October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and victims need your voice. If you could hear the voices behind the eyes of those in your congregation you will likely hear at least one plea for help. Churches have the power to reach masses and if that changes one heart or saves one abused life, it is worth it.
Isolated domestic violence victims may still attend church and your church could be the one place she would trust enough to share her dark secret- that she or her children are being abused. It needs to be more than pamphlets in the ladies room, although these are a great addition. Speaking to your church body to raise awareness and being prepared to respond to the needs of a victim could be the difference between life and death.
Why is it so important to get involved in this issue?
When a victim, who already feels very afraid and alone, reaches out for help- there is more on the line than her safety. There was a young woman with small children attending a church weekly. The couple had gotten close with the Pastor’s family. The marriage began falling apart; the Pastor took the husband for a walk to talk about what was going on. The husband, being the typical abuser, lied about the situation, convincing the pastor that the fault was completely on the wife. The Pastor and his wife left immediately thereafter, never communicating with the wife or the young children. The wife was then shunned by the church. What he said that day, she’d never know, but she lost her faith in the church. The wife stayed in the marriage several more years and the abuse increased as the children got older.
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. ~Proverbs 11:14
Rev. Al Miles addressed these myths in his book: Domestic Violence, What Every Pastor Needs to Know
Myth #1:There are no abused women in my congregation.
Myth #2: Christian survivors need only faith, prayer, a positive attitude, and God to be freed from domestic violence.
Myth #3: Domestic violence occurs only in certain cultural, racial, and socioeconomic groups, and only in urban areas.
Myth #4: Victims can stop the battering by changing their behavior. This will save their marriages and families.
When someone steps into the leadership role, they take on the responsibility to lead. This includes listening to difficult topics such as abuse. By speaking out, conveying that physical and verbal abuse is never acceptable, you are sending a clear message. This also opens the doors to a topic which is still too often swept under the rug.
Please visit the following for more information:
The Joyful Heart Foundation
The National Domestic Violence Hotline