In recognition of Domestic Abuse Awareness Month, Charlene Quint, family law attorney and domestic abuse survivor, discusses her new book, “Overcoming the Narcissist, Sociopath, Psychopath, and Other Domestic Abusers: The Comprehensive Handbook to Recognize, Remove and Recover from Abuse.”
Charlene explains the spectrum of abuse and the many shapes it can take. “Abuse is a whole bunch of behaviors and attitudes that are designed to gain power and control, and maintain that power and control,” she says. “There’s emotional and verbal abuse, and that’s prevalent in 100% of abusive relationships because that’s the gist of any abusive relationship — trying to hurt that person emotionally, and using different types of tactics to do so. Another kind of abuse that we often don’t think about is financial abuse. That occurs in about 99% of abusive relationships. The abuser uses money to maintain power and control. Oftentimes, the spouse won’t have any access to funds. All of the accounts are in his name. The victim may have been required to quit work when they got married, or on the flip side, sometimes the abuser just decides they’re not going to work at all and the victim has to carry the entire burden. There is also spiritual abuse, which is using the Scriptures and twisting them to keep a spouse in a marriage and justify abuse. There’s physical abuse, but oftentimes the intelligent abusers use physical abuse that doesn’t leave scars, for example, dropping her off and abandoning her in the middle of a corn field or in the middle of a bad neighborhood, and then she has to somehow find her way home. Then, of course there’s sexual abuse and that’s a particularly insidious and damaging type of abuse, even in a marriage.”
Charlene addresses some myths surrounding domestic abuse. She points out that there is a misconception that affluent people do not suffer from abuse, but abuse does not discriminate. She also explains that another myth is that abuse does not occur in Christian communities, “Unfortunately, the figures are astonishing; 35% of women, at some point in their lives, will be a victim of either stalking, rape, or severe physical abuse. And up to 48% are victims of coercive control or emotional and verbal abuse. Unfortunately, those numbers are no less for the Christian community than they are for the the non-Christian community… It’s not always the husband abusing a wife, but I will say that 90% of abusers are men in general and 80% of the victims are female.”
“A lot of times, women of faith don’t even recognize that they are in an abusive relationship. They will think, ‘He’s got a strong personality. He’s a bigger-than-life figure.’ We kind of downplay what it is. Recognizing signs of abuse is important to helping figure out what’s what’s going on … Removing yourself from abuse is an extremely difficult step and it’s extremely difficult to do so safely.
“God doesn’t require us to be in a relationship that’s abusive, where the spouse has broken their marriage vows. In fact, when you look throughout the Bible, there are a couple of places where God actually commanded his people to divorce from evildoers… And if there’s anything that’s evil, it’s a spouse actually destroying their own family.”
Christina asks Charlene what advice she would give to anyone who feels stuck in a relationship. “I would say it’s not impossible. God is so much bigger than any fears that we have. He has promised us an abundant life. I would say to that person who is fearful to go to your local domestic abuse organization. They will have resources to help you. Get a good attorney that can help you. If you’re physically afraid for your safety, you can get an order of protection and help keep your children safe as well.”
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website which has an abundance of resources and phone numbers to assist you in getting help, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). All calls are confidential and anonymous.