The Dangers of Defending Yourself

By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved

[NOTE: Remember that what is written here is not gender-limited. It can be equally understood to apply to female-against-male abuse.]

It is natural and instinctive to defend ourselves against danger. God made our systems that way, with a fight-or-flight mechanism and an instinct for self-protection. He did this to keep us safe from harm and preserve our lives.

But I’m seeing a growing danger for those who protect themselves from abuse. Abusers are getting smarter, especially as they compare notes with each other – a wonderful “bonus” in groups like court-mandated anger management programs, or even passed along from “helpful” abuser pastors. Yes, I have now seen this happen upon the advice of pastors more than once.

What happens if a man physically attacks his wife? Is she going to just stand, sit or lie there without moving or trying to protect her face or body? It is instinctive to protect ourselves!

But here is what is happening. If, for example, that woman protects herself and deflects a blow, her attacker may end up with bruises where he impacts the bones in her arm, or where his blow is deflected into a wall or door jam, etc. Guess what can happen next?

He can accuse her of abuse to the authorities and get a restraining order against her. Oh, yes, that is happening.

Typically, abused women want to believe the best, make their marriages work, take on themselves the blame piled on their head by their abuser, and are indoctrinated in church that they must “win their husbands without a word, even when disobedient, through blind and perpetual submission – suffering even unto death as Christ.” So I see a nearly-universal reluctance on the part of these women to pursue legal action against their abuser, even in the face of physical assault.

But abusers are not so reticent – and they will use the legal system as another tool of abuse.

This has additional ramifications. If a protective order has been issued against a mother by her husband, she may very well be separated from her children. Also, in making a first-strike action, an abuser has now created a legally-documented “history” of abuse by his victim against him. This will negatively affect any future action she attempts to take because she will automatically be viewed as being vindictive and attempting to “get even.” This could – and does — end up costing women custody of their children permanently. Not only does this deprive a woman of her children, it leaves those children at the mercy of an abuser with no protection.

As you can tell, this is a very serious situation. The Word is not speaking metaphorically when it speaks of “not going with an angry man” or separating from an abuser. If anything, these admonitions are more applicable to the victims of that abuse than to the general church population.

If you are in a relationship with a physical abuser – even if physical altercations are “mild” or “rare” – you are in a very dangerous position. You may be thinking “he would never kill me” – but he doesn’t have to. He can destroy your life and let you spend years suffering agonies in separation from your defenseless children. Hey, that’s even better than killing you! You suffer more that way.

I ask you to reconsider your “faithfulness.” God never asked us to be faithful to Satan’s pawns, which means we are willingly submitting to Satan’s dominion. That is not godliness.

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