Jesus taught that
we are to speak truth to those who sin against us in a relationship
(Matthew 18:15-17), and even rebuke them (Luke 17:3). How do we
speak truth to an abuser? How do we communicate honestly with
someone who is unsafe for us and who may be acting increasingly out of
control? The way David dealt with King Saul gives us some clues.
He does it in a safe situation, keeping a safe distance.
He names the abuse and specific violations.
He sets a boundary--what he will and will not do (see verses 24:12
He requests a specific change or tries to negotiate for a
specific solution (verses 24:14-15,21-22
He tests the agreement and waits to see if Saul keeps his word.
He doesn’t trust blindly, but waits to see if his abuser is
Note that David always treated Saul respectfully.
He respected the person God put in authority, even if that person
acted wickedly. However, he
did not freely allow himself to be abused by this person.
Likewise, Ephesians 5:33 commands a wife to respect her husband, but Proverbs
22:3 and Matthew 18:15-17 tell us that this does not mean that she should
allow herself to be harmed. (You are encouraged to read these verses.)
never retaliated against Saul or laid a hand on him.
This is a very important issue for domestic violence victims
today. In many locations
there are laws requiring the arrest of an abuser when law enforcement
personnel are called to a domestic violence incidence.
Abusers are increasingly using this to have their victims
arrested, as another show of abusive power and control over them.
If a victim strikes out in self-defense or swings her purse or
other object at her abuser, he may try to have her arrested.
It is better for a victim to leave the scene or call the police
if possible, rather than using force against her abuser.
In speaking the truth to an abuser, be prepared for the
possibility that it may not stop the abuse. David found that though Saul
acknowledged his abusive actions and promised to stop, the abuse
continued. Many times,
abusers will try to deny, excuse, or minimize their actions when
confronted. They may try to
block or divert the conversation, or blame the victim.
The victim should be prepared in case the abuser escalates his
attempts at maintaining power and control or becomes violent.
Victims should have a safety
plan in place before confronting an
abusive person (there is one in the Appendix to this workbook).
A woman needs to decide whether the situation is too dangerous
for confrontation. Your
local domestic violence program can
assist women in developing safety plans and alternate strategies.
By speaking openly about the abuse and expressing a
desire for change, a victim may be able to better gage the offender’s
heart and real intent, and whether he wants to provide the respect and
concern needed in a relationship. It
is also the first step in setting healthy boundaries.
In Matthew 18:15-17,
Jesus gives instructions for confronting those who abuse us. It
demonstrates the use of progressively increasing levels of
accountability and boundaries. This 4-step procedure also provides
increasingly stringent safety measures, including staying away from the
abuser. Though Jesus
encourages us to speak up about others’ offenses against us, He wants
us to be safe. In Deuteronomy 30:19, the Lord says through Moses, “I have set before
you life and death, ….Now choose life, so that you and your children
safety measures are built into each step of Jesus’ 4-step procedure in
What are some other ways to
keep a safe distance when having to communicate with an unsafe person?
|Copyright 2005 Judy Kennedy|