Monday, July 30, 2007

Iranian-Americans tackle domestic-violence secret

3 comments Posted by Hannah at 8:49 AM

Someone emailed me, and asked me to post the below story. Its a story of hope, and breaking the silence of domestic abuse. What a blessing this family and organization is giving to the world!

Direct Link to Story

(COMMUNITY VOICE: Dr. Mohsen Alinaghian and his wife Shahin Nojan-Alinaghian help abused Persian woman. The woman at left says she's fearful and does not want to be identified. MINDY SCHAUER, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER )

Men form a group to stop abuse of women.

She was a 24-year-old Iranian woman with thick black eyelashes, milky skin and a terrible story.

Imported to Los Angeles from Iran to marry a man she barely knew, she was isolated, ignored and abused.

She was now a runaway from the man who she said slapped her, stripped her of her money, cell phone and other possessions, and locked her in their house.

She was pregnant.

Mohsen Alinaghian and his wife, Shahin, found the young woman, whose name and location are being withheld because she fears retribution, in a battered-women's shelter. They brought her home and sheltered her for nearly two months. Shahin cut the woman's umbilical cord. They found her an apartment, baby-sat and became "grandparents" to her newborn son.

Mohsen, 64, joined a new group of Iranian-American businessmen and male community leaders dedicated to speaking out about a subject little discussed among the Iranian-American population.

The group is called the Keyholders. The issue is domestic violence. Mohsen thought he had a success story to tell.

Then in June, the young woman picked up the telephone, and the safe world she had been building collapsed.

Her mother was on the phone. The man she left had called her family in Iran to pass on a message: I know where you live. I can make your life miserable. I can even kill you.

"I was really upset," Mohsen says. "We became really afraid for her and the baby. We gave her all these instructions – 'Don't open the door; don't talk to strangers; when you go shopping, make sure you have the baby with you at all times.' "

It was a harsh education in the issue The Keyholders had formed to address.

The fledgling group of more than 70 members is organized by Stopgap, the Costa Mesa-based arts organization that uses theater, among other things, to raise awareness about issues such as domestic violence.

Alinaghian, an Irvine optometrist who volunteers widely for charitable groups and ran for City Council in 2004, was a perfect candidate, according to Stopgap's director Don Laffoon. "He is so committed and so involved with the community."

The group consists only of men because, "Ninety-four percent of domestic violence is done from men to women," Mohsen says. "(Men) are the ones who have to learn to face the fact, to control, and don't be abusive."

Membership in the Keyholders requires a $1,000 donation and a willingness to talk about domestic violence with family, friends and colleagues.

The second criteria may be the harder sell, Stopgap's Nadia Babayi says. Although Babayi emphasizes that domestic violence occurs in all communities, she says Iranian-Americans "don't talk about it."

"The Persian community here is really different because (they) are very educated, very sophisticated," Babayi says. "They are so used to wanting to be recognized as a success that many of them fear that by lending their name to (the Keyholders) they are acknowledging that yes, there is domestic violence in the Persian community. That scares some men away."

Mohsen says he has met resistance when he tries to talk about the issue with other Iranian-Americans.

"In Persian culture you really don't want to hear bad news," Alinaghian says. "The attitude is, 'When you don't know it, it doesn't exist.' "

• • •

The Alinaghians found the young woman in a women's shelter in June 2006. She had come to the United States in May 2005 to marry a man she said she had met only a few times before. At those meetings arranged by a family member he was charming, she says.

In the United States things changed.

Although he said he would marry her upon her arrival, she never saw a marriage license. Months later, she learned she had never been married at all.

In the meantime, the man took her cell phone and locked her inside the house. When she didn't get pregnant immediately, she suggested he see a doctor.

"He became very angry," she says. "He said, 'Do you mean I'm an old man?' And he started hitting me."

Four months later she fled to a mosque with the clothes on her back and a limited command of English.

"I was thinking: 'What should I do? I don't know anyone. I don't have any money.' I didn't even have 25 cents to make a call," she says.

