Restraining Violence

 
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Q: My husband and I have separated. I had been living in a violent situation for three years and couldn’t take the stress anymore. He has threatened to “teach me a lesson,” and even though he does not know where I am living, I’m frightened that he will find me and harm me. I love God and don’t want to do anything to dishonour His name. I know the Bible says we shouldn’t take fellow believers to court. Would it be wrong of me to take out a restraining order against my husband prohibiting him from coming near me?

A: The short answer is no, it wouldn’t be wrong, and it could even be regarded as irresponsible not to do so. I appreciate your willingness to do the right thing, but the situation in which you find yourself is a serious one. Without wishing to aggravate your fear, it is noteworthy that almost half of all female homicide victims meet their end at the hand of their partner, and approximately four women a day are killed by someone who once professed to love them. So you do need to take your husband’s threats seriously.

It is clear that your faith is important to you and that you desire to follow the teachings of the Bible. This is commendable and will prove to be powerful factor in sustaining you through the troubled times you are experiencing, but do not lose sight of the fact that even though your husband may be a church-goer it does not automatically make him a believer. His actions toward you in the past indicate that he has serious problems with anger management, and that he isn’t living as a committed Christian. It is not our words but our actions that show our true colours.

By taking out a restraining order against your husband, you will be indicating that you are no longer willing to live in a violent situation. One can only hope that this may cause him to reconsider his actions and admit his need of help. Domestic violence, in any form (sexual, physical, verbal or emotional abuse), is a criminal act.

I would urge you to seek legal advice with regard to this matter. I also suggest you find a support group whose members understand the issues involved in domestic violence, who can help you through this difficult time.