Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


A Loving Response to Abuse

A few days ago, a post on Christians being persecuted for their faith brought up a helpful dialogue on abuse. It is a question worth asking that if Jesus said we are to turn the other cheek, what does that mean for someone being abused?

I have written about this a few times before and it is something worthy to return again and again. As loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself is what Jesus taught, it means he also taught you should love yourself. This includes loving the you God made you to be enough not to put up with physical and emotional abuse.

In the sermon Strong Weakness I showed a scene from the movie Ghandi in which non-violent protestors were beaten and I said,
At this point I need to take a detour to clear up one possible point of confusion. Staue of the Rape of the Sabine Women in FlorenceI am not saying that someone who is suffering abuse needs to stay in the abusive situation. Ghandi led his nation in non-violent protest to overthrow the British Empire’s control of India. This is not the same as staying in a home where never know if tonight will be a good night or one of the night’s where your husband hits you or the kids. In that sort of physical and emotional abuse, admitting that you are powerless to change the other person means that you need to remove yourself and your children from harm. The strength in weakness then is to be strong enough to admit you are too weak to stay.
And in a religion column Forgive Others and Unlock Your Heart, I wrote,
There is power in releasing the other person from that debt they owe you for the suffering he or she caused. Please know that forgiving someone does not mean forgetting, or staying in a place where the person can continue to hurt you. You can forgive someone of abuse even as you move away from him or her.

The Bible says that you are to love others as you love yourself. So, you must start with loving yourself as God loves you and removing yourself from an abusive situation. Once free from the abuse itself, you can move to forgiving the person who has abused you.

Nationally-known speaker Mariah Burton Nelson tells how when she forgave the man who molested her, it released her as well. She no longer defines herself as a survivor of sexual abuse. That past is behind her. She is free to define herself without reference to what that man did to her.
And it also came up in the sermon Dealing with Divorce in which I noted abuse as a cause churches widely acknowledge as justifiably leading to the end of marriage.

A loving response to abuse is to get away from the abuser. Make him face his own demons (or her own demons) without you to use as a punching bag or a place to dump all of the poison in his system. A loving response is to love yourself enough to not put up with the pain. And for those looking to break free there are more resources than might be evident. Breaking free to a new life can be difficult, but it might be easier than you think.

What do y'all think?

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

Walking off into the sunrise



  • At 8/14/2007 11:15 PM, Blogger Tom Sramek, Jr. said…

    Frank: I think you are right on about the response to abuse you suggest. While not having personal experience with it, what I most often hear is that the one being abused somehow feels that they deserve it. They feel that if they were somehow a better person the abuser would stop.

    The challenge is to claim our identity as children of God and then ask if God would have us continue to subject ourselves as God's children to abuse. That would be a "no" as far as I'm concerned, but the amount of courage such leaving and reaching out for help is considerable.

  • At 8/15/2007 6:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    But if a person is truly trying to change and is trying to become a better person so that things become the way they were isn't that better than breaking the family unit apart? Would it be better to try to fix it than to give up? Maybe if the person does change, it will be better. Just a question.

  • At 8/15/2007 6:49 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Not breaking a family apart is VERY important. Probably more important than most people recognize at the time. But there are times when holding a family together is not the most important thing. To leave oneself or one's children in a situation of physical abuse (including but certainly not only sexual abuse) or in severe emotional abuse is to help the abuser in hurting someone.

    Changing a person is good. But really the only person we can change is ourselves, and even that is very difficult. As for changing the other person in an abusive relationship, that is very important. There is a way to change that other person, and it often doesn't work, but it's the best way anyone knows to help the abuser's to leave.

    The person doing the physical and emotional abuse must deal with the consequences of that unacceptable behavior. Leaving and making the person deal with that is actually a loving response. More loving than staying to let the abuser continue bad (evil really) behavior.

