Three Anger Issues Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

You’re driving down the highway and a driver cuts in front of you. Your immediate reaction is to blare your horn and shout obscenities. Road rage is a term used to describe someone expressing their anger while driving and it’s one of many examples of anger.

There are a variety of situations that can trigger anger. Here are a few  anger issues symptoms to look out for.

Common Anger Issues Symptoms

1. Silent and invisible anger

Anger issues symptomsWhen most people think about anger they imagine verbal and physical outbursts. However, anger manifests in many different ways including a silent and invisible expression. The phrase “it makes my blood boil” accurately describes how anger can feel.

You could be fuming mad internally, but on the surface, you appear normal. Anger, if never addressed in a healthy way, can begin as a silent build-up of emotions. Like a volcano, it lays dormant under the surface until one day it erupts unexpectedly.

2. Aggressive anger

Anger issues symptomsAggression is the typical symptom that comes to mind when anger is mentioned. Think of a toddler’s temper tantrum. They pinch, hit, scream, slap, punch, throw, slam and stomp. Those tantrums don’t always go away as the transition to adulthood happens.

If anger isn’t properly directed and managed it can cause harm to yourself and others. Counseling provides a place to talk about and examine what exactly is causing the anger. If anger isn’t being talked about, it’s being expressed instead.

You can think of anger like a water bottle. Each situation that frustrates or angers us adds a drop to the water bottle. Eventually, if the water is never released it becomes too full and overflows. In the end, it’s usually something that doesn’t normally frustrate us that ends up causing the overflow.

Anger issues symptomsIt’s not until someone snaps that others pay attention. It’s often hard to see what’s bubbling under the surface until it has already boiled over. Anger is like an iceberg.

Above the surface of the water, only a portion of the ice is visible. But below the water, lies the part of the ice that is unseen. This is the other feelings besides anger that create the bulk of the iceberg that’s invisible. These feelings can range from guilt to embarrassment and stress.

Anger, whether silent or screaming, can be brutal. Learning to communicate your feelings of anger is the key to normalizing and neutralizing the power anger has. By discussing what you remember and how it made you feel you are integrating the right (emotional) and the left (logical) hemispheres of the brain. This helps you to regain control of your anger instead of allowing anger to dominate you.

If we only look at anger when someone is in the middle of being angry, we will never understand their anger fully. Whether sitting with a 4-year-old who has constant tantrums or an ex-convict who recalls having blackout rages, the conversations are similar.

A counselor might ask, “What do you remember?” In digging deeper the conversation might shift to, “Where did you first start to feel the anger in your body?” Taking the time to understand and examine your anger in order to discover root issues will help you heal.

3. Self-focused Versus Others-focused Anger

People don’t always associate anger with depression, but if you dissect the thought process of someone living with depression, you will often find signs of anger turned inward.

Anger issues symptomsThoughts like, “I’m worthless” or “I’m not good enough,” can become repeated thoughts in the mind. If these thoughts are left bottled up, it can turn into a belief that life is not worth living anymore or everybody is better off without you around. Self-hatred can lead to suicide.

The opposite of this is homicide. Homicide is when anger towards another person builds to the point where murdering that person seems justified. Others-focused anger takes on various forms including aggravated assault, rape, domestic violence, child abuse, bullying, and terrorism. Both self-focused and others-focused anger is rooted in deep feelings of anger that originated somewhere within.

Anger is a normal emotion. How you channel that anger is what matters most. Anger that is left unchecked, can have disastrous effects. Feeling anger can be helpful because it is a gateway to identifying and uncovering other thoughts and emotions. Christian counseling is just one way to begin a journey of handling your anger in healthy ways. If you struggle with anger and its symptoms, Christian counseling offers a safe place to experience freedom.

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How Forgiving Others Can Set You Free

Forgiveness. It’s such a loaded topic. There’s so much pain and doubt associated with that word — maybe bitterness, resentment, anguish, or grief.

