Learn about abuse. What is it? How does an abuser think? How does the victim feel?
Pray for God’s guidance as you learn. Ask Him to show you His heart about abuse.
Teach about abuse so that everyone in your church understands what it is. Do not merely say, “Abuse is wrong.” Define abuse so that everyone knows it is so much more than being physically abused.
Stand against abuse. Make clear statements that abuse is wrong and will not be tolerated in your church family. Confront the abuser and follow through with consequences if he does not truly repent and change. Expect that the abuser will not listen to confrontation and may cause further trouble and distress to Hope.
Love Hope. Treat her with the respect and worth that you want to receive. Invite her to sit with you in church. Ask her and her children over for dinner. Give hugs and smiles.
Listen to Hope. Let her talk. You don’t need to give advice (in fact, it might be better not to). Help her to talk through her emotions. Allow her to grieve.
Believe Hope. It takes great courage for a victim to ask for help. The likelihood that she is “making all this up” is very small.
Do not tell Hope she has caused the abuse or can stop it by “being a better wife or trying harder” or anything else that puts blame on her for her husband’s sin. His sin is his responsibility. Do not tell her she needs to forgive her abuser and reconcile with him.
Don’t believe her abuser. Abusers are manipulators and know just what to say to look innocent or to at least shed doubt on their victims sanity. You may have a hard time believing that he could possibly abuse anyone, which plays right into his ability to abuse.
Protect her and her children. If they are not safe, especially physically, but also emotionally, sexually, and financially, don’t send her back to her abuser for more of the same. Call the police if the situation indicates a need for their authority. Provide a place for them to go to be safe of immediate threat.
Provide for her. Find out her needs and meet them. Does she have enough money to care for herself and her children? Would a meal or gift cards be helpful? Does she need help finding a job? Would she like help watching her children occasionally? Does she need help with jobs around the house that she doesn’t know how to complete?
Be committed to helping Hope and her children long term. Abuse and its effects do not go away overnight or even soon. It may take several years of caring support for them to heal from the trauma of abuse.