Wednesday, June 25, 2008

IT IS TIME TO BEGIN SPEAKING: The Church and Domestic Violence

Posted by Hannah at 10:21 AM

Kimberly B. George of Faith and Gender wrote a paper about domestic violence. I have to say a major KUDOS to her and her voice and gift for writing this peice!

The number of American soldiers killed in Iraq almost equals the number of women who have been killed on American soil by husbands and boyfriends over the same span of time. Since 2003, just over 4000 American soldiers have been killed in the war. Approximately 6000 women have been killed on the homeland (1).

Like the soldiers killed in battle, these deaths have left children without parents, fathers without daughters, brothers without sisters. Children witnessing domestic violence are suffering posttraumatic stress disorders. Many of the boys who witness the violence of their fathers will themselves grow up to physically, emotionally, or verbally abuse their partners.

I long for Christian communities to pay more attention.

YIKES I didn't even realize that! MORE people have been killed by domestic violence than in the war so far!

Sadly, the ones that don't have to deal with deaths are effected as well. They in a way are dealing with ongoing war. They keep fighting, and most of the world silently sit back and ignore it.

What amazed me recently was the world's reaction to the cult in Texas, and how taken back by it they were. Yet in Christain homes domestic violence happens, and the family members are told to basically coddle the abuser so they won't have the excuse to abuse. The world reacted to the different reality of the cult member, but they react differently when it happened in their own fold. You have to wonder why that is!

Because domestic violence, in its very nature, feeds on our silence, like any kind of abuse. Women in these relationships are often controlled, isolated, and threatened to speak of what is happening to them. The psychological damage is so deep that many have felt stripped of a sense of self, not to mention any kind of financial resources. Women and children fleeing domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness– in fact, some studies have claimed up to 50% of homeless women are fleeing violence in their homes.

50% of the homelessness, and people wonder WHY she doesn't just LEAVE! WOW!

Domestic violence is a deep wound in our society that cuts across lines of class, education, religion, race, and socio-economics. Christians are not immune. I know an agency in my own city that routinely serves male pastors and other churchgoers who are coming forward needing help for their abusive patterns in their marriages. The agency offers assistance to Christians who abuse and Christians who are being abused.

Focus Ministries does the same thing as well!

But, we do need to begin to speak. We do need to engage our culture with Good News– both for perpetrators and victims. Many of the perpetrators know these patterns of physical, emotional, verbal and sexual violence because they too grew up in a home with such abuse. Men who perpetrate need help and compassion, too. Our society often does not give men what they need to be able to recover well from their own pain and traumatic experiences; nor does it provide very much guidance in emotional development within the context of certain stereotypes of masculinity. The church needs to listen to men, too, in coming to better understand why some men harm women.

That is so true! History has taught us that the church in alot of circumstances don't listen to women, and leave these men to their sin. To their broken state. They leave them to their pain, and not many will be offered healing! They will deny these things at first, and YES it is a huge battle to win but its possible. Most concentrate on changing the victim so they can change their reactions, and to me that is not placing SIN the the light of truth! The bible states that those that live in darkness do not like the light, because of the exposure and alot of the time the church enables that to happen.

Statistics are beginning to indicate that domestic violence in some Christian communities is on par with secular communities (2). Even more startling, is that the research is finding that Christian women stay in these abusive relationships longer, which is particularly frightening, because as those who study DV know, abuse only gets worse over time. Because “until death do us part is taken very seriously” in Christian culture, it can be very difficult to get out of abusive marriages. Furthermore, there might be not be safe places in churches for the abuse to be disclosed– especially when the abuser has a high position of power within his church.

Its that a sickening and repeating pattern. I think that is one of the points that I started this blog to begin with. My folks always told me if they were NOT there to help that the church would be. For many in domestic violence that is not the case. Emotional and Verbal abuse isn't taken serious enough despite what James 3 states, and the wholes message of 'God Hates Divorce' chapter speaks about.

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