The incidences of abuse in relationships and marriages have hit an all-time high in recent times, some cases leading to fatality to our sad reality. It is easy for those from the periphery to advise or even admonish the victims to leave with immediate effect or to even go a step further and blame them for staying and putting up with the abuse for too long.
Blaming and faultfinding are usually the easy way out but there is a higher road, that of the practical things we can do to help the victims as they transition through the separation or divorce. One intervention is the Psychosocial Support, very important and practical to everyone closest to the individual to implement with the willingness of heart.
Psychosocial support refers to every intervention that we can offer to the individual to improve their mental wellness while putting into mind that they are social beings within a family and surrounding social-cultural environment. This every person can do without any expertise; all that is required is sensitivity or what I would refer to as empathy and willingness to see the person back on their feet.
The societal and religious norms in general have demonized separation and divorce under whatever circumstances one finds themselves. However, the reality is they are happening at every waking moment. As it is, the individual is already experiencing separation, self-loath, shame, doubt, and guilt within their own psyche, notwithstanding the backlash in the society. Many people I talk with confess feeling like “failures “once the marriage has broken both men and women alike.
This entire internal dilemma happens within the soul of the individual and it is made worse by the ostracism and stigma the society perpetrates on the individual, soo subtle yet blatantly obvious even to the blind. These forms of stigma include exclusion from family gatherings and functions and religious activities or even coarse talk about the situation. Complaining and faultfinding look like the easy way out of this dilemma that surrounds us from every corner but obviously not fruitful in our management of this issue.
In that respect, I have carefully identified some very practical and sensible ways we can help these individuals who comprise our sisters, brothers, uncles, aunties, friends, colleagues, employees, friends, and the like. One would be, checking up on them frequently while being genuine in their endeavor to do so.
Assure them that you care through your words and actions. Speak life into their soul, words of affirmation as they are already damaged in their esteem and worth by the abuser. Recovery is a journey and a process that takes time and a good support system, be the “to-go-to person “for them.
The second thing we can do is take them to social places like for coffee, lunch, or nature walks. I love nature walks because I believe nature helps us to align ourselves or center our thought on God and His divinity as our creator and father. Going to social places takes their mind away from their normal and helps them integrate into the society especially if the abuser had segregated them.
Thirdly, invite them to social gatherings and places of worship, and follow up to make sure they attend because in most cases they will talk themselves out of it thinking everyone will be pointing fingers and gossiping about their “failed” marriage. Remember that the first thing most abusers do is separate the victim from their friends and family but the journey towards recovery requires integration back into the social space.
Programs and events that offer support whether psychological, economic, or social should be reinforced in the society and more so the religious institutions. Group or individual therapy, support groups, empowerment seminars, and resources all play a big role in the recovery process.
Last but certainly not least, because we are spiritual beings and life is spiritual, we need to offer them spiritual support with our prayers and intercession, word exhortation, and any spiritual literature or material that can inspire them in their walk and dedication to a life of complete trust and faith in God even during the tough season.
I have noted with concern that most of the victims leave the church and want nothing to do with God or worship and isolate themselves and sink to oblivion. These strategies may look simple and easy but can be very effective if practiced with consistency and love. Instead of complaining and blaming, we can accept that abuse is happening and at some point separation and divorce are inevitable but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence but the beginning of another phase of a healed and restored life.
Esther Waceke is a Pastor/Trainer/Counselor, at Fully Living Network. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.