Something shook you to your core, caused you deep sadness, and now you wonder: how can I move on from this? What does God expect me today? How can I forgive someone when I’m still dealing with the emotional fallout of how they’ve hurt me?

Does forgiving others mean pretending you weren’t hurt? Does it minimize the pain that person has caused or the harm they’ve done?

The Meaning of Forgiveness

We all tend to have a personal definition of forgiveness. Depending on how we grew up, we might think forgiving others means accepting an apology, sweeping things under the rug, or talking it out. People have many different approaches to resolving a conflict. How does forgiveness apply in every situation?

What about the person who hurt you? They apologize. You forgive them. You assume this means they won’t commit the offense again. But then the person hurts you more.

Now you feel betrayed and confused. Was the person ever really sorry? Are you supposed to keep forgiving and acting as if nothing happened?

Extending mercy can seem impossible when someone has grievously sinned against you, when they continue to hurt you in the same way, or when you feel you must pretend that everything is okay when it’s not.

We have to cut through the confusion surrounding how we define forgiveness. What’s the motive behind it? What does the process of forgiveness entail? What should we do with patterns of harmful behavior that are forgiven and then repeated over and over again? How can we address the pain without living in bitterness?

The Complication of Emotions

We struggle because of the grief and anger we experience after being hurt. We may have thoughts like, “Why should I have to forgive them? Why don’t they treat me better?”

You might feel like you have to dismiss these thoughts to forgive someone, but acknowledging your emotions is crucial to the healing process. That way, you can work through them instead of stuffing them down, only to have them pop up again later and make things even more complicated.

Making the Decision to Forgive

Questions about forgiving others abound. Here are some you may struggle with:

  • Should you immediately “forgive and forget” the sin of the person who hurt you?
  • What does forgiveness look like on a practical level?
  • Do you have to communicate your forgiveness to the person who hurt you? If so, how?
  • Does God give us a time limit for how long we can take to forgive someone?
  • Is there a biblical process?
  • Are there examples in Scripture for us to follow?

As Christians, we know we are obligated to forgive. So, if there’s a time we’re struggling with the hurt someone has caused us, we often feel guilty and ashamed that we can’t “snap out of it” and immediately go on with life.

Scripture does have answers to these difficulties. We need to study the biblical principle of forgiveness, from God to us and from us to each other. Then, seeking God in prayer for wisdom, we can apply these principles to our lives and relationships.

One of the most definite statements we’ve heard on forgiveness came from a teenager who said, “You don’t need an apology to forgive. The Bible has taught me how to forgive others and is a constant reminder that I’ve received forgiveness as well.”

When They’re Not Sorry

There are some critical aspects of forgiveness we need to explore:

  • What is forgiveness?
  • What is not forgiveness?
  • Is there a timeline for it?

When people aren’t repentant, we can still forgive them. We see this in Jesus in one of his last moments on this earth. He prayed for the people who were crucifying Him: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34

Jesus demonstrates for us that if someone hurts us and doesn’t even realize it, we still have the freedom to forgive them.

This kind of forgiveness is a powerful act. How can we “let someone off the hook” who doesn’t acknowledge the offense? The world around us won’t understand. But we know that grace is a gift from God. When we extend grace unasked, we bless the person who hurt us, and we also benefit our spirit.

When Jesus forgave those who put him to death, the criminal hanging next to Him heard it. He asked Jesus to remember Him. Jesus responded with compassion and love, setting the most excellent example for us. He said to the criminal, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23:34

When You’re Hurt Again

So you go through the process of forgiveness and feel that now, all will be well!

But then the person who hurt you does it again. How many times should we forgive a person who keeps hurting us? If we get angry the next time, does that mean we never truly forgave them in the first place?

These situations can make us very confused. Should we give this person space in our lives to continue hurting us? Can we stay away from them so they won’t cause more damage? How do we forgive, yet keep ourselves emotionally safe?

Scripture addresses these situations as well, teaching us how many times we should forgive someone. The Bible also discusses the concepts of restoration and reconciliation (which are distinct from forgiveness itself).

