Sunday, October 21, 2007

Domestic Violence the church's dirty little secret!

Posted by Hannah at 9:37 PM

I found a good article on domestic abuse on the catholic online website. It speaks about a priest that is very active in the mission of helping victims of domestic violence.

Testimony by throngs of women being brutally victimized - humiliated, beaten and murdered - has caught the attention of social service agencies, law enforcement and the courts along with hospital emergency rooms, but churches have been slow to join in the fight against domestic violence.

Sadly, we already know that don't we. The next comment shows the fear I feel is within this subject for the church.

Since then, he’s learned to identify the signs of domestic abuse. “It’s a common social problem” that comes veiled in excuses and cloaked in embarrassment, shame and fear, he said. Women come in looking for “help for their husbands. They say, ‘he drinks too much and has a problem with anger.’ ” Father Dahm, the co-founder of Chicago’s 8th Day Center for Justice and an outspoken advocate for day laborers, economic justice and the homeless, knows what lies under those concerns - “she’s a victim of abuse.

“I think (the clergy) has to look it right in the eye,” he said. This means broaching the issue in the homily, perhaps in the form of an example for the purpose of making a point pertaining to violence. In his message to priests and deacons, he warned, “If you talk about it, then be prepared because the floodgates are going to open.”

I think at times people are so unprepared, and SO uneducated on this subject that is something they wish to avoid. Lets face it the church has alot on their plate at times, and when you look at how complex this can get - it must be overwhelming to them. I'm NOT justifying it - it just is!

Although the priest may be the one the victim seeks for help, it doesn’t mean that he has to become a family counselor. “I’m someone who is a bridge for them, to get them through to safety. I connect them with resources, then I don’t have to worry about it.”

I realize the above statement may sound a little cold, but it is truth! People need experts in the field when it come to this subject! You don't have to ever be hit by your partner or spouse for it never to happen! The weave of confusion over this subject truly needs the hands of experts! I think the church at times wants so badly to be 'hands on', and being the subject matter is so scarey and unbelieveable they tend to avoid, enable and make excuses instead. Sadly, that's human nature for alot of subjects.

When a woman opens the door to the secret pain in her life, he said, “How we respond in the first 15 seconds is critical.” It may knock a priest or deacon off base for a moment, especially if the woman and her spouse are highly respected members of the parish community, but her cry for help deserves an empathic response. He advised the clergy to offer immediate support with a phrase such as, “That’s terrible. How can I help you?”

Attention must be paid to the woman’s emotional state of mind, he added. “You have to give them permission to talk about the situation. You have to hold the abuser accountable.”

Having witnessed the result of brutality and ruled over the murderous consequences of abuse, Deacon Welter is unwavering in his attitude toward violence. He routinely tells women, “You have a right to be safe and free from harm.”

Meanwhile, churches need to become “user-friendly” by keeping a supply of pamphlets on-hand to help women in violent situations. “You don’t put them out in the narthex, where he can see you taking it or everyone in church can see you; put them in the bathroom,” she said. The USCCB has available “palm-size cards” with hotline numbers for help that she can put in her purse.”

How easy that would be, but I'm afraid some churches may get to many complaints.

The article link is referenced above, and its worth your time!

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