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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Filed under: Abuse in Marriage

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142 responses to “How Do I Respond to Physical Abuse?

  1. Hi, I’m going through the same thing with my husband. We were together 2 years before we got married. I used to be happy, whatever that is. Now, I regret marrying such a monster. He cheats on me, he beats me, he strangled me twice now. I’m afraid of divorce; I’m afraid of what he will do to me and my kids; he’s in a gang. I thought he was joking about that before we got married. Now, I regret ever setting eyes on him.

    He gets angry at me for everything. The first time he strangled me, I stupidly bailed him out of jail. The most recent attack was last night; he told me he would never lay hands on me again. I guessed wrong. He gets like this every time I bring up his problems and what he did to me before. He explodes with anger, says mean, and nasty hateful things to me. Calls me horrid names, which I can not repeat on this comment. I am terrified, I’m sitting in what used to be our bedroom scared out of my mind.

    I woke up this morning, I went to the bathroom and discovered I am urinating blood. I told him and all he can say is, “sorry”. Always on his phone, I say something about that, and it’s my fault. Everything is my fault. If you’re in a marriage or partnership, please I beg of you, don’t fall for the I’m sorrys I’ll never do it again. They will and you know it deep down in your heart; you know that they will hurt you again! Just leave!

    1. I’m not sure what you mean when you say you “disobey” your husband, so he hits you. Is this a father/child relationship where he gives the orders and you are the child who has to obey or you get spanked? How is this a marriage? Marriage makes you partners, not a child who has to obey her parent. Hitting a spouse is NEVER acceptable –whether it’s the husband hitting the wife or the wife hitting the husband. And the term “disobey” is also not an acceptable posture in a marriage. He isn’t your parent or master; he is your husband –someone who reflects the love of Christ to His bride.

      I can’t ever imagine accepting the posture of having my husband hit me because I “disobeyed.” There is no obeying or disobeying. There is talking and working problems out as “one.” In Ephesians 5 it says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and GAVE HIMSELF FOR HER, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives AS THEIR OWN BODIES; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but NOURISHES AND CHERISHES it, just as the Lord does the church.” That does not include hitting when the wife “disobeys” unless he hits himself.

      Also, in 1 Peter 3:8-9 we’re told, “Husbands, in the same way BE CONSIDERATE as you live with your wives, and TREAT THEM WITH RESPECT as the weaker partner and as HEIRS WITH YOU of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. DO NOT REPAY EVIL WITH EVIL OR INSULT WITH INSULT. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” There’s nothing in there about hitting for “disobeying.” You are both to work together to “cleave together as one” –not insult or assault one another.

      If my husband were hitting me because of what he thinks to be “disobedience” he would live alone, without me, until he recognized that he is not to hit me. I’m not his punching bag; I’m his wife and I expect to be treated with love and respect (just as I would give him love and respect). That is my humble, prayerful opinion.

      1. Thank you for openly saying it shouldn’t be a matter of disobeying like a child and parent. My life is identical to the above discribed and that sentence was sure a moment of clarity.

        1. I’m so glad. I hope you’re able to stop this from happening. A marriage relationship has no room for this type of abusive behavior. You are marriage partners, not a parent/child.

  2. I have endured but I think I really need someone to talk to and someone to talk to him. The worst part is that he never apologizes. He never remorseful afterwards. I feel rejected, abandoned, alone, uncared for.

  3. My boyfriend hits me because I lie or because I don’t do things right. Is that ok? Is it my fault that he hits me?

    1. Maria, I believe you already know the answer to your questions. If someone came to you asking them what you asked, what would you say? If you had any intelligence what-so-ever (which I believe you do… no matter what your boyfriend may tell you), you would say NO. It is NEVER okay to hit (except for self defense purposes)… even if you lie (which you shouldn’t, but that’s another matter) or if you “don’t do things right.” You are not a child to be disciplined if you rebel; and he is not your father –a disciplinarian who is supposed to lovingly try to steer you in the “right” direction. He has absolutely no excuse for hitting you or abusing you in any way, no matter what he tells you. You are a grown up, and he is supposed to act like one if he is to be with anyone in any type of healthy relationship.

      Trust me when I say this, the situation you are in will only get worse as time goes on. He will promise you all kinds of things and/or try to justify his actions in different ways, but once a person starts to treat another person like a punching bag –especially someone they claim to love, things will only get progressively worse. Please read the following article (and the linked articles within it) for much needed insight: http://marriagemissions.com/warning-escape-abuse-before-marriage/.

