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  • October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Many Christian counselors, pastors, and lay leaders are still woefully ill equipped to handle this very important issue despite 1 in 4 Christian women reporting being in a destructive marriage. I invite you to visit my website that I’ve designed to educate and equip pastors, counselors and church leaders on this very important topic. Please check out www.leslievernick.com/counselors and sign up to receive information about additional training opportunities.

Five Things You Can Do to Help
Someone That Has Been Abused and Why It’s Good for You to Do So

Leslie Vernick

I watched a television show a while back called, What Would You Do? In it, an actor fell down on a crowded city sidewalk, seemingly unconscious. The show wanted to see if anyone would stop to help. Sadly few did. More people stopped when the person who fell was an attractive young woman. Not so many stopped to help a man. When it was a man dressed as a homeless person with a bottle of alcohol in his hand, only one person stopped to help – another homeless person.

We’ve all been in situations where something has happened or someone has disclosed something to us and we act as if we don’t see it, or don’t hear it. Jesus tells a story like that, where the religious leaders who should have helped, instead ignored and walked past someone who was beaten and laying on the side of the road (Luke 10:25-37).

In this story could Jesus have been talking about you? Or me?

October is Domestic Violence awareness month. Men, women, and children who attend our church and live in our neighborhood are suffering in homes where abuse is present. Yet we don’t want to see it and it’s easy to ignore. But that would be wrong. It hurts them and it hurt us. When we ignore someone desperate for help they continue to suffer and we lose our humanity.

Jesus tells his followers, “Whenever you helped someone who was overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40 The Message). When we take our time to help someone, Jesus says, we are ministering to Him.

Here are five things that you can do if you know someone is in an abusive relationship.

1. Listen hard, speak little. People who disclose problems at home usually feel a great deal of shame. It’s already difficult for them to talk about it but when we jump in with our response or offer a solution, we often shut them down or give unwise or trite answers to a very painful and complex problem. Proverbs says, “He who answers before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13).

2. Validate their experience. It’s normal to feel afraid to tell a family secret. It’s common to blame oneself for one’s partner’s abusive behaviors. Don’t minimize, trivialize or rationalize things away. Saying things like, “I can’t believe what you’re saying, he or she seems so nice or godly or normal” is hurtful. Instead say things like, “It was good that you told someone.” Or “I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but telling is the first step to getting help.” Or “No matter how you disappoint your husband (or wife), you don’t deserve to be treated this way.”

3. Pray. We often forget how potent prayer is and even when we don’t know the whole story, God does. Sometimes we feel helpless to really know what to do in these kinds of situations. Prayer is an important reminder that God is in charge and loves both the abused and the abuser. We must bring the situation before God daily, asking Him to intervene in a way that we cannot imagine.

4. Offer tangible help. James says, “Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing and you say, ‘Well, goodbye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well’ – but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn't show itself by good deeds is no faith at all – it is dead and useless.” (James 2:16,17). Does the person need medical attention? Counseling help? Legal aid? A safe place to live? Sometimes people need concrete support to break free from abusive patterns and it takes the loving and tangible resources of a community of people to help someone. The Good Samaritan didn’t just pray, he also carted the broken and battered person to the inn and paid for his care.

5. Advocate and/or report where needed and appropriate. If you are a mandated reporter and a child discloses that he/she has been a victim of abuse, you must report this disclosure to the proper authorities. However an adult victim of spousal abuse needs an advocate too. Someone who will come along side of him/her and speak with community agencies, attend legal proceedings and help communicate with church leaders in order to have the best possible hope for repentance, healing, and reconciliation of the family.

I have a framed card in my office that says, “On the street I saw a small girl cold and shivering in a thin dress, with little hope of a decent meal. I became angry and said to God: why did you permit this? Why don’t you do something about it? For a while God said nothing. That night He replied quite suddenly: I certainly did something about it. – I made you.”

Edmund Burke once said, “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men (and women) to do nothing.”

We may not be able to do everything needed to stem the tide of violence at home, but we certainly can do something. What can you do today?

Book Giveaway


The Emotionally Destructive Marriage

by Leslie Vernick

You can’t put it into words, but something is happening to you. Your stomach churns, your heart aches, and the tension in your marriage is making you feel weary and a little crazy. The constant criticism, disrespect, cruelty, deceit, and gross indifference are eroding your confidence and breaking your spirit.

For any woman caught in an emotionally destructive marriage, Leslie Vernick offers a personalized path forward. Based on decades of counseling experience, her intensely practical, biblical advice will show you how to establish boundaries and break free from emotional abuse. Learn to: ·

  • identify damaging behaviors
  • gain the skills to respond wisely
  • promote healthy change
  • stay safe
  • understand when, why, and even how to leave
  • recognize that God sees and hates what is happening to you

Trying harder to be a perfect fantasy wife won’t help fix what’s wrong your marriage. Discover instead how you can initiate effective changes to stop the cycle of destruction and restore hope for the future.

Two winners will be selected in our next newsletter! (Giveaway only available to U.S. residents)

If you would like to enter to win, you can click here to provide name and email address.

The winners of “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship” by Leslie Vernick are Dana F. and Sonya P.

Enter For Your Chance to Win

He's Ready To Get Help, Should I Move Home?

By Leslie Vernick

Question: I left my husband again, for the 5th time in the past 12 yrs. I have been mostly unhappily in an emotionally destructive marriage for 45 years this Sept!!! (I don't want to celebrate all those years).

My question is: at this point in life, my husband and I have shared so much history together, good and bad, 3 children, 4 grandkids, and financially we will be better off together. We both need helpmates going forward with our health issues. But how do I know if it's too late, too much damage and very little maintenance in the relationship? How do I make a healthier decision for myself going forward perhaps 15 years more together? I do love him and miss being together, traveling and sharing our faith in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.

I cannot forgive him of the past hurts and broken trust though he says he's open and willing to work on him. My daughter is strong, she dislikes her dad for all the abuse he did to me over the years, but especially during her childhood and insists she will hold me accountable if I go back to him again.

I feel stuck and disappointed God has not answered my prayers over all these years, yet I am grateful for His provisions. I want dearly to live out my life serving God alongside my husband!

Answer: It is heartbreaking to read your story and I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. You’ve been back and forth five times in the last 12 years, and nothing has changed each time you’ve gone back. The only thing different now is this time he finally says he’ll go for help. Has he gone for help in the past? To whom? For what? What exactly does he need help with? Has he apologized to you for the pain and suffering he’s caused you? Has he called your daughter to apologize for what she experienced in her childhood? In other words, since he told you he will go for help and now when you’re reading my response, has he shown any real action steps that indicate signs of true repentance by calling someone, telling someone the truth and going for help?

What People Are Saying About Leslie’s book “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage”

A rare combination of wisdom that is soundly blblical, yet compassionate and practical. For those who find themselves in an emotionally destructive marriage, this book provides clear thinking and balanced strategies to make healthy decisions in difficult circumstances


Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Please submit your questions by clicking here.

Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.

Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.


Leslie Vernick PO Box 5312 Sun City West, Arizona 85376 United States