October is recognized nationwide as Domestic Violence Awareness month. On that note, I encourage you and your church leadership to consider ways to raise awareness of this damaging and often silent issue. I also want to encourage those in the faith community to look attentively at the role that our community agencies play in the journey that is embarked by church staff or a friend when seeking to help a victim of domestic abuse and/or their husband or boyfriend who is abusive. I have found in my experience working with our community partners that they are so very helpful with the women (or men) that have been referred to them. They are also a great resource of domestic abuse information for me and others in the faith community. These agencies want to partner with us as, unfortunately, they have many Christian women coming to them for help after their churches, due to a lack of domestic abuse knowledge, have failed to protect them causing more wounding. We are better together.
As a faith community, we can share Biblical principles that offer guidance for healing and healthier choices, a faith-based support system for the victim and accountability for the husband or boyfriend who is abusive, as well as, a place where safety and hope can be restored. In some areas, faith-based classes, like the Oasis Bible Study designed for victims and survivors of domestic abuse, are available. We as a faith community must better understand our community partners who are available to assist our sisters in the Lord, and others who come forward for help, with additional and much needed resources. This includes, but is not limited to, emotional support and counseling, safety planning, financial management and possible help, housing options, legal counsel, and filing restraining or protection from abuse orders for husbands who have demonstrated significant safety issues. We cannot not offer what they have and they cannot offer what we have. We are better together.
For a man who struggles with abusive behavior, there are groups like AMEND in greater Harrisburg, PA area (Carlisle) and Allies in Change in the Portland, OR area. These great resources are the experts in discerning manipulative and deceptive behavior that, without enough knowledge in this area, many church leaders and well intending friends fall prey to. It is important to know that anger management groups are far less effective than groups or classes specifically designed to address abusive behavior. The first seeks to change the behavior while the latter seeks to change the belief system behind the behavior. We are better together.
To find your community partners, just do a search for “women’s services for victims of domestic abuse in (your) County”. They may be able to give you information for men’s domestic abuse groups which, unfortunately, are few and far between. For your own education, please refer to the resource page at the Living Waters of Hope website or other domestic abuse related websites for suggestions. Below are a few training seminars that I am aware of that are taking place in the Greater Harrisburg, PA and Greater Portland, OR areas:
- Sept. 16 – Vancouver, WA – Safe and Sacred Spaces – call 360-450- 6042 for details
- Sept. 29, October 12 – Salem, OR – Domestic Violence: What Every Faith Leader Should Know – call 503-378-1572 for details
- Sept. 30 – Happy Valley, OR – Domestic Abuse Conference – call 503-788-7000 for details
- Oct. 8 – Camp Hill, PA – Domestic Abuse and the Faith Community – partnering with the YWCA – call 717-737-6560 for details
- Oct. 14, 15 – Allentown, PA – Conquer Conference – designed to encourage women who have suffered from the effects of unhealthy relationships – http://www.leslievernick.com
I pray for God to stir within each of us a deeper desire to be the hands and feet of Christ to those who are silently suffering and/or have come forward for help within our churches… and to know that we are better together as we partner with community agencies.
In His Amazing Grace,