Marriage Missions International

How Do I Respond to Physical Abuse?

one sad woman sitting  near a  wall“Let me begin by saying that I cannot think of a circumstance in a marriage or family that could justify abuse of any kind —emotional, mental, physical, or sexual. Abusive behavior was never and can never be a part of God’s plan for a marriage or a family.

“For the sake of clarity, I’m going to limit this answer to physical abuse. And by this I mean assaulting, threatening, or restraining a person through force. It would include hitting, slapping, punching, beating, grabbing, shoving, biting, kicking, pulling hair, burning, using or threatening the use of weapons, blocking you from leaving a room or the house during an argument, driving recklessly, or intimidating you with threatening gestures…”

That’s the first few paragraphs of an article written by Dennis Rainey and Leslie Barner, posted on FamilyLife.com. We recommend you read it by clicking onto the link web site link below:

•  HOW TO RESPOND TO PHYSICAL ABUSE

If you have additional tips you can share to help others in this area of marriage, or you want to share requests for prayer and/or ask others for advice, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
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65 Responses to “How Do I Respond to Physical Abuse?”
  1. NeedAdvice from United States says:

    Last night my husband got irritated with me because I was irritated with my daughter’s whining. I was huffing under my breath and he got angry. He said I’m always on my phone, which isn’t true. He’s on his IG every time he gets home. I work off my laptop and yes, I need to manage my time.

    Anyway I’ve been stressed out and need a break from my daughter. I love her to death but I haven’t had a moment to myself since she was born. I have family who literally live 5 minutes away who don’t even ask if I need a break. I’ve always been there for them and their kids and no one seems to care. I’m a stay at home mom and my daughter is almost two and I think the terrible 2 is already here.

    My husband gets to go to the gym and I don’t get to do anything. I don’t even get to go cut my hair at the salon any more but he does. I feel I’m the most terrible mom in the world and he verbally abuses me. Last night he threw me on the bed after I tried to stop him from breaking the laptop I got as a loaner from my brother. He then kicked me hard under my coccyx bone. That’s the first time he ever did that I’m scared and have been crying all day. I’m not sure what to do. He then broke my daughters crib and toys. Any advice???

    I can’t believe he kicked me! He has been hot headed since I met him. We’ve been separated and I thought he changed. Now that I have a daughter I feel trapped lost and confused.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Dear NeedAdvice, I’m not sure of all of the details of what went on, because I’m only reading one side of this scenario (but I really don’t need to know the details). It’s not difficult to see that toxic behavior is going on when frustrations are “voiced” (whether they are voiced in healthy ways or not). Verbal abuse, physical abuse, and such are NEVER called for, and are wrong, NO MATTER how frustrated one or the other of you happens to be, concerning the situation at hand. These methods of handling frustrations are never, ever appropriate.

      With that said (and established) though, whining, playing the blame game, finger-pointing, and the like, are also not mature ways to handle the issues before you. They aren’t AS bad, but they’re still not appropriate to use to approach matters. It’s obvious that both of you are frustrated. And it’s obvious that both of you are doing things that you shouldn’t. What’s most concerning is that these types of behaviors, once they are acted out, can often start ramping up –getting worse each time. THAT needs to be nipped, before they do so.

      You BOTH need to talk to each other about your frustrations in less toxic ways. You can do this, but it will take intentionality, the right timing to do it in, and concerted effort made to approach these types of matters in mature ways. You and your husband aren’t kids, so you can do this. You just have to purpose to do this. You have to act more like marriage partners, than like frustrated children that act out your impulses. We have a lot of Communication Tools available to help you, posted on this web site. Please take advantage of what we make available. Go to the Communication Tools topic and see what will work for you. Don’t just keep going on, acting like children… especially in front of a child.

      This 2-year old needs her mom and dad to find better ways to work through situations like this. She also needs better role modeling. If your husband won’t do his part (which he may, if he is approached respectfully and at the right time, with the right motives), then you need to at least do your part.

      As for the underlying situation, it seems that you need a “break” in some way, so you can better approach your daughter, when she acts like a young child. 2-year olds are known for being unreasonable. But that doesn’t mean that we have to resort to being unreasonable. Perhaps being home full time won’t work for you. Perhaps you need to find a part time, or even a full time job outside of the home, so you have an outside outlet. My mom had NO patience when she was home all the time. She NEEDED at least a part-time job so she could better handle us 4 kids. Some people do. Others don’t. You just have to figure out what will work best for your 2-year old, for you, for your spouse, and your home life together.

