Posts Tagged ‘domestic violence’

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Silence regarding domestic violence only makes the problem worse.  Christianity should not be silent, nor should it struggle on how to address domestic violence. We cannot afford to be silent when sisters and brothers live under the threat of violence in their own homes and communities.

Christianity can serve as a valuable resource in a variety of ways to those suffering domestic violence.  The key is demonstrating the love of Christ. Here are some ways that Christians, churches, and ministry organizations can make a difference.

Understand the problem.  Violence, inside or outside the home, is never justified. Violence in any form—physical, sexual, psychological or verbal—is sinful; often it is also a crime.  Knowledge on the issue is important.  If we know what right relationships look like and how the love of Christ should operate in families, we can practice and teach these examples to our children.

Make safety your priority.  Allowing a person to find safety can be a matter of life or death.  Spiritual leaders should work with a team of community service providers to help the victim-survivor establish a safety plan, should the abuse continue or escalate.  If the home is no longer a safe place, then encourage the victim to leave or stay somewhere else. Groups and organizations may want to create safety kits for temporary assistance.  Safety kits should include: cash, gift cards, a change of clothing, toiletries, emergency phone numbers and places of shelter.  Once physical safety is established, then it is time for spiritual care. Offer to pray with the victim, share a relevant Bible verse, give support, and provide wise counsel during this traumatic time.

Wait on marriage counseling.  The timing must be right for this to succeed.  Too often church leaders rush the situation in order to “save the marriage” or “keep the family together” when these goals should be contingent on the offender’s willingness to undergo treatment.  These are certainly worthy goals, but only after the abusive behavior has stopped, should the focus shift to repairing the relationship.  Domestic violence is not a relationship issue that needs to be resolved.  It is mostly about a person’s conscious decision to violently control the will of another to maintain power and dominance.  There are times when couples’ or marriage counseling is inappropriate and risky.  If people push the envelope on immediate counseling it could lead to further abuse or even the death of the victimized.

Minister to the offender.  This may not be popular or pretty, but it is the right thing to do.  Pick the right person to mentor and coach the offender.  Bathe this mentor in prayer.  Redemption work is tough and dirty, so make sure that he or she receives the prayer support necessary for the task ahead.  When Christians focus on the offender, we are performing restoration work.  We are working on the root cause of the problem, not symptoms.  The abuse should be dealt with directly, however the root hurt or trauma should be sought after as well.  Encourage the one inflicting violence to also seek professional counseling during this process.

Teach mutual submission to couples.  The biblical topic of submission is not grounds for abuse or violence in the home. Christians must understand that submission is not a license to control and dominate another human being. Christians should also work to breakdown a deception that the Bible supports abusive behavior.  In Ephesians 5, Paul tells husbands and wives to yield to one another in mutual submission out of reverence and love for Christ – abusive behavior violates this Scripture and is not a God-given right.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to love one another.  May God grant us the patience, strength, and ability to combat domestic violence where ever it may exist.




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April is sexual assault awareness month.  The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.

I understand this is not an easy topic to address, but sexual assaults can no longer be considered a taboo subject.  Silence is not an option.  It will only make the issue worse in communities, desensitize people to bad actions, discourage reporting, and slow response times.  Everyone has a responsibility in stopping assaults.  We must make every effort to increase awareness and prevention no matter where we live.

Human resource bulletin boards can no longer be the only place where respect is addressed as a value.  Congregations must strive to establish a climate of respect and teach others how to practice the love of Christ.  Churches are ideally places where victims of sexual assault receive the care and support that they need.

It is critical that churches, staff members, leaders, and parents take a stand for what is right during the month of April.  Together we can highlight sexual violence as a public health, human rights, and social justice issue and reinforce the need for prevention efforts.

Here are five suggestions on how we can incorporate SAAM activities in the community.

1.  Create a resource list.  What shelters, crisis centers, and medical clinics exist in your community?  What organizations are available to help assault victims?  Make sure that people know who to contact should an incident occur.  Church leaders may need this person or organization on speed dial.  Be sure to have a resource listed on your cell phone should someone need immediate help.

2.  Talk to your youth groups.  Tell these new and growing Christians why all people deserve respect and courtesy.  Jesus should not be to only voice to share the Golden Rule.  Kids need to hear solid reminders based on our faith.  The world is always ready to give an alternate view on dating, relationships, and much, much, more.  As church leaders, it is our duty to educate the next generation.  Teach your youth that everyone deserves an environment of mutual respect, dignity, and fair treatment.

3.  Demonstrate what “right” looks like.  You may need to stop an inappropriate joke from being told or challenge wrong comments.  Don’t wink at wrongs when they happen around you.  Silence is not consent, but Christians are called to shine the light of Jesus.  Help to draw a bright line between right and wrong no matter where you are.

4.  Organize a collection drive.  Collect necessary items for the local YMCA, YWCA, domestic violence shelter, crisis center, medical clinic, or hospital.  They frequently need clothing, toiletries, and supplies when assault victims seek emergency shelter or medical care.  Make an effort to highlight the needs in your congregation.  It also reminds families that crisis centers, clinics, and shelters exist in the community.  Families can also take comfort in knowing that resources will be available should they need future assistance.

5.  Host an open house.  An open house provides an opportunity for your congregation to provide valuable information with members and the people in your neighborhood.  Make brochures and educational information available.  Be sure to provide information about volunteer opportunities.  Invite the people and organizations on your new resource list to set up a booth or share how they provide a community service.  Publicize the open house in newspapers, on radio stations, and online.

Broken families and relationships are too common in our age.  Congregations can be the loving, caring, and healing communities that assault victims need during a time of crisis.  Churches can also step up and address the issue to prevent future incidents.  We can make a difference locally and help to create a community-wide response.  Take the time to highlight SAAM and shine the light of Christ where you are.

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