Exo 20:16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Exo 23:2 You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice,
Pro 12:17 Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit.
One of the best things we can do to help victims of domestic abuse is believe them. This provides them with validation – something they do not receive from most everyone and it is like a life-giving breath for them. I say, believe the victim when she reveals abuse that is happening in her home.
Now, the question arises in this regard – “how do we know she is not lying?” A valid question to ask, certainly. There are wicked women as well as wicked men. Both can be guilty of falsely charging their spouse with abuse. So how do we sort it out?
One of the most common and damaging answers to this is “well, you know, in all conflicts there are two sides and shared blame.” Really? Many pastors and churches tell abuse victims this very thing. But it is ludicrous. Always shared blame? An evil man murders his wife and children. Shared blame? Hitler invades Poland and slaughters millions. Shared blame? I don’t think so. Let’s just stop repeating this idiotic mantra. Rather, in many conflicts there is an innocent and a guilty party. Our task is to sort it out and identify which is which.
So, how do we know? Actually the answer is really pretty simple. It goes like this:
When a genuine victim of domestic abuse brings forth her case, there will always be corroborating evidence. That is to say, there will always be witnesses in addition to herself. Always.
Now, you may be scratching your head at this point and wondering – “How can there be multiple witnesses besides the victim if, most typically, abusers do their evil deeds out of sight of others? Isn’t it just her word against his? Actually, no. It isn’t.
We need to understand that a “witness” need not be a human being. A witness may come in the form of physical evidence of some kind, but not always. What is virtually always present as a witness however is the typical indicators of abuse. BUT you must be knowledgeable about this evil in order to see these kinds of witnesses. For instance:
- Economic abuse. Refusal to give the victim adequate monies. Barring her from access to bank accounts.
- Social isolation. Forbidding her from associating with people. Frequently moving her to a new place. Choosing locations that are remote.
- An obvious philosophy of patriarchy.
- Dictating the victim’s wardrobe.
- Physical signs of stress in the victim (often stress-related maladies)
- The victim habitually apologizing for most anything – “I’m sorry, I’m sorry….”.
- Characteristics in the children that are typical in abuse scenarios
And, I suppose in some ways this would be the biggest piece of evidence: Victims of domestic abuse are often very reluctant to report the abuse and thus it goes on for years and years. Christian victims in particular are very hesitant to report abuse because they know that they will be accused by their fellow Christians in many cases of disrespecting their husband, failing to be forgiving, and reminded that “God hates divorce” (that is NOT in the Bible by the way. Nope)
Think about it. If a woman who professes to be a Christian just wants out of her marriage so she can take off with some other guy or “be free,” would she not just do it? The fact is, reporting domestic abuse to a pastor and church is NOT an easy way out. That is to say, Christians who come forward and report domestic abuse are almost always telling the truth and they are ALWAYS telling the truth when some of the above “witnesses” are present, which they most certainly will be.
In all my years now in ministering in this area of domestic abuse in the church, I have talked to I suppose hundreds of abuse victims. Only about 4 or 5 have been phonies and the truth about them was not that hard to sort out. In fact, my suspicions were around right away and confirmed later.
So when I say “believe the victim,” I am not saying “believe every single person always in every case who says they are victims of domestic abuse just because they said so.” Nope. What I am saying is, you can believe them IF you are willing to learn about abusers and their tactics and thus able to spot the additional witnesses that corroborate the victim’s testimony.