I can't tell you how many times during the course of my marriage that I Googled "how to help an abusive husband?"
I went to therapists. Pastors. Friends. Emotional abuse is something so few people even realize is simply another form of domestic abuse. I had been told to just work at it. Try my best to do my part. And dutifully, I did.
But when it didn't get better, I realized that nothing I did was going to help him see what he was doing to me and our family.
In the case of true emotional abuse, the only way to help an abuser is to understand you are "alcohol to the alcoholic." Much like addicts, abusers seek to externally manage their feelings by some other substance. When it comes to abuse in relationships, that substance is power.
As an alcoholic spirals out of control, eventually he or she cannot hide the drunkenness that ultimately accompanies their addiction. Maybe they can't keep a job, or the smell of booze is ever-present; there are often obvious indicators to those around the addict something is wrong.
However, an emotional abuser is not subject to the crushing reality of his power addiction when his victim remains silent. No one can see what is happening if you don't tell the truth about your situation. That's part of his control illusion- he can be one person at home and project a completely different persona with friends, at work, or even at church.
Silence perpetuates abuse by shielding the abuser from the natural consequences of his actions.
If a kid is bullying other students on a playground, it is the responsibility of the adults in his life to discipline him so he can learn to behave appropriately and manage his feelings correctly. Would you ever want your child to suffering bullying in silence in hopes that it would just go away on its own?! That if they were a good enough friend the bully would change?
I am by no means saying women should punish abusive husbands; but in actuality, you are doing more damage to him by not attempting to break the cycle. A person's choice to abuse reveals a deep longing for closeness that at its core, only God can heal.
And if he's running to you, he won't run to God.
God loves your spouse more than you do. And He wants him in His Kingdom for all eternity. He wants to heal the hurts that your husband is spiritually imprisoned by. He is the Good Shepherd, after the single wayward sheep that has gone astray.
You don't have the power to heal your husband, but God does. While commonly we think God is working in us to change an abusive mate, sometimes our absence will help him see God more clearly.
Sister, if you really want to help your abusive husband, it may be time to get out of the way, and let God do what He does best.
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