It does take a community.

Did you know October is “Domestic Violence Awareness Month”?

Who wants to increase their awareness of something so awful? Most people prefer not to even think about it … that is, until someone they love is touched by it. Did you know that no matter what your role in the community, you can make a difference with just a few simple adjustments.

With the Kavanaugh case hot on our minds, this is a good time to refresh ourselves on how we believe we should treat other people.

Most Christians will agree that we should treat other people as children of God always. However, wouldn’t it be nice if it were just that easy? While our intentions may be good, our choice of words or actions may not be as good as we think. It’s not always easy to try to hear ourselves as the person to whom we’re speaking hears us.

For instance: Never say, “the first time he’d hit me I’d be out of there.” You haven’t experienced what your friend has. By the time the abuser gets their victim to the hitting phase, they’ve conditioned their victim to accept it. I know how unbelievable this sounds, but abusers are very good at what they do.  Their victims can be doctors, lawyers, teachers, professionals, blue collar workers, homemakers, rich or poor they do not discriminate.

Here’s a few things you can do now to help:

Anyone:

  • Simply don’t laugh at jokes about abuse in the family. When with friends and someone says : You better get home before your wife beats you with a frying pan.
  • Always tell other women and especially girls that they deserve to be treated with respect.
  • Complement teen age girls for the good they do and positive things about their behavior. Not just your children, but anyone’s children. Who’s going to complain when you’re complementing their child.
  • Discourage gossip.
  • Support your local Abuse Shelter. You could donate money, clothing, time, or even in kind services.

In the Church:

  • Clergy use sermon illustrations with women as the hero’s instead of victims.
  • Don’t treat the children as children.  Treat them as members of God’s family with something to say.
  • Teach about the women in the Bible and their amazing strengths.
  • Teach about important women of our day whose faith has made a difference.
  • Post the various wheels everywhere and talk about them.
  • Invite the local Abuse Shelter or Victim Advocates to come speak.
  • Study scripture to see how Jesus treated women vs how the culture of Biblical times treated women.
  • Celebrate the contributions of the women in your congregation.
  • Children’s programs: ie from SAMHSA

What to do when talking with someone who is in an abusive situation:

  • DO NOT JUDGE
  • Get person into safety FIRST!
  • Listen (active listening)
  • Establish a trust relationship
  • Tell her she doesn’t deserve to be treated that way.
  • Compliment person
  • Be aware of the negative messages she may have received from her church
  • Do not rush victim into forgiveness
  • Do not ask why she stays
  • Affirm her worth

Employers can:

  • Be aware that if an employee is receiving lots of calls from spouse or gifts delivered to work from spouse they might be in a situation of abuse. Before assuming otherwise, be sure to make yourself familiar with what is going on with your employees. An open door policy is very helpful in these cases. The employee is not going to share with you if they are afraid of losing their job or a reprimand from you.
  • At staff meetings, let your employees know that you will stand with any employee who is in an abusive relationship. Invite them to share this information with you so you can be helpful to them.
  • Have the phone number of the local abuse shelter (DAS in the Keys) on hand. If one of your employees is being stalked move them to a position where they do not have to answer the front phone or sit in the lobby or close to it.
  • Treat any visiting abusive spouse the same way you would anyone disrupting your office. Do not let them have access to your employee. Establish a protocol ahead of time.

When victims feel that their community has their backs, they will be more empowered to better their lives.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

 

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