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Updated: May 21

November 22, 2022

“1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, etc.” (Truman & Morgan, 2014).

Do you know a survivor of domestic abuse? Is someone you love struggling with an abusive relationship and unsure of steps they might take both in honor of their faith and need for safety? As times change and more people become aware of the insidious nature of abuse, it’s essential to be informed. I want to share with you all examples of abusive behaviors that can exist in a relationship with domestic abuse or violence. One of the steps we can take to support our loved ones is education about difficult and uncomfortable topics such as domestic abuse. We can build, awareness of similar topics to improve our ability to be the haven of love we desire for ourselves and others.

What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse can include violent and non-violent behaviors that create a sense of fear in one partner giving another partner power and control over another. Have you heard the term red flags? If not, let me give you a few red flags of an abusive relationship.

  1. Hitting, punching, kicking, shoving, choking, or slapping

  2. Using weapons to harm or threaten you

  3. Controlling what you eat or when you sleep

  4. Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol

  5. Stopping you from seeking medical treatment

  6. Stopping you from leaving

  7. Stopping you from calling the police

  8. Calling you names, putting you down, blaming you for the abuse

  9. Creating conflict when you are with others such as family, friends, work, or church

  10. Demanding, pressuring, shaming, or using guilt to force you to perform sexual acts that you are uncomfortable with

  11. Accusing you of cheating or lying

  12. Demanding access or knowledge of your location at all times

  13. Frequently checking in on you while you’re not with them

  14. Becoming upset or aggressive if you don’t respond to calls or texts within their timeframe

  15. Hitting objects such as walls or personal items when they are upset

  16. Threatening to or hurting other loved ones or pets when angry or to obtain submission

  17. Controlling and limiting your access to finances

  18. Minimizes your emotions, needs, or wants

  19. Looking through your phone or social media without consent

  20. Uses spiritual beliefs to justify or excuse abusive behavior and place the blame on you for abusive behaviors

How can I get or provide help?

Sometimes one of the most challenging yet most profound steps to helping someone in an abusive relationship is providing a safe place for them to talk. A safe place for a survivor can include a safe room with privacy to open up at their own pace. Sometimes in our humanity, we can become fixated on solutions and problem-solving when we are not asked for this kind of support. Be aware of your responses and need to provide a listening ear better and seek out if they want your help finding solutions or just someone to talk to. Try to avoid statements that can come across as doubt and judgment to some individuals struggling with an abusive relationship (what did you do? Are you sure that’s what happened? Are you overreacting? etc.). A safe place can be as complex or simple as the situation requires. For instance, know your local domestic violence programs and shelters. Reach out for educational brochures and a list of the offered services by these programs to provide in case of a crisis. Partnering with such an agency to educate the congregation can be a step towards creating a safe place for survivors to build confidence that they can come out if they choose. More than anything, we work on meeting people where they are by simply saying, “I believe you, and I am here.”

Resources to fill your toolbox


National Domestic Violence Hotline

Phone: 1-800-799-7233 Text “START” to 88788

Women’s Center of East Texas (Gregg, Harrison, Upshur, Marion, Rusk, and Panola Counties)


National Crisis/Suicide Hotline

Text or Call: 988


MyPlan Safety App

Emergency Settings on your Phone

Noonlight (IOS only)


Other resources to be aware of include:

Trauma-informed and Domestic Abuse trained spiritual leaders

Local abuse support group providers (Women’s Center of East Texas)

A therapist with training in trauma-informed counseling and domestic abuse


Hill, L. (2020, July 29). Lifesaving Apps for Survivors of Domestic Abuse. Divorce Strategies NW.

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (2021). Statistics.; National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

National Domestic Violence Hotline. (2018, October 8). The National Domestic Violence Hotline. The National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Smith, M., & Segal, J. (2019, March 20).

Spiritual abuse. (n.d.). 1800RESPECT.

Truman, J., & Morgan, R. (2014). Nonfatal Domestic Violence, 2003-2012.

Womens Center of East Texas. (n.d.). Home | Women’s Center of East Texas.

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