How to Help Abuse Victims

Believe the Abused

Understanding abuse is a helpful first step in talking about it in the church. In this post created in cooperation with the Association of Biblical Counselors, biblical counselor Greg Wilson teaches the power of the victim's story and begin thinking of ways Christians can help.  

Greg Wilson holds Masters degrees in Marriage and Family Counseling and Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and has completed additional graduate study at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor. 

Greg said that, when talking to someone who says they're in an abusive relationship, the first step is to actually believe that person. We should take them at their word and believe that whatever the person says is going on is, in fact, going on.   

Does this first step challenge you? Why or why not? Are you tempted to think some people who report abuse are not actually telling the truth? If so, why do you think that’s the case?
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What are some reasons why you think it’s important to believe someone when he or she reports abuse?
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Greg said the next step in helping is to make sure the abused is in a safe place. Just because the abuse is not physical yet doesn’t mean the person is safe. Greg suggests helping the abused develop and execute a safety plan that considers:

  • providing access to finances, both short term and longer term 
  • providing a place to stay 
  • leaving quickly, if needed
  • securing counseling 
Keeping certain everyday needs in mind, such as time off from work and taking care of kids, is also a must.    

What stood out to you in hearing about a potential safety plan? Are there things associated with a person’s safety you haven’t considered? If so, what are they?
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Greg noted the importance of married couples seeking counseling separately and dating couples ending their relationships if there is abuse involved. What value did you see in these two pieces of advice?
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Sometimes, in the name of love, Christians and non-Christians alike assume couples should stay together even when there is abuse present in the relationship. In what ways does Greg’s message challenge that thinking?
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Does hearing about a “safe place” open your eyes at all to the dangers of abuse? Why or why not? Are you or someone you know in need of a safe place?
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Greg said that one of the most valuable ways people can help those who are abused is simply by walking alongside them. Your friendship and the support of a guided professional will be instrumental in their safety and healing.   

You can find more on abuse from Greg in the course How to Help the Abused

To learn more about The Association of Biblical Counselors, click here