Twitter sheds light on non-physical forms of abuse

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.


Thank you for visiting The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors blog!  We share lots of resources and links on our Facebook page, so if you’d like to learn more about gender issues in the Christian Church, “Like” us there!

#GodHatesAbuse #AbuseIsGroundsForDivorce #YouAreWorthyOfLove

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8 responses to “Twitter sheds light on non-physical forms of abuse

  1. Vashra Araeshkigal

    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 reaearch how many suicide notes mention something someone *said* (not did) to the victim before he or she chose suicide.

    • Thank you SO much for this comment. I agree wholeheartedly with you. Was attempting to highlight how pastors tend to diminish emotional abuse and did the same in the process.

  2. Ruth Perry….Your comment about “eggshells” so resonated with me. It’s the exact word I used many, many years ago. Speaking about it did no good. It continued for a total of 32 years when “the other woman” took him off my hands. If only I had known so much more then–like I do now. Keep speaking!

  3. I just listened to Piper’s video. “The church” did know of my ex’s sin. In fact, the pastor told me that he had known about it for 18 months BEFORE I made it public and the pastor did nothing. NOTHING. The second church was just as bad. They catered to and coddled him, poor thing. No respect for Piper.

  4. ‘Christ has many words other than “be submissive”‘ says John Piper. Hang on a minute, Jesus NEVER said ‘be submissive’! And what if you don’t have a church to turn to either because they don’t want to know or because your spouse (and I do object to the idea that it is always women who are the victims of abuse) has isolated you from the rest of the world? Absolute, unadulterated and very harmful piffle. I am ashamed of John Piper saying things like this, I really am.

  5. Reblogged this on multicolouredsmartypants and commented:
    Abuse has many faces. For many years I stayed with the highly abusive man who was my first husband because of teachings like this. My children learned that it was ok to be nasty to mummy. They were being brought up in a miserable, soul-destroying home. It is not the abuse towards me that breaks my heart to recall, it is the fact that they were there too. I have no words to describe the abject horror of the seemingly innocuous words from John Piper on this issue. This teaching is not just wrong, it is wicked.

  6. Pingback: End of Year Rundown and Fun Stuff | The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors

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