October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is important to understand the cycle of battering if we are to break it and help those who may be victims of domestic abuse. Though there are always variations in behavior, the following description of the phases of battering have been recognized as the patterns experienced by most victims of chronic abuse.
Stage 1. Tension Building - Tension begins to rise, and the abuser becomes edgy and more prone to react negatively to frustrations. This tension increases to the point where the abuser feels s/he has lost control over the victim. Abuse occurs and escalates.
Abuser’s Response: moody; nitpicky; isolates victim; withdraws affection; criticizes and puts down victim; yells; drinks or does drugs; threatens.
Victim’s Response: attempts to calm abuser; nurtures; silent or talkative, whatever s/he thinks will keep the abuser calm; stays away from family and friends; withdraws; tries to reason; generally feels like walking on eggshells.
Stage 2. Acute Battering - The abuser begins to lose self-control. The victim becomes more emotionally detached, knowing that to fight back usually results in increased violence. This is the shortest stage, during which the abuse or violence occurs. It ends when the abuser feels that the victim has "learned his/her lesson". Both partners deny or minimize the brutality.
Stage 3. Loving Behavior - This stage is often welcomed by both parties. The victim wants to believe that s/he no longer has to suffer abuse, and the batterer's loving behavior during this stage supports the victim's belief that the batterer really can change. This stage will continue until the batterer's confidence is built back up, and the cycle will begin again. Research has shown that as time passes, the honeymoon portion of the cycle grows shorter and shorter and sometimes disappears altogether.
Abuser's Response: begs forgiveness, promises to get counseling, declares love, enlists family support, and brings presents.
Victim's Response: agrees to stay, returns or takes batterer back, attempts to stop legal proceedings, sets up counseling appointments, feels happy, hopeful.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence you may call 911 for immediate help or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233). There is help available for abusers through the Battering Intervention and Prevention Program by calling 214-692-8295.
Time is the one commodity that you can never regain once you use it. Making up for lost time is only a delusion. You can add time to the clock in a football or basketball game, but you cannot add time to the clock of reality. Therefore, we are instructed to make the most of our time (Ephesians 5:16). This can be done by walking in wisdom (verse 15).
Are you making the most of your time? Activities that kill time or waste time aren’t worth our time. We should view our time as a gift that God has given us to manage. Our stewardship of time is just as important as our stewardship of finances. So how can we make every minute count?
Conflict is inevitable. No two people will agree on everything. Truth be told, we disagree with ourselves sometimes. Family conflict can be defined as a process in which two or more members of a family believe that their desires are incompatible with those of the others. A key difference between a healthy family and an unhealthy family can be found in how they handle and resolve conflict.
In Genesis 13:1-12 Abram provides us with a great example on how to handle family conflicts. When we come to Genesis 13, God has instructed Abram to leave his homeland and go to Canaan. Abram, Sari, and his nephew, Lot, settle in Canaan until a famine forces them to move to Egypt. In the lesson scripture, Abram, Lot, and their households have returned to Canaan from Egypt. They settle in the land between Bethel and Ai. Both Abram and Lot were blessed with great possessions, including an abundance of livestock. Because the land is not sufficient enough to support the feeding and watering of both Abram’s and Lot’s livestock, there arises a conflict between their herdsmen.
We can resolve some conflicts by placing the interest of others ahead of our own interests (see Philippians 2:3-4).
Keep the big picture in mind. Abram realized that being family was more important than winning the argument and being right. When we disagree, are we so focused on proving our point that we miss the big picture?
Seek a solution early. We often wait until something gets on our last nerve before we address the issue. This makes the conflict worse than it would be if we would have addressed the issue when it arose.
It is important to follow-up on an issue once a solution has been reached, or once an agreement has been made that there is not a viable solution at the present time. This follow-up lets members of the family know if the solution is working and can help avoid having conflict about the same issues.
Listening is a cornerstone to defusing and resolving conflict. It helps us to clarify and focus on the issues being discussed. When I listen, I’m not focused on proving my point, but on understanding the point of the other person (James 1:19).
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.