Tips for Pastors Counseling Abuse

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

This is a quick resource for helping those who may be in an abusive or toxic relationship. I wanted to provide a quick list of tips you can refer to as a pastor, Christian leader, or friend to help female victims who are in abusive relationships. If you’d like more information on this subject please check out these resources. Favorites are listed below and where you can find on Amazon. What Can/Should You Do?

  • Make safety a priority for the abused spouse.
    • We want to assess the level of danger and help create plan for her to leave. But proceed with caution because in many cases she is most in danger when she leaves. Unfortunately, women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship. Get assistance if you feel out of your depth: contact your local police, domestic violence shelters, counselors with experience in abuse, or National Hotline that can make references to quality local resources.
  • Stop joint counseling immediately.
    • Even if there isn’t physical violence safety needs to be top priority. Anything that indicates the problems and responsibility is shared or 50/50 can perpetuate the abuse.
  • Recommend individual counseling for the abuser.
    • Most abusers refuse or resist coming to counseling. If they attend it is likely not for help but to assess you the pastor or counselor to see if you are fit to be his counselor based upon your agreement with his version of things. In the rare case should they continue counseling however, focus on the characteristics we discussed before. Depending on the severity of the abuse and his mindset don’t hesitate to refer him out to a qualified professional in this area.
  • Provide support and counsel for the abuse victim.
    • You want to provide insight and support for the victim by helping her to make sense of the dynamics in the relationship. Counseling should aim to help reinstall her sense of value and worth. She should be repeatedly reminded of God’s love for and protection of her. Additionally, we want to facilitate the recalibration of her sense of reality that’s been twisted and overshadowed by her abuser. We want to help her redevelop trust in her senses, intuitions, and values which are incredibly important for rebuilding confidence and stability.

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