The most recent rankings of states shows that Tennessee is ranked number six in women who are murdered by their intimate partners. During the past 10 years, Tennessee has consistently been in the top 10 of these ratings. Domestic violence is a serious issue in Tennessee, in America, and around the world. Often we make the mistake of believing that domestic violence is about anger, and that an individual can control someone else’s violent behavior. But that is not true. No one is to blame for someone else’s choices. We all make our own choices.
Domestic violence is not just isolated to women. Men are also victims of domestic violence. However because of societal norms and gender constructs, women are most likely to be victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Research shows that Christian women are more likely to stay longer in abusive, lethal relationships because of ‘spiritual abuse’ and preaching that encourages them to stay in these situations. It’s not easy to leave a domestic violence situation, because it is embarrassing to admit being a victim of abuse or sexual violence. One way that we can help people who are in domestic violence relationships is to let them know that God loves them. It is not God’s intention for any of us to remain in relationships that threaten who we are physically, and especially spiritually and emotionally.
Abuse is not limited to physical violence. Mental and emotional abuse also kills. The lesson we learn from these complicated situations is to provide encouragement and empowerment to people who are victims of these awful acts, and we can share in their stories of going from being a victim to a victor. The journey from being a victim to a victor is a difficult one, but with God’s grace and help we can make it on this journey. We have to remember that in any circumstance, because of Jesus Christ, we have the victory.
Stuff happens to us, just like it happens to victims of domestic and sexual violence, which tears us down, and makes us feel like losers. No matter what we try to do, we cannot win. We cannot be pretty enough, successful enough, make enough money, or be good enough to do anything. These lies are designed to make us victims of the belief that we are less than who God made us. The truth is we may be in the shoes of a victim, but if we keep walking and moving forward and permit ourselves to heal, we will learn that inside every victim is a victor. We will discover that even while we were losing, we were winning. For us to be on this journey, we have to stop thinking like a victim and think like a victor.
True love makes us feel like a victor, not a victim. We have to change the thoughts about ourselves, about God, and our situations. We have to walk on the revelation of this Pauline text: “No, we are more than conquerors, with Christ who loved us,” Romans 8:37. When we realize that we are more than a conqueror, we will experience the empowerment we need to leave any situation that seeks to make us less. Then we will go from being a victim to becoming who God has destined us to be—a victor!