Thursday 22 October 2015

The Many Faces of Domestic Violence: Physical Abuse

For those who didnt know, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and because this was an area I worked in for many years, I always feel that I want to make a difference in this space. I have written numerous articles on abuse and have decided to do that for my blog. The articles I have written share on my own research with 60 women who all have experienced abuse. I have permission to share these stories but with name changes etc. I pray these articles will truly bless someone out there and if you know someone who is being abused, please send them on with love and let them know we love them enough to raise this alarm!

The beatings grew more intense and they happened more frequently, even in front of the kids. I prayed and asked God for a sign, something.
Then one night the police locked him up for domestic violence, he spent the night behind bars, it was the sign I had prayed for. I took my kids and got out!
- Sara* (one of the respondents I interviewed, name changed to protect identity).

“What did you do to him, what did you say that made him angry?” her mother – in law chided as she slid the dark glasses from her face. Her swollen eye throbbed and her broken finger was bandaged, she had done nothing, but she had burnt the food by mistake. Nothing that deserved the beating he had given her, right before he left and yet there was no one, no one who would take her side. The piece of paper the police had handed to her right after she gave her statement, was flimsy in comparison with what he could do to her if he ever saw her again. This is the life that many women and many men live with every day and the outer wounds are testimony of the inner pain and death that they have grown accustomed to living with. While many studies focus solely on the abuse of women, the growing trend of abused men is becoming more and more apparent.

The growing number of men who are being abused and beaten by their
wives is growing.
I have often sat in my office and listened to the testimonies of men who are being abused,
they rarely lay a charge, they feel too ashamed, who would
believe them and what would others say if they knew?
- Warrant Officer at a Cape Town Police Station

According to the Middlesex-London health unit[1], physical abuse is any unnecessary or unwanted physical contact caused by another person resulting in bodily harm, discomfort and or injury this includes hitting, slapping, choking etc. The physical signs of abuse are broken bones, burns, stab wounds, concussions, perforated ear drums, loss of hair, chronic stomach or bowel pain or discomfort, chronic joint or muscle pain, palpitations, firearm wounds, bruises, cuts or abrasions, bites, sprains, chipped or lost teeth, internal injuries, chronic headache, high blood pressure or a detached retina, in some cases substance abuse problems may occur (in the life of the victim). Physical abuse is therefore defined as any type of behaviour that inflicts an injury or wound, in some cases a victim is beaten to death, in South Africa this occurs every 6 hours. In America, 3 women are killed daily at the hands of their intimate partners. The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488.[2] The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. That's nearly double the amount of casualties lost during war. For survivors, physical abuse is both humiliating and debilitating spiritually, mentally, cognitively and emotionally. 

Post – traumatic stress, emotional and physical pain, anxiety and fear often plagues the lives of survivors or victims of physical abuse. 

Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NLT) For survivors of trauma like abuse, trust is often fragmented deeply within the spirit and often, survivors of abuse are further victimised by their families, the criminal justice system and too often by the church. Nurture, care, concern and sincere Godly love from the spiritual body of Christ for the hurting is something we should make a priority in our churches. In our churches, from our pulpits we need to condemn acts of abuse and violence, holding perpetrators accountable and helping both the hurting and the broken find healing in Jesus Christ. 

Last year our ministry hosted a women abuse conference during the 16 days of activism and as I got up to speak, God spoke so clearly to me that I began to cry. He said, “my child, you know why I can understand abuse? Because I have been abused, you know why I can understand a disloyal spouse and what it means to be hurt when you have given everything? Because I have been the abused Lover, the Loving Husband wounded and broken.” To my fellow brother or sister who is caught in the confused and hurting cycle of abuse, I want to tell you today that God knows what abuse feels like. He feels that pain every time you are struck, every time you are broken and wounded and He has a greater life for you. You may not feel it now, but it is true. Jesus carried the cross for your healing, for your destiny and you deserve more than this, may you find the courage to get out and to live a life uniquely and solely designed for you.

Fellow brothers and sisters who are pastors or elders in your church, I was once asked by a fellow pastor what to do about the abuse in his church? It’s time that we arise to do more than sit in silence. Many churches are speaking out against abuse and many churches are starting programs to help rehabilitate perpetrators of violence and to end the violence hiding in their pews. Good support systems are key to helping survivors of abuse, the church should be part of that support system, educate your members on abuse and how to help others. 


Father God we lift up our hurting brothers and sisters to you today and we ask that You would shelter them Father, heal them and help them believe in the greater life of destiny that You have for them. Help us be people who love, help us stand for truth in our churches, help us help the hurting, nurture the broken and condemn injustice and unrighteousness. Father, we pray this evening to be change makers, to be peace makers in this world of chaos and confusion. Tonight we pray for those caught in the web of abuse the light of Jesus shine in their lives and set them free. Amen

[1]London-Middlesex Health Unit, Woman abuse, 9 August 2004. Date accessed 02 June 2011,

[2] Huffington Post, 30 shocking domestic violence statistics that remind us it’s an epidemic., 23 October 2014. Date accessed 3 October 2015,

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