      I hope for your sake and the sake of your future that you find a way to escape this madness –getting away from ANYONE who would treat you this inhumanely. I can’t even start to tell you all the times we hear of the same thing you are saying, only to see it keep progressing in getting worse and worse… sometimes even leading to permanent physical damage or death. You are NOT safe with this guy. Find a way to get away from him, and the sooner the better, before he claims you as his property in which, he will never let go. I pray for you Maria, and hope you will take what I am writing seriously. Your life may depend upon it.

  4. I need to speak to someone. I’ve been getting beat up by my husband for 17 years. It’s become worse. He won’t work, won’t help keep the house up, won’t make minor repairs, steals from me, and gets excited every time he hits me. He celebrates his punches.

  5. Hi all, I am in a very bad relationship. I am in a relationship for less than two years. When it was new, I felt I could never find anyone better than this, he appeared to me as a perfect match to me. I was really, really happy. But things changed slowly. Now he beats me, slaps and abuses as badly as he can. Many a times, some crazy things keeps going on when he tortures me. I dont know what but when he abuses me, I just get silent; I start testing him to see his limits. I start to think lets see what limit this person can go in his anger whom I once loved like anything. My eyes filled with tears looks straight into his, just questioning that what love is – this that he does to me. This is the love that he has for me.

    He becomes a monster in his anger. He regrets after all this but only in words. I am not able to understand his nature, in public he wants to show he is the cool person, he never wants me to raise my voice even a bit in public. That insults his ego. But in private he likes to beat me up. If while I am crying my voice gets louder then I will be beaten up more. He tried smashing my head to the walls, squeezing my arms and face with all force. Slapping me is very normal to him. In terms of words that he use is beyond imagination. If I say I will not marry him or any girl cannot live with him, he tries to be as sweet as anything. He will convince me that it was my fault that I made him angry. I am just fed with all of this. One thing, he loves me a lot like crazy but the price for this love is physical abuse that I am going through. Help me please. I want him to not abuse me. I really want to live happily with him. How can that be possible. Or I have to quit from this relationship? What to do?

    1. Please, please don’t repeat my mistake. Leave him. Comparing to what he will be aftèr marriage and having kids, he is an angel now.

  6. My wife hit me. She yells often, but today she hit me. She is much smaller than I am. I am a Marine, strong, trained, and could easily stop her by restraining her, but I’m scared I would get in trouble. I tried to leave and she blocked me in the house. I had to walk away and then run to the door once she moved. I see no recent posts online about men being abused from 2016, even 2015. If I called the cops I am sure I would be arrested without cause. I have no marks, her word against mine. Help.

    1. Hi D.C. Thank you for standing strong… there’s no doubt that this puts you in a very difficult situation. I’m proud of you for not being physical even though your wife has been. That takes real courage and restraint, even though she and other people (including many law enforcement officers) probably wouldn’t see it that way. You would most likely either be teased, minimized, or arrested because yes, many, many times the abusive wife, in her rage and panic, will turn the tables around and accuse the husband of being the abuser, even though he is innocent. And once a husband been arrested for spousal abuse, it can spiral into an even worse situation in the future. The justice system is not fair on this issue one bit, when it comes to the husband being abused, but that’s what you’re dealing with.

      Please prayerfully read through the following article we have posted on this web site, as well as other linked articles and web sites within it, and the comments posted below it: http://marriagemissions.com/husband-abuse-can-a-wife-abuse-her-husband/. I think that as you pray, read, and look for the wisdom YOU need for YOUR marriage, you will eventually be able to come up with a plan. At the very least, you need to plan for a way of escape to put into place before things start escalating. Obviously, your wife doesn’t have the self control she should have that is needed. But hopefully, you can figure out how to stop her from doing this because abuse usually escalates more and more in the future, and her behavior is definitely abusive… small, large, or whatever.

      There IS a ministry called Focus on the Family that I recommend you look into –their web site is found at focusonthefamily.com. They have counselors on staff who are excellent and they may be able to direct you to the insight you need, or the resource you need to help to stop this madness. Please seek out their contact info on their web site and see how they can direct you. I hope you will. Again… I’m so glad you didn’t give into the impulse to get physical with your wife when she did. She was definitely wrong, and you definitely did the right thing in getting out of that toxic situation in whatever way you could. Something needs to change though.

