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Domestic Abuse: How to Help (Resources for Changing Lives) Paperback – April 1, 2001
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About the Author
David Powlison (MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary; MA, PhD, University of Pennsylvania) is the editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling and a member of the faculty and counseling staff at the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation in Glenside, Pennsylvania. He teaches at Westminster Theological Seminary and is a board member and fellow of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors. He and his wife live in Glenside. They have three children.
Edward T. Welch (PhD, University of Utah) serves both the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF) and Westminster Theological Seminary. At CCEF, he is director of counseling and academic dean, as well as a counselor and faculty member. At Westminster, he is professor of practical theology. He is author of Blame It on the Brain and When People Are Big and God Is Small and has contributed to several other books and journals, including the Journal of Psychology and Christianity.
Paul Tripp is president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life. This mission leads Paul to weekly speaking engagements around the world. Paul is also the Professor of Pastoral Life and Care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, and the Executive Director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas, and has taught at respected institutions worldwide. As an author, Paul has written ten books on Christian living that are read and distributed internationally. He has been married for many years to Luella, and they have four grown children. For speaking engagements and other information see paultrippministries.org.
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Abusers are dangerous; many are mentally disturbed, sociopathic, and unregenerate. Contrary to the hopeful scenario this booklet suggests, "As they become willing to look at themselves in the mirror of truth and embrace the Messiah, they can and will genuinely change," (pg. 9), few do. The statistics are dismal. When I asked the Nouthetic counseling service about my husband's prognosis as a verbal/emotional abuser, there was not one success that could be recalled. It is important to note that abusers, by their actions, prove they are not Christians. (Gal. 5:19-21 and 2 Tim 3:2-5, Matt.7:17-20), and most abusers leave when properly disciplined. Following the guidance of this self-conflicting booklet may put the victim and the person trying to help in peril. No one should underestimate how wicked abusers are.
Written by three authors, this booklet has no clear course of action or process of biblical thought. Here is one example, although several could be cited:
"The physically abusive are criminal as well as wicked, just like sexual predators. They are also highly
deceptive." (pg. 9)
"A man might hit his wife and then, one hour later, shift gears and calmly lead a Bible study." (pg. 12)
"Of course, this does not imply that her actions caused the violence or abuse." (pg. 7) After a reference to removing the speck from your brother's eye, (Matt. 7:5) they state she must forgive quickly, and speak with humility, gentleness and love. (pg.8)
Matt. 7:5, (pg.7), is not applicable or sensible in abuse cases. Do the authors imply that the abuser has the speck in his eye, while the victim has the log? Ridiculous! Why should the abused be encouraged to confess her sin to, and be quick to forgive the abuser, if they describe him as a deceptive criminal, not a brother in Christ? There is no biblical reason why a victim should confess sin to an abuser. David and Paul did not do this. Additionally, victims of abuse may suffer from trauma, (PTSD), which is not even considered in this book. The church should protect the victim, and not leave her open to retaliation, as Nouthetic Counseling did to me. I faced death threats after their intervention, so I am writing this review to warn people. This book never gives a definition of domestic abuse, and then sets out to offer vague ways to fix it. If an abuser has been sitting in the pews for years, and yet remains unconverted, success through Nouthetic Counseling seems very unlikely. Read Jeff Crippen's book if you really want to know how to help.
The book is broken into two parts The first part of the book, written by Ed Welch, is about helping the victim. Welch offers sound advice on how to love them like Christ who is a “refuge for the oppressed” (psalm 9:9) and “listens to the cry of the sufferer”. Listening to the victim seems obvious to anyone but often this is either not done well or not at all. Handling someone being abused is a sensitive situation and should be handled with care but someone should not avoid getting involved because they feel inadequate, Welch’s teaching here will give you great assistance and sound advice. The second part of the book is written by Powlison and Tripp and is on Helping the Abuser. I know for many of us the last thought we have in our minds when dealing with a domestic abuse is helping the abuser. I’m sure some of you would rather give the abuser a taste of his own medicine but this is far from the mind of Christ who chose not to give us a taste of what we deserved. A violent man needs to be confronted and then lead to repentance. Since most abusers tend to be master manipulators this task can be both intimidating and very difficult. Violence is usually the result of other heart sins such as selfishness and irritability these sins need to be confronted as well since simply dealing with the physical outburst may simply be treating the symptom and not the source. Relief may come for a time but if the heart issues aren’t dealt with then the abuse is likely to return. This second section is very helpful and offers many pieces of advice to aid in dealing with this difficult task.
Even if you aren’t involved in any way with a domestic abuse case I would still recommend you read this book to equip you with the proper tools so that you are able to help someone when such a case is brought to you. This is a great resource to have in your home and for churches to make available.