cw: domestic violence 


Jesus’s love and domestic violence are two things in life not stopped by race, socioeconomic level, gender, education, or religious preferences. As Christians, we know Jesus’s love is limitless and bountiful. And between the two, His love is probably easier to comprehend. Isn’t that funny? God’s love is enormous. Oftentimes, we may feel unworthy of it, but we know that it’s real. We know His love can heal wounds beyond our comprehension. His love inexplicably conquers all— even the pain caused by one human to another.

The wide reach of domestic violence, on the other hand, is more challenging to accept. Naively, I used to think domestic violence only happened to “those” people. Those in impoverished areas, those who “lived off the system,” or who were “uneducated.” I was wrong. I was very, very wrong.      

As the well-educated daughter of a pediatrician, I wouldn’t have ever thought I’d be a survivor of domestic violence. Cancer, possibly! Recovering alcoholic, more than likely. But domestic violence? No way. It wasn’t even on my radar.

Until it happened.      

I didn’t realize what was happening until we were in the thick of it. You see, abusers have a plan. It often begins slowly. You’re given gifts: flowers for no reason with earrings tucked away inside as a surprise; a pair of jeans and a cute top; perfume. As time passes, he uses words that seem sweet, “You should wear the earrings and outfit I bought you tonight when we go out.” Of course, you’re thrilled to wear what he gives you, especially since it pleases him. The jeans are a bit snug, but he says how “hot” you look in them. You put the shirt on, it’s more revealing than what you’re comfortable with, but he tells you that you look great. You feel a bit awkward, but if he likes it, it must be fine.

In the upcoming months, he reassures you; you look amazing with make-up on, wearing the clothes and perfume he purchased. You appreciate the attention. Therefore, you keep doing what continually gives you the so-called “positive feedback.” Before you know it, you’re doing only what he wants, and you’ve lost yourself. Funny thing, you think you’ve actually found yourself because you’re getting the attention you so desperately longed for over the past several years. You feel wanted and valued. In reality, you’re in the outer parts of his web. 

One day, you go outside to garden. The abuser asks somewhat harshly, “Where’s your make-up?” You look at him dumbfounded and think, “Why would I wear make-up in 80-degree weather when I’m gardening?” Instead, you smile sheepishly, go inside, and apply some. All the while, you’re wondering why you’re doing what you’re doing. But, you gently remind yourself, “As a Christian wife, I’m to be submissive to my husband.”

Not exactly. 

As Christians, we are supposed to submit to one another in love and care for each other. Wives are to be submissive to their husbands when they’re men of God, and men of God are known by the way they lay down their lives for their wives as Christ laid down his life for the church (Ephesians 5:22-33). And, submission doesn’t mean bowing down without question. It doesn’t mean you lose yourself in the marriage. It certainly doesn’t mean excusing his ungodly behaviors. Before you’re a wife, you’re the daughter of the King. Men are equally called to lead their families in a godly way. Paul says in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Husbands and wives have different, but equal, roles in marriage. One doesn’t outrank the other. When God’s in the middle of your relationship, there’s no room for abuse. God’s foundation for a successful marriage is based on the husband and wife respecting, loving, and accepting each other, the same way Christ loved the church. Yet, tragically, there isn’t a drastic difference in the percentage of individuals who experience domestic violence, whether or not they’re in the church. Which means that many are failing to show the love of Christ in their relationships. And the church needs to be ready and equipped to help.

 Back in the garden, make-up applied, you’ve inched closer to the center of the web. Months pass, and the emotional and psychological abuse continues. Since you’ve lied to yourself for long enough, you accept this as “love.” The sweet words become harsh. If you speak up about anything, you’re written off as too sensitive, or overreacting. The abuser is louder and more strict. Your every move is questioned. Your phone is looked through. He searches for supposed ammo to use against you. He controls who your friends are. He tells you where you can and cannot go. He’s checking up on you constantly. He has pretty much isolated you from life before him.

You often find yourself saying, “If I love him enough, he will change. If I show him what real love is, it’ll get better. If I don’t show him, no one will.” These are lies, created to protect yourself because heart change can only come through the Holy Spirit, and nothing you do (or don’t do) is an excuse for this behavior. 

Then, one day, it happens. You’re in the center of the web, and you get physically attacked. This is the moment you realize you’re in trouble. But how do you get out? How do you get away from the evil that has lured you in?

You hand all of it over to God; your heart, your struggles, your life. Yes, I’m completely and unequivocally serious. You get down on your knees, and you pray. Then, you listen. You listen to your Father speak to your soul. You listen for His guidance, for His understanding, and for His love. And, you cry. A lot.

You hear the words of this Psalm, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). You know that a warped relationship like this isn’t what he intends for your life. God is on the side of the weary and the marginalized. His heart is to deliver the oppressed and the abused.

On the human side, you start making an escape plan by reaching out, even to one person at a time. You’re not stuck in the web forever. You can escape. You can get out. I’m speaking from experience— it’s certainly not easy, but it is possible.

There are people and organizations all around who want you to be free from abuse, but they can only help if they know you need help. Frankly, my most difficult moment was admitting I was in an abusive marriage. The second most difficult moment was asking for help. If you find yourself not knowing what steps to take to remove yourself from domestic violence, consider starting with the following:

If your current situation is dire, and you feel as though your life is in danger, leave immediately. Go to the police department to file a restraining order first, then to a trusted friend or family member. If you’re relatively “safe,” creatively design a plan of escape. You don’t have to write it down, but have questions like these answered in your head, or talk to someone trustworthy:

  1. When are you going to leave? (Time this with the abuser’s work schedule or when you know they won’t be home. Make sure they aren’t around as they will be fuming.)
  2. Who’s going to help you move out?
  3. Are you able to move things out beforehand, without it being obvious?
  4. Where are you going?
  5. Are you able to safely move or save financial assets and prized possessions beforehand? (Perhaps at a new bank or with a trusted individual.)
  6. Have you let the police know you’re leaving and the reason why? (Even if they don’t have a record of past abuse, it’s important to get them on your side by keeping them in the loop. When speaking with the police, it’s best if you remain as calm as possible.)
  7. Do you have a bag packed with extra car keys, money, and legal documents (for you and the kids)? If you have a bag packed, make sure you put it where the abuser won’t find it.
  8. Do you have a plan for the pets?


Leaving isn’t easy— and neither is healing. But you’re certainly worth living a life free from abuse. You were created to be loved and loved without measure (Ephesians 3:19).


* Reader, please note: We aren’t experts on abuse, but we want to support those looking for help, especially since this topic often gets overlooked in the context of the church. Domestic violence happens to both genders even though this story is from the female perspective. According to the NCADV, 1 out of 9 men are also victims of domestic violence.  Moreover, domestic violence can take several different forms. Abuse can be physical, verbal, emotional, financial, sexual, and spiritual, just to name a few. 

If you know, or suspect, you might be experiencing domestic violence, it is okay to seek help and safety. Many local churches and organizations are ready to help. If you aren’t sure what resources are in your area, or are unsure of where to start, try the NCADV’s website or call their hotline, 1.800.799.Safe.