Our guest today, Holly Ashley, is a domestic violence victim advocate. Holly has worked in the domestic violence sphere for over 30 years, first starting as a victim of abuse. Today, she is an author, speaker, and Executive Director of Redemption, Restoration and Recovery.
She educates victims through Christ-centered domestic violence education, counseling, classes and training. She advocates the need to follow the biblical principles of a loving marriage, and the need to trust God.
Signs of domestic abuse
Research has shown that children brought up in an abusive home are 1500 times as likely to become victims of abuse or abusers when they grow up. It took decades for Holly to realize she was a victim of abuse.
Through a rocky childhood, Holly fell into abusive relationships: “If you come from chaos, you seek chaos, that’s all you know”. It can be hard to distinguish distorted thoughts from the past.
Abuse comes in many forms – physical and emotional. The victim’s thoughts are manipulated, and those close to the victim; so it’s easy to feel trapped.
“Domestic violence is not so much the lack of respect towards one another that causes the violence, but it is the ultimate breakdown of God’s design for marriage”
Culture of ‘Man Up’ and ‘Minimize’
A big problem with domestic abuse is that it’s often brushed over by others. Both society and the Church need to change their attitude. Holly’s husband was a domestic abuse victim, and he was at first conditioned to ‘man up’.
For Holly, she was made to keep her abuse a secret. It’s a coping mechanism for others to keep the problem at bay – when on the contrary it catalyzes the problem even more. It’s Holly’s mission to raise awareness, and train churches how to best support victims.
“Stop praying for the right person – focus on God and you bringing glory to God”
Too often we are fixated on finding the perfect partner, which distracts us from putting God first. Holly’s a-ha moment was when she decided to stop seeking relationships as a way to deal with her past, and to focus on relationship with God and let his plan unravel.
The Bible teaches us to treat others as you wanted to be treated; a healthy relationship is the ultimate respect for another human being.
“Surround yourself with loving people”
It’s tempting to seek the love and approval of the abuser or a dysfunctional family, because it’s hard to fully recognize their negative impact. Holly’s advice is that you can still love people from afar. To fully grow and flourish, surround yourself with positive people.
Conflicting pasts echo in relationships as we seek ways to fill voids. In today’s secular world, it’s easy to neglect the biblical principles of relationships.
Holly shares her first hand experiences of domestic abuse, and how she came out on top with a happy marriage and an even stronger bond with God.
“To fully recover, it has to be in the heart, not just the head. You can know all the words from the Bible, but you need to truly commit to God”