She ended up in a battered-women's shelter "absolutely depressed," Shahin says. The Alinaghians invited her home.

"That baby has become my lifeline now," Mohsen says. "He's so innocent. … I don't want him to get involved with anything bad."

The experience made Mohsen "more determined that (domestic violence) is a matter that we have to pay attention to it," he says

Mohsen says he has never seen or experienced domestic violence in his family.

His father "turned us on to charity," encouraging Mohsen to serve and give to his community.

That lesson, paired with the discipline instilled at a West Virginia military school he attended from 1961 to 1965, turned the eye doctor into a compulsive organizer. He founded and used to lead the Network of Iranian Professionals of Orange County and has served on the board of various Orange County Lions Clubs and Boys & Girls Clubs. He is also active in The Jewel of Persia, an Iranian-American cultural center planned for development in Irvine.

"I've always been outspoken to the point when it drives people crazy," Mohsen jokes.

His activism on behalf of an abused woman, however, he kept secret for a full year.

"We wanted to keep it kind of quiet for a while," Mohsen says. "Until we knew she was safe," he says.

Keeping her safe involved taking out a five-year restraining order against the man she left and finding her an Orange County apartment after her child was born in August.

Now that the man she left has said he knows where she is, the Alinaghians say they will move her again on Aug. 1.

Mohsen does not use the young woman's name because he says he fears retaliation. But in June, over plates of kabob at Irvine's The Caspian restaurant, he stood before a gathering of current and prospective Keyholders members and described the experience of the past year for the first time.

"With her it came out in the open space, and we could finally talk about it," Mohsen says. "Now we hope people will say: 'Wait a moment. … (This) is something we need to talk about.' "

Contact the writer: 714-932-6358 or

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Abusive Marriage - Indepth view of the sickness

15 comments Posted by Hannah at 11:15 PM

What an awesome article! LINK

Here are some snippets! I would encourage you to read the entire thing!

I feel an urgency, almost a fury, to send out this call across the nation. This is not written as an appeal to your emotions, to evoke sympathy nor even compassion. The purpose of this writing is to state facts, to uncover the secrets of abusive relationships and to reveal the nature of abuse-induced instability, causing the mind of an abused woman to be incapable of thinking realistically and making rational decisions.

It's as if society expects abused women to think and act as mentally healthy, stable human beings, while scoffing at what could possibly be wrong with such a person who would stay in an abusive relationship. She's already fully aware that no one understands her and that she is judged and ostracized. Yet, she is expected to courageously and confidently embark upon a whole new life for herself in a society which looks down their noses at her, whispers and laughs behind her back, and avoids contact with her as if she has the plague.

WOW that was very powerful to me!!

Unless you have lived with a person who suffers from a mental and emotional disorder -- be it alcoholism, drug addiction, schizophrenia, manic depression, personality disorder caused by childhood abuse, the list goes on -- you have absolutely no idea the impact. Insanity is contagious. Unfortunately, sanity is not. We start out being sensible, rational human beings, attempting to deal with the sick person as if he were mentally sound. We try to reason with the unreasonable. We do not have the education and training it requires to effectively communicate with a mentally ill person and therefore treat him as we would anyone else, expecting him to respond as anyone else would. Of course he doesn't, but we are at a loss. We don't know any other approach. Periodically, he behaves as a sane, rational individual, exhibiting sound judgement, and we forget it is fleeting, or we believe he has finally stepped out of the fog. Certainly we hope he has, for this is what we are giving our lives for -- dying for. We who have lived with such a man know there is something more to him. Had we not seen goodness and love in them, we never would have married these men. To this day I am still uncertain if the goodness and love I believed I saw in my abusive husband were real qualities, true to his nature or merely manipulative tactics to control and dominate me. We hear over and over again that he will never change and there's probably only about 2% that actually do. Yet, we feel it so unfair to make such a judgement of another human being. We feel it would be playing God to decide such a verdict, believing there is always hope. What we cannot see is that staying with him is where we are playing God, attempting to be his savior, healer and redeemer. If he is to change, God is certainly the only one who can do it -- through his willingness to change -- and we must first get out of the way. Until he has run out of people, places and things to use, abuse and blame, he will probably not become willing to change.

