Domestic Violence – Advice for Friends, the Church, and Pastors

This month we’re joining others around the nation to observe October as Domestic Violence Awareness month.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I met for several months with seven Christian women who had formerly experienced domestic violence.  Today let’s look at what they told me when I asked about how they needed help.

What would you tell those to whom an abused woman first turns to for help?

1.      If she doesn’t understand that she’s being abused, educate her.  Explain to her the different kinds of abuse: physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, financial, and spiritual, but be gentle and not forceful.

2.      Give her permission to leave, but help her evaluate the risk.  Be honest, and tell her she may be at a higher risk for being killed when she first leaves.

3.      If the kids are being abused, you may need to report it to SRS.

What can the church do to help women who have been abused?

  1. Offer them acceptance, especially around issues of divorce.
  2. Remind them that God still loves them.
  3. Educate men, women, and youth about domestic violence.

What would you like to be able to tell your pastor or other men in leadership?

  1. Don’t deny that DV is in your congregation.  (Remember that statistics say 25% or women will experience some form of domestic abuse, even those in the church.)
  2. See me as an individual in pain that you can help and not as a project for you to patch up a marriage.  I can’t be a “sacrifice on the altar of marriage.”
  3. LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN to me.  Believe me when I tell you I’m being abused!!!
  4. Provide women I can talk to. (Men, including pastors, sometimes don’t feel safe.)
  5. Keep my confidences; don’t share it with anyone unless I have given permission.
  6. Offer me practical resources (gas cards, food cards, child care, and financial resources). Find out what kind of specific help I need and then either offer it or give me a referral.
  7. Keep my husband accountable for his actions through men’s groups or counseling.  Don’t believe his lies or let him manipulate you.