    I know that statistics on the number of women who have suffered abuse in their lives says its something like 1 in 4 women. My line of work means that I don't get to hear the best stories. In my personal experience, the number of women having had to deal with some form of abuse is much closer to 100%. Men are also abused, more often as boys, and so those numbers are there too. I know that there are some women and men who will read this having gotten away from abuse before. Do y'all have anything to add to this conversation? Feel free to add the response as anonymous and don't add your name if that helps with an honest answer on an important subject.


  • At 8/15/2007 7:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    And when it is JUST you and your children are not being hurt
    because you would not allow this to happen is it worth the try.

    If a person can change herself/himself enough
    that they are a better person and it stops. Isn’t it in fact worth it to try?

    I know that you cannot change the other person but you can yourself.
    Am I wrong?

  • At 8/15/2007 7:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's a fallacy that one can change oneself enough to stop the abuse. That is, and always will be, the excuse the abuser uses to continue the abuse. One can never be good enough for an abuser. I suffered through multiple types of abuse as a child and teen and it took me years to discover that not only was I NOT the "bad" one, but that God loved me just the way He created me. But, I had to get away from those abusive situations, first.

  • At 8/15/2007 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sometimes there is simply no way out. Staying in the relationship almost seems easier than having to face the humiliation in a small communinity--town and church where everybody thinks your spouse is a wonderful person. And, it's even more difficult to leave when you are financially dependent on your spouse, you haven't worked in several years, and nobody wants to hire you for a career because you are past your prime. And what about the court battles and custody hearings? How can you take that on with no income? It's a dificult decision to drag your family through something like that.

    It's easy to tell somebody to get out of an abusive situation, but...

  • At 8/15/2007 9:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I do agree with some of the most recent post BUT, I have to say that if you are in a church
    that loves you and your family then they will not hold judgement against you. In fact they will, and
    should help you! It is YOUR church and you are as important as your husband. If your church would not support you than I say you are in the wrong church to begin with.

  • At 8/16/2007 7:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I never said it was easy. But all of those sound like excuses to allow yourself to continue to be abused. And the past your prime thing is a major excuse. I went back to work after being "self-employed" for 15 years; and I know a number of people who have gone on to new jobs once they retired at 65.

  • At 8/16/2007 7:31 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    It is easy to say that someone should get out of an abusive situation. And it is so difficult that many women will put up with life in Hell because breaking free of that abusive orbit is so difficult. I hope it didn't sound like I thought I was suggesting something easy. In fact, it takes all the strength one can muster.

    But if you think it doesn't effect the children, then you are wrong. They know and it effects them even if they are not yelled at, belittled and then beaten. It hurts them to hear or see it happening to you.

    No what I am talking about is the hardest path, the most difficult way. The word I used for it was loving. It shows love for yourself (which is a godly thing), love for children if you have them, and even love for the abuser (as noted above). It also shows great strength.


  • At 8/16/2007 3:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I guess you would say that I am a weak, un-Godly, loveless person who is full of excuses. Thank you. That helps.

  • At 8/16/2007 5:06 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    "I guess you would say that I am a weak, un-Godly, loveless person who is full of excuses."

    No, that's not what I meant at all. In fact, what I want to convey through this less than perfect meaning is quite the opposite.

    Because while I don't know who you are or what your situation is, scripture is quite clear that Jesus loves you and wants you to feel his presence in whatever it is you are going though.

    I'm sorry if that is not what comes through.


  • At 8/16/2007 5:25 PM, Anonymous Linda+ said…

    When the subject of abuse comes up, I always remember the incident some years ago when a woman was in a hospital Emergency Ward (nowhere near here) and I was the student chaplain. She had been beaten severely about the head and shoulders. At the doctor's request I visited her. The doctor and I together tried to get her to tell us what happened. She would not talk about it. She only wanted some medical relief and she seemed scared that she had even asked for that. We knew that she was married so for better or for worse we assumed that her husband had abused her.

    I wound up staying in her room for some time, just sitting there praying while she dozed in and out of sleep. I went on other calls and kept returning to her room all afternoon, and she would never say who did that to her.

