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Recognizing Oppression

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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February 25, 2021 1:00 am

Recognizing Oppression

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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February 25, 2021 1:00 am

How do we know what's abuse and what's not? On FamilyLife Today, join hosts Dave and Ann Wilson as they speak with counselor and author Darby Strickland about her book, "Is It Abuse?" to understand its complexity and how to recognize it.

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We tend to think of abuse in a marriage relationship as being something physical domestic violence of some sort. Derby Strickland says there are a lot of categories of marital abuse and stinking of client of mine came in and she was slowly beginning to talk about the ways that her husband just would perpetually ignore her. He didn't talk to her at dinner ever.

I don't think he talked to her five minutes in a week so we just have to go slow and begin to label things in God's words as these things are wrong.

Derby saying these things are wrong with them saying these things are wrong that God has called this man to live differently. This is family life today. Our hosts are David and Wilson and Bob Payne find someone like

What makes a marriage and abusive marriage. What has to be going on board to be considered abusive and are you in an abusive marriage. If so, what you do.

Talk about that today with Derby Strickland stay with us and welcome to family life today.

Thanks for joining us to tackle tough one today. This is a tough topic and and I think to myself sometimes when I am in front of our church and I'm looking out at our congregation. I'm thinking probably without me realizing it. There is domestic violence happening somewhere in the homes of these congregations would never believe it. If we knew but it's it's one of those things that that I think is more prevalent than any of us recognize a secret. Yeah, I think a lot of people are holding on to that insane and I think is a congregation as laypeople and even as pastors we don't always know how to tackle that again. I think it it like he said Bob I think it's the secret in the church to infect one of our mottoes in the back room. The green room is. Never underestimate the pain in the room and I've never forgotten that because you looking at their new think and you sort of put on a covering you sort of pretend everything is okay and yet there could be that kind of pain abuse pain right there in our seats and I bet it is. Derby Strickland is joining us today on family life today. Derby welcome. Thank you for having Derby is an author a counselor. She is associated with the Christian counseling and education foundation in Philadelphia. She has written a book called is it abuse where you have tackled this subject that it's a subject to tackle because the secret comes out when people call you and say here's what's going on in my marriage trying yeah actually. In fact, most the times actually don't tell me what's going on there marriage is I've had to discover it and so more often than not when I have a young woman or young married an older married woman coming to me for something peripherally actually saying to me, Derby.

I'm having really bad anxiety having panic attacks. If you're really depressed.

I don't think I respect my husband and having problems being intimate with him. And if they're not even recognizing that they're being mistreated and be there being abuse there so much confusion, so they're not saying that the covered up. They actually don't recognize their being abuse. A large portion say even even in cases where there is physical abuse right there oppressor makes them feel like it's their fault that they're deserving of the treatment that need to be disciplined that they're not right with God that their spouse's right to be that angry and frustrated with them use the term oppressor and in the book and this instead of saying abuse or end of abused person you use oppressor and oppressed while you do that I do I find oppression to be a biblical category that captures the power and the domination that oppressor.

So he does of the abusing they want to wound hard to maintain power and control in a relationship. I think the word oppression is a biblical category can open our Bible we see it's all over the place and so I think is really captures what that heart in abuse and is this going on in the church.

Sadly, it is the statistics in the world are about 25% of marriages are oppressive or abusive. When I first read that statistic I hope I really struggled to believe that in doing further research in the same statistic is true in the evangelical church which I just was falling off my chair and I was struggling to believe at night setback. I thought about the marriages that I knew in my church, and the women that I was helping my in my church in the support group I was leading in my church, and it quickly just filled up the numbers and it matched and I was shocked. You know, reading early in your book. The statistics are not that much different in the church and outside the church in one year's sentences said if you have 160 women in your church.

There's a chance. 40 of those women have experienced some kind of physical abuse that's shocking it is and I say for a lot of people who disbelieve statistic that's okay. Cut in half cut and third ahead and eighth. It's still a problem. We really need to address that, because any abuses intolerable. So let's talk about the definition because there are times when somebody will say casually in all my my husband is abusing me. He he will wall let me buy what I want to buy and you go, wait, hang on, that might not be abuse. Do you have a way to differentiate between what is legitimate abuse and what's I'm not getting what I want.