None of us know what we would actually do in any given emergency situation. We know what we hope we'd do, what we believe we'd do, but are deciding those things in a calm, rational state of mind. We don't know how our minds and emotions will react in the face of an actual crisis. Living with an abusive person is like creeping silently through a darkened jungle. We are aware of the possible dangers awaiting us but comfort ourselves with a belief that we are careful and prepared. If we follow specific guidelines and take certain precautions, we believe we'll be safe. Even with the ever-present sense of peril, we still feel in control. I could also equate domestic violence with a sudden tornado ripping through your house, being trapped on the 20th floor of a burning building, or being awakened in the night by the sounds of an intruder breaking into your house. If you've never faced the adrenalin-induced panic of such an instance, how can you say what you would do? If your home is burglarized, will you automatically move to another house? A different city or state? Or will you assume preventative measures and believe it probably won't happen again?

What an awesome way of putting it! I mean its true! We never know HOW we are going to react to an emergency, etc do we?

Abusive people honestly believe they are victims and always take every destructive outburst and turn it around so that they are the helpless and hurting party. Suddenly, the perpetrator is the victim and the recipient is the savior. Quite insidiously, without our awareness, the abnormal becomes normal, as we make excuses for his behavior and minimize the impact. Simple acts of considerateness are seen as shining stars of promise, illuminating the darkness of depression and cynicism. For a few days or weeks, he is full of kindness, bringing us flowers or presents, complimenting us, taking us out to dinner. Then suddenly, sometimes without warning, it all blows up in our faces as we're accused of expecting too much, of being selfish and thoughtless. We certainly don't want to be those things, so we apologize and tell him we're happy without all those "extras" -- the extras being mere kindness and common courtesy. All we want is what we see others enjoying and taking for granted -- a peaceful, loving family. Is that too much to ask? And we are willing to pay any price to attain the treasure. Dreams die very hard. We truly believe we are in love with these men when actually we are only in love with the illusion we so cherish and desperately cling to.

We read books, listen to tapes, even attend marriage seminars and earnestly apply what we learn to our own situations. We are told the promises and guarantees of applying these principles and hear testimonies from successful others. With our spirits revived and strength renewed, we gain fresh confidence and determination, believing we have now found the solution. We are recharged with that false sense of power, thinking we know what to do to make it all better. Everything we learn is true and highly effective in the average marriage. There's only one thing missing -- a sane, rational partner. It doesn't matter how fluently or eloquently you can speak English if you're trying to communicate with someone who doesn't know the language. We continue to treat them like normal adult human beings, expecting them to respond as such. When it doesn't happen, we try harder, applying still more patience, effort and understanding. It's like expecting a man with no legs to get up and walk. But we keep expecting, praying, hoping.

WOW - how many have walked down this road huh? Do we expect the person with no legs to get up and walk? At times I think the church in some ways does tell you that! Its hard to show them that we aren't dealing with a sane person on most people's level....heck its hard for US to understand it and we live IT!

The reason we cannot stand up for ourselves is because we daily live with his defensiveness and paranoia, falsely- accusing us and refusing to acknowledge our goodness and sincerity. We are determined to prove our worth, to make him see and admit that we are right and he is wrong, that we are good and he has been bad, that we have been saints and he has been a devil, and that he owes us the return of all the love and loyalty we have invested in him. If we do or say anything to make him mad, that will only give him a reason to defend himself and say that's proof that we are not loving, good- hearted women. We mustn't give him any real grounds to base his accusations on. We must always prove ourselves worthy, nobel, honorable. As a result, we are driven to give, do, be, and sacrifice anything in order to prove our worth. We lose our self-worth in trying to prove our worth to him. But it's never enough and we are human -- we make mistakes, we sometimes blow up from all the tension, and these things are unforgivable to him. He waits and watches for us to slip up and make one little mistake or to show one negative quality so he can swoop down and devour us with accusations, insults, mockery, and blame. Unknowingly, we sell our souls in becoming more or less than human, disallowed human needs and emotions. Only he has the right to his feelings and needs while we do not have the freedom to feel any differently than what he wants us to feel or to feel nothing at all.

