Q: I work with teenagers at my church, some of them live in bad situations at home. How can I help them if there is abuse?
A: Education and awareness are key elements in helping stop abuse. Whether adults in the home are being abusive to one another or adults are being abusive to children and adolescents, intervention is necessary to end the abuse and begin a journey to healing. “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all” (Luke 8:17). Abuse can happen where secrets are kept.
Paul taught, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to be-come in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). This scriptural truth speaks to confrontation. Abuse is often born out of pain and trauma that requires healing. Shining the light of truth (Christ) in the darkness of abuse in order to care for those who are unable to care for themselves is the work of the mature body of Christ.
Family members are often consumed with fear. The law requires abuse to be reported in order for these families to receive help. Local authorities are a good source for gathering information. The Center for Women and Families in Louisville offers assistance to those being abused. Their website has a graphic called the “Power and Control Wheel.” It describes emotional, physical, financial, and sexual abuse and how privilege, children, intimidation, and isolation are used to manipulate and control.
Listen and watch for signs of abuse as described on the wheel: minimizing, denying abuse, blame, insincere apologies, mind games, using words to instill fear, physical acts of violence, always claiming to be right, giving commands, controlling all decisions involving money, being forceful, threatening, giving looks and gestures to intimidate, abusing pets, making threats involving children, creating tension with unpredictable reactions, limiting contact with friends and/or family, monitoring phone calls and text messages. Then take action to bring the light, truth, and love of Christ into the darkness of abuse.