National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-7233
Most of us are aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Almost everyone is connected to someone who has experienced receiving a breast cancer diagnosis. I have several people that I love who are breast cancer survivors.
Each October a variety of activities get underway to raise money for research to discover a cure for this dreaded disease. There are walks and memorials. We have “Pink-Out” days at work and church. The concerted efforts of a variety of organization ensure that we are aware of the ravaging effects of breast cancer on patients, families and communities.
On every social media outlet and television station we see pink and hear messages that encourage us to work together to annihilate breast cancer. Everyone from homemakers to professional athletes participate in the “call for a cure.” However, there is another “disease” that is invading homes and leaving people ravaged and even dead. Domestic violence is occurring at an alarming rate. According to Psychology Today, “Domestic violence occurs when a person consistently aims to control their partner through physical, sexual or emotional abuse”. It is one intimate partner using power to gain control over another. Unfortunately, members of churches are enduring domestic violence and as in other arenas, are suffering in silence. Listed are six things the church can do to help.
- Get to know the people that you attend church with. When I was growing up, the church I attended was small. Everyone knew everyone else and we all lived in the same community. Today, with larger churches and churches with multiple campuses, it is more challenging to know fellow congregants. In todays dynamic, even members of smaller churches do not always make time to get to know each other. Members must make an effort to get to know each other. Attend small group meetings. Attend church functions. Leaders must create scenarios where congregants spend time together. Smaller, intimate settings allow for the building of trust among members.
- Become educated. Know what domestic violence is and how it affects families. Many websites provide statistics as well as suggestions for offering assistance. All church small groups should spend some time addressing human concerns in addition to biblical studies. Domestic violence, especially as it relates to the state and city in which you live, should be on the list of topics discussed.
- Volunteer at shelters and other organizations. Volunteering at organizations that assist victims of domestic violence gives first-hand experience on its affects. First-hand information will assist church members in becoming effective advocates for domestic violence prevention.
- Invite experts to speak. I realize many of us complain that the church service is already too long. In these days we are required to shift our thinking in all areas, even church. As the church is mandated to meet the needs of the people in our communities, we must be knowledgeable on what the needs are and how we can best serve.
- Write your representatives. Legislation and funding allocations are made in accordance with the demands of the voters. Churches must begin organizing letter writing campaigns so that legislators know, that as citizens, we are concerned about domestic violence prevention and require our representatives to take action.
- Have a plan for assistance. If someone came to your church and disclosed that they were a victim of domestic abuse what would you do? What would you do if someone came to your church and disclosed that they were a perpetrator of domestic abuse? Since we know that this reality exists in our communities, the church must have a plan for addressing it.
- Post information on the church’s website and in the bulletin. The Domestic Violence Hotline number and local organizations that assist victims should be a part of your church communication.
The local church must be effectively involved in the lives of the people. We can no longer pretend that the challenges of the world are not prevalent within our church walls. Once people leave our organized church services they must live in the world. The church must be a place of safety and refuge for those in trouble. When necessary, it must become sanctuary.