or to feel nothing at all I bolded myself. Its very true I do feel abusers wish we didn't feel. That we were some pet dog and was wagging our tails and always waiting to give them our individed attention. We must be that dog that doesn't bite or nip back tho. It may be a bad example, but if you think how most dogs are in homes. THEY LOVE to lavish you with attention, and they love the attention they receive in return no matter what it is most of the time. I mean you could really be annoyed and turn to the dog and say, "YOu know what? LOL you can really be a royal pain the butt!"....and what will the dog do? Wag their tail! When we get excited - they get excited. When we cry they want to cuddle. They are in our world, but detached enough.

I think one problem is that the outside world cannot possibly comprehend that any human being could be so cold, calculated and mechanical as the abusive person is. No one, they think, could be completely void of conscience that he could be so abusive without provocation. It must be the woman's fault, at least partially. Thus, we stay for the very same reason.

I think this statement can be approached towards both genders. I also think when the author states how the 'outside world' cannot possible comprehend is the BIGGEST problem........I mean most that live it have the same issue no?

These men value only possessions, property and material things. They are interested only in their own needs and desires and we, the wives and children, are possessions, prisoners, expected to be there for his convenience and to be put in the closet when we are inconvenient. We are to satisfy him and to take the blame when he is dissatisfied. These men are so disconnected from humanity that they are barely human, themselves. Other people are merely extensions of themselves, not different, unique individuals. To them, everything in life revolves around them. Everything anyone does, says, feels, or thinks is centered around them -- in their minds. They cannot comprehend that people do what they do because of who they are inside. They believe everyone does what they do because of them. They are like a two year old child who has not yet developed the capacity to realize that other people have needs and feelings, too, independent of themselves. They are self-consummed, self-obsessed, and completely self- seeking, with all people and things being merely the means of self-satisfaction. They cherish possessions because material things have no needs, make no requests and haven't a will. Possessions can be bragged about, to make him feel more like a man and they can be blamed, likewise for his inadequacies. We are to be like a pet, requiring only food, without a will of our own, loyal, obedient and affection, regardless of how the master treats us. If we get out of line, we are beaten into submission, whether physically or psychologically.

If he gives us a place to live and food to eat, we are not supposed to want or need anything else. Even those provisions are inconvenient infringements upon "his" money. Everything is "his". His money, his time, his house, his vehicle, his feelings... He will rarely refer to anything in the marriage as "ours". If the wife has a car, it will be "her" car, meaning she is completely responsible for the maintenance and condition. He will not contribute time nor money to her car. The children are "hers" too, unless he needs to use them as trophies to brag about, and then they aren't our children but "his". Practically speaking, they are her children and she is completely responsible for their care and for their behavior. There is very little he will label as "hers", but the minute she gets out of line, he will take what is hers -- the car or the children -- away from her, to punish her, threaten her and thereby put her back in her place. They will almost always use the children to keep a hold of their wife.

Others are seen as completely responsible for the way he feels. If you make him feel good, he loves you. If he feels bad, it's your fault and he hates you. They expect wife and children to run to them with open arms, lavishing them with love, devotion and praise, making him feel like a god, and they are to treat him this way regardless of how he behaves, never asking nor needing anything in return. Sometimes, he offers attention and affection, which we are so hungry for that we rejoice and feel satisfied. Our hopes are renewed with the vision of how it could be, having been given just a taste. Pathetically enough, we have been reduced to the family dog, sitting at the master's feet, waiting for crumbs to fall to the floor. We are so hungry for love that we thankfully lap up any crumbs we can get and hope for more. This is his control. We are starving to death, managing to survive on the few crumbs he offers, while awaiting the grand feast he continually promises.

