Domestic violence series V
Should an abused wife or family member leave? The answer from this article (see previous post for details) is a very strong yes. I've heard it from other counsellors as well. How can healing take place if the abuse is continuing? It must be a terribly hard thing to do though. A lot of support and love and trust would be needed.
While an abused woman with no children has strong biblical warrant to flee an abusive husband, she has additional warrant (even a mandate) to do so if she has children. Jesus pronounced the most severe judgments on those who cause one of the little ones (children) to stumble (Matt 18:1-10).
Abusive husbands cause tremendous long-term physical, emotional and spiritual damage to children, even if they only physically abuse the mother. (And roughly half of men who physically abuse their wives also abuse their children.)
When young children merely witness domestic violence, the trauma exposure creates long term physiological changes, including permanent structural alteration and damage to the brain.
Additionally, we know that girls who grow up in physically abusive homes are several times more likely to be physically and sexually victimised in adulthood due to the emotional damage of childhood abuse (even simply witnessing it).
All of this shows that growing up in a physically abusive home, whether or not one is actually beaten, is extremely damaging and certainly ‘causes little ones to stumble’.
Separation from an abusive husband is ethically important for the well-being of the woman because domestic violence creates serious physical, emotional and spiritual damage. And Scripture does not commend enduring avoidable suffering.
Christ avoided physical assault by hiding (John 8:59). Paul and David also repeatedly fled physically abusive civil and religious authorities. Clergy should advise battered wives to flee from abusive husbands or family members and should assist them in every way they can to find safety and physical security.