Part of the calling of the church is to “Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Ps 82:4). In view of that instruction, we as the body of Christ must discern what constitutes abusive marital behavior. When abuse arises in a marriage, men are much more likely to be the perpetrators. Below is an inventory of questions that come from Is It Abuse? by Darby Strickland which help us discern whether abuse is occurring.
Has the husband ever slapped, hit, scratched, bit, kicked, or punched the wife? Has the husband hurt or threatened to hurt the family pet? Has the husband bent the wife’s arm, locked her in a room, kicked her out of a car, pushed her down a flight of stairs, pinned her down, blocked her way, or driven erratically to instill fear? Has the husband ever forced intimacy? Has the husband required the wife to watch pornography and/or to reenact it? Does the husband mock, shame, scream, falsely accuse, isolate, control, manipulate, monitor, or ignore his spouse? Does the husband claim that questioning him is akin to questioning God? Does he demand absolute submission and unquestioning obedience? Does the closely watch what the spouse purchases? Does he hide assets? Does he keep the wife from seeing bank statements? Does the husband control how all the money is spent? Does he give the wife a restricted budget, while allowing himself to purchase whatever he wants?
If you find yourself in such a relationship, the Lord cares for you: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Ps 147:3). Find someone you can confide in. Also, for those who observe these patterns in others, we have an obligation to help. Reading Is It Abuse? would be a good place to start. Let us be a church that cares for abused women.