Domestic bullying can occur between any members of a family system: spouse-spouse, parent-child, child-parent, child-child. Although the participants in a domestic bully relationship may vary the fundamentals are the same: one person in the family is using intimidation, authority, power, threat, secrets, finances, deprivation, religiosity, or other forces to control the behavior(s) of another person in the family.
We hear terrible reports of home invasion robberies or other attacks on families from "outsiders". These stories are terrible and shocking and most families take care to not make themselves vulnerable to such violations. But how does one confront attacks from one's own parent, sibling, step-parent, or other family member? As in the case of other kinds of bullying, there are some important do's and don'ts to keep in mind. But first, let me introduce you to the National Domestic Violence hotline.
Domestic Violence Hotline
Members of a family or household where bullying takes the form of domestic violence should have the following phone number at hand. It is the contact number for the Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.
Established in 1996, the National DV Hotline is the only nationwide contact number providing 24/7 assistance along with resource referral that include shelters and other services.
There is also an online live chat feature available from 7a.m. to 2 a.m. Their website has other resources and information and is located at: www.thehotline.org.
Techniques and Responses
Domestic bullies, like other bullies, tend to rely upon a pretty standard set of techniques to acheive their ends.
* They make up "facts" as needed to keep their victim off balance and in the dark.
* They tease and ridicule with cruel intention in order to devalue, debase, and disempower their victim.
* They use deprivation of various kinds - physical and emotional - to isolate or intimidate their victim.
* They explode or "fly off the handle" - often with little warning or consistency - in order to overpower or shock victims into subjection.
* They use secrets, guilt, shame, and past failures, sins, or struggles as a weapon.
It is never easy to respond to a domestic bully. These relationships are intertwined and "complicated" in ways that other bully relationships are not. Nevertheless, there are some places to begin in our thinking about responsiveness.
1. It is not God's will for anyone to destroy your dignity or harm you emotionally or physically even if they say it is because they "care so much" or are showing "tough love".
2. Your best defense against bullying and intimidation is LIGHT. Bullies depend upon isolation, secrecy, and shadows in order to operate. Exposure can take many forms but the bottom line is this: shine a light on any domestic bullying you are aware of -- especially where you are the victim. I John 1: 5-7 reads:
" This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there's not a trace of darkness in him.
If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we're obviously lying through our teeth-we're not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God's Son, purges all our sin."
3. Don't escalate. Instead, defuse. Bullies are fabulous at turning attempts to counterattack into even more bullying. Buying even fifteen minutes of time when a flare up occurs allows the disipation of much of the adrenaline that may be firing some of the bully's extreme behavior. Back off, get safe, be strong but remain steady.
4. Become educated and make a plan on how you will respond and then work the plan. There are a tremendous number of online resources to help those being bullied, including domestic bullying. Here are a couple of places to start:
5. Build your confidence and personal strength. Your three best weapons against domestic bullying are: your voice, your truth, and your advocates (these are the three things bullies fear most and will attempt to quell or remove). For believers, it is important to understand who you are in Christ and to "know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge"
Here is a simple list of who you are in Christ, according to the Scriptures. We should walk in that dignity and in that truth:
6. Finally, pray in the Spirit. "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective". (James 5: 16). Pray for God to break in with His light. Pray for all dark, demonic agendas to harm you and your home to be broken. Pray for the Holy Spirit to pull down the strongholds of oppression and strengthen the liberty we have in the Lord to live in freedom and grace.