Domestic Violence - The Scapegoating Pandemic Series
From The Caring Heart with Dr. Joyce from Spokane Washington

“Husbands love your wives and be not bitter against them.” (Col. 3:19)

Domestic violence is going on all the time in our culture.  I’ve read that all social strata are involved, rich and poor, Christian and non-Christian.  Usually it is the husband who is the scapegoating perpetrator, but sometimes wives are the problem people in the family. All abuse is hurtful, harmful, and causes real damage, therefore all abuse, verbal and physical, is violence.

This is a short story about Sally, a rather typical female scapegoat victim, living in a rather typical dysfunctional family.  One day, after a miserable golf game, her husband, Bill, came home in a terrible mood.   In actuality he was having a temper tantrum over his inadequate golf performance, so Bill started scapegoating Sally.  “How come dinner isn’t all ready now?”  “Sally, can’t you think of anything better to eat?”  “You are always wasting time, and money, too!”  “I’m fed up with you!  You better shape up or I’m leaving you!”  On and on the out-of-control Bill raged, with terrible facial expression and angry, intense voice. 

In reality, Sally is a very nice person who tries to be a good wife, homemaker, and mom to their two children.  She has worked hard all day, and supper is not late.  Supper is also a nutritious, tasty meal. She budgets carefully.  In short, Bill's mean criticisms of Sally have no basis in reality.  She is being falsely blamed.  She is being abused and scapegoated.  Although she has tried to get used to Bill’s rages, as they have been going on for years, they still hurt.  A lot.  He runs the household like some tyrant.  The kids are scared of Dad. He hits all family members at times. 

Sally has thought of leaving Bill, but is terrified.  Where would she and the kids go?  She has no job herself – no money.  What about her dog “Cuddles,” who she absolutely adores?  She has not confided in anyone about her desperate situation.  Who would believe her?  Everybody likes “great guy” Bill.  Bill would be absolutely outraged at the idea that he has anything to change. 

Sally’s dilemma is very typical, very common.  Women are too terrified to initiate a move to get out of a very destructive scapegoating situation. Then, too, their self-esteem is usually to the floor.  But, if they have even one friend to confide in and who believes their story, their chances of having the courage to take needed action are greatly increased.  Who they really need is a very empathetic, skilled counselor who can help them sort through their needs and their options.  Some women decide to stay anyway with their mates anyway.  If so, they can expect to have as miserable a future life as they are having now.  Only a very rare husband can acknowledge the abusiveness of his behaviors to seek professional help. 

A knowledgeable, skilled counselor can help a scapegoated wife make the break and relocate, which can be fraught with issues and problems.  The husband may object strongly to the kids being taken away, and to the dog leaving with the wife.  Anything the woman loves the perpetrator will try to hold hostage.  Restraining orders may have to be obtained.  An estimated one-third of domestic violence victims stay in their dangerous situations because they are terrified their mates will hurt or kill their pets as they have threatened to do, using such threats to intimidate and control their wives.  The kids are invariably hurting, too, being confused and frightened.  Abused children have been found to have very mixed feelings about their mean parents, and still love them and want to be with them. 

Nationwide, there are shelters for domestic violence victims like Sally.  So far, only three percent of these shelters are able to house companion animals.  The Pet and Woman Safety Act (PAWS) was introduced in 2015 to help the victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault by protecting their pets from their abusing scapegoaters.  Animal victims, whether with fur, feathers, or fins, will have legal protections covering them.  Pets can be included in restraining orders in more than half the states.  Also, PAWS would establish a grant which would provide financial support for housing for animal victims of domestic violence, such as attaching a kennel and a visitation room to existing women's and children's shelters. 

The main point is that, if the scapegoating abuser can’t or won’t change, the victim needs to establish firm boundaries involving getting away and staying away.  Making the break and building a new, safe life is incredibly difficult, but there are options out there, and good, kind, knowledgeable people to help. THERE IS HOPE.

COPYRIGHT 2015 Dr. Joyce The Caring Heart

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