It was my privilege to grow up in a happy home. My parents loved each other, and they loved their children. In such a home, laughter came easy, and often. Practical jokes were a constant; we loved each other. To be home, after any trouble or trial in school was sheer joy. We were home, we were safe. Righteousness reigned.
I have discovered that this is not always the case, for not every home is like unto the one I grew up in. In some homes, intimidation is a fact of life. In some homes, children lie in bed trembling with fear when the man who rules the house stumbles through the door, in a surly mood and feeling his cups. In such instances, he can be described as just plain mean, when his defenseless wife becomes a victim. There are few things so frightening to children as when a man beats their mother.
I have seen such domestic violence many times. As a lawman, on weekends, the hours after the bars closed were the busiest. What is it in a man that impels him to terrorize his wife and children?
In any household where screaming, hollering, profanity, and abuse of any sort are the norm, there is a high probability, and indeed almost a certainty, that at least some of what children live with in their growing up years, will be repeated in the homes they attempt to establish later in life.
As I have listened to the stories of one now grown old describe a heartbreaking childhood, I have felt compassion, and wondered, can the cycle be broken? It can.
I suppose it begins with understanding that the place where children are raised ought to be a place of safety; a place where they feel protected and loved in the presence of their father; a place where children feel free to run to their mother’s arms when troubled. If your home, be it ever so humble, is not such a place, and you are the problem, I beg of you to make the needed changes!
A house can be a home, even in those instances when there is no father present, for then the mother assumes the role of protector, and the one into whose arms her children find safety. But she is now to remember that a mother grizzly bear is especially vigilant should a roving male bear appear, lest he kill her offspring. No roving male bear, who is not the father of her children, is to be trusted alone with her cubs, not ever!
To break an evil cycle stretching back several generations, one must first determine to make the change. One must determine NOT to raise one’s voice, and NEVER to curse and yell as a method of controlling others. If you are doing this now, stop it! Pray, plead for help! A continual barrage, of harsh, caustic, and profanity laden words toward one’s spouse is emotional abuse. Such language directed toward a little one, at a time when a child’s ego is so fragile and in need of constant positive reinforcement, is sinful and destructive. I may be pardoned for quoting this line from the Apocrypha which reads, “The stroke of the whip maketh marks in the flesh: but the stroke of the tongue breaketh the bones.” (1)
One must never, not ever, strike a little one! Discipline is to be administered only by those who are themselves disciplined and in control of themselves. Look, look, oh please look into the faces of your little ones!
You can break the cycle. You can! There is help. Pray fervently for help. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (2) He knows you want to make the change. Change is possible.
In your own marriage, when there arises the temptation to repeat the actions of your abusive parent or parents, reject it! And, when upset with your spouse, do not fall into the trap of scouring up old grievances and happenings from the past! Stop it! Don’t do it! Tell yourself now that you will not emulate the actions of abusive parents! Model your marriage after that of a marriage you admire.
Never, do not ever, get physical with your spouse! No man who is a real man would ever strike a woman. It is a cruel and vicious act. A man who would strike his wife will also strike his daughters. You must determine ahead of time, that you will never raise a hand to her, no matter how provoked you may feel.
And yes, wives can also be abusive. What begins with a slap from an abusive woman will progress to worse, often much worse. Resolve to put behind you the evil temptation to resort to physical violence.
You must understand that manipulation is abuse, that the abuser is a manipulator, and very expert in playing on his victim’s feelings and emotions. Recognize manipulation for what it is. It is the highest form of selfishness. It is the forcing of one’s will upon another by compulsion of some sort, generally by shaming the victim or putting him or her on a guilt trip. Manipulation is extremely hypocritical, for the manipulator often professes to be on a higher plane of existence than his victim. “Wo unto you … ,” Jesus said, “for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones.” (3) Resolve not to resort to manipulation. If you have already slipped into the habit, repent quickly!
The victim of abuse tends to blame him or herself. Please endeavor to understand that the evil actions of another upon you are not your fault. Not in time nor in eternity would a tender and loving God place the blame upon you. You can, you must, resolve not to continue the cycle. Plead for the strength to forgive, to enable you to put behind you bitterness and anger, that you might stand on higher ground. Despite all that has occurred, determine not to live in the past. Let your attitude be one of optimism for the future. You can make your future bright by looking up, by looking to the Light from whence will come your deliverance. He loves you, and He can deliver you.
“I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy. … I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.” (4) Look up, that you might be delivered. Exercise your faith, and look to the Light, who is Jesus Christ; then is His grace sufficient unto them who will humble themselves before Him.
4.3 Ne. 17:7–8