One of the reasons we took the past two weeks to talk about why freedom is important is to set up for this newsletter’s big focal topic. This topic often remains hidden, while we remain hurt. This topic is also something we believe in our hearts is rare, but in reality this issue is one of the most widespread, human sin issues around.
The focus of this newsletter is on abuse, and while abuse can come in many forms, its results are always deceptive and sinister.
What is Abuse?
A working definition of abuse for this newsletter is when anyone does something harmful to themselves or someone else. Abuse is a very broad topic that ranges from abusing oneself (by intentionally overeating, intentionally starving oneself, or cutting) to abusing others through various forms of physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and/or even spiritual abuse.
The result of abuse is that we feel alone, dirty, often times like it was our own fault, and emotionally scarred.
Types of Abuse
Emotional abuse occurs through insulting or belittling comments; through angry, hostile, or sarcastic remarks; through outright humiliation – either publically or privately; through manipulation, demanding control, or shunning/withholding love; through broken promises, irrational expectations, or unjust accusations; and really anything that singles another person out with a negative spirit. Emotional abuse crushes the heart and it is one of the widest spread forms of abuse because most people don’t realize that their damaged, hurting, abused heart is lashing out and hurting the hearts of others around them.
Physical abuse is harm that causes someone’s health, life, or physical safety to be threatened or placed in question. It includes physical aggression, like hitting, kicking, burning, pushing, and hair-pulling to name a few, while it also includes forced isolation or neglect where food, water, bathroom/sanitary conditions, or weather-appropriate clothing are withheld/not provided. Even being present when someone else is being physically abused can be damaging and is another form of physical abuse.
Sexual abuse is when someone uses another person to satisfy their sexual needs without that other person’s consent, desire, or if the other person is too young to understand the significance of what is happening. This type of abuse can happen without touching or even speaking to the other person, but by simply being around someone who is thinking lustfully in a way that makes the other individual feel dirty about themselves. Dressing in a way that encourages others to think sexual thoughts is abusive, as well as being dishonoring to God. A breakdown of where the line defining moral integrity is contributing to this abuse being spread and perpetrated.
Spiritual abuse is a form of abuse that many people are unaware even exist, however it can be one of the most damaging. Spiritual abuse occurs when someone shares a spiritual principle without conveying it with love and understanding. While we all make mistakes, when we misrepresent God’s character to those who we have influence with, we are causing spiritual abuse to take place. When God’s love is removed from religion, or when religion becomes a list of do’s and don’ts, then spiritual abuse is rampant. As spiritual leaders to those around us, we are called to live and show God’s love to a hurting world.
The Root Issue Behind Abuse
The root issue behind abuse is a lack of respect for others — which leads to a lack of respect towards God. If we believe that God created us, and that God loves the people He created, then He will feel pain when harm happens. Similar to a parent feeling hurt when a child has experienced pain or doesn’t make wise choices, God’s heart is breaking in heaven with the evils in society right now, because in each instance of abuse, one of His created children made an unwise decision, and caused harm to another one of his created children. When we choose to disrespect each other, we are disrespecting God even if we are unaware or ignorant of our actions.
Moving beyond Abuse
In order to move past abuse, we must replace the hurt, damaged spirit in our hearts with a healthy respectful spirit. However ‘we’ cannot replace our heart; only God can replace it. With solid spiritual counseling geared towards healing the root issue behind abuse, there is hope for our future. Lots of forgiveness is necessary whenever abuse has taken place — forgiveness from your perspective because you cannot change the other person. (To learn more about forgiveness, click here to read several newsletters back and understand what steps to take.)
On forgiving and transferring the emotional pain to Jesus, we are then free to ask God to give us a new, respectful spirit, and we can move forward with assurance that He has answered our genuine request.
Next week, we’ll touch on another aspect when moving towards true freedom!
P.S. As always, join the conversation and leave comments, questions, and other feedback below!