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HOW TO BREAK THE CYCLE OF VERBAL ABUSE

by Dr. Jay Grady

I would like to thank the ladies who put together "God's Word to Women" for giving me the opportunity to share with their viewers my research about the problem of verbal abuse. Pat, Barbara, and Gay: "THANKS!" You ladies are doing a fabulous and much-needed work with your website.

Thanks also for your bold stand to bring awareness to the church that many unaddressed problems remain, especially those dealing with women. I believe yours is the "voice crying out in the wilderness." Let me say at the outset that verbal abuse is a serious problem in the church, that we really don't want to talk about. We know it's there, but please let's not discuss it. Verbal abuse is a painful subject for too many Christians.

In coming months, I will be sharing many facts about the misunderstood problem of verbal abuse. My goal each month is to write articles that will be eye-opening to "victims" of verbal abuse. In the course of our discussions, I believe we will see many victims set free. Back in August 2004 when I appeared on Daystar's Celebration program, the response I received was overwhelming. I stayed on the phone for three weeks with people who had been watching and wanted a copy of my book. Coast-to-coast calls as well as those as far away as Africa came in. The calls were heart breaking because the callers were at their wit's end with nowhere to turn. No one could help them.

Since I was personally a victim of verbal abuse that kept me from being the person God wanted me to be, I can understand the pain and confusion that victims go through every day. As a very fact-oriented person, here are some startling facts, some of which might shock you.

Startling Facts

Domestic violence crosses all ethnic, social, financial, and gender classes, i. e., male, female, and children.

Only one out of 16 incidents of domestic violence involving men or women is reported. (U. S. Justice Department)

Only one out of 13 incidents of violence involving children is reported. (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System). During 2001, 59.2 percent of these victims suffered neglect, including medical neglect, 18.6 percent were sexually abused, and 6.8 percent were emotionally or psychologically maltreated. We also must be aware that unless these children receive some type of therapy, they will most likely become abusers.

Approximately ninety-five percent of victims of battering are women. (U. S. Department of Justice, 1983).

More than fifty percent of women are battered at some time in their lives, and over one-third are battered repeatedly. (Peachy, 1988)

On the average, ten women a day are killed by their batterers. (National Organization for Women, 1987)

Battering accounts for more injuries to women than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. (Stark and Flitcraft)

In 1986, thirty percent of female homicide victims were killed by their boyfriends. (Uniform Crime Reports, FBI, 1987)

Estimates of the percentage of pregnant women who are battered run as high as twenty-five percent (Flitcraft)

News reports that came out recently stated that homicide was now ranked second as the cause of death of pregnant women. (Journal of American Medical Association)

Each year, more than 1 million women seek medical assistance for injuries caused by battering. (Stark and Flitcraft, 1987)

In one study (Gondolf, 1988), two-thirds of battered women have partners who have threatened to kill them.

Please notice the dates on these reports. If it was bad then, think what it is like today. One thing we all can agree on is circumstances certainly have not gotten better.

The following is a quote from Catherine Clark Kroeger and Nancy Nason-Clark's book, No Place for Abuse.

"The time has come to challenge the contemporary evangelical church to wake up to the prevalence in the midst, to take up its role as part of a community -based response and to offer the healing balm of Gilead to those who suffer the devastating consequences of abuse. Men and women filled with devotion to God can play a vital role in proclaiming this message, every home a safe place, every home a shelter. There is no place like home. When abuse strikes, there is no home."

The following is a statement made by Prof. Catherine Clark Kroeger, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary: "We need to bring this awareness (about domestic battering) in the church instead of putting our head in the sand and saying it doesn't happen to nice people. We've got to stop church people minimizing, silencing, denying the issue, because often if a woman does come to the church for help, the last people who want to help her are the church people, because it's so icky- -it doesn't happen in our church. "But, she insists, domestic violence happens in every church and faith community--Jewish, Mormon, Baptist, and Catholic and among liberals and conservatives alike.

A few more facts

Author Patricia Evans in her book The Verbally Abusive Relationship states: "All domestic violence begins with verbal abuse." If Ms. Evans' words are true, we have a very serious problem in America. "It is estimated that two to four million U.S. women are assaulted by a domestic partner every year. Up to thirty-five percent of women and twenty-two percent of men reporting to emergency departments had experienced some type of abuse."

Another major fact important to remember is that no one is immune from verbal abuse-absolutely, no one.

The biggest lie ever hatched by satan was the statement we all remember from our childhood: "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

Words hurt and can do so for a lifetime.

In coming months, we will be discussing many misconceptions about verbal abuse. In addition, we will be talking about those who have hidden behind the mask of denial as well as misconceptions about verbal abuse in the church along with the spirit of defilement.

In fact, we will be studying what may be called Verbal Abuse 101. Education is critical in understanding verbal abuse. Many scriptures from God's Word will be used to bring forth healing.

Please send your questions about verbal abuse to hope@askdrjaynow.org.

Proverbs 16:24 reminds us, "Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones."

Dr. Jay Grady

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