I will never forget the words I read in the newspaper to describe what happened to my mother. “Beaten To A Pulp.”
Domestic abuse is front and center today with the discovery of Gabby Petito’s body and the events that preceded her death. I read an article in People magazine where a park ranger stated she “urged the 22-yr-old to reconsider her relationship with fiancé Brian Laundrie.” Later in the article, she states she felt she didn’t do enough.
What is enough? Who is responsible? What should we do?
I was 8-yrs-old when my mother was brutally beaten to death by my father. There were countless interventions by family and the police before her murder. My parents were divorced when she died. She had a protection order. None of that mattered. She was still “beaten to a pulp” by my father.
Our instinct in these situations is to ask “Why?”
Why didn’t she leave? Why did she come back? Why did she stay? Why didn’t she ask for help? Why?
But I have a question: what about him? We are asking the wrong person this question. The violence is HIS sin, and it is NOT her fault. Domestic and abuse are two words that should not coexist. The violence perpetrated by men onto women exposes HIS sinfulness, not hers. When you question her, the truth is you are judging her. Judge him instead.
I grew up witnessing domestic violence almost daily until my mother died. There was nothing that anyone could do to stop my father when he went into a rage. My mother had 4 children by the time she was 24 years old. She felt stuck.
So, why didn’t she just leave? The answer to this question is usually found in what a woman firmly believes and falsely feels. Women don’t leave based on these beliefs:
- The abuse is normal. For my mother, this was true.
- I need to protect the family image, no matter the cost.
- My family problems are private – “what happens in this house…”
- She believes he will “never do it again.”
- He is “my world” or “all I have” – and usually he has made sure this is the case by isolating her.
- She believes “no one will help me.”
Domestic abuse is the result of a man seeking to get his need for love, significance, and security met illegitimately. He uses his victim to feel significant. So why are we not holding these men accountable and instead of asking why did she stay or why didn’t she leave, let’s ask him why did you hurt her?
Where does a man find love, significance, and security legitimately?
When boys don’t get the affirmation needed from their father (or a father role model), they feel the need to “prove themselves” in some way to everyone they encounter. He is seeking respect and significance. If he doesn’t find it, he will try to get this need met in an unhealthy way and inevitably, demand the respect he believes he deserves. A man feels significant when his life has meaning and purpose. A man will not be connected to his true purpose, feel whole, loved, and secure until he is connected to his Heavenly Father.
“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” – Psalm 1:1-3 [NLT]
A man is born male, but he chooses manhood. He chooses it based on what he sees. It is defined for him by his parents, teachers, pastors, media – all those who influence him as a boy. But no matter what he becomes he can always choose differently. We need godly men in our society who will hold violent men accountable and disciple them to choose manhood, not violence.
Fatherlessness is an epidemic in our society. Domestic abuse is a direct result. The abuser and the victim often both suffer from a father’s absence. A father’s presence results in higher confidence, security, and a sense of belonging. A father’s involvement results in better social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes.
What are the solutions?
For men, domestic violence is a crime. Every man who commits this crime should be held accountable and receive the penalty due. Seek professional help from a counselor and a batterer intervention program (BIP). Consistently exhibit characteristics of repentance, recovery, and restoration for a significant period. Take responsibility for your behavior. You can seek out assistance through your state’s coalition here.
If you are a woman caught in a cycle of violence or abuse, seek help to protect yourself and your children, if you have any. We have a hotline called Loveline to help women who are pregnant or women with small children in crisis situations. You can text 888-550-1588 to receive help. Realize that it is appropriate for you to set healthy boundaries and you can do this with the help of a counselor which Loveline will provide to you at no cost. You can commit today to no longer suffer in silence.
“There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” – Proverbs 23:18