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – Matthew 18:21-22

So we see that Jesus wants us to extend grace over and over again, just like He does for us. No matter how many times the person hurts us, we should be willing to show them mercy, as we have received mercy.

Forgiveness is a matter of the heart. We humbly acknowledge that we are sinners in need of grace. If we are a believer, God has forgiven us of our enormous sin debt against Him. So we turn to another and extend grace to them, knowing we have no right to demand payment from them for their debt against us.

How does this apply to physically or emotionally dangerous situations? Forgiveness means letting go of the desire for revenge or retribution. It means not seeking repayment for someone’s sin debt against us.

But forgiveness doesn’t preclude the wisdom of stewarding our bodies, minds, and hearts, and taking action to keep ourselves safe. With a humble, forgiving spirit, we may remove ourselves from a dangerous situation, or distance ourselves from a person who is emotionally damaging.

Forgiveness doesn’t equate to the restoration of a relationship, or reconciliation with the person who’s hurt us. Forgiveness is a one-way street. Reconciliation is a two-way street that requires both people to acknowledge their sin and be willing to change sinful behavior by God’s grace.

As you can see, forgiveness isn’t simplistic at all! It’s between you and God. He alone knows your thoughts and motives. He can give you the grace and wisdom you need to discern what’s required for any situation, whether that be forgiveness, emotional distance, or the restoration of a relationship. Take time to seek Him, and if others misunderstand you in the process, trust that He understands you.

The Hurt That Lasts Years

Some people will never be in our lives again because of the significant damage they’ve caused us. Sometimes we may have removed ourselves emotionally from something that happened a long time ago.

We might be okay with lingering subconscious resentment and think that the process of forgiveness isn’t even worth it. If we no longer think about it, we’ve forgiven that person, right?

Consider whether any past hurts still give a foothold to bitterness in your soul. There is intentional work to be done if this is the case. You don’t need to uproot your grief or undo the damage they caused. It means you can find freedom from any unforgiveness that holds you hostage while still acknowledging that what the other person did was sinful and wrong.

Read this beautiful Scripture that ties together God’s forgiveness for us, our forgiveness for others, and our prayer life:

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25

This Scripture demonstrates that forgiveness happens in our hearts and it’s between God and us. It takes time to process our pain, as tempting as it may sometimes be to sweep it under the rug. God wants us to open our hearts and lay our hurt before Him, so we can forgive without making excuses for the other person’s sin.

What about when you are the person in need of forgiveness? Think of the guilt or shame you feel when you know you’ve sinned against someone. Consider the relief of being fully and freely forgiven. God can grant you the grace to offer that gift to someone who has hurt you. As you do so, you will remember His loving forgiveness for your sin and His care for you that does not diminish when other people sin against you.

When the Relationship is Ongoing

As we’ve seen, forgiveness has many implications for our lives, and it can take many forms as we forgive:

  • Someone who never apologized
  • Someone who continues to sin against us
  • Someone who we are still in a relationship with, whether that be a spouse, family member, friend, coworker, etc.

How do we manage our relationships when we are committed to forgiving others when they hurt us?

Sometimes we don’t feel confident enough to confront someone about how they’ve hurt us, so there’s never an opportunity to resolve the issue. And often if we do face someone about the pain they’ve caused, they don’t take responsibility for what they’ve done. They may not apologize, or they may offer a surface-level apology and expect us to move on quickly.

When someone is uncaring and harsh, can we still love them? Can the power of our love motivate someone to change when nothing else would? With God, all things are possible.

In the New Testament, we read of a practical example of forgiveness among Christians, including the grief caused by the person who sinned:

If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent – not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient.

Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven – If there was anything to forgive – I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake. – 2 Corinthians 2: 5-8, 10

Loving someone when they don’t deserve it can unlock the door to renewal for both you and the person who hurt you. If the person is repentant, we have the freedom in Christ to comfort them and help them cultivate the motivation to change their damaging behavior.

