In the last post , I suggested that narcissistic obsession with power is the root of abusive behaviour.

It does not take many instances in which a new husband exerts his authority at the expense of his wife—and she allows this (believing God wants her to submit to everything her husband says)—and a pattern is established. The abuser’s sin nature becomes intoxicated with power and the behaviour pattern becomes entrenched. In spite of the destruction to the ones he says he loves the most—the only ones who feel obligated to put up with his behaviour—he will do whatever it takes to satisfy his craving for power. He is addicted.

His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself and he shall be held with the cords of his sin.

–Proverbs 5:22

What exactly is an addiction?

With abusive behaviour in mind, read these definitions of addiction:

The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.1

Addiction is a pathological pursuit of reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviours.

Addiction is characterised by:

1) Inability to consistently abstain
2) Impairment in behavioural control
3) Craving or increased “hunger” for rewarding experiences
4) Diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviours and interpersonal relationships
5) A dysfunctional emotional response

Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive… altered impulse control, altered judgement, and the dysfunctional pursuit of rewards (which is often experienced by the affected person as a desire to “be normal”)… resulting in significant self-deception… distortion in meaning, purpose, and values that guide attitudes, thinking, and behaviour… persist despite the accumulation of adverse consequences… often manifest a lower readiness to change their dysfunctional behaviours despite mounting concerns expressed by significant others in their lives and display an apparent lack of appreciation of the magnitude of cumulative problems and complications… the inaccurate belief that problems experienced in one’s life are attributable to other causes rather than being a predictable consequence of addiction.2


Tolerance is a further aspect of addictions. What used to be a high now appears normal, so something stronger is needed to provide the high.

Take pornography, for example. A simple chance glance at a photo develops into a second longer look. Next, more photos are sought and fantasising becomes a habit. The nature of addiction is to want more because what he has isn’t exciting any longer. Progressively, this leads to exploration of the quirky, bizarre, cruel, and perverted.

This same phenomenon is observed with drugs. The pot originally introduced doesn’t provide the same thrill that it did the first time, so progressively the addict looks for something stronger to give a new thrill.

The craving for that good feeling must be satisfied at all costs. Relationships are destroyed, laws ignored, and common sense disregarded in order to satisfy the addiction.

She’s not safe

This is why staying in an abusive home is dangerous. The destructive behaviour will progressively get worse with time.

Planning the next situation that will serve to give him another high becomes engrained in the abuser’s thinking pattern. No amount of reasoning or logic will change him. He will continue in the cycle until the consequences of his actions become so severe that he humbles himself and seeks help.

The abuser’s apologies and loving gestures in between the episodes of abuse help make it difficult for his wife to put consequences in place or to separate. He may tell her that she is the only person who can help him, that things will be different next time, and that he truly loves her, but it’s all to facilitate his addiction.3

Consequences for his behaviour

When a wife sets boundaries, enacts consequences, or separates, he can’t understand it. She is his property. This is so out of his paradigm that he labels it abandonment and thinks he is the victim. She has no right to control the relationship like that. She’s not the head! How can a Christian wife leave her husband? Marriage is for sex and companionship. It’s unthinkable to live apart. It’s no marriage at all!

A loving wife will enact consequences with the goal of waking up her husband to his sinful, toxic behaviour resulting in sincere repentance and getting outside help so the relationship can possibly be restored. True love sacrifices for the good of the other and consequences are the only language he understands. If the abuse has gone on for long, she will likely be doing this from a distance.

Whether she is able to see her goal realised or not is based on his choices.

In the next post, we’ll look at how the abuser’s background may affect his behaviour.

You can access domestic violence resources here.

3 See also Why Does He Do That? By Lundy Bancroft

this is part 2 of 3 in the series
Why Abusers Abuse

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About Joy Harris

Joy studied elementary education before going on to teach at the primary school level as well as homeschooling for twenty-six years. Joy has touched the lives of thousands through her ministry in state Religious Education, Sunday Schools, and Holiday Bible Clubs as well as through her speaking at various seminars and retreats. Joy is also a gifted musician and has collaborated on multiple recording projects as well as maintaining a private teaching studio for over thirty years. Joy is retired and lives in Cairns, Australia. Joy has seven children, twenty-one grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. You can contact Joy at

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