      I hope, in your search, you find out how to bring about the best change so you can both learn how to resolve your conflicts in non-combative ways. This will take research, effort, and a different kind of training than you’re used to, but I have no doubt that you can do this. I’ve known a lot of Marine’s and have great respect. They are resourceful. I hope and pray you reach within and become resourceful too, with God’s help.

  7. My husband also has hit me, slapped me, choked me while lifting me in the air by my neck many times. Part of me believes that I take part in bringing him to such rage that he is then unable to control his rage against me. I stuck by him through a prison term of roughly 4 yrs. I was supportive of him, sent him money, traveled 1100 miles one way with our 3 children and then back every three months to visit him. I worked hard in and out of the home then and still do now. He’s been out of prison for almost 4 yrs now. Since then we’ve had 4 more children (5 in all). Since his release he rarely has a job and when he does it’s over within a couple months. He has never paid bills, hardly ever helps with household chores, bathing or taking care of our children.

    Also, since his release I’ve caught him red handed pimping, selling drugs, having inappropriate conversations with women online or thru text, etc. He’s in a gang and I knew that when we met, but he promised he desired a Christian life and home, and promised all of that to me. He never gave it from day one of his release. The reason I question if I am part of the reason for his violence towards me is because I know I’m very guilty of arguing with him and when he calls me fowl names I call them right back to him and tells him the same goes for his mother, etc & so on (I call the names back at him but never am the one to bring name calling into our arguments). I know it’s wrong before I do it but in the heat of tbe moment it feels like my only defense. Even though I know this behavior will make him violent against me it doesn’t stop me from arguing.

    2 nights ago he was upset because he was the one to place an air conditioner in our children’s bedroom window. He rarely does anything to keep the house up but outright says he does just as much as I do. His own family has told me to divorce him but I love him deeply and want to be a wife that makes him feel happy and at peace in our home. The night he put the air unit in the window he began to ask me what I was doing. I rise at 3:30am each day for work, come home and work in the home until I drop, often times not being able to lay down til 11 at night. He’s often after me after working all day and night and expects me to perform sexually and I’m too exhausted. Sometimes I give in in, sometimes not. Even in intimacy he’s the lazy one. He lays there and expects me to do all the work.

    I don’t know why I love him so much. I partly think it’s because I bought into the dream he sold and I still want it and somehow think I can get him and I to be on the same page. The same night of the air unit he choked me, pulled his gun out (not in my face but made sure I saw it); he called me the most hurtful names, and while he beat me as I was on the floor after him pushing me down our 7yr old boy jumped on his back. I couldn’t believe my eyes when he literally grabbed our baby off his back and slammed him into the wall. He landed into the wall slamming the back of his head on the wall, slid down the wall and folded like a book on top of me.

    He’s a monster but I believe he believes he loves me. I don’t know how to let go of him. It kills me to think of him being with anyone else. I truly believe I was created for him but for him to hurt me. Please I need patient, trusting loving advice. God bless to all my brothers and sisters in Christ.

    1. O, I am truly horrified and grieved to think of all of the toxicity going on in your home. I can’t even imagine all the bad things these children are witnessing and are being taught about marriage and “love” and how to treat those you love. I’m also astounded (and so is my husband who read your comment first) that you still are holding onto the fantasy of love and a good life with someone (I won’t call him a man because a true “man” would not do this to his wife and children) who is abusive on so many levels. You need to wake up, and wake up soon from this fantasy you are holding onto, before it’s too late. Physical abuse almost always escalates… and the fact that he’s putting his hands on you the way he is and is now taking a gun out is scary –not just for now, but what will happen in the future.

      Truly, he shouldn’t be living with you, he should be in prison. The fact that he has a gun means that he is violating parole, to say the least. And the way he is using you as a punching bag and such –not to mention what he did to his son… this is criminal. When the authorities find out (and they will eventually, if you don’t tell them first, because of the nature of things escalating), he WILL go to jail. But what might land him there even quicker is the very real possibility that he will kill you or permanently cripple or cause permanent brain damage to you. And then what happens to your children? Promises are empty, his fists and vileness towards you should speak to you about the person he is and will be.

      I hardly know what to say. I’ve been praying since yesterday as to what to write here (I knew I needed to). Please know that you and your children were not born to be treated like this. You should not allow yourself nor these children to be exposed to such poisonous behavior. You’re right in saying that you shouldn’t talk to him the way you have been in calling him names and such when he’s angry… what are you thinking? Or are you? But even so, this never, ever, ever means that you deserve to be abused like this. These are two different issues.

