You may not be in an abusive relationship, but I guarantee you know people who are. The actual numbers of women who at some point in their lives experience stalking, rape, and/or physical abuse is astounding, and they are no different in the church. On a recent episode of Your Hope-Filled Perspective podcast, I talked with attorney and domestic abuse survivor, Charlene Quint talking about recognizing, removing, and recovering from domestic abuse in a “Christian” marriage. Today, she is sharing to increase awareness and help us understand what domestic abuse is.
Read to the end to enter the book giveaway!
What is Domestic Abuse?
Charlene D. Quint, J.D., Certified Domestic Violence Professional
As a family law attorney who focuses my practice on helping women and their children escape from domestic abuse, I am asked a lot of questions about abuse. As I share about domestic abuse, I’ll address some of the more common questions I am regularly asked about domestic abuse and address some common myths and misperceptions too.
What is domestic abuse? Domestic abuse is defined as attitudes and behaviors that are intended to obtain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner, such as a spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend. This is a rather broad definition because the attitudes and behaviors that can control someone else are limited only by the imagination and creativity of the abuser. This definition is used by the United Nations, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and other groups who support victims of domestic abuse.
Is domestic abuse the same as domestic violence? Yes, these terms are used interchangeably.
Are the rates of domestic abuse the same for men and women? No, approximately 90% of abusers are male. Because of this, in this article, we will refer to the abuser with the personal pronoun “he” and the victim of abuse with the pronoun “she.” However, there are, of course, female abusers too.
If someone is not being hit, it’s really not domestic abuse, is it? Many people think that because someone is not being physically hurt, the actions cannot constitute abuse. This is a common myth. Domestic abuse takes on many forms:
Emotional and verbal abuse
Emotional and verbal abuse is the most common form of domestic abuse. It occurs in 100% of abusive relationships. Emotional and verbal abuse is the easiest form of abuse to inflict, as well as the easiest form of abuse to deny, which is why it is so common. Many people do not even recognize these behaviors as abusive.
Emotional and verbal abuse can include many tactics, including:
- constant criticism
- false accusations
- projection (accusing the other person of things the abuser is guilty of himself)
- gaslighting (saying or doing something harmful and then denying they did it to make the other person question their reality),
- social isolation
- making unreasonable demands
- being unable to please
- triangulating (playing others against each other)
- ad hominem attacks (attacking a person’s worth rather than discussing the merits of an issue)
- using GPS trackers and recording devices
- and playing the victim (seeking pity after the abuser has suffered the consequences of his wrongful actions).
Financial abuse is the second-most common form of abuse, occurring in 99% of abusive relationships. Money wields power. Those seeking power over others will control the money in the family. Most often, the abuser is the partner with the money, and will use the following tactics to gain and maintain power and control over his partner:
- allowing no access to family funds
- forcing the spouse to quit work outside the home
- forcing the spouse to end her education
- forcing the spouse to hand over her paycheck
- holding all assets and accounts in only the abuser’s name
- acting as the sole decision maker
- making risky investments
- extravagant purchases
- hiding assets
- allowing no information to the spouse
- taking or spending a spouse’s funds without permission
- taking out loans or credit cards in the name of the spouse without permission
- and not honoring financial commitments and agreements (including child support and maintenance).
Sometimes, however, the abuser is the partner who leaches off someone who has more money. In these cases, the abuser may refuse to get a job, refuse to contribute monetarily or otherwise to the family, and lives as a parasite off his or her partner.
Physical abuse is a common form of abuse, occurring in 98% of abusive relationships. However, physical abuse does not always leave bruises or scars. The more intelligent abusers find ways to physically abuse their partners without leaving evidence of the abuse.
Physical abuse tactics may include:
- hair pulling
- and using weapons.
However, it can also include:
- refusing to take a partner to get medical attention when they need it
- refusing to feed or care for a partner if they are ill or otherwise unable to care for themself
- denying basic needs
- abandoning them by leaving/forcing them outside a car/motorcycle/boat and driving away
- leaving them in harms’ way
- damaging a car with the intent to cause an accident (cutting break lines, putting bald tires on, etc.)
- hitting with objects
- stalking, and
- throwing objects
Sexual abuse occurs in the majority of abusive relationships. In fact, rape occurs in 68% of abusive relationships, and, of those, 80% of the time, it occurs repeatedly.
Other forms of sexual abuse include:
- demanding sex in exchange for money, rent, groceries, or other necessities
- aggressive or painful sex
- sexual deviancy
- risky sex
- shaming one’s partner
- demanding sex at inconvenient times and/or places
- pouting or hounding or threats if a partner doesn’t comply with demands for sex
- sex on demand, and
Abusers view others as objects to be used, not loved ones to be cherished. This is true in their sexual relationships, as well as other aspects of relationships. Abusers view sex as a means to gratify their own needs, without respect for the other person. The partner of an abuser feels used, not loved. People who abuse often have multiple partners and multiple affairs.
Spiritual abuse occurs in any abusive relationship in which spirituality is important to the partner of the abuser. With spiritual abuse, the abuser misuses and twists scriptural authority to justify the abuser’s abuse and control over the partner, mocks or criticizes the faith of his partner, and/or criticizes her for not living up to the standards of her faith. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, spiritual abuse tactics often include:
- claims that he is the “head of the household” and that she must “submit” to him
- claims that she must satisfy his sexual desires whenever he wants
- claims that she must forgive him for all past offenses and reconcile
- claims that “God hates divorce” and that she would anger God if she divorced him
- claims that divorce is a sin
- claims that she should not judge him, and
- claims she must accept his abusive behavior because “that is what love does.”
An ever-popular tactic is using the phrase, “If you loved me, you would [fill in the blank for anything he wants her to do.]” Whenever anyone uses this phrase, it is always a manipulation ploy. If the person saying this actually loved the person he was talking to, he wouldn’t say this in the first place.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or reach out to your local domestic violence shelter. We were designed to live in life-giving, uplifting, encouraging relationships. We were never designed to live in abusive relationships. There is hope and healing after domestic abuse.
About Charlene D. Quint:
Charlene Quint is a family law attorney in the Chicago area who focuses her practice on helping women overcome domestic abuse. She wrote Overcoming the Narcissist, Sociopath, Psychopath, and Other Domestic Abusers to help victims of domestic abuse become the fearless victors that God designed them to be. She is the founder of AbuseCare.org, a nondenominational faith-based organization designed to provide hope and healing to women in their journey from victim to victorious and to educate and equip churches in caring for victims of domestic abuse. Quint is co-chair of the Partnership for a Safer Lake County, a network of organizations combating all forms of abuse. She is a Certified Domestic Violence Professional, an advocate for victims of abuse, a facilitator of multiple support groups, and a domestic abuse survivor. She speaks publicly to raise awareness of domestic abuse and provides training for churches on how to address abuse in the church.
In conjunction with this post and the podcast interview, Domestic Abuse in a Christian Marriage – Episode 182, Charlene is giving away a free copy of her book, Overcoming the Narcissist, Sociopath, Psychopath, and Other Domestic Abusers.
Leave a comment below sharing with us one thing you learned about domestic abuse and you will be entered into the contest for your chance to win a copy of her book.
You could also share this blog post on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter then comment here to tell us where you shared it and you’ll also be entered into the drawing.
The winner will be selected at random and announced next Monday, October 17, 2022. Continental United States only.