Domestic violence has some of the most alarming statistics of any social problem facing the world today. 1 in 4 women will experience it in their lifetime. Think of how staggering that statistic is. If you are in a room of 100 women, twenty-five of them have been or will be abused by their husband or boyfriend.
Domestic violence advocates spend their working lives helping women who have some of the most heartbreaking life stories anyone has ever heard. They do everything in their power to assist these women to safely leave their abusers. Many women succeed. A few do not, and are brutally murdered.
Today, more is done to hold abusers accountable for their actions than ever before. In most states in the U.S., men convicted of abuse are required to enter treatment programs. Many people debate whether these programs change the behavior of these men. Some say that they are partially successful. Others say that men who were physically abusive before the programs only become smarter – instead of physically abusing their victims, they use verbal and emotional abuse afterward.
But, what about real prevention of domestic violence? I don’t think we hear very much about that. How can we prevent men from becoming abusers in the first place?
I believe that the best way we can prevent boys from becoming men who abuse is to “train them up in the way that they should go”, (Proverbs 22:6). But what does this look like?
Mothers who are living in non-abusive homes don’t teach your sons that they are entitled to everything they want. In his book Why Does He DO That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, Lundy Bancroft says that the major characteristic of an abusive man is that he feels entitled to everything, including: caretaking, sex, deference, etc.[i] Boys who grow up feeling that they are entitled to the latest toy, to mom doing all their chores for them in the house, (because after all that is “women’s work”), etc. will grow up to treat their wives with disrespect.
Mothers who are in abusive relationships, this should be your best reason to seek help. As I have said before many times, I would never tell an abused woman to leave her abuser. This is a decision each woman must make for herself. And at times, an abusive man will change if he is given consequences. After all, nothing is impossible with God, (Luke 1:37). But, in relationships with abusers who refuse to change, if you can educate yourself about domestic violence, get some help, and safely leave, you will be doing yourself, your son, and even society a favor if you…
Don’t add to society one more son who will grow up like his father and treat his partner the way his dad treated you.
Lundy Bancroft gives us good news. He says that boys who grew up in abusive homes don’t necessarily become abusive if they don’t take on the mindset of their fathers i.e. the feeling that they are entitled.[ii]
One of the best ways to change the mindset of a son is to stand against the abuse of his father.
No matter how old your son is, if you stand up to the abuse (if it is safe to do so), or leave, you are saying that at least in your eyes, abuse is NOT OK. If you would like to learn more about how to safely stand up to the abuse, or leave, I invite you to read my book, A Journey through Emotional Abuse:From Bondage to Freedom.
Proverbs 2:11-15 says:
Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.
Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse,
who have left the straight paths
to walk in dark ways,
who delight in doing wrong
and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
whose paths are crooked
and who are devious in their ways.
[i] Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He DO That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men (New York, NY: Berkley Books, 2002) p. 54 – 56.
[ii] Lundy Bancroft speaking at an EADV event called “Domestic Violence in Popular Culture” held at the Department of Revenue in Boston Massachusetts on December 15, 2010.