive households are 15 times more likely to be abused by other adults.
If you are reading this and are still on the fence about getting out of the relationship.
All of these studies point to destructive effects of abuse that are long-term. Even if your child has not personally suffered abuse yet, the consequences of even witnessing it in the home over the rest of their lives could be catastrophic.
Frequency and Duration
One of the common perceptions that keep many women in abusive relationships is the belief that this time, he’ll change–that this time, he really means it when he says it won’t happen again. But the numbers tell another story.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately half of the women raped by an intimate partner and two-thirds of the women physically assaulted by an intimate partner said they were victimized multiple times by the same partner.[22] Female rape victims have reported 4.5 rapes on average by the same partner, and female physical assault victims averaged 6.9 assaults. Among women who were victimized multiple times by the same partner, 63% of rape victims and 70% of assault victims say their victimization lasted a year or more. On average, women who were raped multiple times said their victimization occurred over 3.8 years, and women who were physically assaulted multiple times said their victimization occurred over 4.5 years.[23]
Verbal abuse is one of the biggest indicators that physical abuse may follow. Much of the violence perpetrated against women by male partners is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control, or what some researchers have called “patriarchal terrorism.”
Naming Violence
Naming and describing the evil done to victims does not ensure their healing. However, if domestic violence is not defined, named, or described, then it remains hidden.
There is an epidemic of domestic violence and victims need the kind of hope and healing that only the gospel of Jesus Christ can provide. Tragically, most churches and Christians are woefully unprepared to help the one in four women who have been abused. Helping victims of domestic violence starts with knowing what is.
Justin is an Episcopal priest and teaches theology, philosophy, and Christian thought at Gordon-Conwell-Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Lindsey, are authors of: Is It My Fault?: Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violence , Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault . Justin has written or edited numerous books: Know the Heretics  (2014), K now the Creeds and Councils  (2014), On the Grace of God , Acts: A 12-Week Study, For the World , and Christian Theologies of Scripture
Notes:
[1]  E. J. Alpert, S. Cohen, and R.D. Sege, “Family Violence: An Overview,” Academic Medicine 72: S3-S6, 1997; R. L. Muelleman, P.A. Leneghan, and R. A. Pakieser, “Battered: Injury Locations and Types,” Annals of Emergency Medicine 28:486-492, 1996; R. L. Muelleman, J. Reuwer, T. G. Sanson, et al., “An Emergency Medicine Approach to Violence Throughout the Life Cycle,” Academic Emergency Medicine 3:708- 715, 1996; L. E. Saltzman and D. Johnson, “CDC’s Family and Intimate Violence Prevention Team: Basing programs on science,” Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association 51:83-86, 1996
[2] J. C. Campbell and K. L. Soeke, “Women’s Responses to Battering: A Test of the Model,” Research in Nursing and Health 22 (1999), 49-58; R. L. Muelleman, P.A. Leneghan, and R. A. Pakieser, “Battered: Injury Locations and Types,” Annals of Emergency Medicine 28:486-492, 1996; R. L. Muelleman, J. Reuwer, T. G. Sanson, et al., “An Emergency Medicine Approach to Violence Throughout the Life Cycle,” Academic Emergency Medicine 3:708- 715, 1996; L. E. Saltzman and D. Johnson, “CDC’s Family and Intimate Violence Prevention Team: Basing programs on science,” Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association 51:83-86, 1996
[3] L. R. Chambliss, “Domestic Violence: A Public Health Crisis,” Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology 40 (1997), 630-638; L. E. Keller, “Invisible Victims: Battered Women in Psychiatric and Medical Emergency Rooms,” Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic 60 (1996), 1-21; S. Y. Melvin and M. C. Rhyne, “Domestic Violence,” Advanced Internal Medicine 43 (1998), 1-25; R. L. Muelleman, P.A. Leneghan, and R. A. Pakieser, “Battered: Injury Locations and Types,” Annals of Emergency Medicine 28:486-492, 1996; R. L. Muelleman, J. Reuwer, T. G. Sanson, et al., “An Emergency Medicine Approach to Violence Throughout the Life Cycle,” Academic Emergency Medicine 3:708- 715, 1996
[4] Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes, “Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey,” National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 2000; Tjaden, P., and N. Thoennes. Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey  Research Report. Washington, DC, and Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 2000, NCJ 183781; Sara Glazer, “Violence, Against Women” CO Researcher, Congressional Quarterly 3: 8, February, 1993, p. 171; N. S. Jecker, “Privacy Beliefs and the Violent Family: Extending the Ethical Argument for Physician Intervention,” Journal of the American Medical Association 269 (1993), 776-780; M.T. Loring, and R.W. Smith, “Health Care Barriers and Interventions for Battered Women,” Public Health Reports 109:328-38, 1994.
[5] Allstate Foundation National Poll on Domestic Violence, 2006. Lieberman Research Inc., Tracking Survey conducted for The Advertising Council and the Family Violence Prevention Fund, July – October 1996
[6] Helen M. Eigengerg, Women Battering in the United States: Till Death Do Us Part (Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press, 2001), 62-85.
[7] U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Intimate Partner Violence in the United States,” December 2006.
[8] U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Intimate Partner Violence in the United States,” December 2006.
[9] “Liz Claiborne, Inc., Omnibuzz Topline Findings: Teen Relationship Abuse Research,” available at http://www.teenresearch.com.
[10] Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes, “Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey,” Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, 2000.
[11] R. McDonold, “Estimating the Number of American Children Living in Partner Violent Families” Journal of Family Psychology 30:1 (2006), 137-142.
[12] The landmark study that established this correlation was done by Murray Straus, and reported in “Ordinary Violence, Child Abuse, and Wife-Beating: What Do They Have in Common?” in Physical Violence in American Families, ed. Murray Straus and Richard Gelles (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transition, 1990), 403-24.
[13] Bruce Perry, “The Neurodevelopmental Impact of Violence in Childhood,” in Textbook of Child and Adolescent Forensic Psychiatry, eds. D. Schetky and E. Benedek (Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, 2001), 21-38.
[14] D. A. Wolfe, C. Wekerle, D. Reitzel, and R. Gough, “Strategies to Address Violence in the Lives of High Risk Youth,” in Ending the Cycle of Violence: Community Responses to Children of Battered Women, edited by E. Peled, P.G. Jaffe and J.L Edleson. New York, NY: Sage Publications, 1995).
[15] Inat Peled, Peter C. Jaffe, and Jeffrey L. Edleson, eds., Ending the Cycle of Violence: Community Responses to Children of Battered Women (Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, 1995).
[16] Carol J. Adams, Women Battering (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1994), 21.
[17] I. Frieze and A. Browne, “Violence in Marriage,” in Family Violence, eds. L. Ohlin and M. Tonry (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 163- 218.
[18] M. A. Straus and R. J. Gelles, Physical Violence in American Families: Risk Factors and Adaptations to Violence in 8,145 Families (Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1992).
[19] C. L. Whitfield, R. F. Anda, S. R. Dube, and V. J. Felitti, “Violent Childhood Experiences and the Risk of Intimate Partner Violence in Adults,” Journal of Interpersonal 
Violence 18 (2003), 166-185.
[20] Carol J. Adams, Women Battering (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1994), 22.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes, “Extent, Nature, and Consequences of intimate Partner Violence: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey,” Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, 2000.
[23] Ibid.

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