    I wonder what happened when her abuser found out where she had been and that she was being asked to name the abuser for purposes of law enforcement. I wondered if she lived to tell.

  • At 8/16/2007 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I would like to weigh in here as a clinical psycholigist who has worked with many abused women. The research on this issue is clear: divorce is not ideal and can be harmful to children, but conflict in the home is far more damaging. Even if the children are not being directly abused, they are still being hurt by the abuse they witness. It is traumatizing to see your mother abused, it teaches girls to put up with abuse, it teaches boys to control women through abuse. Staying in an abusive marriage is a no-win situation all the way around. Women are often frightened to leave, or worry that their community will judge them harshly. But, there are support groups both for victims of abuse and for people navigating a divorce, and many of these groups are now church-based. I also suggest that women do two other things: 1) begin taking steps to make themselves ready to leave (going back to school, stock-piling money in a private account, speaking with a lawyer, etc.) and 2) that they talk with a supportive clergymember. If their own minister is unlikey to be an advocate, they need to find a church where they will get the support they need.

    If "a person is truly trying to change and is trying to become a better person so that things become the way they were" they would stop being abusive immediately. There is no middle ground there. When I do marital therapy, one of the absolute, non-negotiable requirements is that there be NO physcial abuse. If that is not abided by, the marital therapy ends and I see the woman alone for help with getting out.

    I would say for anonymous, the first step is getting into counseling (through church or privately) and starting to sort through the practical aspects of getting safe and the emotional aspects of dealing with the children, and also looking at the personal roadblocks to valuing herself and her children enough to break free. It's not easy, but it's necessary. And it will teach a lasting lesson to her children about treasuring herself enough to be her own hero. I can't think of a better gift to give.


  • At 8/16/2007 6:02 PM, Blogger Laura said…

    Most of what I would like to say here has been said.
    But to Anonymous: Consider this: Sometimes leaving the abuser is the impetus for the abuser to change. Maybe that's the rock bottom he (or she--not all abusers are male)needs to hit.
    And don't be so quick to think people won't understand. I have found that people are kinder and more understanding than you think they will be. If they're not--you're in the wrong church!

  • At 8/16/2007 7:32 PM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    I could remain anonymous about this subject but I choose not to. This is in case the Abused wishes to contact me for help.

    This is NOT about divorce.

    This is NOT about doctrine.

    This is about control and lack of control. This is about causing another human being pain and anguish. The abuser has no reason to change while he is in control.

    With all due respect to the “clinical psycholigist” this is not the time to suggest “counseling”.


    Let me ‘splain. The abuser thinks like this, “I need to stay in control to stay safe.” “I need to keep my wife and kids here with me or else I’ll never have another relationship.” “I’ll be alone and unloved forever.” “It would be better to be dead.” “Things must always happen in the manner in which I have imagined them or else that is wrong and dangerous.”

    The abuser was probably raised by an abuser. The only difference between physical and psycho/spiritual abuse is the visibility of the bruises. This abuser was raised his whole life to believe that he must strive for some perceived perfection. He didn’t make it. Now he feels that to make up for that lack of perfection he must be in control…, of everything…, and everyone including his family.

    During courtship, he looks for the perfect woman. He charms her and woos her with every fiber of his being. He must have her because he believes his life depends on her. If they ever broke up during dating, he spared no expense to bring her back. He may even have told her that he would kill himself if she left. He certainly told her that God meant for them to be together forever.

    Sometimes the abuse starts when they are just dating, he criticizes her dress, or make up or gets upset at for her looking at other guys. He probably threatened or even fought other guys. She feels worth something because he fought for her.

    Sound familiar, Abused? Don’t pick the story apart because some minor details are different. You know I’m describing you! YES, you love him. YES, he loves you. No, he is not a criminal or a bad man. What he is is a human being who is tortured and in pain. You love him, he loves you and he will kill you and probably himself.