      Not only am I concerned for your harm, but also for your children as to what this is doing to them emotionally now and in the future. They say that those who have been abused will often eventually be abusers. Do you want that for your children to grow up to abuse their others and their spouses? And what about the nightmares of all of this toxic behavior? It is poisoning their minds. This needs to stop. You need to be these children’s heroes and NOT live with this guy when he is living his life in such a horrible way. You need to talk to an abuse counselor for help in knowing what to do and how to get him to keep his distance AT LEAST until he straightens up his life. You need to do this and your children need you to do this. Please, please, please consider them (if you won’t protect yourself). God loves you and loves these children. Get the toxicity out of your home and build a life of peace with you and these children. I hope and pray you will.

      1. Cindy, thank you to you and your husband for responding. I didn’t think anyone would. Everything you write to me is true and as I read your response my eyes fill up with tears…knowing that I am ready to end this nightmare for good for my precious children and myself. The abuse from my husband I mentioned is truly only the tip of the iceberg but this was the first time he turned on one of the children…my precious, wonderful little boy.

        I used to be so independent and anything I attempted I succeeded at. I want peace again and the feeling I once owned of being able to trust my own instincts. You are a total stranger but give such love in your reply. A total stranger and my own husband treats us as if were nothing! Its only been since Saturday this happened and he hasn’t been back. Already I feel happier and am imagining a future free from him. I say that because I’m convinced he will never change. My heart is broken; sometimes (mostly at night when everyone is sleeping) is when I begin to feel alone and wonder how I can make it alone, raising 7 children wo help. For years I no longer have contact w family or friends. I have blocked his calls and any possible way for him to reach me.

        When he did that to our boy it scared me more than I’ve ever been scared before in my life and you’re right, it can get worse from here if he’s allowed to stick around. I truly didn’t think anyone would reply especially not so caringly. Last night I contacted a crisis abuse line and retrieved a phone number to schedule abuse counseling for my children and I. I’m determined to see leaving him through. I do, inwardly, wish he would somehow change but how likely is that really? It just isnt likely at all.

        PLEASE KEEP PRAYING FOR MY FAMILY. Maybe God has strengthened me thru your prayers. It’s the first time after being hurt by him that I’ve felt so sure I no longer want to be around him or even look at him again. Thoughts that were once horrifying to me about him leaving us, being with another woman, having more children, etc… they are no longer scarey to me. Actually, since I know this is who he is and always will be, I hope whatever he decides, he decides to just go away. I pray no one else will fall for his lies however. What a horrible thing.

        You’re right and your post made me even stronger. My children are everything to me and I them. I will not let them down. I know a hard road is ahead but I love hard work and I know if I take my children and we all walk with God then it will be a hard satisfying road. I’m up for it. Thank you, Cindy. Keep helping those in need. I began to feel like everyone in the world no longer cares about the next but I know I don’t live that way and happy to see others still love strangers just because we are all people and here in this together. God bless you and your husband and thanks again for replying.

        1. O, you have moved me to tears. I hope with all my heart that you stick to your resolve to escape this toxic situation. You will most likely be tempted to give in, in ways you shouldn’t. I pray strength and insight for you. Your husband needs deep, deep help and only he can reach out and grab onto that help and apply it. I just don’t see it at this time, so it’s important for you to go into protection mode for you and for your children.

          God help you; God loves you… please don’t forget that. As your spiritual sister and brother, we love you and pray for you and for your children, and also for your husband –that he gets the help he needs, apart from you and the kids, while he is still in this poisonous state. IF he gets help, it will take years and years before you could trust him. So stand tall, stand firm, pray, and follow God’s leading in living a life of peace –without abuse.

          “May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5) “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ —to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11) Please always know: “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)

  8. HELLO everyone, I’m seeking for advice. I am 37 years old marriage. My husband seems like he has problems in the brain…specially if he drinks alcohol he abuses me physically. He punches on my head and pulls my hair. I don’t want to divorce or leave him because we have a 2 year old little girl. I want to work out the marriage but how? He always says sorry again and again.

    1. Hi Myleen, I am a husband married for 36 years. Our daughter was in a situation similar to yours for 8 years. We did significant research on the best course to take. From our research and experience come my comments here below.

