Domestic Violence is the violent behaviour and treatment of one spouse and sometimes children also on the physical, mental, emotional, psychological, sexual, or financial level.
It can be towards any gender but is more prevalent towards women by men in our society. This blog addresses man-to-woman domestic violence cases and what approach a religious preacher or mentor should have.
Being in a spiritual community myself and meeting and observing several families facing domestic violence issues I kept noting how abusive spouses have been taking advantage of religious doctrine in inflicting even more abuse towards their spouse and children after getting associated with spiritual/religious communities.
Here are some tips that can actually serve such families in progressing in spiritual life rather than enabling the cruel behavior of the abuser and guilt-tripping the victims in the family.
- Never stress over the parts of scriptures that talk about inferiority in capabilities and rights etc of women over men in presence of abusive men. You will unconsciously empower and validate their abusive behavior in their eyes(this is what their low consciousness can absorb) and invalidate the victim's feelings and experiences. They can use this information in Gaslighting their victims. Read https://www.theexhaustedsouls.com/2021/03/13-warning-signs-of-spiritual.html to know more.
- Do not take feedback of the victim's spiritual practices at home from her abuser. In fact do not take any information, always talk directly. Abusers can go to any height to prove that their victims are crazy, lazy, wired and how much they deserve being abused and ridiculed. Read https://www.theexhaustedsouls.com/2021/01/this-is-why-they-like-your-abuser-more.html to know more.
- Do not force the victim to be present at an event if she is not sure nor stress over in explaining the reason for her absence afterward. You never know. A lot of times abuse victims are in the middle of intense mind games being played by their abusers, so much so that even they don't know why they are doing or not doing something. Read https://www.theexhaustedsouls.com/2021/01/no-you-are-not-crazy-you-are-being.html to know more.
- Do not guilt trip the victim into believing that they are suffering because of their past karmas. Mentioning this when someone is being abused doesn't help them. If the number of efforts being put into explaining the effects of karma to the sufferer is put into explaining it to the one making them suffer then it will be more worthwhile. Spiritual belief is a totally completely personal matter. Some victims use spiritual remedies while believing in the law of karma and it has helped them when they worked on cleansing karma. While others get triggered at the mere mention of it. This blog intends to stop preachers from hurting the later ones by triggering them and forcing them to believe in it so that they also get an equal opportunity to heal from abuse and grow spiritually.
- Expect inconsistency in the victim's performance. Abusive spouses are mostly highly controlling and jealous. They force her in doing things and not doing things as per their need for personal achievements and gratifications. For example, they will force her to not attend a program if they are jealous or indifferent with the organizer no matter how much important it is and on the other hand, they may force her to attend a program not very significant but can prove to be significant to his personal gratification or some material achievement. They also control her performances out of jealousy if she happens to perform or achieve better than them.
- Expect inconsistency in the social behavior of the victim. Their social life and everything else probably being totally controlled by their abuser. Read https://www.theexhaustedsouls.com/2021/01/8-things-narcissists-do-to-control-your.html to know how abusive people with narcissistic traits control the social lives of their victims.
- Never let an abusive person become a preacher, no matter how expert and useful they are to the religious community. Read https://www.theexhaustedsouls.com/2021/01/14-reasons-why-narcissts-hide-in.html to know more about how mean people take advantage of innocent people from religious communities. Such families can unconsciously pass the wrong ideas of what a normal or perfect or ideal family in spiritual life is. Victims idealize codependency and lack of relationship boundaries and abusers idealize abuse and manipulation in their behavior and thought process towards spouse and children.
- Do not judge the children coming from dysfunctional abusive families, because they are not like other children from regular families. They are highly sensitive to criticism and seek a lot of social approval because they have low self-esteem. Preachers need to be really careful and sensitive with the need of children not only from dysfunctional but from regular families also. Read https://harekrishnites.blogspot.com/2021/03/the-dos-and-donts-to-follow-if-you-want.html to know more about how one should preach to children.
- Do not be too quick and too rigid with the enforcement of rules. Abuse victims are codependent and have very low self-esteem. Because of excessive external control by their abuser in what they think, believe, feel and do, they are not able to identify their own needs, limitations, capabilities, and priorities. The abusive spouse can push their victim's limits and use guilt to manipulate them into exploiting them at all levels in the name of religious rules, penance, and austerity while continuing to be indulged in the high level of sense-gratification, indulgence and laziness even when their time and energy is needed by their family in the time of crisis like pregnancy, childbirth, and illness of their wives.
- Do not tell the victim to get over the abuse from the past. Victims are so enmeshed in mind games of abusers they need time to identify a particular behavior as "abuse" and it always takes time. As soon as it is addressed its form is changed by the abuser and then the victim again starts studying this pattern and so on. Moreover according to the author of the best-selling book on Trauma therapy "Body Keeps The Score" and past president for the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and former co-director of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network., Dr Bessel Van Der Kolk, trauma from abuse leaves visible and unrepairable scars on the mental and physical well-being of victims changing the way a normal mind and body functions resulting into physical illness, mental illness and personality disorders because of changed wiring and functioning of the brain and entire nervous system.
- Abusive personalities sometimes result from traumatic childhood experiences or other adverse life experiences. They need empathy too but never at the cause of causing further damage to the victims. They need to be heard and validated of their feelings. But their opinions and pieces of information about the victims should be listened to only to make them feel validated and not to judge the victims.
Being spiritual is an excellent way to live a fulfilling life. Everyone needs to connect to the higher self to unlock the true potential of their mind and the purification of their consciousness.
People who are suffering need it even more. In spiritual terms, everyone is suffering but in different ways. Dysfunctional families are a particular case of suffering where nothing ever seems to help and therefore spirituality can really bring some hope if practiced correctly and carefully otherwise the notorious minds can abuse it too like everything else and therefore preachers need to understand the sensitivity of the matter.
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