Monday, Wednesday and Friday @ 9:00 AM in the Fellowship Center. Please join us for low impact exercise, friendship and laughter. Everyone is welcome!
It’s a dirty little secret - one that needs to be brought to the light if we can ever hope to have peace in this world. It causes shame in the hearts and minds of those who are being oppressed – women, men and children alike. It is in our congregations, our communities, and shows no preference to education level, economic situation or marital status. It is estimated that three women and one man will lose their lives to it every day*. It’s not just a “family matter”; let’s call it what it is – domestic violence - and it is a crime! No matter what problems arise in a relationship, any type of violence is unacceptable! If you or someone you know is the victim of violence, let it be said … very clearly … that she/he cannot possibly say or do anything to warrant this treatment from someone they thought they could trust. No matter what the abused has been told, it is not the life that God wishes for them – he sent his own flesh in blood to “proclaim release to the captives … to let the oppressed go free.”
Jesus was also sent to bring “recovery of sight to the blind” – people like you and I who may have turned a blind eye toward abuse/suspected abuse in our families, workplaces or congregations. It is time to stop! “Of all the health and human service challenges we face, perhaps the most devastating, and ironically, the most preventable, is the epidemic of violence sweeping across the nation. Violence is not some mysterious bacterial infection or inexplicable new disease, rather it is a phenomenon for which we are responsible, and we can prevent it. It is time we stopped the denial and claimed our power to halt the bloodshed and save lives.” (former US Secretary of Health & Human Services, Donna Shalala) Let’s take off the blinders, and look at ways our congregations and its leaders can be sources of compassion and comfort for the abused.
If someone shares that she/he is being abused, believe them.
Discuss a safety plan – make it the top priority.
Provide him/her with the number of the local shelter for the abused, and/or the number of the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 1-800-787-3224 (for the hearing impaired) Inaddition, post the numbers where an abused individual can discreetly pick up the information. (Ex. on toilet tank covers, or the back of bathroom/stall doors)
Maintain confidentiality. Do not share her/his whereabouts, particularly with the abuser.
Support and respect their choices – even if that means returning to the unhealthy situation. They are the best judge of how to survive, and it may take several cycles of the abuse until she/he is ready to get out of the relationship. This is a complex issue, particularly when children are involved.
Pray with her/him. Assure them of God’s love and presence, amidst the devastation.
In an acute situation, do not recommend couples counseling, marriage enrichment, or a workshop on communications. This may seem counter-intuitive however; none of these actions will address the immediate problem, and in instances of physical violence, may actually make the situation worse. Put them in touch with local resources that are trained to work with victims.
Speak out – in print, from the pulpit, by sponsoring community education; partner with local resources; make education a part of pre-marital counseling; prepare to be a resource.
Let us open our eyes and act!
Debbie Best, Program Coordinator
Diakon Congregational Health Ministries & Family Life Services