How do I help my aunt who has been in a long abusive relationship?


My aunt has been married for a very long time and has been verbally and emotionally abused for the majority of her marriage.  She has one daughter who also was verbally and emotionally abused by her father growing up.  My uncle has cheated on my aunt numerous times that we know of.  Still my aunt continued to stay with him.  He has demeaned her and completely broken her spirit and she has absolutely no self-esteem at all.  My uncle has recently increased his verbal and emotional attacks on my aunt, he is jealous of the two little girls about 9 years old, who live next door and like to walk their dogs when my aunt walks her dog.  He has started coming home at various times in the afternoon, sneaking in the door and up on my aunt, who is playing Internet games, he has always accused her of cheating.  She has never cheated, not once.  Her mother has been in a nursing home for a few years and she has severely decreased visiting her because her husband tries to control that as well.  She has no friends left, even when she tries speaking to them on the phone, he yells loudly until she hangs the phone up.  When her daughter was young, he continually drove a wedge between them, he was jealous of the child and still is to this day.  He is an alcoholic and has been for many years.  He has said many times that he will never change.  My aunt wants to start going back to church, but she knows he will complain and grip to the point that she will have to stop going.  My aunt feels because she married this monster that it is not the Christian thing to divorce him.  What is your view of what the bible has to say about this type of situation?


It is not the Christian thing to forsake the Lord because of another. "So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time--houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions--and in the age to come, eternal life" (Mark 10:29-30). Your aunt has to make up her mind who comes first in her life, her husband or the Lord. Right now she is putting her husband first even though he hasn't done things worthy of devotion on her part.

My advice is for her to get busy making up for all the time she's lost and start serving the Lord fully. If her husband doesn't like it, he can take it up with God, but meanwhile she has things to do. If he doesn't want to live with a Christian, he can leave if he so chooses. She has never been his slave. "But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace" (I Corinthians 7:15).

She has to ignore him in other areas as well when he interferes with doing what is right. She should visit her mother often. She should get out and make friends. If he acts like a child when she is on the phone, then she tell her friends that he's in one of his moods, so she'll just come over to talk instead, if that is all right. In other words, she knows the right thing to do, so she does it. If he doesn't like it, that is his problem not hers.

But for your part, as sad as this situation is, you have to realize that your aunt is choosing to stay. It wouldn't be your choice, but it is her choice. She has grown comfortable in this game of give and take with her husband. People often prefer the known, as bad as it may be, to the unknown. I've helped people leave bad situations and am always amazed how often they go right back. They know they are better off, they know the old situation is bad, but it was what they had grown used to and they rather go back. So let her know that options exist and you are willing to help if she ever needs it.

But at the same time, I suspect that she brings a lot of these problems to you because you have a sympathetic ear. You need to let her know that your sorry about the situation, but if she doesn't want to do something about it, then telling you her woes just depresses your day and accomplishes nothing. In other words, refuse to be her crutch.