I think actually one of the hardest things to differentiate particular people on the outside hearing story from a wife and a husband and so I think we always want to be really carefully want to go slow. Abuse is a big word. It's a category just means misuse in one of the things I tell people I want them to do as I want and describe with accuracy using all the verbs not just one incident rate, I want to hear this. There's is this perpetual wanting domination of control is so one-off story or one-off incident can happen in any marriage, but there's this perpetual nature of domination and wounding and punishments and I and I want people to be able to say he was cruel he was manipulative. He lied with great accuracy. For each incident, and you're talking about something repetitive because we can sin against one another in marriage. We do sin against triangular and so to call someone and an abuser or an oppressor who had a bad day, trying to excuse you understand what I'm saying right now is if we overuse the word is not helpful to the people who are being abused, so it's really important that were very accurate. We also recognize that abuse happens on the spectrum right there. People whose experiences of abuse are more mildly controlling and there's people who have been terrorized and threatened with lethal violence. So in this area. We want to be extremely accurate with happening in a particular case the particular couple. No two cases of abuse are the same silly really have to go slow know the person know their story know exactly what's happening you're talking about not only physical abuse of heating or printing. You're also talking mental kind of domination correct.

So what that would look like it would be isolating somebody from friends, family, relationships of thing that I tend to see more in my church cases would be women who are monitored by a friend of mine. Actually, she found her husband had her whole cell phone being replicated on his laptop and he always knew who she was, where she was who she was emailing and then he'd have complaints about how she spent her time in her day, and he would dictate and control her through electronic surveillance.

The other large portion is just just coercive control.

Just trying to get somebody to live their life the way they wanted at their wife's expense and you don't have to use physical force to do that you can withdraw from someone you can ignore them. You can be cruel talking talk about that control and I don't have answers cell phone on my laptop but I do know where she spent the money on.

Did you know that I do know that because you get involved in a bag, 4 foot, you know, when does it slide into this coercive you know control, which is bad so I think we all have healthy desires) were all sinners, so there certain things that we like and prefer than all of us. Sometimes there's a dissent of a healthy desire to become the need that becomes a demand and that can happen in a bad marriage and a good marriage. I can want my husband to do certain things for me and be upset when he doesn't. And that's not healthy that's not loving him that's not kind what I'm talking about is abuses.

I'm willing to wound and punish another person to get what I want is you created coercive environment for some is actually enslaved to meeting your desires, but the perpetrator would necessarily think I am going to course you are. I'm going to punish you there not thinking that I they I would argue, some are, some aren't. And that's what's really difficult. Please again abuse is unexpected and so you do have some oppressors who tend to function more like a Chessmaster in the play more mind games, though say I never said that you didn't do this, they might gossip about you at church purposely try to erode relationships and are much more strategic then you have other oppressors who just want their world the way they wanted and they don't even recognize that what they're doing is wrong and cruel they feel so self justified in it. So even amongst oppressors.

It's confusing because most women will say to me. Does he understand what he's doing in and we always know and that that's that's very difficult.

Often, you said the man.

You know he's doing this.

Is it predominantly men that abuse and I'm not just talking physical, but even coercive control or is it a zero balance. No, I think that's a great question. Thanks for the clarification.

Certainly, in my experience with women in the church. It's much more prevalent to have women as victims, but domestic abuse is gendered. Most victims are women. However, men can be victims of domestic violence.

Women can do the same gross things that men do to women, we see that with child abuse right. Women are capable of having the same corruption. The difference is it's rarer because you have to have power differential in the relationship and in some relationships that's easier to establish. So if you have a husband who is disabled or you were the breadwinner, or you had more family relationships you might have more natural power in that relationship. So is not just the cruel behavior you also have to have the ability to have that power in that relationship and we said earlier Bob was saying you know it isn't like one soon, but more of a pattern, but I was I was just thinking okay if I had one time punched in hit her with the back my hand across her face. Even though I'd never done it again. I'm just talking my own outlook and Amerigo what is debtors that is abuse this one time. It also the clarify that it could be some like that right I would be.

I need to I need to get help right if I hit her one time correct.

So is that the kind of thing you see.

Or is it more of a pattern will typically if we see one incident of physical abuse, there's probably other forms of coercive control happening, so there might've been one incidents where someone was struck but then there'd be other incidents that we beat we go back and we look at how is how is he valuing her speaking to her caring for her suppression is not an incident, but typically someone who uses physical violence unless they're immediately distraught, broken sing, get me help I never want that to happen again.

That's a person's insight and sorrow for what they done. Oppressors typically do not.

