She could be the mom you always bump into while picking up your kids from school. Or perhaps you see her every week at the gym or during Bible study. She might be sitting a few cubicles down from you at work. She may even be a family member. And whether you recognize it or not, she's experiencing abuse.
Nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence, according to a 2006 Allstate Foundation poll. Additionally, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. This number often excludes incidents of sexual, emotional, or economic abuse that go unreported. In most cases, women in these situations either feel too ashamed to expose their abuse or fear telling someone won't make a difference.
Sadly, Christian women aren't exempt from these sobering statistics. The question isn't whether domestic abuse is happening within evangelical circles, but how fervently friends, family, and church members will address it, says Leslie Vernick, author of The Emotionally Destructive Relationship (Harvest House). A Christian therapist in Pennsylvania, for the past 28 years Leslie has counseled women in abusive relationships. Here, Leslie shares how we can recognize abuse in the life of a loved one and most effectively help her find the healing and resources she needs.1