Award Winning Author Cheryl Lacey Donovan Speaks out about Faith Communities about Domestic Violence
In Texas alone, statistics indicated in 2005 that there were 30, 995 reported incidents of domestic violence? Just imagine the "silent" unreported incidents who are living in silent fear!
Each year, an estimated 3.3 million children are exposed to violence by family members against their mothers or female caretakers. In a national survey of more than 2,000 American families, approximately 50% of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children!
Of children who witness their mothers being abused by their fathers, 40% suffer anxiety, 48% suffer depression, 53% act out with their parents and 60% act out with siblings. Statistics further indicate that victims of domestic violence are everywhere-- even in your faith community. Seventy-four percent of all Texans have either been a victim of domestic violence or know someone who has (according to a quantitative study conducted for Texas Council on Family Violence, Saurage, 2002.)
Because there is a need for outreach and education in faith communities, the faith family can be a critical resource for spiritual renewal and guidance. Texas Council on Family Violence. The problem is communities of faith can inadvertently make the situation worse. Misguided attempts at counseling can, in some cases, endanger rather than help the victim.
In addition, religious values may pressure the victim to keep the family together at all costs. Some batterers may even use scriptures and faith as a way to control their partner. "I grew up in a ministerial family. My parents were divorced when I was very young, but the religious impact was always there.
Therefore, when I was initially thrust into an abusive situation, I found it difficult to come to a conclusion about my future because I didn't want to do anything that would be seen as contradictory to God's teachings on marriage," said Donovan. "Dissolving the marital relationship was one of the hardest things I had ever done because I wanted to be right in God's sight. Yet, there were no programs within the church setting to provide guidance in this respect."
The bottom line is, love should never hurt. Domestic violence is never acceptable. It goes contrary to any religious teachings. Expecting a victim of domestic violence to simply pray about a situation and expect it to go away is ludacris. Encouraging a victim to keep the family together because it is what God would want is not scriptural or moral. Communities of faith need to open their eyes and understand the important role that they play in the fight against domestic violence. Training programs and outreach can assist congregants who may be experiencing physical or psychological abuse.
Information regarding training and outreach programs can be obtained from the Texas Council on Family violence www.tcfv.org.