They feel very justified. You said, often women, and they don't even realize how do you get them to realize what's really going on that they are being oppressed, that's really difficult because they love this person they love the Lord. Often they want to do everything they can do for their marriage. Often times these women come in with just their little notes on pieces of paper, trying to tell me try to make sense of their world they read every marriage book their prayer journals for the way that they prayed for their husband and when they start to trust you and they start to reveals more of the story and thinking of client of mine. He came in and she was slowly beginning to talk about the ways that her husband just would perpetually ignore her. He didn't talk to her dinner ever.

I don't think he talked to her five minutes in a week and then she started telling me stories about how he would come in paying so much attention to the children bringing them dinner when she was sick and couldn't cook but didn't provide a meal for her.

So it does create a category of indifference, and so I pick a theme for a particular person and then we do start to wrap those stories and then they can begin to see that. But then when they begin to to see it. They also kinda back up and say oh no, no, but I haven't told you all the wonderful things about my husband you. He's a great provider so they are very confusing their experience. We just have to go slow help them gain insight and begin to label things in God's words as these things are wrong is not Darby saying these things are wrong with them saying these things are wrong that God has called this man to live differently in one of the questions I would have this your professional. In some ways come to see you but a lot of times this is going to be somebody coming to a friend like on the friend and the friend you're the friend coaches before a friend and somebody starts or we start to see symptoms.

What we do what we don't do so one thing that the oppressed, often do they often float a story they want to know.

Can I trust you.

So, one that I often hear of women have come to see me as a say. Early on I was at a women's Bible study and I asked the another woman. I said I how often does your husband want sex is oftentimes a lot of my clients have sexual abuse.

I just see a lot of that in the church. So here they are there and fumbling there wanting to know is this normal, but they're not saying to you. This is what's happening in my home. There just floating a question and so I think one thing we want to be learners of anybody that the Lord puts in our lives just to slow down and say why did you ask what's going on.

That would make you asked that question and so often. I think we rush past people we want to get people answered we have good theology with good compassion but were not great at slowing down and eliciting further stories from someone missing teen I think this is so important because as a leader of Bible studies for years.

I hear all kinds of stories and I'm realizing after I read your book I thought I probably missed a lot by giving you an answer instead of really as they float that question out of kinda digging into that and asking the little more and not making assumptions that all they need to do is do these two little things that will fix the problem. You know, if you just respect him more or if he tries to save his favorite hi but that I will say exactly something like that. If you know what what's it look like and how are you respecting hand and I'm realizing I wonder if I shut some women down from being able to really voice what their feeling and what they're experiencing all do that because we lack the imagination what's happening in these homes and assume the best right and we don't assume we cannot assume that level of depravity and evil until I began to listen to the stories these things these women have told me I could not imagine that another human being, let alone one that's pledged to love you would perpetrate such acts on someone and so I think for the rest of us who live in even lousy marriages or wonderful marriage like I knew we cannot imagine the horrors so I think this problem of imagination on our end and talk about this goes you know when you're here in a story like that and again I said often, I'll stand on the stage is as a preacher and look out and think it's probably not that bad, although I know don't underestimate so is pain out there. But here's here's the question. I think a Christian woman that may be sent a marriage that's physically abusive sexually abusive or just coercive control to a bad extreme she's living under unusual of him. I need to respect him unconditionally. I've probably preach things that would make her think that I need to forgive him. Crisis forgiven me. I did forgive him, so I just gave you a ride for him sexually so I sort of stay here and take it, or at least you know I'm honoring God by doing that is that a right perspective is that completely wrong yet I think that's a complex issue right because we don't know how to respond to abuse. Sometimes we want to we want victims to always bring things into life. You're being mistreated and sinned against.

It's actually a higher act of love to bring your spouse's sin to their attention and maybe that's not safe. So that's what makes abuse complex, but to bring it into the light, but it also distorts your own relationship with the Lord. If you think that he's subjecting you to be treated that way it affects how you think about the Lord's love of you and your worth as a person as his precious child so it is a balance of saying yes, we always wanted we tried to be respectful. We want to love our spouses, even when they're sinning when they're such brutal sin. We also have to think about safety. We have to think about exposing sin, and so it gets really complex.

There is a simple answer yet.

I know that I have learned over 30 years of preaching, and I didn't know this early Bob would be and shouldn't do here if you feel the same way as a teacher of the word of God when ever I'm addressing the issue of forgiveness I have to address that woman more. Maybe that man, but I always always think of that woman who's listening to me who's maybe being abused and and all she's here and he says you have to forgive. At some point, yet forgive rather than saying you need to forgive and that's an issue, but you need to get say first. If you're not home and I have say that every time you just a footnote.

I just warmly clear.

