Over 1.3 million women are victims of domestic violence each year. Take a minute to mentally absorb how many women that is.
Now quickly, think of four women you know. According to statistics, one of those four is a domestic abuse victim. We need to reflect on and properly respond to these acts of epidemic proportion in society today.
We typically associate a certain stereotype with a victim of domestic violence. But, it affects individuals “in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality, or educational background.”1
Read Psalm 34:18, NLT.
The Bible does not teach that people may abuse one another. We are God’s children and deserve to be treated accordingly. God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our closest neighbors are our spouses and children. The apostle Paul taught that family members, out of devotion to Christ, can and should demonstrate mutual subjection, love, and respect.2
In this unit, we will:
- Understand the differences between situational violence and domestic abuse; discover the types of abuse
- Understand the cycle of abuse
- Learn to recognize the characteristics of the abused and the abuser
- Understand the obligations of the Church toward abuse victims
- Learn the issues of starting and maintaining a ministry to domestic abuse victims and their families
This unit is written with the underlying assumption that the “abuser” is a male, and the “abused” is a female, while recognizing that in some cases an abuser might be a female, and the abused a male. We are also assuming that, although anyone may be guilty of some form of abuse at some time in his life, true domestic abuse occurs in a pattern that is repeated multiple times.
Here are some free downloadable forms that will help as you begin a local ministry to domestic violence victims:
- Fragile Soul Facilitator Guide
- Fragile Soul Promotion
- Fragile Soul Confidentiality Statement
- Fragile Soul Life History Questionnaire
- American Bar Association
- Faith Trust Institute
- Family Violence Prevention Fund
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
- U.S. Department of Justice
- Bancroft, Lundy. Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. Colorado Springs: Penguin, 2003.
- Canfield, Muriel. Broken and Battered: A Way Out for the Abused Woman. New York City: Howard Books, 2010.
- Cloud, Henry, and Townsend, John. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, revised 2017.
- Heitritter, Lynn, and Vought, Jeanette. Helping Victims of Sexual Abuse: A Sensitive Biblical Guide for Counselors, Victims and Families. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2006.
- Fortune, Marie M. Keeping the Faith: Guidance for Christian Women Facing Abuse. San Francisco: HarperOne, 1995.
- Miles, Al. Domestic Violence: What Every Pastor Needs to Know. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2011.
- Murphy, Nancy A., M.A. God’s Reconciling Love: A Pastor’s Handbook on Domestic Violence. Seattle, WA: FaithTrust Institute, 2003.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
CANDY TOLBERT previously served the Assemblies of God National Office as Girls Ministries Director, and before that, as Leadership Development Coordinator for National Women’s Ministries. She has served in ministry positions for her entire adult life, including being a children’s pastor, author, ministry wife, and more. She originally wrote a ministry packet for National Women’s Ministries called Fragile Soul from which part of the contents of this unit originated.
DARLA KNOTH is resource development and content editor for National Women’s Ministries.
BETHZAIDA GARCIA contributed to the resources and downloadables for this unit. She is director of Life in Your Hands ministry in Orlando, Florida, and serves as an advocate for domestic violence awareness throughout Central Florida and beyond.
2. Clergy Committee of the Fourth Judicial Circuit Family Violence Coordinating Council. Used with permission.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Fragile Soul: Ministering to Victims of Domestic Violence” is published by the National Women’s Department at women.ag.org, 2020. Permission granted to reprint for personal use or within a teaching setting. Do not reproduce.