When Does Domestic Violence Begin?

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A young newly wed couple came for counseling because of marital conflict. There had been an argument and he pushed her. She left and returned home to her parents. I asked why did she leave. She said she felt fear. I asked him what was the worst that could have happened from his angry push. His response. She would leave him.

But what if she had fallen. Hit her head. Died. In an instant everything could change. Forever!

He didn’t think it was that bad. It wouldn’t have gone that far. He felt in control of his unbridled anger. He was not!

It only takes one incident to experience the physical effects of domestic violence. It only takes one instant for someone to be mortally wounded, permanently disabled or disfigured.

But domestic violence did not begin there.

It begins with emotional manipulation and control.

The fear of losing him. The fear of displeasing him. Entitlements to your time and space. Jealousy over relationships with family and friends. Isolation. Excessive gifts and affirmation. Passionate love-making. Withdrawal of intimacy. Withdrawal of economic or social benefits. Threats of self-injury. Threats of abandonment.

You will believe he needs you. He needs your help. You will feel responsible to pacify and comfort him.

And you will call it love.


“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” ~ 1 John 4:18

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