    When you leave and go to your local crisis shelter, this is what happens. You get out of a dangerous situation. He can’t get to you. He really, really, REALLY wants you back. He is scared and frightened so he starts looking for solutions. You will be getting expert advice on how to proceed and get him and yourself help. He has two choices, get help and stop abusing or he will not get you back. There are no halfway solutions, no negotiations and NO COMPROMISING.


  • At 8/17/2007 9:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I would like to reply to the statement it is easier to stay in for the children... not true... if a person is being abused.. it doesn't matter wether the children see it or not .... they know... when you are abused it literally takes the life out of you.... you seem to turn into the person the abuser wants you to be and you may not even realize this is happening to you... there are a lot of people in this community who are here to help just such cases. When you have had enough and want out you just have to put your trust in God ... He can handle it all... it may not be easy for you but once you are out of it and take a look back you realize how really bad things were. When you get out of the abusive situation you begin to heal and will be a better person and parent.

  • At 8/17/2007 10:01 AM, Anonymous Shannon said…

    No one can ever know just how difficult it is to leave an abusive relationship unless they have had to do so. It is NOT easy and cannot be done lightly. But as a social worker and an employee charged with protecting children and families, I would be remiss if I did not respond to this blog.

    To the abused: please always know there are those out there to help you. You feel completely and totally alone- that is the way the abuser wants it and needs it to be. The shelter for battered and abused women is ALWAYS open. In the shelter, they teach and help establish the abused because they understand most abused come with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Children are more than welcome, but insisted. Even if you don't do it for yourself, do it for your children. As one who figuratively and literally sees the statistics everyday on children in abusive homes (even though the children aren't being abused), if you take away nothing from this blog, please take away the fact that children CANNOT be protected in a hostile environment such as an abusive relationship. You may think they are asleep, but not always. You may think they are watching tv in another room, but not always. You may think they cannot see the marks and bruises, but not always. You may think they do not hear the detrimental words spewed by the abuser, but not always.

    It is legally classified as child abuse to allow children to witness or live in domestic violence situations. That means that even if they ARE sleeping, it is still considered abuse. I am not trying to intimidate- just illustrate the gravity of the situation for the young impressionable minds. Even if there are not children in the home, please know there will ALWAYS be someone at the local shelter WANTING to help you. Department of Family and Children Services also wants to help protect you. Please call. You WILL NOT regret it- I can't say that you won't if you don't call.

    As D-Ray said, don't give notice or threats of leaving- just do it NOW! Go shopping and end up at the shelter. I see it everyday with those you would least expect because of their stature in the community, but it does not disguise the fact that once revealed, there is a domestic violence situation occurring.

    Not to be harsh, but nothing will or can change if the situation is violent enough, while you are still in the home. Control cannot be compromised if the abuser still controls you in anyway. Please call, if not for you then for your children. I don't know how old they are, but any age (even if they are adults) does not deserve to watch their loved one be abused.

  • At 8/17/2007 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well on this subject, I am the EXPERT! I spent 43 years believing He would change. Each and every time He promised He was working on changing and it would never happen again.

    My story was a classic one, I had 2 children, he had 2 children, we married and had 4 children and then togather within 18 months we had the fifth child. So shortly after that when he had his first affair, I had to stay to protect His two children.

    He never met a woman He did not want,according to Him. He would say the reason for the affairs was I didn't measure up. So I went to counceling to get better, to be good enough. The emotional abuse turned into physical when I would cry about His "other woman".
    Anonymous, it just gets worse. I used to say if you looked up "enabler" in the dictionary you found my picture. Trust me, you are not helping yourself or your children; you are only helping him.

    There are not enough days to write all I could tell you, but the one thing I have to say is.....IT IS NEVER RIGHT TO HELP SOMEONE DO WRONG. If he is truly trying to change, separation will help him see clearer. Once you become accountable for yourself and the role you are playing in this relationship you will be amazed at how free you feel. Also, once you become accountable for the role you are playing it is easy to forgive him. It takes a little longer to forgive yourself.