If you're sitting here in your home and your husband physically abusing you. I'm not saying you you can have forgiving eventually but you need to right now. Get safe your first thing is get safe when I was writing love like you mean it and got to the end of this passage in first Corinthians 13 Love bears all things, endures all things. And you have to pause and go to me about what is that I will in that moment you know you have to be able say timeout. It does not mean you bear abuse and M. I said I think pretty much what you're saying you're Darby you're not loving someone well when you're enabling them to continue in a besetting sin pattern that is destructive to them and their soul to blow a whistle and say we go get help for you for this pattern that I'm being oppressed by you your your being oppressor. That's bold, courageous, love and also bear all things, and endure all things does not mean you continue to bear physical violence or endure physical violence and and you this is how you had to counsel women who have come to you in and say the most loving thing you can do here is to bring this out in the light and force your husband left to deal with this pattern in his life to encourage them and say if the Lord chooses to sanctify them, and they are redeemed they will be grateful that you stopped the harm that they were doing.

I would add the Scripture Ephesians 522 about wives, submit to your husband mean I always have to add that to submission does not mean that we let our husbands abuse us in any way. I Darby will also talk about different kinds of abuse walk through some of those because some have never really thought about his being abuse. Yes, I think one that we don't tend to think about in the church, which is odd because is very prevalent in the church spiritual abuse we think about husbands using their leadership roles like you're saying demanding submission versus right Jesus. He delights in our voluntary submission to him and the joy that that brings or lording power over someone saying this is my role. I'm not gonna serve you as Christ serve the church the Lord my power over you, but more subtly they will eat oppressive people tend to use particular scriptures to tear women down and I remember one woman she had about six kids. She come in and she was again just really struggling with depression, they thought maybe is just the kids that were too much.

I just asked her how is your husband.

He was pastor and training at the time praying for you and she just told me he would he rehearse this prayer over me that this was a help me tolerate what God cannot stand. You've given me this wife who is wasteful is not tending to her little sheep and it was just this for she went on for 10 minutes with Scripture quotes infused that he would probably over pray over her and that's what she believe she was just a disappointment to the Lord in a complete failure, and it was so difficult because she could see those words in Scripture 20 D Seiter IQ get riled up inside. I'm willing to give her who are right now you would tell how do you respond to it does depend on the person so sometimes on to say that's not okay. Sometimes others have tears streaming down my face. This is breaking my heart. This is not good. This is wrong. Other times I have to go really slow because I can see a victims blindness and if I push too hard. That'll have her claim up so it really is it's hard because there's everything in me that wants to be a rescuer and pick him up and take a release for time being and get safe and and know that the Lord loves you and this is wrong, but it usually takes me about probably eight months to a year. All I like what happens when she sees the light. Is there a point where you think she's got it. So when she can tell her story in a coherent way using consistent categories not making excuses not blaming herself.

That's usually really good sign that she sees this is not my fault. This is not how God designed marriage and I need help that situation what happens because if she is in line to the point that she can see what her husband is doing but he doesn't so he can keep doing it.

What happened did she leave him for time that she stay in just in this particular case she didn't. She decided recently spent a long season in prayer we say we really want to ask the Lord what you'll know what to do when you're confident the Lord is calling you to do it and it just took her wild again to have the courage to speak and so what we eventually did.

As we sat with her pastor and we told him the story and then they started discipling her husband a little bit at a time. After six months he became really resistant to that and it was clear that the separation was needed for for him.

Actually, in his spiritual walk with the Lord you've talked about spiritual abuse you've talked about emotional abuse, physical abuse you talk in the book about financial abuse controlling financial activity. You've also brought up your couple of times sexual abuse in marriage and I'm just wondering about the definition of the is how often he meets with the determines whether to abusive or not know that's a great question to sex abuse again is really murky. I'd say probably 1/3 of the women I asked. I work with are actually violated on their honeymoon and then it just establishes a pattern in the relationship that they learn to comply. So again, that gets confusing, violated how they were raped while in the church and at times you seeing that is a very common theme, says just on the honeymoon. I would say about 1/3 of the women that I have left 1/3 of the women, so I'm guessing there is women who are sexually abused okay but I'm thinking it's their honeymoon. The husband's thinking this is what were going to do now and you're saying the woman. The bride was I'm not willing to do this yet type thing and that's why it was really narrow. I think Sarah was there was some physical intimacy happening and a woman's body got tired or it just wasn't enough or her expression of joy was not enough and so then there becomes this I want what I want and I'm not gonna put down my desires for the sake of my life and I think that's really difficult I think in a healthy marriage. Right you can have a different level of desires you can have different level of comfortability with different sexual acts, but I can always turn to my husband and say no and I'm not pressured. I'm not bullied my bank account is in, put off.

