One in four women are abused by their partners. If you have 100 housing units in your community, then there are 25 victims who are in need of the love of Jesus, a safe haven to run to if violence escalates, and financial help. Our mission field is right here in our own community.
Economic abuse is present in 99% of all domestic violence relationships. Many victims of domestic violence don’t understand what economic abuse is. Yet, when they view the Economic Abuse Power and Control Wheel (pictured) for the first time, they realize that they can identify with the majority of abusive tactics listed.
Abusers utilize this element of power and control to isolate, entrap, and manipulate their victims. As a result, economic abuse is the number one reason that victims return to their abusers. This statistic can be changed if the community of Christ works together to provide victims with financial support.
I am currently working with a survivor who was physically, mentally, financially, and verbally abused by her husband. For purposes of this article we will call her Jane. Jane’s abuser was threatening her life on a regular basis. She was sleeping with a paring knife under her pillow so that she would have a way to defend herself if he ever acted on his many threats to murder her. The abuse continued and escalated to the point that Jane called her sister-in-law who agreed to help her escape the abusive home. When victims try to escape their abusive households, the risk for homicide increases by 70%. While they were trying to escape, the abuser was so violent that law enforcement had to be called as Jane and her sister-in-law removed Jane’s belongings. Even during the stand-by, the abuse continued. Law enforcement had to intervene to keep Jane safe. One of the officers was so upset by what he was witnessing that he stepped out of the home in order to cope with the extensive abuse. As the law enforcement officer looked out into the street, he muttered words reflecting his shock and disbelief in what he was witnessing. Once Jane was safe, a local church provided her with funding for gasoline and cell phone usage and allowed her to utilize their food pantry.
Jane was on a joint auto insurance policy with her abuser. When she did not return to the home, he cancelled the policy in hopes that Jane wouldn’t be able to continue on her journey to independence. This was a ploy of economic abuse utilized to lure Jane to return to him. Jane risked driving without insurance and successfully relocated to another state where she is able to stay with her friend on a temporary basis.* However, Jane is unable to drive her vehicle legally at this point, which puts her at risk of further legal and financial complications. This element is keeping Jane from gaining employment, obtaining secure housing, and even seeking further community support. “The steps I need to take to start my life over again are tied up in this lack of auto insurance,” Jane stated. We are currently waiting to hear back from a financial assistance agency about helping Jane with reinstating her insurance.
So far in Jane’s case, there have been many entities who have provided her with support. Imagine what Jane’s escape would have looked like if any of these support systems bowed out and did not assist. Every person and agency needed to engage with Jane in order for her to get away from her abuser safely.
Jane’s financial needs may continue to manifest in her life for years to come. No singular friend or church can provide her with all she needs. To truly provide a victim with what is necessary to overcome the elements of domestic violence, the Body of Christ must unify and provide ongoing support to those in need. The beauty in this is that when victims are loved into victory, they become the intensely powerful advocates. Many times they will turn around and help other victims who are going through domestic violence. It creates a beautiful ripple effect of Jesus’ love here on Earth. As the Body of Christ, we must realize that survivors are desperate to help themselves, but are unable to because their abusers have taken away all the tools needed to transition into a life of autonomy. We have a mandate to provide those tools to those who are in need.
Our society is generally a victim-blaming society. I often hear comments such as: “Well, I’d love it if someone paid my auto insurance, too. Even if I pay the insurance, there will be another need right after that. Maybe she just needs to get a job and pay for her own auto insurance. I would never allow a man to do that to me.” If you’ve ever thought these victim-blaming concepts, I urge you to begin restructuring your thought process. Consider replacing victim-blaming ideologies with victim-supporting statements such as these: “I have the money to give, so I will. I pray God will use this seed to manifest greatness in Jane’s life. I will provide this month’s insurance payment and ask God to help Jane sustain the policy long-term. I will ask Jane for her resume and begin networking on her behalf to help her gain the employment she desires. Domestic violence could happen to anyone. It often becomes known to the victim once they are locked into a relationship, not on the first date.”
Imagine if the corporate Body of Christ would begin reaching out to the 25 homes in our 100 unit development where victims are living in fear every day. Consider what a victim’s life would be like if you baked her a sweet treat and dropped it off with a hug and the promise that you are available if she needs anything at all, even if it’s the middle of the night. Imagine if you truly meant that promise.
One out of every four people reading this have experienced domestic violence. I want you to know that you are loved and you are not alone. Let us link arms and become an army of Jesus-loving advocates who don’t let one more victim suffer without fierce, unconditional love and financial support. Without this aid, transitioning into a life of freedom is nearly impossible. With God, all things are possible.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV
*Please consider the safety of underage children in the home prior to opening your home to serve others. Children should always be our first ministry, and boundaries and guidelines should be put in place to ensure their safety at all times.