Last week, I shared how domestic violence affects people long-term, especially children exposed to this environment. The response to this post was phenomenal. I heard from many people through social media, and my daughter, whose story I told, did too.
I was shocked by the number of people she knows who have been or are currently in a domestic violence situation. One point struck me over and over: the adults of her generation are living in a world where violence is becoming more and more prevalent.
Violence has a snowball effect.
Our parents imprint on us in our early developmental years. Girls often seek a boyfriend or spouse who reminds them of their father. Boys seek a wife or girlfriend like their mother. This may be why I found it easier to walk away from abuse–I ended up with a man who was NOTHING like my father.
If you stay in a violent relationship, your children will learn that violence is normal. They will seek it in their adult lives either through a partner or through their own behavior. The cycle of violence often carries on from generation to generation. It’s hard to stop.
Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” Exodus 34:7b
Before anyone cries foul on my use of this verse, let me clarify its context and why I feel it applies here.
This verse occurs right before God gives Moses the Ten Commandments…for the second time. God is referring to the Israelites’ lack of faithfulness and rebellion in this verse. Similar verses appear several times in the Old Testament, often in reference to the Israelites as they wandered in the desert.
Does it mean that God punishes the children of those who do wrong? No. BUT it is hard to be raised by someone and not follow their path in some way. Can we avoid making the same mistakes as our parents? Absolutely! To sin or not to sin is a choice.
“Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.” Deuteronomy 24:16
We make choices, but it’s hard to walk away from the life we are exposed to as a child.
So, how can we stop domestic violence?
Choose wisely when you choose a partner. This man or woman could be the father or mother of your children. Observe their behavior AND observe the behavior of their family.
- Do they act disrespectfully to each other?
- Is there an underlying anger in what they say and do?
- Do arguments erupt into something bigger than necessary?
- Do they twist your words to mean something very different from what you meant?
- Do they bring up past arguments when they argue with you or others?
- Is their anger physical?
These are all warning signs telling you to step back and take a moment.
If you are already in a violent relationship, it’s time to act and save yourself and your children. One of my daughter’s friends admitted she still lived in an abusive relationship, but she claimed she had figured out how to handle him. I asked if they had children, and my daughter said yes. What are those children learning? Will they repeat the cycle?
Maybe you see yourself in this or you are dating someone whose family is violent. Can you or this person stop the cycle? Yes, but it takes work and a commitment to that change.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
It is still a choice. We can choose to live in Christ and walk away from our past life to become a new creation.
Please choose wisely.
If you are in an abusive relationship, I beg you to seek help. In the US, you can call the National Domestic Violence hotline, 800-799-7233, and they can help you find help in your community. If you live outside of the US, contact local service agencies or churches for help. Whatever you do, don’t stay in a violent relationship.
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