While I believe that people are inherently good, there are people out there who have lost their way and don’t always do the right things. People who suffer from addictions, commit crimes, and domestic abusers all come to mind. In my career, I have seen them all. I have seen even a few people who do not regret their terrible choices, which is a true shame. But as a good Christian, I do believe that it is not my job to judge them and to try and forgive them no matter what. However, I am human, and it is hard to forgive someone who is still actively abusing someone else.
Domestic violence is a terrible thing. It was always hard to see victims who suffered at the hands of loved ones, especially children. It is a hard part of my job but so very necessary. These are people who have been betrayed by the ones who are supposed to love them the most, who are supposed to comfort and not hurt, support and not wound. These victims need time to heal not just their physical wounds but their emotional pain as well.
If you know someone who is being subjected to domestic violence, there are things you can do. The most important thing you can do is believe them. If someone tells you that something is wrong, that someone is hurting them, accept what they are saying as true. In most cases, people have no reason to lie about being abused, in fact it is usually the opposite. But the simple act of believing them can give victims a chance to feel heard, to be willing to trust, and to stand up for themselves by removing themselves from the situation.
Please don’t feel that you should confront the abuser – it can make the situation worse for the victim as well as put yourself in danger. Especially in a spousal situation, violence can escalate quickly. Instead, focus on supporting the victim. You can provide them with a safe haven, a listening ear, or a ride if they need it. You can go with them to report their abuse, hold their hand while they recount their story to law enforcement, and encourage them to take the time they need to heal. If you are really concerned, call the police yourself. And if you are obligated to report a suspected abuse situation, please do so, even if you feel you are betraying a confidence. Things rarely get better in an abusive situation unless there is a significant change.
Finally, remember that if you are unsure of anything, you can always ask for clarification from a counselor, a doctor, or another professional. You don’t have to name names or be specific. You can raise your concerns and ask for advice on how to proceed. The important thing is to be sure about the situation and provide the most effective support in that particular situation.