Again, biblical love doesn’t mean setting yourself up for physical or emotional abuse. It doesn’t mean ignoring your right to be safe. If you are struggling with a situation like this, please reach out for help so you can apply biblical principles in a way that is wise for your circumstances.

The Next Step

The pain caused by others can have a varying degree of impact on our lives, depending on the severity of the offense. We may experience hurt, sadness, grief, anger, betrayal, and trauma as a result of someone’s actions towards us. The counselors at Huntington Beach Christian Counseling can help you process these emotions and work towards finding freedom through forgiveness.

Taking the next step is a courageous act, and it’s one you don’t have to carry alone. If you are struggling with someone who is still in your life, you may be able to bring them to counseling too. Our family counselors are available to help you work through the process of forgiveness together.

If you are the one who has caused the hurt and you’re struggling with guilt and shame, we want to help you find freedom in God’s grace and the restoration of your relationships.

Forgiveness and freedom are available to you today. Let us help you take the next step in your journey.

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Why You Should (and Shouldn’t) Try Christian Marriage Counseling

Marriage is a wonderful blessing from God. Sharing life with your spouse can bring incredible joy and fulfillment. But anyone who is married will tell you that it is not always easy. Communication breakdown, resentment, or even infidelity – all too often, marriages can go very wrong.

One of the most effective ways of dealing with problems in your marriage is to see a marriage counselor. This is, of course, easier said than done. Indeed, those who are going through a difficult period in their marriage may be reluctant to start opening up to a stranger about it! Plus, many believe that “it just won’t work.”

Does Christian Marriage Counseling Work?

In most cases, Christian marriage counseling has proven to be extremely effective. It provides the opportunity for both parties to communicate their particular feelings and concerns and is all facilitated within a neutral and safe environment. With that being said, there are arguments for and against marriage counseling, so let’s take a look at a few.

Arguments for Christian Marriage Counseling

1. A Mediator is Helpful

Often, by the time you decide to seek out help for your marriage, communication has completely broken down. You may find that any discussion on the serious issues in your marriage ends up turning into an argument.

In these instances, a mediator may be extremely helpful, as they can act as a referee and a sounding board. A mediator will keep the conversation on the right path and will ensure that the discussion remains constructive. When working on a marriage in crisis, it is of the highest importance that the two people are able to hold a good and fair discussion on the issues that have divided them.

2. You’ll Gain Fresh Perspective

When a marriage hits a rough patch, it is often a result of a breakdown in communication. You may find yourself stuck in a pattern of unhealthy behavior toward your spouse, with no idea of how to change it for the good.

Seeing a Christian marriage counselor can help you both gain a fresh perspective and can assist you in dismantling some of the emotional walls that have been erected as a result of the poor health of the marriage.

3. It Encourages Hope

When you find yourselves stuck in a difficult marital situation, it can become very disheartening. After years of struggle, emotional turmoil and pain, it is easy to begin to feel hopeless about the situation. Making a marriage counseling appointment is an important step for you to take as a couple. You are, in effect, declaring that there is hope and a future for your marriage, and you are taking the joint decision to work on things together.

4. Overcoming Hardship Together Often Improves Bonding

When you make a conscious choice to seek help as a married couple, it signals a pivotal moment in your relationship. Though counseling will never be easy, it is the commitment to a better marriage that is the most crucial aspect of seeking additional assistance.

Plus, as you start to sort through the issues that have been holding you both back, you will develop a stronger bond. As you begin to see your marriage improve, you will be thankful for each other’s devotion to the process.

5. The Harder Path is Often the Better One

Of course, we all want to take the easy route sometimes. Unfortunately, when it comes to marriage, it is often the hardest path that yields the most fruitful results. The same applies to marriage counseling. It is not easy, but it can help you transform your marriage into a loving and stable relationship.

It can be tempting to keep going through the motions of marriage even though you are in a terrible place, but this is dangerous. Get honest, own the issues, and get plugged in to some counseling.

6. There’s A Lot at Stake

Marriage is a God-given gift. It is a sacred commitment between two people and the most stable environment in which to raise a family, so when a marriage fails, the fallout can be huge. It goes without saying that the emotional damage to kids can be enormous when their parents split up. Extended family bonds may also become strained.