No one can understand why so many of these women go back to their abusive husbands after finally leaving, and they believe she must have some sick, masochistic desire for punishment. That couldn't be further from the truth. We have learned to monitor his mood, taking his emotional temperature before we know whether to talk, laugh, be attentive, or to be completely still and silent. We may need something from the supermarket, but we must first determine his state of mind before we even ask to go. The children may have a problem or a need, but we don't dare bring it up until we are certain the coast is clear. There is a tremendous problem with building and centering your life around someone else. We do not crave the excitement of crisis, the heartache, turmoil nor abuse. Even after we leave, we do not know peace. We cannot hear the silence nor feel the tranquility in his absence for the raging storm which continues to blow like a hurricane in our minds. We have lost ourselves in basing every decision and action on him. We have become conditioned to think, feel, and behave according to what we believe someone else expects. We have lost the ability to act independently and base our decisions solely on our own needs and desires. We have learned to base everything we do or don't do on what we believe or hope his reaction will be. For those women who grew up in abusive homes, they have thought and behaved in this manner all their lives and have never known how to be an individual. Without intense, professional help, we cannot learn to function as whole human beings, separate from another. Thus, many go back.

As a thirty-nine year old woman of a small town in Oklahoma, I can witness to the fact that girls of my generation, of my culture, and those of so many others, were not raised geared toward college, career and independence. We were raised by a mother who stayed home with the children, who cooked and cleaned, and spent her life being of service to her husband and family. I was so very fortunate to be raised by loving, caring parents, who taught me to be kind, compassionate, loving, and loyal. I am so grateful that I was taught these morals and values growing up, but they were also a great handicap to me, making me a prime candidate for an abusive relationship. Abusers intuitively seek out women who are kind, loyal, sympathetic, and understanding, because they can use these assets against us, until they become our vices. They tell us the heart-wrenching stories of being abused, abandoned, unloved, and we, the care-takers, feel their pain and instinctively want to love their wounds away. We try so desperately to show these men the love and devotion they were deprived of, to prove that we are trust-worthy, where others weren't, that are sincere, where others were deceptive. The more we are falsely accused of being liars, whores, manipulators, and thieves, the more we double our efforts to prove that we will never leave them nor forsake them. You see, we understand that these men are only striking out at us because of their own fears and self-hatred, and more than ever, we feel the call to love them. We become their god, feeling completely responsible for their well-being, even for their very lives, as they tell us over and over that they cannot live without us and even attempt suicide, if we leave. It is the abuser who is the most dependant, while the abusee becomes dependant upon the feeling of being needed, of being so important to someone else's life.

No, we are not weak and spineless. Far from it! We have the strength and fortitude of a dozen people. We have to, in order to do all that we do in any given day. Those of us who have lived in abusive marriages are not victims nor antagonizers, and neither are we inadequate wives. We have done our part to make the marriage work, but it cannot be done alone. If it were possible for only one spouse to create a successful marriage, we are the ones who could do it, as we have carried full responsiblity for the quality and content of the relationship, as well as obligations to the children, family members, friends, and finances. We have done everything in our knowledge and power to be the best wives and mothers we know how to be, and we are the ones who have fulfilled our marriage vows. We have paid a debt, for crimes we never committed, and continue to pay over and over through the stigmas and misconceptions of society.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Newsboys - He Reigns

0 comments Posted by Hannah at 7:29 PM

It’s the song of the redeemed
Rising from the African plain
It’s the song of the forgiven
Drowning out the Amazon rain
The song of Asian believers
Filled with God’s holy fire
It’s every tribe, every tongue, every nation
A love song born of a grateful choir

It’s all God’s children singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns
It’s all God’s children singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns

Let it rise about the four winds
Caught up in the heavenly sound
Let praises echo from the towers of cathedrals
To the faithful gathered underground
Of all the songs sung from the dawn of creation
Some were meant to persist
Of all the bells rung from a thousand steeples
None rings truer than this

And all the powers of darkness
Tremble at what they’ve just heard
‘Cause all the powers of darkness
Can’t drown out a single word

When all God’s children sing out
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns
All God’s people singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Proper Anger or abuse - there is a difference!

