What you need to know:
- Victims of domestic abuse should know that God wants them alive and should not resign themselves to violence.
- No counsellor or pastor wants to carry the tag of a “home breaker.” The paradox arises when the same victim reconciles with the abuser, forgives and remains in that home. You don’t want stories out there branding you as the helper who advises people to destroy marriages.
- When all is said and done, the victim remains the credible determinant on whether or not she/he should remain in the marriage. No one else can make that call.
The heartbreaking story of Jackline Mwende, whose limbs were hacked off, stands out for so many reasons. Media reports say that Mwende “stayed in the marriage” on the advise of her pastor, whom she had turned to for marital counsel. The pastor advised her to endure, persevere and pray for a better day.
Marriage matters are complex and it is pedestrian to assume that someone will walk away just because the pastor or counsellor said so. The victim can be given objective counsel upon which she can make a decision whether to walk away or not. It remains the victim's choice to stay or not to stay.
No counsellor or pastor wants to carry the tag of a “home-breaker.” The paradox arises when the same victim reconciles with the abuser, forgives and remains in that home. You don’t want stories out there branding you as the helper who advises people to destroy marriages.
Ministers of the gospel hold the marriage union dearly and the default position is to try to help the couple reconcile. When couples come for help, the pastor feels obligated to bring them into what the Word of God teaches about a marriage that honours God and builds one another. This is informed by the Word and prayer is one of the actions expected to bring healing and reconciliation.
Unfortunately, not all married couples reconcile and people still go separate ways. Those in marriage need truthful engagement so that they can make informed decisions. When all is said and done, the victim remains the credible determiner on whether or not to remain in the marriage. No one else can make that call.
Victims of domestic abuse should know that God wants them alive and should not resign themselves to violence.
Their children are better off away from an abusive spouse. The ball is in the abuser’s court. By their actions, they have already kicked out the victim and poisoned the union. They cannot blame the other for the toxicity they have introduced into the marriage.
Although “good and humble” people can change in the course of marriage to become “evil and murderous”, one should take note of the following red flags during the dating season:
Anger outbursts and fits of rage
Demeaning words and insults
Threats of physical violence or actual battering
Sexual abuse against you or others
Holding of grudges and throwing tantrums
Lack of self-control and flirtatious behaviour
Emotional immaturity and lack of boundaries
Insecurity and irrational fear
Demand for unquestionable loyalty and subservience
You are always wrong in a conflict and apologies are never offered
How can the society help?
Demonstrate to children that there is no need for violence in resolving marital conflicts
Teach boys and girls to honour each other and be free to express their opinions
Empower couples to address marital issues objectively
Couples to commit to Godly principles of running their homes
Avoid ostracizing and stigmatizing those whose marriages have broken
Train those who are dating on legal and righteous ways of handling conflicts
Run seminars and workshops for married couples to enrich their homes
Churches can have safe houses where victims of violence can find refuge as they sort
This article is an abridged version of this blog post