Abusive relationships are not uncommon among dating single Christians. Some singles have been in an abusive relationship, and know the pain that goes with it. Sadly, other single Christians reading this article right now are presently in an abusive relationship, but may not know it or be in denial over it. While in the rest of this article we will designate the victim as a “she”, over 10% of abusive relationships consist of women against men. Abusive relationships come in all sizes and shapes, which at times could make it difficult to realize you or one of your friends are actually in one. Would you know it if you were dating an abuser?
Abusive Dating Relationships Are About Power and Control
The victim of an abusive relationship may suffer one or more of the following forms of abuse:
Abusive Relationships and Isolation
In an abusive relationship the abuser is obsessively possessive and jealous.He has tight reigns on what the victim does, where she goes or who she talks to on the cell phone.
Abusive Relationships and Emotional Attacks
The abusive dating partner will often make the other party feel inept, stupid or crazy. He accomplishes this through manipulative words or acions. He may accomplish this through putdowns about her appearance or intelligence. He may also inexplicably withdraw affection, using it as a weapon. All of this wreaks havoc on the abused’s self esteem.
Abusive Relationships and Intimidation
In an abusive relationship there are often subtle forms of intimidation by the use of body language (facial expressions, gestures, etc). An escalation in this area would also include yelling, ranting and smashing items precious to the victim. This a bad scene all around. Abusive Relationships and Threats
If the perpetrator in an abusive relationship is not getting his way, he may resort to making threats of physical violence against the other person, their children or even themselves: “If you leave me I will kill you and myself.”
Abusive Relationships and Physical Violence
In this most dangerous stage of an abusive relationship, physical violence could very well include beatings and/or sexual abuse. The abuser will often apologize afterwards through tears and promises, and the victim will usually forgive them or be afraid to report the incidents, even to the local church leaders.
Proactive Steps to Take in an Abusive Relationship
- Never give up outside relationships with family, your local church pastor and trusted friends who can give godly advice in time of need. In this regard, the benefits of being involved in a Christian singles small group cannot be overstated. Remember, since the victims in abusive relationships tend to be co-dependent, keeping contacts with the outside world will help them maintain realistic thinking.
- Educate yourself on the resources available for victims in abusive relationships. A good place to start in the US is the National Domestic Violence Hotline. They can be accessed via the web at ndvh.org. In the UK, you may want to check out hiddenhurt.co.uk. In Australia, a great abusive relationship resource can be found at dvirc.org.au/HelpHub/HelpIndex.htm
- Seek professional Christian counseling to help guide you through the issues that caused you to get into an abusive relationship. This is important because unless you learn why you got into such a relationship, you will likely repeat the process.