Confronting Spousal Abuse

 Spousal abuse should never be accepted as normal

There are times when distancing yourself from someone who is angry is necessary. There is absolutely no good reason for you to move towards another, when they are being abusive. For the wife of an abuser to remain in danger, in an attempt to transfer love, while receiving abuse, could easily be a form a suicide. Too many women, either out of fear, or for economic reasons, or for the sake of the children, remain in abusive relationships. This is clearly a situation that does not require the abused, out of Christian charity, to remain living with the abuser, for to do so could prove dangerous.

Likewise, if you, out of a desire to help the abuser, simply offer love, but do not call them on their behavior, could be guilty of  lending support to his behavior. I once stopped my car at the curb, when I saw a man beating on a woman. It would have been unthinkable for me to continue driving, knowing this woman was in danger. After calling 911, I stepped between the man and woman, telling the man to back off (not something I’d recommend). Lucky for me I was able, probably because of my monastic attire and my size, to intimidate him to step back until the police arrived. My point in telling this story is that there are times when justice must reign, and we must offer assistance to someone who is being abused.

Remaining in an abusive relationship can be destructive to our spiritual lives, as well as being potentially dangerous. We must be wise as serpents, but meek as lambs, tempering our response to the anger of another. It is also important to remember that although most spousal abuse perpetrated against women, there is far more female on male abuse than most of us are aware of.

Taking revenge and striking back must never be our response, for this denies the fact that the abuser is in danger, as well, for he must be called to repentance. In our attempt to offer love and goodness to the person who is heaping anger upon us, we could inadvertently be prolonging the day of their repentance. The person struggling with anger does not need you to be his enabler, and relationships of co-dependence have the potential of being spiritually destructive for both parties. As long as our response to someone’s anger is itself devoid of anger, we are safe.

Permissiveness is not required when dealing with the abuser. The opposite of anger is not the permitting of evil to continue, and allowing the offender to remain in a perpetual state of sin. We must respond without anger. Permissiveness is not required when dealing with abuse. The opposite of anger is not the permitting of evil to continue. We must cultivate a strong sense of right and wrong, and the desire to oppose evil, not out of passion, but out of righteousness.

It is also important for me to clearly state that if the anger is accompanied by a history of violence, the gravity of the offense most certainly does not require the abused to continue to live in the grip of the abuser. This can clearly be a situation that requires the abused to remove themselves, and their children, from the dangers of living with such a person.

Our Lord drove out the money changers from the Temple, in righteous anger. Likewise, you have the right to defend yourself, your children, and your home, from those who would steal from you, abuse you with insults, or betray your friendship. Such people need not be allowed to remain in your life if their abuse threatens your peace of mind, and the safety of those who are in your charge.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Tuesday May 19, 2020 / May 6, 2020
Fifth Week of Pascha. Tone four.
Righteous Job the Long-suffering.
Venerable Micah, disciple of St. Sergius of Radonezh (1385).
Venerable Job, abbot and wonderworker of Pochaev (1651).
Martyrs Barbarus the Soldier, Bacchus, Callimachus, and Dionysius, in Morea (362).
Martyr Barbarus the former robber in Epirus (9th c.).
Translation of the relics (1675) of Venerable Pachomius of Nerekhta (1384).
St. Edbert, bishop of Lindisfarne (698) (Celtic & British).
Venerable Seraphim of Mt. Domvu (Greek).
Translation of the relics (1238) of Venerable Sava I of Serbia (Greek).
Venerable Sinaites of Serbia: Romil of Ravanica, Romanos of Ravanica, Sisoje of Sinai and Sisojevac, Martirije of Rukumije, Grigorije of Gornjak, Zosim of Tuman and Gregory of Sinai.
Sts. Mamas, Pachomius and Hilarion, monks (Greek).
Martyrs Demetrius, Danax, Mesiurs, Therin, and Donatus (Greek).

The Scripture Readings

Acts 12:25-13:12

Barnabas and Saul Appointed

25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.

Paul and Barnabas Are Sent to the Gentiles

13 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

Preaching in Cyprus

4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.

6 Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name wasBar-Jesus, 7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? 11 And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.”

And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

John 8:51-59

51 Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”

52 Then the Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ 53 Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?”

54 Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God.55 Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”

57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”

58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon is Igumen of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.


  1. It is a complicated question, not an easy one to solve. A person behaving badly against his partner can be hit by revenge so they disappear. I believe the most important thing is that all parties exist, so you can relate to them; and then decide whether you want to see them or not. You can’t if they just disappear. If they do not any longer exist, you cannot make that decision. Moreover, research shows that a child year after year seperated from a parent miss the parent of the same sex more and more. The model for their life. The best possible thing must be the possibility of both parties surviving seperately, but for the best possible development of both persons , finding the least bad of 2 bad solutions. May all we love become orthodox !

  2. Father,
    Good post as this topic needs to be discussed more by the Church.
    Two things: there is far more female on male abuse than most of us are aware of, so I suggest you refer to “both ways”. Also, I humbly suggest that the title referring to Anger and Permissiveness is too broad. As a marital and family therapist, my experience with cases of physical abuse are more than simply “anger”. Yes, rage but also fear. Again, thanks for your excellent post.

  3. Father,
    I want to give Glory and Honor to God, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit for answers to your prayers and mine for my son, Thaddeus. He tested negative for the coronavirus and has returned home to his family and back to work on the police force. Thank you for your prayers!
    God Bless and Prosper you and the Brothers at the Monastery.
    Pastor Jeff Tomlinson

    1. Father,
      In terms of past abuse what can one do? I was emotionally abused and taken advantage of in my family of origin and I have returned to live with them after school. During this coronavirus pandemic, there is not much movement possible, and I anticipate a change in jobs then that will most likely leave me unable to afford a place to myself. It is not that my family has continued the abuse but the memories haunt me every day and I am trying to work with it in counseling but I am perpetually unhappy and feel no rest. I want to give them a chance for their good actions in the present, but I also am continually confronted with actions that had happened for many years in my childhood. I feel hopelessly resigned to just be miserable.

      1. Contact me directly.

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  4. There are so many types of abuse and it is very difficult to know exactly what is going on and being said in relationships. There are also many reasons for the abusive behavior – from the onset of mental illness, stress, being provoked etc. I went to school with 2 friends who had abusive mothers toward their fathers. It was unbelievable especially when we generally think it is the man who is out of control and the stronger one.

    Perhaps as soon as we see these patterns of behavior and treatment in one another (including friendships) we need to address them or go for counselling asap and then they will not fester into a nightmare – or drinking problem either. Having friends and family who are God centered and attending worship is so helpful in maintaining a balance and focus for our day to day living and future of our children. I say these things looking back…..

  5. nowhere to run. i am from brazil. i feel abused from the brazilian governement every day. brazil history is a history of abuse and slavary 24h a day. 5 century of history being abused.

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