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Identifying Verbal and Emotional Abuse
and Grounds for Divorce

This is a collection of several new resources on abuse
created by women who have personally been through the valley. They understand this topic intimately and have recovered strong voices to enlighten others.

Del Hungerford's book "...but words will never hurt me" is a deeply personal window into the intimate thoughts of a woman as she experiences that "frog in the kettle" journey of being killed emotionally by degrees without being aware of what is happening. Del kept a detailed journal throughout her journey which she has turned into a book to help women who are not sure, "Am I being abused?" By the close of the book, one knows Del as intimately as a dear friend. The book is available for purchase from Del's website at www.freefromverbalabuse.net with a companion workbook also available (in Word format via e-mail attachment). In Chapter 22- provided for your review in pdf format- click here, Del shares the poignant moments where it became clear to her that various episodes in her marital history fit right in with textbook definitions of "abuse."

Blogger Hannah has done a great service for us in her 9 part series (click here) analyzing and clearly identifying the abusive mindset and behaviors with the aid of video clips from an episode of the "Super Nanny" program. She also compares and contrasts Super Nanny's assertive, no-nonsense approach with the often anemic and counterproductive approach of churches to the problem of abuse in the home.

Barbara Roberts in "Not Under Bondage" has thoroughly analyzed the biblical texts which often been interpreted in a way that keeps people in bondage to an abusive marriage. That she comes squarely within a traditional, conservative, complementarian framework is a strength of this resource. Her insights will resonate with a broad conservative audience of women whose welfare has sometimes been ignored and even trampled by the traditional interpretations and applications of scriptures concerning Christian marriage and divorce. Barbara's website including helpful resources and clips from her book will be found here: www.notunderbondage.com

To give the reader an idea of Barbara Roberts thorough conservative reliance on Scripture, here are a few clips from "Not Under Bondage" from the early chapters on abuse:

Page 25: In such circumstances, it may seem to outsiders that the wife wears the trousers. What outsiders do not realize is that the wife's prominence in decision-making is a result of her husband mismanaging his headship. She has to make unilateral decisions in the face of his negligent attitudes in order to keep the family functioning.

Page 29: The principle of separation

The Bible teaches a principle of separation. We are not yet considering whether this principle applies specifically to marriage, just establishing that there is a general principle of separation. Paul instructed the young pastor, Timothy, to avoid wicked unbelievers and pseudo-believers. These instructions can be found in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Words in square brackets are from the King James Version; they are added because they help illuminate certain meanings.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving [without natural affection], unforgiving [trucebreakers], slanderers [false accusers], without self-control, brutal, despisers of [those that are] good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

Paul tells Timothy to turn away from people who are without natural affection. This term means "without love for family members." Having a form of godliness describes someone whose public persona is moral and pious. Most people think, "He is such a nice person!" Despisers of those that are good describes people who seem to hate the goodness in others precisely because it pricks their own consciences. We find an example of this in the account of Amnon's rape and hatred of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13. When Tamar spoke up and rebuked Amnon for his wickedness, he hated her all the more for her righteousness.

There are other verses that instruct separation: Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them (Eph. 5:11). Cast out the scoffer and contention will leave; yes, strife and reproach will cease (Prov. 22:10). Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul (Prov. 22:24- 25). Go from the presence of a foolish man, when you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge (Prov. 14:7). Do not eat the bread of a miser, nor desire his delicacies (Prov. 23:6-7); see also Proverbs 24:1-2 and Romans 16:17-18.

Page 32: How legitimate is it to apply these principles to domestic abuse?

For a victim of abuse, it may be something of a revelation to consider these principles. When she reads 2 Timothy 3:1-5, almost every word in Paul's list applies to her spouse. Despisers of those that are good (KJV) is particularly reminiscent of the abuser's mentality. Some reforming abusers have even confessed that "She wound up being beaten for doing exactly what I wanted her to do." Indeed several of the six items in 1 Corinthians 5:11 fit also. But she will probably hesitate to jump to the conclusion that this means she should leave her abusive husband. After all, she may still love him, or at least feel a wifely obligation to treat him kindly, overlook his faults, and stay loyal to her marriage vows. After all, 1 Peter 3:1 says wives should submit to their husbands even if they do not obey the word (i.e. the word of Christ). Since church and marriage are two distinct institutions, verses on conduct within the church do not necessarily shed light on conduct within a marriage. These principles of justice, integrity and separative discipline apply in the public and ecclesiastical realm. We must further examine scripture to find whether they apply within the home. What does God expect us to hold as more fundamental: societal relationships or self-protection? Gospel witness or separation from the unrepentant? Long-suffering, or rebuke and self-defense?

These are all very difficult questions and contribute to the bewilderment of the victim. She feels completely tied up in knots: what does the Bible really say, what parts of it apply to her? If she thinks of one scripture, she can immediately think of another scripture that seems to negate it.

In the next two chapters we will examine the teaching in 1 Corinthians 7 which tells us how the principle of separation applies to marriage.

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