      And/or maybe you need to switch out baby-sitting with someone, where you watch their child sometimes so they can have some private time, and they watch yours. Be resourceful. Also, computers, and the like –that, which can be used for social media, need to handled better. If we spend too much time using these as outlets, they can eat up our time and energy that might better be invested elsewhere. Yes, it can be enjoyable, but when it it’s overdone, it’s a “fun” that is destructive, and needs to be handled better. You know that… I sense it in your comment that you realize it. So, do something about it. Figure out boundaries for yourself and invest more time in your marriage, and home life with your daughter. This isn’t fun advice to give, nor to receive, but I’m hoping you will see the wisdom in what I’m trying to tell you. I care about you, your daughter, your husband, and your home life together. I hope you will receive what I’m saying here in the spirit it’s given… with care, and Christian compassion. I pray things go better for you as you do what you learn and you know you should do.

  2. Badhon from Australia says:

    My husband keeps shoving me and slapping me. I asked him to let me go, but he wont. I’m scared to tell my parents because I think he will kill me if I try to leave. I’m scared to call police. His family lives nearby but because the fights start due to his parents complaints about me I’m scared to involve them either. My husband is 1 foot taller than me if not more. I’m barely 45kg while he is close to 70kg. So when he pushes me I always get injured. He says I scratch him but it’s in self defense when he tries to choke me. My parents and family live overseas and nobody has a clue that he can be such a monster. How so how do I save myself? Can somebody help?

  3. Sandra from United States says:

    I’ve been married to my husband a little over year now. We married each other after 3.5 months. We both felt we were old enough and had enough life experience to know what we wanted in life; being married was now apart of the plan. He has 2 children who live out of state, he isn’t very close to them, he had a career in the military, which left little time for a family and after 10 years they divorced (she had an affair and now is married to the gentleman). He recently retired from the military and was medically discharged due to PTSD and major depressive disorder. He was hospitalized a few years ago due to his mental illnesses.

    When I met him, he was getting help and had completed his stay at the hospital and the program. He was also in multiple therapy programs and on medication. When I raised my concerns about his mental health, he minimized them, reassuring me he was through the worst of his depression and his life was now turning around, he also said that getting out of the military was best for him and I agreed and believed him. There were many red flags in the beginning of our relationship (there were other women he remained in contact with after we married and he gave me his ex-fiancé’s engagement ring and married me with it; unbeknownst to me). We worked through those issues. He always seems sincere and helpless when he makes mistakes, it’s hard not to feel sorry for him and want to forgive him.

    The abuse has been going on for almost a year now and has only gotten worse and more violent. Today he choked me, I nearly lost consciousness, he threatened to kill me and my kids and himself. I begged him to stop and he did. He left the house and called shortly after to apologize. I told him he needs to get help immediately and asked him to admit himself into the hospital, that I can’t have him here in our home. He cried and agreed to go to the VA hospital. I don’t know what to do now. I have a bruise around the front of my throat. I love him and believe he can get better. But I know he isn’t healthy and may never be stable. Should I leave him?

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      All I can say is that you both need sincere help before it looks like it would be safe to continue living together as husband and wife. 3.5 months, ESPECIALLY with his issues is not enough time to work through the things you needed to know, to live together as husband and wife in a healthy way. Do the hard work now, before you consider reconciliation, and see where it goes from there.

      You need a good counselor who knows his or her stuff about Post Traumatic Stress issues, violent, abusive behavior, AND is a good marriage counselor (not every good counselor is a good marriage counselor). Abusers can be charming, and also often know how to work the system. Be aware of that. I recommend that you contact the ministry of Focus on the Family at Focusonthefamily.com. They have counselors on staff who can help you get started in the right direction. Don’t short-change this process. This will take time, intentionality, and cooperation on both of your parts to work through your issues. Apologizing isn’t enough… true repentance that is backed up with long-term actions before you even THINK about reconciling is important. Your life was spared this time, but this type of behavior, unless properly dealt with will often ramp up. Your life and the lives of your family could pay a HIGH price, if you don’t get the help that is needed. I hope you will.

      Your husband CAN change, but it will be very, very difficult, and very, very complicated. I hope he and you are committed to doing what it takes to get him to that better place. This will be a very difficult journey, to say the least, but a very important and noble one, if it is accomplished.

      • Sandra from United States says:

        Cindy, I really appreciate the reply. I agree with everything you wrote. I really feel like I have no one to talk to about what’s happening. I’m afraid to talk to my family or friends for fear of judgement.

        As of now my husband has been admitted and is being held on 5150 for up to 72 hours. I don’t know any details; he text to tell me which hospital he was at and which one he’s being transported to. I believe, according to Internet research, when a person is held on a 5150 they’re not allowed contact with anyone for the first 24 hrs.

        My kids have no idea what’s going on, and when they asked where my husband was I said he had a meeting out of town and won’t be back for the night. I feel crazy. I feel like it’s my fault, I got him angry because I was upset with lack of communication and it wasn’t even a big deal. But I was upset and when I mentioned how I felt he blew up and got violent. He said I was a nag and other disdainful words. If I just didn’t get upset this wouldn’t have happened… I feel like it’s my fault.

