Why They Stay

1 Comment » Written on September 18th, 2014     
Filed under: Updates
Last night I spent some time reading through postings of individuals who had tweeted on #whyIstayed (the Tweet site that individuals are using to state why they stayed with their abuser). I found their reasons compelling. They tweeted things like: “I wanted a father for my child; I thought it would get better; I had no place to go; I believed him when he said he would change; I thought I could change him; he said he would kill himself if I left; he made me believe it was my fault; he never hit me, so I didn’t think it was abuse.”

The reasons go on and on. Although I didn’t see tweets that named their abuse as emotional or psychological, I can hardly imagine physical abuse without the use, inference or undercurrent of emotional abuse, which can be as lasting, if not longer lasting, than some physical abuse.

Unfortunately, I think in the arena of domestic violence we often pay more attention to physical and sexual violence and perhaps unintentionally, minimize psychological/emotional abuse and words spoken, and as scripture attests to, can create wounds that last a lifetime. So in my opinion, all forms of domestic violence are damaging and life-altering.

Here’s what Christian Counselor Leslie Vernik writes:

“The Scriptures never invalidate or minimize the effects someone’s harsh actions and cruel words have on another person’s soul, spirit, and body. A cursory reading through Scripture amply illustrates God’s disdain for mockers, abusers, deceivers, those who misuse their power, oppressors, revilers, ragers, hypocrites, and slanderers. The psalmist says, “Your tongue cuts like a sharp razor; you’re an expert at telling lies. You love evil more than good and lies more than truth. You love to destroy others with your words, you liar!” (Psalm 52:2-5). David cries out to God, “Please listen and answer me, for I am overwhelmed by my troubles… ..My heart pounds in my chest. The terror of death assaults me. Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking. ….It is not an enemy who taunts me—I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me— I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you—my equal, my companion and close friend” (Psalm 55:2,4,5,13).” http://christiancounseling.com/content/the-church%E2%80%99s-response-to-emotional-abuse-0

According to Dr. Steven Tracy, in Mending the Soul, (pg. 34) “Verbal abuse is a form of emotional maltreatment in which words are systematically used to belittle, undermine, scapegoat, or maliciously manipulate another person. Verbal abuse can be every bit as damaging as physical or sexual abuse, and in some cases it’s even more damaging. Those who haven’t experienced abuse often can’t understand this. The somewhat subjective nature of verbal abuse can make it more insidious and difficult to confront (which can make it more damaging).”

There are many scripture examples of the power of words and here are a few samples: “Rash words ravage the soul the way a sword can ravage the body” (Proverbs 12:18). “A godly tongue gives life, but a perverted tongue crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:6).

So why is it that so many pastors are silent on this issue? Why aren’t they leading the charge to raise a clarion call for change for the women, men, boys and girls sitting in their pews who are just waiting for someone to denounce, call out, and name what they are experiencing as abuse? It is time for us to call out the destructive patterns of speech that damage and wound so many.

Yvonne DeVaughn
AVA Director
Women Ministries



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