It is critical to keep your marriage at the top of your list of life’s priorities and to seek out help when it is required. If you choose to go your own way, you will regret the immense damage it causes to your spouse, your family and those closest to you.

Arguments Against Christian Marriage Counseling

While engaging in Christian marriage counseling is very rarely a poor choice for a struggling marriage, it can sometimes be the wrong choice for a couple. The right emotional state, the willingness of both parties and a large dose of patience is required. If these are not present, it might not be the right time to embark on a counseling journey.

Here are a few things that might give you cause to reconsider whether or not it is the right time for you to engage in Christian marriage counseling.

1. Both Spouses Have to Be (or Become) Committed

In the beginning, it is not uncommon for one or both spouses to feel reluctant to engage. Like ripping off a band-aid to expose the state of what lies beneath, it can be difficult and painful! This usually improves once the couple starts to see and experience the benefits that counseling is having on their marriage.

However, if one spouse has pressured the other into attending, and if they have absolutely no desire to be there, it can do more harm than good.

If a spouse is completely resistant to making any changes, Christian marriage counseling can become ineffective and incredibly frustrating for the willing party. Both individuals need to be keen for it to work.

2. Sometimes it’s Too Late

Unfortunately, sometimes things are just too far gone for counseling to have any positive effect on the relationship. When communication has deteriorated to the point of insults and bitterness, it may be impossible to recover through counseling, unless the two spouses desire change.

If neither person can recognize any potential good in the relationship, and if they have zero vision for the future, it might not be helpful to hash it out any further in counseling. Having said this, we believe (and have seen!) that God can do mighty and miraculous works, even beyond what we could have imagined. Better to give it a try than to doubt what God is capable of doing.

3. Spouses Must be Willing to Change

If one spouse is involved an extramarital affair and wants to come to counseling, but is reluctant to give up the illicit relationship, no progress will be made. The same applies to any sort of addictive behavior that is having an adverse effect on the marriage.

Of course, we are all fallible human beings who mess up on a daily basis, but the individual must be willing to change – that is the most important thing. If they have no intention of changing their ways, counseling is likely to be a waste of time.

4. Individual Issues Must Sometimes Take Precedence

If one of the individuals involved in the marriage is dealing with serious emotional trauma from before or during the marriage, their well-being must be prioritized. They may be going through something that requires individual therapeutic work.

In this case, jumping into couples counseling could be detrimental to the marriage. The couple may decide to attend joint therapy once the person is in an appropriate emotional state to do so.

5. Know Your Own Limitations

There may be certain personal struggles that are preventing you from attending counseling. Perhaps you suffer from crippling anxiety at the thought of sitting down with a stranger and revealing your deepest secrets. But in the right setting and with the right therapist, a comfortable environment can be created. Some people are simply averse to receiving help and advice – but that always comes down to personal choice.

6. Find the Right Marriage Counselor

It is incredibly important to find the right “fit” when it comes to your counselor. You must be wise when seeking out someone to help you deal with the deepest issues in your marriage. It must be someone who you feel comfortable with, who has the required experience, and who you can be completely honest with.

Chrisitan marriage counseling can be an incredibly effective form of therapy for couples who are on the brink of splitting up. With the right attitude, and with the help of a well-matched therapist, marriages can be restored and renewed. If both individuals are committed to the healing of their marriage, we believe it can be done!

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Common Signs of Abuse and What to Do About It

Domestic abuse used to be a somewhat hidden topic. It may have seemed too shameful to speak about, especially because of the strong possibility that disclosure would be met with skepticism. Although it’s become more acceptable to talk about abuse today, victims are still often met with disbelief or blame. For this reason, among others, they are often afraid to talk about their experience.

In this article, we’ll discuss the most statistically prevalent form of abuse, which is committed by a male perpetrator on a female victim. (It is possible for any gender to commit abuse, which means men can be victims as well.)

