Scenario 1: Isabel’s * parents have come for a visit. They share an enjoyable evening with their daughter and her husband, marked by pleasant conversation. What parent would not beam with pride at the man their daughter married? He is so kind to her.
Scenario 2: Frank is boiling with rage. Once again, he will take out his anger in typical fashion
IT MIGHT surprise you to learn that both of those scenarios are about the same couple.
Like many perpetrators of domestic violence, Frank knows how to put on a “good-guy” pretense when he is in the public eye or with his wife’s parents. But when he is alone with his wife, Frank is terribly cruel.
Many men like Frank grew up in violent families, and as adults they think that their behavior is acceptable
Still, domestic violence is disturbingly common. In the United States, for example, one survey found that during one day an average of over 16 calls per minute were directed to domestic-violence hotlines across the country. Domestic violence is a worldwide epidemic, crossing cultural, economic, and social groups. Since many incidents go unreported, no doubt the situation is worse than statistics reveal. *
Reports of domestic violence raise the questions: How can a man come to the point of treating anyone
Jehovah’s Witnesses, the publishers of this magazine, believe that the Bible’s practical advice can help violent spouses change their behavior. Is such a reversal easy? No. Is it possible? Yes! Bible education has helped many to replace a violent disposition with one of kindness and respect. (Colossians 3:8-10) Consider the experience of Troy and Valerie.
What was your relationship like at first?
Valerie: On the night of our engagement, Troy slapped me so hard that I had a bruise for a week. He apologized profusely and promised he would never do it again. In the years to come, I would hear those words many times.
Troy: Anything would set me off
Valerie: I lived in constant fear. At times I had to flee the house until Troy calmed down. For all that, I found his verbal abuse even more difficult to endure than the physical violence.
Troy, had you always been violent?
Troy: Yes, from my childhood on. I grew up in a violent atmosphere. My father regularly beat my mother in front of me and my siblings. After he left, my mother took up with another man, and he also beat her. He also raped my sister
Valerie, you stayed in the marriage. Why?
Valerie: I was afraid. I thought to myself, ‘What if he hunts me down and kills me or my parents? What if I report him and the situation gets worse?’
When did things begin to change?
Troy: My wife began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. At first, I was jealous of her new friends, and I thought I needed to save her from this strange “sect.” So I became even more violent, not only toward Valerie but also toward the Witnesses. But one day our four-year-old son, Daniel, who suffered from seizures, was hospitalized for nearly three weeks. During that period, the Witnesses did so much for us
What Bible principles helped you to change?
Troy: There are so many. At 1 Peter 3:7, the Bible says that I should show my wife “honor.” Galatians 5:23 encourages “mildness” and “self-control.” Ephesians 4:31 condemns “abusive speech.” Hebrews 4:13 says that “all things are . . . openly exposed” to God. So God sees my conduct, even if my neighbors do not. I also learned that I needed to change my associates, since “bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) You see, my former friends actually encouraged my violent ways. They felt it was right to beat a woman to keep her “under control.”
How do you feel about your marriage now?
Valerie: It has been 25 years since Troy became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Since then, he has been genuinely loving, kind, and considerate toward me.
Troy: I cannot change the evil that I brought on my family, and my wife certainly never deserved the treatment I gave her. But I look forward to the fulfillment of Isaiah 65:17, when this dark part of our history will fade from memory.
What advice would each of you give to families that are afflicted with domestic violence?
Troy: If you are physically or verbally violent toward your family, admit that you need help, and get it. There is plenty of help available. For me, studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses and associating with them helped me to overcome my deeply entrenched violent tendencies.
Valerie: Do not be quick to compare your situation with that of anyone else or to follow advice from people who think they know what is best for you. Although not everyone will have the same outcome, I am glad that I did not throw my marriage away, because we have been blessed with a good relationship now.
ENDING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The Bible states: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Like Troy, whose story is related above, many abusive spouses have applied the Bible’s counsel and have been able to change their thinking and conduct.
Would you like to learn more about how the Bible can benefit your marriage? For further information contact Jehovah’s Witnesses locally, or log on to www.jw.org.
^ par. 3 Some names in this article have been changed.
^ par. 8 Admittedly, a considerable number of men are battered by women. In most reported incidents of domestic violence, however, men are the perpetrators.