The Twitter handle #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou, started by the BBC, has given victims of emotional, spiritual, financial and other forms of abuse a platform to share a glimpse into their experiences.
Often, the pain and trauma of non-physical abuse is dismissed or ignored. Because the bruising to a victim’s psyche and soul are not visible, they do not receive the help and healing needed or the support to leave. Slowly, they are beaten down to a place of low self-esteem and self-doubt and they begin to believe the lies of their abuser. They experience symptoms of PTSD or anxiety or other conditions from their distress and this gives their abuser the added ammunition to claim they are the crazy one, they are the cause of the abuse.
Sadly, these types of abuse are very common in patriachal, fundamentalist religions, and pastors typically respond poorly, disbelieving the “allegations” and giving preference to the man’s reputation over the woman’s well-being. Women in abusive marriages are urged to remain with their abusers rather than escape the abuse and begin the journey to healing and wholeness. For example, John Piper, a prominent leader in Evangelicalism, gave this advice to an abused woman:
John Piper first giggles at the question, then diminishes the severity of non-physical abuse. I can only imagine how the abuse would ramp up if this wife turned to her church leadership to intervene. Abusers insist on keeping the family dynamic a secret. Therefore, she would rather remain silent so that the abuse does not escalate, as she will not be given the support needed to leave the relationship. “Emotionally abusive people are very concerned with their public image,” counselor Amanda Perl is quoted in the BBC article. “They are often extremely charming to the outside world in order to undermine any case you might have to discredit them or bring a spotlight on their behaviour.”
And don’t even get me started on sexual abuse in Christian marriage, where a woman’s body is not her own and she is taught to never say no, to submit in everything.
There are some excellent resources on the internet for Christian women in abusive relationships. I recommend the blogs A Cry for Justice and Spiritual Sounding Board as well as the books and blog by Leslie Vernick.
Here are a few examples of #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou tweets:
And my own contribution:
EDIT: After receiving the following excellent comment, I changed “non-violent” to “non-physical” throughout this post.
I take exception to labeling these actions as “non-violent.” I think that specific mislabeling is part of why these forms of abuse are dismissed out of hand.
These forms of abuse are not *physical*, but they are very violent. If I hold someone at gunpoint and take his money but never lay a hand on him, my actions will be called “ASSAULT with a deadly weapon.” The tongue is also a potential weapon, and anyone who thinks it cannot be deadly should research how many suicide notes mention something someone *said* (not did) to the victim before he or she chose suicide.
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#GodHatesAbuse #AbuseIsGroundsForDivorce #YouAreWorthyOfLove