I am so thankful for this community. I hope I get to meet you all at our CONQUER CONFERENCE in October. For a sneak peek at the speakers who will be there, I will be doing five FB Lives next week, one each day. Each day I will be chatting with you and one of the speakers for our conference. We will provide fun, valuable content, and will be giving away some free tickets to the CONQUER CONFERENCE! All you have to do is show up live to the FB event to win. It’s truly going to be life changing.
Our first Facebook Live on Monday, June 4th at 7:30 PM ET. Click here to watch it.
Today's Question: I love that you are helping women who are abused… and I loved your recent newsletter article about suffering for Jesus, while doing the right thing, not just by remaining abused… I sent it to my Pastor.
I guess my only fear is, what about the women who feel that putting up boundaries or leaving a severely abusive and suicidal spouse is even more dangerous than staying?
My husband was an ex-boxer so I'm pretty sure he has a head injury… he also self-medicates a lot… we've been married 35 years, and I do have some boundaries, but I've also done a lot of enabling… how can someone like me get free when he's not all there?
Answer: Great question. Studies do show that some women face more danger when trying to leave an abusive marriage either through separation or divorce. An abusive spouse is possessive. He often believes he owns you. If he’s also suicidal and/or homicidal it makes your safety even more perilous. That does not mean you should not leave or continue to allow yourself to be abused, but it means that you must have a well thought out and executed exit and permanent safety plan.
As I’ve said before, God cares about your safety. He does not value the sanctity of marriage more than your safety and sanity. Click To Tweet
The Bible supports this when it says in Proverbs “The prudent see danger and take refuge.” We see God warning Joseph in a dream that baby Jesus was in danger from King Herod, and told him to flee to Nazareth. He didn’t tell Joseph to submit to Herod, even though Herod was the King.
I’ve developed an acronym for victims of abuse to be more aware of their own level of danger in an abusive relationship. The presence of any of these nine factors represents a danger. If multiple factors are present, your danger levels increase.
D – Divorce or Separation
A – Alcohol or Drug Use
N – Narcissistic Tendencies
G – Guns or weapons around
E – Emotionally Unstable (mental health problems, head injuries that lead to violent behavior, etc)
R – Rebellious (won’t listen to authority)
O – Other Violent Behaviors (violent towards animals, road rage)
U – Unpredictable – Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde
S – Suicide or Homicide Threats
It is beyond the scope of this blog to provide you with an adequate and well thought out personal safety plan for your particular situation but here are some general things to consider.
First is your temporary safety. When you sense that an abusive incident is developing, take action to get safe. I shared a diagram of the abusive cycle several blogs ago. Click here to view the diagram. Once the tension building phase starts, you should start implementing your safety plan. Don’t wait until the abusive incident starts.
For example, make sure you know what rooms in your house have exits such as rooms with windows or rooms that have two different doorways. Pay attention to what rooms have locks on them such as your bathroom. Develop an exit strategy to temporarily leave the house when he’s getting worked up or drinking too much. Have extra money hidden somewhere, and know where you will go if you have to leave. Do you have a friend or relative with whom you have preplanned that you can to go to at a moment’s notice? Make an extra set of car keys and keep them in the garage or some other outside place so that if you have to leave quickly or he’s holding your keys, you can get away.
If you have younger children at home, make a plan on how will you get them out safely. For example, you can let them know when you say a certain word, or have a prearranged signal that they are to all meet you in the car, or at a neighbors house.
Leaving temporarily doesn’t fix anything, but it can help you avoid an abusive incident. If you’re worried about him getting mad about you leaving, here is a phrase that works for some women. They leave and then text their husband, this: “I saw you were getting increasingly stressed out and I left to give you some time and space to calm down. I’ll be back later.”
Only you know how much time he will need. It may be an hour, it may be overnight. Make your safety plan accordingly. However if you are having frequent abusive incidents at home, this plan is not adequate to ensure your safety even temporarily.
Your second pressing need is more permanent safety. God is not asking you to be a martyr in your marriage. He is not asking you to sacrifice your life in order to enable your husband to continue to sin against you. If you sacrificed your life to save him from drowning or suffered because you were doing him some sort of good, that’s commendable. But the suffering that enables sin to flourish is not God’s will.
To develop a more extensive safety plan to separate or divorce an abusive spouse who exhibits one or more of those DANGEROUS signs requires strategic planning and usually a consultation with an expert in domestic violence. You can start now by gathering financial paperwork you will need to have copies of for your records. For example, make copies of past tax records, bank statements, investments. Make sure you have in your possession birth certificates, passports, and other important documents that you and your children will need when you exit. The phone number of the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse is 1 800 799 SAFE (7233). They will help you walk through a personal safety plan.
Here are 3 websites that offer detailed safety planning.
Please take some steps to get a plan in place and execute it. Too many victims think it won’t happen to them. Don’t let that be you.
Friends, what did you do to develop and execute a safety plan – either to avoid an abusive incident or to get out of the dangerous marriage permanently?