Abuse comes in many forms. The following is an accurate definition of domestic violence offered by Paula Silva of Focus Ministries:
“Domestic violence is a repeated pattern of behavior used to gain power and control over another individual. (emphasis mine)
It’s done through various means. Anger is certainly one of the issues , instilling fear, intimidation, manipulation and it involves verbal abuse, emotional abuse ; it can be spiritual abuse, sexual abuse and of course physical abuse is part of it but not necessarily always there. The key thing is that it’s a repeated pattern and the other part is it’s power and control over another individual.”
We often tend to limit our own definition to physical abuse which only perpetrates the idea that other forms of abuse are okay or normal. They are not!
This month is about awareness. So what can you do? Realize that this crosses all cultural, racial, religious and economic lines. Please pay attention to those situations around you or within your own home which may be red flags to a domestic violence issue. If someone confides in you about an incident, do not downplay it or assume that it is an isolated occurrence. That is very rarely the case. Do not fool yourself in to believing that it will get better on its own. It will not without some type of outside help. Know what resources are available in your area to help those who are suffering in these relationships so you can offer the information when appropriate.
Finally, if you suspect someone is being abused but they are not saying so understand that, although it may not make sense to you, they are likely embarrassed and/or afraid to confide in anyone. Be a friend, make yourself available and open but do not push unless you feel they are in immediate physical danger. Most importantly, pray! Pray for both the victim and the abuser and any family members or others who may be affected by the relationship.