2 comments Posted by Hannah at 11:58 PM

This was given to me today, and I wanted to share.

Adapted from How to Be An Adult in Relationships, by David Richo (Shambhala, 2002).

In the heat of the moment, it can be sometimes difficult to tell the difference between true anger and abuse. This handy checklist can help.

True anger is always mindful.
Abuse is ego-driven and caught in mindsets.

True anger is a form of assertiveness that shows respect.
Abuse is aggressive, an attack.

True anger shows tough love that enriches or repairs the relationship.
Abuse explodes in rough or damaging mistreatment that endangers the relationship.

True anger arises from displeasure at an injustice.
Abuse arises from the sense of an affront to a bruised, indignant ego.

True anger focuses on the injustice as intolerable but reparable.
Abuse focuses on the other person as bad.

True anger aims at a deeper and more effective bond; an angry person moves toward the other.
Abuse wants to get the rage out no matter who gets hurt: an abuser moves against the other.

True anger coexists with and empowers love: fearless.
Abuse cancels love in favor of fear: fear-based.

True anger is nonviolent, in control, and always remains within safe limits.
Abuse is violent, out of control, derisive, punitive, hostile, and retaliatory.

True anger includes grief and acknowledges this.
Abuse includes grief but masks it with feigned invulnerability or denial.

True anger believes the other is a catalyst of anger.
Abuse believes the other is a cause of anger.

True anger treats the other as a peer.
Abuse treats the other as a target.

True anger is a form of addressing, processing, and resolving.
Abuse is a form of avoiding one’s own grief and distress

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

God of the Covenant By Rev. Connie Peake

0 comments Posted by Hannah at 9:35 AM

I really enjoyed reading this article...LINK

Several parts of the body tried to determine who would be boss: The brain said, "Since I already coordinate every function of the body I am the logical choice to be boss." The heart objected, saying "Without my pumping blood throughout the body, none would be able to function, so I should be boss." The eyes said, "Without us the body would not know where it was going. We should be boss." The mouth said, "I speak for the body. I should be boss." One by one, each member of the body gave his reason as to why he should be boss. Finally the neck spoke up and said that he should be the boss. "You!" said the brain. "Why you? You don't do anything to begin with. "Yeah," said the heart. "We wouldn't even miss you if you weren't here." This made the neck very mad and he became tense. His muscles knotted up, and he began to exert excruciating pain. So intense was the pain, that the brain couldn't think. The eyes became blurry, and the heart had to work so hard that it became tired and began to skip a beat every now and then. After a week of this, all the parts of the body agreed that the neck could be boss. The moral of the story? You don't have to be a brain or have a heart to be boss; all you have to do is be a pain in the neck.

Is how it started. To me it gives a great visual for a power struggle.

What do you think of when you think of a covenant? Webster says it's a solemn agreement or a promise. Interestingly, the Greek word for covenant is (diatheke), and is often translated testament. It is a word used in legal situations, such as in a treaty or a last will and testament. The equivalent Hebrew word, , also means both covenant or testament. We could legitimately refer the parts of our Bibles as The Old Covenant and the New Covenant instead of the Old and New Testaments, and in fact some scholars feel this would be a better translation. A covenant is, in a sense, a treaty or contract where each party agrees to follow a particular policy in return for the other's commitment to a particular behavior. The covenant is in effect until one party or the other fails to keep the agreement, or until it is mutually dissolved.

Jeremiah 31:27-34 prophesies that the old covenant has been so broken that it tastes of sour grapes, so a new and different covenant will be made, one that will be written on their hearts. It will be a more personal and direct relationship between God and God's people. The old covenant no longer exists because the people have destroyed it

The author spoke of a conference that she attended in which teeshirts were displayed with people's name, and stories on them. They were the victims of domestic abuse, and died that year.