I'm not forced to.

There's a difference between negotiation of comfortability and even a spirited discussion right and I'm going to wound and punish you and frighten you, humiliate you to get what I want from you sexually and that's where the abuse would come in and I would say the other onset typically tends to be on the arrival of children right because when you're newlywed you can do anything and everything for your spouse. Use have all the energy the excitement and then when you have children, so that your hearts divided his sister times last year and last you type yeah yeah not even just sexually, but like what you're making for dinner and how client houses and so usually around birth of children. Sometime is another time that abuse becomes tell story when Miriam whereafter she'd had our first child.

The doctor had told us ahead of time that we should not be limited for six weeks after the birth of the baby pretty normal and so we went for the checkup after six weeks, and the doctor said to so how has intimacy been for you and I said well it's been six weeks we haven't had a look at all. You followed that I would like way you mean.

I didn't have to follow that I felt kinda deprived them and kind of cheated but the point here that I think is is critical is God has designed intimacy to be something where we are giving to another person is mutual, not something where were demanding from another person. And when you're intimacy or demand is a part of the intimacy interaction something is fundamentally wrong there). Explicity, what an expression of our emotional and spiritual oneness with her partner and if it becomes attached. Enough about my pleasure, my I'm entitled to this. It's easily corrupted media all throughout Scripture, you, you asked the question of somebody. How often does your husband want sex.

So if if the person says to you every day you would say there's something wrong here know I cannot necessarily see that's why I love the title of the book is it abuse caused a very complex question right again. That can be mutual.

There might not be coercion. You might even have a wife whose does not desire it every day, but is willing to provide. It is still joyfully participating is serving. She does not feel enslaved to meet her husband's desire. I think these categories are so helpful for anybody who wonders they are there things going on in our relationship that shouldn't be going on is this abuse and is this something I should just live with an expected normal or is this something that I should say hang on. I'm not comfortable with where things are.

I think this is a great topic to discuss. Because a lot of this is women are involved in Bible studies or leaders of Bible states, we have great friendships with women. I think it's good just to be aware of this topic and this could be going on and we need ways in which that not only can we pray that we can look at this book and say these are some things that I could do to help my friend. The subtitle for the book in my mind is questions you always want to ask and get a real answer to you because there are these, and you don't even know who can I ask and here's a resource that will give you the right answer of the book is called is it abuse a biblical guide to identifying domestic abuse and helping victims. We've got Darby's book in our family life today resource Center. This is a book that will be helpful for pastors and counselors, but I think it's also helpful for any of us who have friends or or maybe were trying to determine if our relationship is actually an abusive relationship good copy of Darby's book go to family life order your copy or call us at one 800 FL today. Again, the title of the book is it abuse by Darby Strickland order or call one 803 586-329-1800 F as in family L as in life, and then the word today will. These are important conversations to help and I wish those of you who listen regularly to family life today could be here when we have conversations like this to read the emails to hear the voices of those who contact us and say what you were talking about today is what I'm living with and thank you for being there for me. Thank you for providing clarity and hope, pray for me and we do pray for people regularly who are going through stuff like this. Thank you for the resources you make available I just want to say to those of you who support the ministry of family life to the on behalf of those who contact us. Thank you for making this ministry possible for them. That's what your donations do your helping to effectively develop godly marriages and families throughout the world.

Hundreds of thousands of people every day coming to family life for practical biblical help and hope, and you make that possible when you support this ministry this week. If you're able to help with the donation would love to send you a copy of the book we talked about earlier this week. The book not yet married by Marshall Siegel about the pursuit of joy in singleness and in dating. Maybe you know somebody who's single or dating and you'd like to pass this book along with them. Maybe that's your circumstance. Marshall's book is our thank you gift when you make a donation today go to family life to make an online donation or call us at one 800 FL today and make your donation over the phone, we should ask for your copy of the book not yet married when you get in touch with us again.

You could donate or you can call one 800 FL today to donate and we hope you can join us again tomorrow when working to continue talking about abusers or the biblical term of the press or someone who is pressuring the marriage relationship. Darby Strickland will be back with us again tomorrow to be with us as well. Thinker engineer today. Keith Lynch would get some extra added help from Bruce Goff push our entire broadcast production team was involved in behalf of our hosts David and Wilson and Bob Payne see you back next time for another edition of family life today. Family life to date is a production of family life of Little Rock, Arkansas. Accrue ministry help for today hope for tomorrow

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