This article was written by Jacque Truitt and is adapted from a chapter in Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level.
Pain can arise from a number of sources, so it’s best to equip yourself to minister in a number of ways. One source of trauma in a woman’s life may be an abusive relationship.
Abuse rarely begins with physical violence. Abuse follows an identifiable cycle – which both partners usually deny.
· Phase One: Tension-building phase: Yelling, name-calling, put-downs, throwing things, accusations
· Phase Two: Violent episode: Hitting, punching, degrading, more verbal abuse
· Phase Three: Honeymoon phase: "I’m sorry," promises to change, "It won’t ever happen again," flowers, gifts
Learn to recognize the signs of a victimized woman.
· is afraid of her partner.
· cannot express her own opinion or feelings without being fearful of her partner’s reaction.
· must ask her partner’s permission to see family or friends, spend money or make purchases.
· sometimes feels as if she is living with two different people.
· tries to please her partner, only to be criticized repeatedly.
· constantly attempts to mold her children, her environment and herself into what pleases her partner.
· stays confused about the difference in the way her partner perceives the relationship and the way she perceives it.
· eventually believes all the terrible things her partner accuses her of and says about her; is unsure of reality.
If you are ministering to a woman and you observe that these actions are occurring or she shares information related to them, encourage her to seek professional help from a licensed Christian counselor. The cycle of abuse continues and worsens without treatment.
Remember: safety takes precedence over confidentiality. If the woman refuses or hesitates to seek help, enlist a qualified professional to assist you. Do not attempt intervention alone.
If you’d like to read more details on sources of trauma such as domestic abuse, depression, and other topics related to ministering to women in crisis, see Transformed Lives or Women Reaching Women in Crisis.