New Light on a Common DV Perspective

I have been pondering something. Whenever we educate the church about domestic violence, we often note that there is a high possibility that 1 in 4 women in their congregation have or will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Let’s look at this from a different perspective. If we say there are 1 in 4 women victims, that could indicate that there are 1 in 4 men in the congregation who are perpetrators.

This could be generalized so we don’t leave out males who are victims of domestic violence. We could say 1 in 4 people in the congregation will be or are victims of domestic violence and 1 in 4 are perpetrators.

Would we look at domestic violence differently in our congregations if we viewed it in terms of possible perpetrators? Would the church more readily enact responses of accountability for those who perpetrate abuse?

Paula Silva

13 Comments on “New Light on a Common DV Perspective

  1. I don’t think that it has anything to do with changing the verbiage. Saying 1 in 4 people will be or are victims won’t change. Whenever you say Domestic Violence people automatically think of a woman. People(in congregation and the secular world) know that domestic violence exist. People (in congregation and the secular world) know that women are the more greatly impacted as well as children. Many churches are just learning how to deal with the issue of domestic violence. Domestic Violence indicates a disharmony in the family unit, which is counterintuitive to what the church presents and teaches. What happens in domestic violence also goes against what people see, the family that attends service faithfully (that could never be occuring in their family). People know it, they just don’t want to believe it.

  2. I understand your position. Yes, people automatically think that women are the victims. I am not disputing that. The church knows women are the victims, but they do little or nothing about it. With that in mind, I was wondering if churches thought about 1 in 4 men in their congregation are perpetrators would they do something about it or would they choose to ignore the problem.
    How do you think we should get through to the church? Most churches we tried to help through the ministry minimize domestic violence and treat it as a marriage problem. Some won’t call it DV. Instead they label it as an anger issue.

  3. Why are churches ignoring DV as though there is not a problem??? DV is not an anger issue. DV happens toward the victim when there is no anger involved. Anger happens when a victim has done something to provoke that emotion. Actions out of the anger develop and are acted upon. DV is NOT a marriage problem. Marriage problems often happen when the two people choose to do things their own way because of self rather than working together as a team in partnership together for God’s glory.

    DV is different. DV is not a partnership sport. In DV, there is always a victim(s) and a perpetrator. DV often happens when the victim does nothing to provoke. They are most often “innocent”, but the horrific acts take place become the perpetrator is out of control. NO…DV is not an anger issue. It is not a marriage issue.

    It is DV. Domestic means “in the home”…..Violence is “any action that inflicts pain upon another intentionally. When churches “own” the problem and understand the threat it is to their congregations, they will begin to offer definition, help, and provision through God’s Word, through establishing help lines, and providing “safety” for the victim(s).

    I pray pastors hear God’s concern and heart for all DV victims.

  4. Paula, Wow… this is brilliant. It immediately turns the mind. Words are so powerful… the way they are used or not used. Word choice like the one you suggest, I believe, would put people’s focus where it never seems to be- on the perp.

  5. I don’t think it would help at all. My church was clearly aware of what was going on in my home. No one took my husband to task. And no one offered me help except to remind me that God hates divorce. In fact, my husband still attends that church, is very well liked, and I haven’t been in over a year….wow, actually two years! I’m a bit jaded by organized religion. It’s run and controlled by men. I think the bigger issue is the woman’s role in the church and in the home. You can reword it all day long, but if change in the church is controlled by men, well, good luck.
    I’m pretty happy with just me and God. I’m allowed to be an elder in this “church”.
    Also, my children see what has happened and are also starting to refuse going to church. You can only guess how angry that makes my husband. In a few more generations, can you just see the church wondering why people have turned away? Maybe that’s the angle to play?

  6. Carrie,

    I can understand where you are coming from. Women’s position in the church has been an issue. Think beyond that to the larger issue women’s status all over the world. Women earn less in the same positions that men have. Women are often not commended for their God given talents and abilities.

    Jesus’ presence on earth and his recognition of women is an example we should all follow. Women were important at the cradle throughout his life and to his death and resurrection. It is interesting that women were at the cross. Jesus first appeared to a woman when he arose.

    Women have often been programmed to accept the world view of women and feel ungodly if they step out of that role. Women need to get back to studying the scriptures to discover God’s view of women. I would also suggest reading the book, Unseduced and Unshaken by Dr. Rosalie de Rosset.


