Defense Against Crime

17/02/2009

The Church and Domestic Violence

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Chris Brown & Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez & Marc Anthony, Bobby Brown & Whitney Houston, James Brown & Tomi Rae Brown, Juanita Bynum and Thomas Weeks are some of the recent cases of domestic violence cases. Victims of domestic violence are in your neighborhoods, they are in your work place and they exist in the church.  Here are some South Carolina statistics you may not be aware of. Readers from other states can research your own state statistics.  These came from the National Coalition against Domestic violence.

 

·         Did you know that One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. One in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape. 

·         The majority (73%) of family violence victims are female. Females were 84% of spousal abuse victims and 86% of abuse victims at the hands of a boyfriend.

·         There were 35,894 victims of domestic violence in South Carolina in 2005. 43% of reported domestic violence cases ended in an arrest. 

·         Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.

·          

South Carolina ranks 7th in the nation for numbers of women killed by men. The state has consistently ranked in the top 10 since 2000. Many in the state remember in April 2005, when a bill came up for victims of domestic violence came up how Republican John Graham Altman, who claims to be a Christian, shot the bill down, with some very controversial statements. What has been the response from the church? What does your spiritual leader ever address domestic abuse?

 

Paul in writing to Titus an epistle of pastoral counsel advised his protégé to teach the Biblical believers in Crete, “to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” (Titus 3:2 NIV).  This teaching has practicality for many of life’s situations, and the Biblical home as well as the Christian life style should be the primary repository of the behavior found in this teaching.  But is it?

 

Statistics from many studies, both secular and Christian; indicate that on any Sunday morning service, approximately twenty-five percent of the women sitting in the pews with us are victims of domestic abuse. This abuse can range from verbal and economic abuse, to sexual and physical violence.  These statistics do not reflect husband abuse and child abuse, which also exists in the church.

 

Until quite recently, and it may be due to the Juanita Bynum case, the Christian community has lived in denial that domestic crime and brutality could be present in their congregations.  After all, we have been taught from the Ephesians 5 of Holy Bible that if a woman submits to her husband, or a man sacrificially loves his wife, all will be well in ‘Domestic Peace Church of the Living God’.  If we actually read the whole scripture and did exactly as it says, all may be OK in those homes. However domestic abuse happens in the church from pulpit to the pews.

 

What constitutes abuse?

 

Abuse involves condescending (putting down) the value of the spouse or partner, either physically, verbally or with body language, social isolation, rape and other sexual violations, and economic marginalization.  It can involve name-calling.  It accuses the spouse of activities, sins, and omissions that are in no way true, like accusing the partner of adultery without substantiating evidence.  This cruelty goes below the discussion of ideas and opinions and desires, and calls into question the nature of the person.  It doesn’t recognize the personhood and Godly value of the spouse.  The victim is treated like an enemy that must be conquered, rather than a partner who is loved and valued.

 

 

What should the church do in the face of this awesome social upheaval that’s only recently been recognized by social scientists, and is essentially ignored by the church?  How should church leadership at every level respond to that respected a member wife or girlfriend who in confidence reports that her bruises didn’t actually result from a fall down the stairs, but from the same hands were praising the Lord last Sunday. The normal escape avenue of many of the modern church is to just pray.  Yes, the bible says we are to always pray, but it also says that Faith without works is dead. (James 2:17). The bible also asks in Psalm 82: 2-4

 

“How long will you defend the unjust   and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.  Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

  

The first, and absolutely most important action toward the victim is to believe them. The act of “coming out of the closet”, took great courage on the part of the victim, and no matter how shocked you might be that this crime has been simmering behind the scenes in an honored home in your congregation, the victim must be heard.  Be patient.  Listen – that means don’t talk.  Ask simple questions for clarification, but the less said the better.  Allow the victim to share with you the pain that’s probably been going on for many years.  Never minimize their story.  If the victim perceives that you are not supportive, she may fade back into her house of horrors, and the next time you hear from her, it may be as another statistic in your newspaper’s obituary page. 

 

Get them professional and legal help they need. Don’t ask the abuser to come and sit down with the victim so “to find out truth” or “discuss the situation”.  This step can place you, as well as the victim, in danger. You and the victim could find yourself at gunpoint, behind and angry or scared man.  Instead of addressing the abuser at this point, suggest to the victim that she obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO).  Take her to the family court and support her in the process.  It’s free and there are attorney’s available who will advise her on her rights.  The TRO can give the victim a measure of security from which basis she can then make other arrangements, both long and short-term, for herself and the children.

 

 The implications of the above statistic are obvious and will require a cooperative effort of our church leaders, our state leaders, our leaders in congress, our law enforcement and the courts, as well as, increased resources for shelters and advocates.

 

 

 

For more information or to get help, please contact the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline

at 1-800-260-9293

(look up the number for your state if not from SC)

By Victor Swindell, owner of PepperEyes.com, a division of Swindell Enterprises. PepperEyes.com is dedicated to assist those people who are unwilling to become a victim and are taking responsibility to protect themselves, their cars, or their possessions with our pepper spray, stun guns, and other personal protection products.

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1 Comment

  1. Your family, friends, fellow church members, employer, doctor, or your local YMCA, YWCA, police department, hospital, or clinic can help you. Doreen Spending

    Like

    Comment by Doreen Spending — 17/02/2009 @ 1:25 PM


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