I found this picture when I did a search for the conference she mentioned in her article. LINK

Another way to say it is to honor Christ and to put others first. This is speaking to all relationships for all people. Then the advice gets more specific to the marriage relationship. Wives should put their husbands first as they put Christ first, as the head of his body, the church. The idea of the church as a body is frequently used in the Bible, because no one part can function without the rest. Now, doubtless, the passage is not telling the wife she can be boss by becoming a pain in the neck! But neither is it giving any part full rein to be the boss. The wife is told to put her husband first, but the husband is told to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it. He should love her as he loves himself, and care for her as he cares for his own body. By no stretch of the imagination can we see this mutuality of care as justification of one demeaning or abusing the other. When one part of the body destroys another part we get decay and death. It doesn't matter if that partner feels it is justified or provoked, or that the abuse is seen as "for their own good," it still destroys the body. Domestic abuse covers not only physical abuse but a wide variety of behaviors which batter and destroy a person. They include verbal abuse, sexual abuse, stalking, and emotional abuse. Any behavior which seeks to control, isolate, demean or humiliate is abusive.

As Christians, we consider marriage to be a covenant between a man, a woman, and God. In this covenant they bind themselves exclusively to each other in love. This love is a gift from God, and expression of this love glorifies God in a very special way. Love is not expressed, and God is not glorified when one or both partners become abusive. Often the church disapproves of divorce because it breaks the covenant. Yet, look at Jeremiah. God did not break the covenant, but considered it broken because of the unfaithfulness of the Chosen People. When one partner violates the other, they have in that moment, broken the marriage covenant. When we as the church attempt to shame the victim and hold them to a covenant, which has already been broken, in a sense we violate them again.

Please do not jump to conclusions! I am not advocating divorce! I truly believe in the lasting covenant of marriage. There are times and places for forgiveness, for working out problems; for trying again, but unless we are the one being abused, you and I have no right to demand anyone go back and be subjected to more abuse! There was a sobering display of a long clothesline at the Peace in the Family Conference . On this line were hung shirts decorated in memory of a person killed by domestic abuse in Minnesota during 1996. Each one had a brief description of the situation of that person's death.

The author points out something that I have heard before. Does abuse violate the convenant? If you have done any searches at all there are some extreme people out there that instead of addressing the subject will shame the party mentioning the abuse in their lifes. They will state that ANYONE that feels different than they do must not take marriage to seriously! They dont' know what honor thy vows means! All kinds of excuses and scripture quoted to show how they are in sin forever if they leave, and yet no solutions - except for a small majority handing over some simplistic ideas of help - are given. Personally, I call that diversion.

This is not just a woman's issue, for each time anyone is abused, we all lose. Every time we say, "It's not my business," we are turning our back on a child of God of this generation and most likely, of succeeding generations. What can we do? We can name the abuse. We can refuse to cover our eyes. We can hold people accountable for their behavior. We can study our scriptures and examine the role of the Church. We can work with shelters and refuse to tolerate attitudes of "ownership", where one person has a right to use, control, or belittle another. There is something so much more painful when the one who is injuring you is someone whom you trust, someone with whom you have forged a bond. Examine your own life to see if there are ways you are using or abusing others for your own benefit. See if you are on a power trip which is limiting your relationships in any phase of your life. Listen for cries for help and have the courage to act. I'm delighted if there has been no abuse in your life. if you are suffering abuse tell someone, do something to stop it or get away from it. God loves you far too much to allow this to continue.

Most of all, look to God's new covenant. Search out what is written on your heart. Pray. Listen to God's call for us in our lives. Relationships don't just happen; they don't come without cost, and they don't happen without work. See each person as a unique gift from God to the world. Cherish the people in your life. Treat those you love most with the greatest kindness. Friendship is a gift from God. Love is a gift from God. Praise God from whom all blessings flow

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