I’ve spent time with women in stinky relationships–and it’s hard. Life is difficult. Unpredictable. Painful. Hopeful. Then heart-breaking, hope-shattering, disappointing.
Because women in abuse relationships don’t talk to others about the pain, shame, and abuse, they rarely hear what other women in similar situations say. If they did, they’d hear:
- “When everything is good, he’s a great guy. When he drinks/does drugs/gets in a bad mood, life is ugly.”
- “I don’t want to live without him.”
- “He needs me. I help him. I don’t want to think about what could happen if I’m not there for him.”
- “The kids love him.”
- “We need him.”
A woman will leave and return seven times before making a final decision not to go back. The truth is, most abusers don’t change. They say they will. They “try.” They manipulate. But they keep returning to the same habits and patterns of power and control.
The Bible calls this type of individual a fool. He despises wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7), hates knowledge (Proverbs 1:22, 29), does not accept counsel (Proverbs 1:30), practices wickedness like sport (Proverbs 10:23), brings trouble to his house (Proverbs 11:29), is right in his own eyes (Proverbs 12:15), displays anger on impulse (Proverbs 12:16), refuses to turn from evil (Proverbs 13:19), is arrogant, careless and quick-tempered (Proverbs 14:16), and despises his mother (Proverbs 15:20). Sound familiar?
What happens to people who spend time with fools? The Bible says they suffer harm (Proverbs 13:20) and are unable to discern truth from lies (Proverbs 14:7). Proverbs suggests leaving his presence (Proverbs 14:7) or hiding one’s self (Proverbs 22:3).
What this means is that you–the woman experiencing the trauma, uncertainty, trickery, and abuse–must change. This does not mean you are responsible for the abuse. He is the fool. If you took a snapshot of his life, you would see victim after victim. You are one individual in a string of others. His behavior will continue until he decides to get help. You cannot be his help; his sin is on his own shoulders. No one can bear it except Jesus, and that requires absolute surrender and repentance. That obviously hasn’t happened. He has a choice. You have a choice.
On your own, you will struggle to call him out, risk his displeasure, and resist evil. One man who spent years running for his life, hiding and enduring persecution wrote, “My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26). God can give you the strength you need to do what’s right. He is trustworthy. He will deliver and rescue your life from the pit (Job 33:24). Not only that, God has provided a group of individuals, the Church, who are His hands, feet, and body here on earth.
Ask God for help. Look to Jesus. You need His forgiveness for your own sin–and He promises to provide all you need (Philippians 4:19, 2 Peter 1:3-4). Look for a church that teaches from the Bible, whose people love one another. They will love you. They will listen. They will help.
Your abuser will not change. Your circumstances will not change. You must change.
For practical help and information on personal change in an abusive relationship, read Sanctuary: Help and Hope for Victims of Domestic Abuse.