Make this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November) count, urges Abbie Mumbi
Domestic violence has escalated phenomenally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has become a pandemic within a pandemic, yet there is no global effort or vaccine against this atrocity, and many have been locked up with their violators.
Although domestic abuse is a glaring reality in our world, many choose to turn a blind eye, especially in patriarchal Christian communities. Even when acknowledged it is often minimised and normalised. Victims are blamed and ostracised. “She must have done something to deserve it.” The usual advice is: “You need to pray and forgive your spouse.” The Church has mainly responded with silence, inertia and attitudes that support perpetrators rather than the victims.
Why does God allow this?
I almost became a domestic violence statistic myself. In his final attack, my ex-husband bit off my nose, cut off my ear and carved up my face like a cabbage in an attempt to slit my throat. I am alive today only by the grace and mercy of God.
There was not a lot of sympathy from the people I knew; in fact, many blamed me for the fact that my husband was in jail. My experience left me broken, physically, emotionally and spiritually, and burdened with the guilt of my broken home. I had so many questions. God said he loved me, so how and why would he allow this to happen to me?
I found my answers studying the scriptures. You see, Christ was radical in challenging sexism and other injustices within the Jewish tradition (remember the woman – and the man! – caught in the act), yet scripture is often used to propagate these negative attitudes towards women and girls. Statements like “God hates divorce” have been used out of context. Even the devil quotes scripture, so don’t be fooled!
I believe Malachi 2 lays out God’s excellent standards for a triangular relationship. It tells us how to relate to brother, spouse and God. It warns us not to deal treacherously with people because God is a witness. I had a eureka moment when I read this scripture, and the guilt placed on me over my broken marriage melted away.
Stepping in and stepping up
Another empowering scripture is the story of Abigail and Nabal in 1 Samuel 25. The Bible records that Nabal died of folly, but seeing his impending demise, this woman refused to watch silently as her household was destroyed. She did something about it. The husband was supposed to be doing his bit as head of the house, but in fact he was the problem. Abigail stepped in and stepped up.
For many years I did nothing about my husband’s abuse, believing God for change, but now I believe that I was partly naïve and partly brainwashed. God has given us wisdom, and he expects us to operate in it. Wisdom demanded that I remove myself and our children to a place of safety.
I want to encourage those who are facing similar situations to do something before it too late. Then read the word of God in context, and meditate daily until it’s a part of you and richly dwells in you. His incredible healing power is available to you, too.
For those who are not trapped in a situation like this but know someone who is, what are you doing about it? Are you supporting, loving and encouraging the victim…or does your silence and unwillingness to act make you part of the problem?