If you are reading this article, chances are you or someone you love is in an emotionally abusive relationship. Your abuser may be a spouse, a boss, a brother or a sister. You may have tried to ignore it, deny it and fix it. Perhaps you have even tried to accept it. But it hasn’t worked. This is your moment of truth. Are you willing to do what it takes to break the cycle of abuse in your life?
While the optimum situation is for both parties in an abusive situation to seek help, Dr. Tim Clinton, President of the American Association of Christian Counselors, insists one person can change the relationship.
“Change a person; change a relationship,” he says.
What follows are some general principles, gleaned from professional Christian counselors, for breaking the cycle of abuse in your life and for beginning the recovery and healing process. They are easy to understand, but difficult to implement.
Before applying these principles to your situation, it’s best to seek help from a trained professional.
- Tell yourself the truth. Denial is a hallmark of abuse. Invite the Holy Spirit to reveal the reality about a potentially abusive relationship. Admit you are being abused and recognize the damage it has done.
- Seek professional help and guidance. There is no one-size-fits-all prescription for healing. You need a trained professional to assess your situation and your safety, to help you deal with emotional baggage from the past and to help you develop a strategy for change. Healing is a lengthy and sometimes difficult journey fraught with emotional landmines. You’ll need help and professional guidance to walk through potentially explosive and destructive situations.
- Set appropriate boundaries. In the excellent book, Boundaries—When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, explain how and when to set appropriate, biblical boundaries. However appropriate, set boundaries with caution; it may escalate the abuse. Experts recommend seeking professional help to guide and encourage you.
- Find and maintain healthy relationships. It is critical to seek support from friends, family, and, ideally, your church.
“Pastors, church leaders and church members vary in their ability to give support to women in difficult marriages,” says Downing. “Always be willing to reach out to your church for support, but remember that staff may not have the same training as professional counselors.”
Support groups led by a trained professional are wonderful sources of healing and comfort. Work to build healthy, biblical friendships and relationships. Research has shown that healthy social connections contribute to better overall health.
- Soak in God’s presence and truth. God invites us into his presence and transforms us by renewing our mind (Romans 12:2). Spend time in God’s Word, prayer, worship, and fellowship. It’s possible that because you are damaged… continue reading