    I am 70 years old, have spent my years allowing myself to be put down, emotional destroyed, and feeling ugly; but now I am free at last. I am making a living for myself and my new identify is not "enabler" it is, "I am a strong, intelligent, confident, beautiful woman".

    You must learn to believe in yourself. He now calls daily to check on me and we can be friends because I have forgiven, I have not forgotten nor would I ever be married to Him again, but I can truly say I have forgiven and I am free!
    The Bused "Queen"

  • At 8/17/2007 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm scared!
    My family will not understand!

    I ask myself am I strong enough?
    Are my children strong enough?

    I am afraid he will find out that I am even talking about this.
    With the comment from Sharon

    "It is legally classified as child abuse to allow children to witness or live in domestic violence situations".

    I am even more afraid to talk about it. Now I am the abuser!

    I have read each and every comment over and over each day I just don't know what to do! I have prayed so much about this and I know that God hears me. I am trying to find my way back to him so that I will have the strength to do what I know I must.

  • At 8/17/2007 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree anonymous. All of these lectures have left me feeling more guilty and afraid than ever. I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. I too am trying to hear God concerning my situation.

    Some of you might want to consider listening to people in abusive situations rather than spewing what we need to do, according to you. I've feel like I've been placed on the stand and judged because I can't just pick up and leave. I'm not ignorant. I know the statistics, the facts and the laws. It's the strength I need. Maybe instead of spouting off what you know, you could offer more prayers.

  • At 8/17/2007 3:29 PM, Anonymous Shannon said…

    Yes, you are scared. If you weren't I would be concerned. You should be scared for yourself and your children. More so, if you do not get out of an abusive sitaution. Are you the cause of the domestic violence or does he instigate? If it is him, then he is the actual child abuser. If, now that you know this, you continue to allow this, then yes, you become part of the problem. That is NOT said to make you feel bad or guilty; just to show you how deadly serious the impact of this on your children.

    And the comment about your family... They won't understand that you have to find refuge from an abusive situation? They won't understand that you have to do what is in the best interest of your children? They won't support you in protecting your children? If that is the case, the outside resources I have mentioned will definitely support you. 882-7858, to get some definite advice and support. 729-4583 to get some definite advice and support. I guess what I am trying to say is that if you can't rely on blood relatives, there are others in the community you CAN rely on and more than willing to help in any way possible.

    Just watch the faces of your children when the abuse occurs. Focus on their expressions and notice the fear or desperation that may be obvious. Then focus on doing whatever it takes to protect yourself and them. They need an adult to show them how they should be treated and what is important. You are important and so are your children, especially in God's eyes. God has placed some of us here with the knowledge and training to help you out of this situation- but YOU MUST take the first step in contacting us for the help we so badly want to offer.

    There is only so much we can do without your willingness. Of course we will pray, but God has also charged us with, not only praying for help, but seeking it through other means: "pray to God, but row to shore".

  • At 8/17/2007 3:35 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Come Holy Spirit come and fill the hearts of all who come to this place seeking not human words, but your will.

    I don't know the problems.
    But I know you do.

    We don't know the solutions.
    But we know you do.

    We know that your will is better than our way and so we ask not for our will, but yours. We ask for your presence in the homes of those who read these words as part of discernment about what to do for their marriage and for their children.

    We ask for your grace and love to reveal your will to the women and men asking for your guidance in homes being torn by abuse. We pray they will find the wisdom from you to know what to do and the strength to move forward on the path you reveal.

    In Jesus name, Amen.

  • At 8/17/2007 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    No! I'm sorry but that is not what I meant in my last post. I know that I have prayers! I know that Father Frank is praying I am praying. I’m not mad or upset at anyone that has commented about this. And I don’t want anyone to leave here feeling that way Irenic Thoughts is a wonderful place to come for inspiration. I understand what they are trying to say, and what they are saying.

    I feel as if I have opened a bee’s nest.

    I am sorry!