      You are in a situation which is dangerous to both you and your very young daughter. Your first priority must now be the safety of your daughter and yourself. There are many shelters and services for women in your position- you should contact them and/or police as soon as possible. Your husband needs outside help immediately. His repeated sentiments, “I’m sorry it won’t happen again!” are well meant but very temporary.

      Our daughter is a very loyal person and put up with her abusive boyfriend, against the advice of her parents and friends…until her daughter was born. She then realized she had to make a change for her daughter’s safety. She was finally able to leave for a safe alternative living arrangement which she said later was long overdue. She is far happier, she is safe, and she has a much better contact with her former boyfriend, under strictly controlled conditions.

      If you are a praying person, then by all means pray. Believing prayer was key for our daughter’s being able to ensure her and her little girl’s safety. It is not my place to ever recommend divorce and I am not doing that here. I am speaking purely in the interests of your safety and that of your daughter. I hope my comments help :) Please let us know how you are doing? Sincerely, WP (Work in Progress)

  9. I’m married and we have 3 children still at school. From the outside we are a perfect family. He is in control. Anyone steps out of line then they are punished. Including me. Physically. There is no yelling. He does not lose his temper. It’s cold and hard and no one dares disobey. It’s hard because everyone thinks we are the perfect family. The kids do well in school. They do music and sport and dance and we have a nice big house and an suv and two jet skis and we help in all sorts of charity events. But we are fearful of doing wrong.

    The paddle is used and I confess that I have used it too on the kids and I help him hit them there. I said hit not discipline. He hits me if I disagree with him in public or if I try to protect the kids and not report wrong doing. The only disagreement he tolerates from me is if I approach him at home and the kids are not around and if I approach him very carefully and state that I would like to discuss something with him. Anything else is seen as not of “being of the one mind”.

    When others are around the image is two united parents and the wife submits to the husband. How do I tell anyone that he hits me like a child? It’s embarrassing as much as anything. It hurts physically but how can I just complain on my own behalf when we spank our kids and there is no way that I would disobey and not support punishing them but if I find out they have done something and we don’t report it to him and he finds out and he always does then he punishes me? Always behind closed doors. The kids don’t know. No one knows. I don’t know what I would do if I left. Even if I got a divorce and got half his money it’s kind of what would I have achieved. I would be seen as having broken up the family. Everyone would hate me. I’m just stuck. I just do what I am expected to do and no one has any idea.

    1. Sarah, I’m so sorry that this is happening to you. It shouldn’t. I’m sure your husband feels that running your home like a military camp is a good idea and if someone steps out of line, punishment is deserved, but you are his wife and partner, not a naughty child. There is a difference. It is a sick thing he is doing to you. He should never, ever be doing this to you –his bride (you’re still his bride, no matter how many years you’ve been married). It has to stop. You really need to talk to someone to get some good counsel to figure out how to make that happen.

      There is a ministry I highly recommend you contact called Focus on the Family – Australia. I truly believe they can give you good counsel or knows of someone who can. Don’t think of divorce yet. I also encourage you not to think of leaving until you have personally talked to a marriage-friendly counselor. Their contact information is found on the following web site: https://families.org.au. Perhaps something can be said or done that could help preserve your family. Please seek it before doing anything rash. Yes it has to stop… the sooner the better, but do what you can to see if it can be stopped without having to break up your family.

  10. Well, I’m a 55 year old widow of 4 years. I started dating the man I’m with in 2014 and started living together 2 months after we met. I have alot of insecurities and trust issues. Last week we got into a verbal confrontation that led to being physical. I grabbed and pinched his stomach so he took my hand and bit it. Then I threw a few punches and he then started hitting me with the belt. I do have a temper and easy to rile. So, he went downstairs and I followed, I went after him and he was swinging the belt and then pushed me down. I thought I had broken my hip; then he leaves without checking on me to see if I’m ok. I know I’m guilty too but he said he was defending himself.

    1. My dear, you want find an answer until you really decide to obey God. Living in sin is an open door for the enemy of our soul to work havoc in your life. At this point I don’t advise you to marry anyone. You are not ready for marriage. You’re oppressed with a spirit of anger and rage. This can not be a part of marriage. I would advise you to see Christian Counselor to free yourself from deep hurts first. Then seek a intimate relationship with Christ. Finally, when you know God as all Christians should, He will send you the husband, not live in lover which He is totally against!. I pray this will bring you to the place God wants for His children!