Abuse is the third most common reason couples divorce. When a husband or father abuses, it violates his role as the primary protector of the family and the marriage covenant is broken.
Few couples enter into marriage thinking abuse could be in their future. I’m certainly not qualified to speak to all the causes of abuse, but I can speak to what I have seen. First, no one should view themselves as incapable of being abusive. Second, no one should view themselves as incapable of being abused.
Drug and Alcohol abuse has directly led to a number of abuse and neglect cases I’ve witnessed. In one case, a dear friend of our family, an extremely smart Christian man with a Ph.D. whom I shared many thoughts and jokes, drank himself to death in a mall parking lot after a long struggle with dependency on the bottle. Addiction is powerful. He knew full well what he was doing, he spoke about it, he had a great life, and a beautiful family. Even though he had a great job for most of his career, he left his family neglected and with little money.
Drug abuse can start quite innocently. My maternal grandmother is reported to have died of an overdose on prescription medicine. Numerous pill bottles were thrown away after her death by my mother as she cleaned up her personal effects. Her drug of choice was tranquilizers.
Pain medication is particularly difficult because the reason the drug addict took it to start with was completely legitimate, but then they get hooked. I’ve seen at least four people in my life struggle with prescription pain medication addiction resulting in severe medical problems in three out of four cases.
Physical abuse can enter the family in frustration. One of my brothers enjoyed cutting down trees in a vacant lot next to my father’s company. The alder trees were 18 inches in diameter and about 40 feet tall. Packed close together they grew tall and straight with only a tiny canopy. Thus when the alders were cut down there was little wind resistance and the trees fell quickly often bouncing off the ground by a few feet. It wasn’t our property and the trees were tall enough to reach the parking lot. For obvious reasons, my father had asked my brother to stop cutting them down. One day, my older brother invited me to watch him cut down a tree. I was around 12. He made short work of the tree; it cracked and fell with a loud crash. Great fun! My father ran out of his company and spotted me standing there. He called me over and promptly beat me with a 2×4. My brother wisely refused to come out of the woods. There can be times when kids are seriously wrong and extremely aggravating. Take a breath and try to not turn abusive if even for a moment.
Sexual abuse can enter a family when dealing with strangers, friends, relatives… Don’t be naïve. Divorce, neglect, physical abuse can be precursors to sexual abuse. My parents invited a guy who showed up at our church into our home to show him some Christian hospitality. Turned out the guy was a pedophile and immediately targeted one of my brothers. Don’t invite complete strangers into your home who obviously have issues in an unsupervised manner. Don’t agree to sleep overs with families who have issues. Issues generally run in packs.
My awesome wife worked on a San Joaquin domestic violence program designed to help young women make better choices with choosing a boyfriend. Many girls seek out the “bad boy” guys and end up getting far more than rebellious excitement. The bad boys often abused them. Tragically, a number of these girls get killed and tossed in fields and dumpsters around San Joaquin County.
So the first tip in avoiding abuse is making proper relationship choices. If you are already dating someone who is abusive, break up as soon as possible with as much external support as you can get or call the police if required. If you are already married, get professional help, let a friend know, and call the police if it’s needed.