        I will look into Focus on the Family for resources. Please keep me in your prayers. I feel terrible. Absolutely terrible. I am intelligent enough to know it’s abuse, but feel completely helpless.

        I feel like I’m not sure if I’m committed to getting him better. I have a mentally handicapped daughter who is violent and the emotional toll it takes on me to juggle both is incredibly taxing. I feel abused by both my daughter and my husband. I feel like “what about me?” Am I suppose to sacrifice my wellbeing and happinesss for my husband? I feel like he’s going to always need help and I will be his caretaker, leaving me emotionally, spiritually and psychologically exhausted, depleted and empty. I feel betrayed by him, that he didn’t have the will power enough to not hurt me. I feel abandoned by him. Am I suppose to sacrifice myself for my husband? I have forgiven him countless times over the abuse.

        I ‘m sorry. I’m only rambling. Thank you again for taking the time to respond. Sincerely thank you!

        • Cindy Wright from United States says:

          Sandra, I can’t even begin to tell you how much my heart goes out to you. Here you thought you were marrying the dream love of your life, and a nightmare appears, instead. There is little advice I can give to you… except to encourage you not to look beyond what is in front of you today. Take one step at a time… don’t look ahead, thinking of the possible sacrifices that may or may not need to be made.

          When you contact the ministry of Focus on the Family, go into the “Get Help” section, and then the “Contact a Counselor” part of it. They have counselors on staff, who can help you figure out where to get the help you need. Try not to be quick to dump out of your marriage. Make the effort to talk to a good counselor to unpack all of this, and figure out what you should do from there. You may be surprised, as you pray, what you are capable of doing, and what you should and shouldn’t do. I can’t tell you what to do… but I can tell you to not make fast decisions. You did that once before… don’t repeat the same mistake.

          Read through the articles we have posted in the “Abuse in Marriage” topic to better keep yourself safe, work with a counselor to help you figure out what you are to do today, and then take one day, one step at a time. Eventually, you will most likely need to tell your family, but a counselor help to guide you as to the timing and the verbiage you should use to do so. I pray the Lord gives you wisdom to keep yourself safe and to know what you should do today, and then the next day, and eventually beyond… I pray help for you when you need it, and the courage and strength to do what you need to do for you and your marriage.

          • Sandra from United States says:

            I wanted to provide an update. My husband is still at the mental facility he was admitted to. I’m really glad he’s getting help. I called Focus on the Family and spoke with a counselor on staff, she was VERY helpful and provided a lot of information; treatment centers, therapist etc. all local and in my area. I looked into individual counseling for domestic violence for myself and have been placed on a wait list and should hear back around this time next week.

            I’ve been in contact with the hospital my husband was admitted to and shared with his social worker the details of what happened on Tuesday and my concerns. He is scheduled to be released as early as tomorrow but has voluntarily agreed to stay until Monday. I can’t say I was pleased with the call, she seemed very impersonal. I’ve spoke to him once since we was admitted and he was very worried and scared. Yesterday I missed his call and he sounded much better and stronger, my only problem was he had no concern for me or how I was doing or how I was holding up. It was all about him and his progress.

            My plan is for him and for myself to get treatment and not live together until things improve. There needs to be “long term action on his part before I can begin to think about reconciliation”.

            I hope these comments inspire others to seek help. One phone call to any crisis center, better yet, Focus on the Family counseling staff, can make all the difference and will empower you. Furthermore once you treat yourself like you matter, then you will start to matter. I’m grateful this website existed during this time of my life. Cindy, I reread what you wrote over and over again the day after I posted, reminding myself not to look to far ahead. Everything you said became my salvation and made me feel like I could do it. Thank you for your prayers.

          • Cindy Wright from United States says:

            Oh Sandra, I’m so glad you’re in a better place emotionally. You have a long, hard road ahead of you, yet I’m so glad that you aren’t focusing on the length of that road, but rather upon what you can do today –each step at a time, which can get you to a better place. It’s like what they say, “How do you eat an elephant? One bit at a time.” This is a “one bite at a time” situation. I applaud you that you have taken such brave steps to get yourself onto better footing for now, and in the future. I truly believe that one day you will look back and will say, “Wow! I can’t believe how far I’ve come and how much more strength I’ve had to get here, than I ever thought possible!”

            I want you to know that I’m praying for your husband too. He needs extreme help also. No matter what the future is for you and for him, you both need prayers and to grab the strength and resources He can supply to plug into and use the help you can get. Please keep us posted on what you’re learning on this journey. You may take many steps forward, and then one or a few back, and then forward again (because this is all a new learning thing for you), but the important thing is that even if you fall for a time –that you pick yourself up and keep looking at the next healthy step you can take… falling forward is better than living backward, anytime. I pray for you and care about you. I’m sure that many, many others who read through this web site do, as well.

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