  • At 8/17/2007 3:59 PM, Anonymous Shannon said…

    I don't want to come off as upset or threatening, and I don't want to seem as though I am belittling the abuse that the woman goes through versus the children. It just really hits home because this is something that I see daily and want to help before worse abuse occurs. Nothing is harder than choosing a path for your family that you know will cause heartache and pain, not to mention fear. Please know that the community is here to help in any fashion you will allow. God Bless you and your family.

  • At 8/17/2007 9:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you, King Of Peace, for your powerful prayer! I believe that is what might get me through!!!

  • At 8/18/2007 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yes, Thanks Father Frank, the prayer is powerful and truly the only answer. There seems to be two women in real pain on this blog and I KNOW how you feel and where you are, but please read me carefully. I am the 70 year old who spent my life in this fear. Damned if I did and damned if I didn't.

    Let me give you a little results for my indicision. One son died at 36 from AIDs because he was so hurt by his Dad's treatment of me, One son lives alone because as he says, he knows he would be an abuser since he is so much like his dad. Another son (one of the children that was mine) has been married 3 times and is full of "self-hate" because he felt he was part of the reson I suffered abuse. The ripple just continues.

    I was afraid of poverty, family and friends not understanding and then also, church friends that said God would be displeased with me since God hates devoice. But at the age of 65 and He was 68 I discovered He was in a nudist camp with a 28 year old woman and had 3 others He was going with. I went to the Monestary in Conyers for a 3 day prayer and fast and WOW God met me in a powerful way. I never looked back from that point, God took my fears away and started showing me ME. I was able to take my eyes off the problem and let God lead me, guide me, and help me stand accountable in my greatness through His greaness.

    Read and re-read Father Frank's prayer and as for me, fasting does help.

    Much respect and I will pray for you two also.

    The abused Queen

  • At 8/21/2007 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Abuse, sadly, is the unwanted gift that keeps on giving. To all of the ladies who are fearful, and those who have overcome and with God's grace are now free, you are in my prayers.

    My mother and stepfather were abusive, and then I looked for abusive men in my crazy twenties. After much therapy and a healthy dose of self esteem, I finally married at age 30, a "nice" man. Our marriage was wonderful for years, no physical abuse. But I was overlooking the control factor and constant upheaval in our lives because he too had been abused.

    Then our son was born. And my husband began to change. It was slow at first, and I thought it was all me. So back into therapy. The healthier I got the more nuts our home was. When his drinking increased and physical abuse began I tried to hide it. I felt like a failure. I had not worked for years at a job outside the home. Then the day came when he wanted me to hold down our son so he could "teach him a lesson". I called the police, and we left.

    I tried couples counseling - he wouldn't come. I tried our pastor to our home - he wouldn't participate because "we didn't have any problems". DENIAL IS ENABLING THE ABUSER.

    It was only with the help of my church (they NEVER judged me), much prayer (God is my co-pilot), and more counseling (me and my son) that we were able to break free and begin to repair the damage.

    Know that you are wonderfully and beautifully made! That God wants you to be a complete and loving, and also eventually a forgiving, woman! That your friends and congregation will help. That you can go to a shelter and find help. That abuse is all races, economic levels and educational levals - That you, with God's help, can change your life.

    Please don't wait. No matter how difficult, leave him (or her) and take your children. The fog will clear and you will one day look in a mirror and see the beautiful woman you are meant to be.

    Meanwhile you will allm, with love, be in my prayers.

  • At 10/16/2007 4:31 AM, Anonymous Needing to understand said…

    In search of the The abused Queen
    You have been where I now am.

  • At 10/16/2007 7:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In search,
    I am abused Queen. You can reach me through Father Frank, he knows me. I do not want to put out my name on the post for special reasons.

    Abused Queen

  • At 10/16/2007 8:28 AM, Anonymous Needing to understand said…

    I will try.
    Thank you.

    In Search.

  • At 10/17/2007 5:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To "Needing to Understand"
    Is there someway I can help you on line. My home number is 706-534-9695. I truly care.

    "The Queen of Abuse"


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