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Caitlin Kennell Kim
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
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Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
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Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Mike Hayes
Our readers asked:

If My Husband is Beating Me, Why Does the Church Say I Need to Stay Married to Him?

Richard G. Malloy, SJ Answers:

If a marriage is unsustainable, or worse, violent, divorce is often the better option. No one should stay in an abusive situation. And I tell women, the first time he hits you, leave. Abusive, violent men rarely change. Our culture and our Church needs to do much more to teach men that physical violence against women is completely unacceptable. It’s not “wife abuse.” It’s “Cowardly Men Beating on Those Physically Weaker Than Them.” I wish newspapers would write headlines like, “245 lb. John Jones, a coward, beat up his 135 lb. wife last night. If you see him, turn him in.”

Abuse is also grounds for annulment. It signals that the person in question is not taking their marriage vows seriously and probably never did. Leave this marriage and get somewhere safe immediately! Catholic Charities often sponsors domestic violence offices for these purposes find one ASAP.

Of course, women can be physically violent too. And verbal abuse, from females or males, can cause deeper harm than physical injury. Still, there are a lot more battered women and children in emergency rooms than men.

As Catholics, as disciples of Christ, we are called to root out all violence and abuse in our lives, any that we perpetrate and any that we allow to be done to us.

Editor’s Note: Mike Hayes contributed to this article.

The Author : Richard G. Malloy, SJ
Richard G. Malloy, S.J., Ph.D., is Vice President for University Ministries, the University of Scranton, Scranton, PA, and author of A Faith That Frees (Orbis Books).
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Claire A

    Than you Fr Malloy for your open and honest response. You have made my day and showed me again that turning to the church in times of crisis is always the best option. I hope the woman in question is spurred to action. Its not often that you receive a common-sense answer like this one.
    God bless you

    • PWB


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