Here are some of the most frequent questions I am asked as a domestic abuse counselor:

  • If there’s no physical violence, is it really abuse?
  • If he’s never touched me but is threatening and controlling, is this abuse?
  • Is it possible to fix the relationship?

I want this article to be a place to define domestic abuse. I’ll also list some of the most common signs for outsiders to be aware of, and for victims to be able to confirm that what they are experiencing is indeed abuse. I’ll also outline what steps a victim can take upon finding themselves in an abusive situation.

The Definition of Domestic Abuse

Abuse is rooted in a sense of entitlement and a desire for control. The attempt to control can involve many different behaviors, including threats, fear-mongering, physical violence, or other attempts to limit the victim’s independence.

Domestic abuse does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone. Its cyclical nature traps victims into believing that it’s eventually going to change, but then it never does. It crosses socio-economic, racial, and religious barriers, and it can happen to victims of any age.

Because of how insidious domestic abuse is, it’s often difficult for victims to fully acknowledge what’s happening to them. Domestic abuse tends to escalate over time, making the victim’s situation increasingly dangerous.

Acknowledging the abuse is the first step. Recognizing what’s happening to you includes the realization that you are worth far more than this and don’t deserve to be treated in such a way (although the abuser will try to blame you).

Meeting with a professional can be the next step, but make sure that you are doing so safely to avoid retaliatory actions from your abuser. When a victim takes even a small step towards independence, abuse can escalate quickly.

Common Signs of Abuse: The Power and Control Wheel

The “Power and Control Wheel” is a resource used by the National Domestic Violence Hotline. It divides abuse into eight categories, which you can see in the following image. Here you’ll see that abuse includes but is not limited to physical actions.

Coercion and threats: This can include self-harm, threats of suicide, or threats to hurt you or someone you love. Possible threats include violent ones, but other forms of harm are included as well.

An abuser may threaten to get you in trouble in some way or take something you value. These threats are made in order to intimidate you so you’ll submit to their demands or allow them to further abuse you. Threats of self-harm may also be used, in order to guilt you into giving in to the abuser’s demands.

Domestic abuse does not always happen how you might think. It can start small and build up from there. Often, abusers choose kind-hearted, empathetic victims whose very strengths are used against them. The victims are then manipulated into a life of submission to a controlling, abusive partner.

Intimidation: This form of abuse is related to coercion and threats. Intimidation describes the instilling of fear to force the victim into compliance. If the victim does not comply, she knows there will be consequences.

Emotional abuse: This type of abuse can be easy to hide or deny. Since it doesn’t leave physical scars, the abuser often claims the abuse didn’t happen or that the victim is exaggerating, being overly sensitive, etc.

Emotional abuse is a pattern of mind games, put-downs, insults that may or may not be disguised as jokes, minimizing, denying, blame-shifting, gaslighting, using male privilege, and more. The effect of this over time is that the victim’s confidence and self-worth drastically deteriorate. The victim then finds herself constantly seeking the intermittent reinforcement (periods of affection, approval, compliments, etc.) that the abuser periodically doles out.

This type of abuse can seem subtle, but it can eventually overtake the entire relationship and become normalized. When you’re coming to terms with emotional abuse, you need to know that it is not okay for your partner to degrade you, bully you, or verbally abuse you.

Emotionally abusive partners will seek (whether consciously or subconsciously) to condition their victim to accept this unacceptable and cruel behavior, but it is not normal or acceptable, and you do not deserve it.

Isolation is another form of control used by abusive partners. Little by little, the abuser removes your independence. You lose control over your time, spend less time with your friends and family, and become completely absorbed in the relationship. Not only does this isolation enable more abuse to take place, but it also removes both witnesses and influencers who could help break the cycle.

Over time, the abuse escalates as the victim becomes more isolated, and then she has no one to talk to. This benefits the abuser because the more isolated the victim is, the less likely someone will convince her that he’s abusive and she needs to leave.