  7. Carrie

    I am so sorry this has happened to you. I too have been treated in the same way by my church. My husband is addicted to porn and is a narcissist as well ( in addition – untreated ADD ). He is also the nicest man you would want to meet. Yet when his “distance” and his lies/manipulation of the truth, his inappropriate “business relationships” and his use of porn all became too much to ignore I tried getting martial counseling x4. We then went to a sex addictions counselor referred by our church and then to our pastor. Thats when things went from horrible to horrifying. It is such a long story but the end result was the counselor/pastor we telling my husband he “had to stop me ” and that “if he didn’t save me from myself…nobody else could”. They then helped him find a lawyer that would help him make a case against me that I was “paranoid” so that he could take my kids away from me. Nevermind that I have raised them every day of their life and hold a very competent job as nurse for the last 20 years. I have proof of the conversations that took place with all 3 men as I was monitoring his computer ( as instructed by the therapist) that he ” was “to be very careful not to upset me” to help manage my paranoia!!

    I am still in the thick of this abuse …it has taken time for me to see this as abuse in addition to many other things he has done to cause ruin/ destruction. However with Gods help I have taken many steps to create a safety plan for both now while im still under the same roof and for the future to create permanent space (divorce…its still hard for me to say despite every painful day).

  8. Maybe, maybe not. It might change people to take it more seriously. On the other hand, I think one of the main components of the Church’s denial of dv is not so much that they don’t believe the victim so much as the inability of individuals and leaders in the church to accept that someone they know (and potentially like and respect) could be a perpetrator.

    Christians seem unwilling to believe that these awful things could be perpetrated in the church by someone they know.

    It is an issue that really hits home for me personally. My mother suffered extreme physical and emotional dv and sought help unsuccessfully from several pastors. My pastor knows my husband is abusive and is somewhat supportive, yet he teaches SS, right in the class next to mine and I have to listen to his loud voice every Sunday and listen to all the women in the church tell me how great he is and how much their kids love him. It’s so hard to bear that one Sunday I was shaking and crying in class (before the kids arrived). I considered quitting as a teacher even though I love it. One mother even wrote a long and very flowery thank you note to my husband praising him and he read it to me!

    I think people maintain their denial until it affects them or someone they care about.

  9. I totally agree with your statement of maintaining their denial until it affects them or someone they care about. The abuser can be so charming as he manipulates all around him into thinking he’s such a godly man. He deceives everyone as well as himself.

  10. We have a new pastor who actually believes me and Its a absolute answer to prayer for me and my boys. He is shaking up our church, please pray from him if you think about it. The thing I learned was the same fear my ex- created in me he used to control our whole church. Its amazing what death threats to a wife or children does to a strong man who is trying to support you. All of a sudden they are no longer around offering you shelter and support and you are on your own with the abuser once again. Christian women need to know that God loves us and if we need to chose between marriage and the marriage covenant and death (physically as well and mentally and emotionally, God would chose us to live!!! When is abuse worse than Divorce???? Its a good question to think about.. God choses life

  11. I am so glad to hear that your new pastor understands the dynamics of domestic violence. Perpetrators do manipulate and threaten not only the victim but those that are a part of her support system. God places a high value on the sanctity of life for those not born yet and those that are living. It is a slow and painful death of oneself the longer one stays in an abusive relationship. God gives us life. We are to be a good steward of the life he has given us and not let someone else suck the life out of us.

    FOCUS Ministries Inc.

  12. Paula,
    Good way to look at this! I was at one of your very first conferences. We are starting to get organized in Northern Michigan.
    JorI and Carrie, my heart goes out to you. I still pay for my abuse 24 years later. I went against the church and got is now a blessing. Healing would have never happened had I stayed. He brainwashed the kids. (Thanks to the church). I went back to school, got my bachelor’s degree, and now work in the Prosecutor’s office as a victim advocate.
    My ex begged me to stay, got ‘nice’ for a while, and promised to change. So glad I didn’t believe him. He is evil. I think I would be dead by now.the mental abuse was horrible!
    the biggest mistake I made was not leaving much sooner, when my kids were young, and not realizing counseling would help me, even if he wouldn’t go!
    my parents discounted the non-Christian counseling I got at the local shelter, but the So-called Christian counseling from the church was enabling the abuse!
    if you are drowning and someone throws you a rope, don’t ask if they are a Christian first!

  13. It is really a sad indictment of our Christian community as they respond poorly to the victim and abuser. Many abusers are empowered and victims are trampled under spiritual abuse. I am so sorry that your experiences have proven this to be true.

    Yet you moved forward with God’s help and without church support. There is so much work to be done in the area of domestic violence. It is a hard battle to fight, but a necessary one. I want to encourage you to stay in the battle. Lives are depending on it.

    There is hope and healing. I know for I have experienced it and I have seen many other lives being transformed.

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