I’ve never found a handbook that teaches a woman how to, step by step, respond or react to her abuser. Emotionally and spiritually there is rarely consistent logic to a victim’s response to abuse. It isn’t easy to reconcile what’s supposed to be love with what is committed as abuse. No two abusers are alike and their victims have different coping techniques.
In this, and future posts, I will share my thoughts on Naghmeh Abedini’s abuse allegations.
An abuse victim play-by-play book doesn’t exist; however, there are helpful books on the subject that can now be found for sale or at your local library; for that I’m thankful.
Why did Naghmeh take so long to tell, you may be asking?
Possibly, simply because Christian women don’t tell.
Good wives don’t talk poorly about their husbands. You never tell your family because that may incite them to not like him—and they might encourage you to leave him. We are taught at Bible College, in the church and by godly older women that we never speak poorly of our husbands; especially when you are in the ministry—which she was.
They are to encourage their husbands, respect their husbands, forgive them, pray for them, hope in them, help them, and make love a daily action even when they don’t feel like it. Be intentional about how they respond in love; not frustration or anger. Don’t dwell on the negative; concentrate on the good parts. Be the one to set the tone for the atmosphere in their home to keep it positive and productive. Let go of pride.
Don’t compare their marriage to anyone else’s marriage. Don’t compare their attitude or actions to his. Pray that God will change their heart and through that, improve the difficulties in their marriage.
Care, adore, smile, kiss passionately, forgive, forgive again, be gracious, listen, compliment him, comfort him, and be content. Stay…always stay the course—it WILL pay off. It will! It does not matter how the woman feels; what matters is how they respond. With God, all things are possible! Especially if both of you profess Christ as your Lord and Savior.(The above does not apply in an abusive marriage or a marriage plagued with unfaithfulness.)
Remember there were reasons she grew to love him in the first place. There were and are good qualities too.
Many Christian women who are abused by their husbands often suffer in silence; praying and waiting on God to deliver them while being careful not to shout from the rooftops, or whisper in the corner, their husband’s abusive nature.
Add in public ministry, and revealing the abuse becomes more difficult. Remember she did take legal action against him in 2007 for domestic abuse.
On top of all this, if it were me, I would begin to notice that life was easier without him around. A wife would notice, “I’m beginning to feel like myself again, I am competent, I’m not crazy, and it’s not all my fault.” The realization might be followed by a sigh of relief that the abuse has stopped due to his imprisonment.
Then God calls you to do what no one else will have the passion to do for the father of your children, and that is be a voice to citizens, churches and government for the plight of persecuted Christians around the globe; along with, your husband and other American citizens being held hostage; wrongly imprisoned in Iran. Toss in being in the international spotlight and you have a recipe for keeping quiet in the moment.
And if God called me to do this for my husband; I would hope and believe with all my heart that the man I love would come home, if he comes home, a changed man. Come home repentant and apologetic for the ways he abused me and didn’t love me the way God intended for him to love me. Yes, in my mind I would believe God allowed him to be wrongly imprisoned to get his attention and lead him to change his heart and actions.
We can make many guesses as to why God allowed Saeed to be freed from prison at the same time as allowing this story to come out in the news. I believe God’s heart and will is to humble and bring Saeed Abedini to true repentance—something being a hostage in prison seemingly failed to do.
I also believe God wants to set the prisoners of spousal abuse free. Naghmeh’s story has international pull. Let’s pray for freedom to happen instead of enabling her husband’s sin through undeserved flattering praise.
Jesus Christ never treated women in a hard-hearted or dismissive way, or used violence against women for any purpose. Jesus came to give our dignity, worth and voice back to us.
Over time I have become a HUGE advocate of individual treatment for abusers; which does not include traditional marital counseling between the husband and wife. THIS DOES NOT WORK! Abusers tend to be smooth talkers who NEVER take responsibility for their actions. NEVER! They spin, justify and explain away every abusive word and action. This can cause total despair for the wife and has on occasion led to abused women committing suicide.
I’m saddened that there are several men, and even some pastors and leaders, who are treating Naghmeh in a dismissive—you have a part in this too—way. She is the victim! She bears no responsibility in Saeed’s treatment of her. For Saeed, or anyone, to say counseling cannot happen unless Naghmeh joins him is foolish.¹ At this point they do not need marital counseling; Saeed needs long-term, professional counsel from a godly teacher who specializes in rehabilitating abusers. Until then, Naghmeh has every right to maintain distance. Most counselors would want to split blame down the middle between Saeed and Naghmeh, but those who specialize in treating abusers know all the blame goes squarely on the shoulders of Saeed.
Few want to risk supporting the abused wife.
Please join me in supporting her through prayer to the One who hears, who knows, who cares, and who acts on behalf of the prayers.
To be continued…
¹. Facedbook; Saeed Abedini, public profile page, February 14, 2016 at 10:38 p.m.