Many domestic abusers will minimize and deny that the abuse is even happening. The abuser can also blame their significant other for the abuse. This can be very confusing for the victim. I have heard clients say things like, “Am I going crazy? Is this really not happening?” This is all part of the abuser’s control tactics, by making you feel “crazy” and/or confused, and he can keep the abuse going.

Minimizing and denying: This is an integral part of abuse. Very few abusers are violent, angry, or mean 24/7. They intersperse their abuse with occasional good treatment (although this can become more and more rare as the abuse escalates).

This keeps the victim confused and off-balance. She might think that the latest abusive incident is the last one. She might think it’s her fault, which he would like to convince her of, especially if she responds emotionally or angrily to his treatment of her.

Often the abuser will convince the victim that his treatment of her is not that big of a deal, that she’s just too sensitive, that all relationships are like this, or that it didn’t happen at all. (This is especially powerful if he is not physically violent but sticks to emotional abuse. How can she prove it, even to herself?)

Abusers also gaslight their victims by claiming to forget an abusive incident or twisting it to make it seem like it happened differently than it did.

Using children: Abusive partners often use children as pawns in their quest to control their victim. They take advantage of a mother’s fierce maternal instincts and manipulate that love to intimidate, threaten, manipulate, and/or demean her.

One of the most frequent and potent examples of this is when an abuser threatens to take the kids and prevent the victim from seeing them. He does this so she will agree to his terms. It can be terrifying to encounter this and know what to do next to both escape the abuse and not lose the children.

Male privilege: This type of abuse is when a man uses his gender as a basis for power and control. He bases his demands on the fact that he is the man of the house, or on his twisted view of traditional gender roles. Many healthy marriages are based on traditional gender roles, but it is not healthy when a man uses “gender roles” to control his partner.

He does this to create an imbalance of power so he can make unilateral decisions without taking her thoughts or wishes into account. This leads to a feeling of helplessness on the part of the victim. She might feel as if she has no say in anything about her life or decisions for the family.

Economic abuse: This is another form of subtle abuse that is very difficult to identify and address. It involves the woman being financially dependent and the man using this to control her and benefit himself. This can take many forms, and it can happen whether or not she is working herself.

What Should I Do Now?

If you have read this and started to realize that you are in an abusive relationship, or maybe that someone you know is, it’s important to know what to do next.

Assessing the safety and risks is the important factor. Once a woman begins to make efforts to change the relationship or to leave the situation, the risk of violence increases exponentially. Making a safety plan is paramount if you believe there is even the slightest risk of violence.

Listen to your intuition; it’s a powerful ally. Physical abuse can begin suddenly even if only non-physical abuse was happening before. The National Domestic Hotline (1-800-799-7233) can be a good place to start assessing your safety and deciding what to do next.

Seek Counseling

A counselor can be an invaluable resource if you feel that you are experiencing domestic abuse. The isolation of abuse can make freedom seem almost impossible to attain. Doing it alone is overwhelming, and it’s easy for the abuser to maintain control.

The support and professional guidance you’ll receive from a Christian counselor can help alleviate the anxiety of this process. We will walk with you as you begin your journey to safety, freedom, and healing.

Escaping a domestic abuse situation is not simple. A counselor can help you to carry out the next indicated actions, as well as providing practical help making a safety plan, finding lawyers, medical professionals, understanding the law, and more.

The emotions and possibly trauma involved in domestic abuse will require a committed and extended recovery process. Feelings of low self-worth are common and normal after abuse. Counseling can help you process what you’ve been through and find a healthy place of recovery, hope, and personal growth.

The Lord provides comfort for His children. We want to help you seek a relationship with Him so that you can lean on Him each day of this difficult journey. He loves you and does not desire for you to be abused and mistreated.

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4) As Christian counselors, we desire to be instruments of His freedom and healing. You do not have to go through this alone.

Photos:
“Alone,” courtesy of Tiko Giorgadze, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Hurt”, Courtesy of Dmitry Ratushny, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Victim”, Courtesy of Zach Guinta, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Reflection”, Courtesy of AKi Kikuti, Flickr.com, CC 2.0 License