Summary: This teaching is taken from my book “Beaten, Battered, Bruised & Blessed” (Christians Recognizing and Responding to Domestic Violence) more information can be found at www.c21c.org My prayer is it will help you in Pastoral ministry.
This teaching is taken from my book “Beaten, Battered, Bruised & Blessed” (Christians Recognizing and Responding to Domestic Violence) more information can be found at www.c21c.org My prayer is it will help you in Pastoral ministry.
Confronting Domestic Violence Pastorally
Women who have suffered constant abuse are often isolated from friends and family, they have lost confidence in their own ability to change their situation and escape their violent relationships. After finding the courage to seek help, if her circumstances are disbelieved or trivialised, or if she is dealt with unwisely, she may never cry out for help again.
When a victim of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE turns to you for help, it takes wisdom, compassion, optimism and the shrewdness that Jesus referred to when he said “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matt 10:16, to handle the situation. You are, of course, in a strong position to help her out of her cycle of abuse, do not miss the opportunity to empower the victim to take life changing action.
It is vital when helping a victim we avoid subscribing to the beliefs and prejudices communicated by the “sociological lies.”
A shrewdness to understand and use the secular service and communicate spiritual values to support a victim are essential.
Give positive assistance by believing her and accepting her distress. Positive, compassionate, wise and informed support can make all the difference to her attempts to change her unbearable circumstances. Reassurance that it is her perpetrator who is at fault and who has the problem is vital if she is to break free from the trap of self blame.
Pastors of course face dilemmas when confronted with domestic violence that they may uncover in their congregation. Confidentiality is vital for the victim confiding in the her Minister, the calling to work towards reconciliation requires contact with the perpetrator. Should the victim make the decision to leave her abuser, grace and mercy implores the Pastor to support the victim in her decision which of course may lead to divorce. Other members of the congregation may fail to understand the reason for the victim’s departure and the church’s willingness to support her in the decision to leave. Divine wisdom is required to handle the dilemmas of pastoral work. It is helpful to teach and communicate regularly on the evil of domestic violence and that God’s mercy and grace is still available to support those who decide to turn their back on biblical principles.
The following “Dos and Don’ts” are perhaps common sense. However, much of our common sense is influenced and altered by “sociological lies.” It is therefore important to check and correct our beliefs about women and domestic violence if we are going to have a positive, compassionate and informed attitude towards victims of domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Dos & Don’ts
Do your best to learn more about domestic violence, such as how to recognise it, the laws relating to it and how to find help for a victim in your locality.
Do pray for wisdom to act in the best interests of the victim who has cried out of desperation for help.
Do pray for Christians to understand why some Christian leave abusive husbands.
Do believe a woman if she tells you she is being abused, and let her know that you do too. Believe her even if the perpetrator is the last person in the world you would expect to abuse his partner. It is a major step for any woman to admit that she is a victim of domestic violence, and it is vital to point out that liability for the abuse lies with her attacker and not herself.
Do take her fear seriously and seek to discover how you can best support her such as discussing possible strategies for her future safety, but respect her choice if she wishes to do nothing at this time.
Do remain available even when your offers of help have been rejected. Just knowing that you believe her and that you are willing to assist her is a major step to her taking positive action to deal with her abuse.
Do what you can to support local services and volunteer groups seeking to helping people affected by the domestic violence and help lobby for better services.
Do whatever you can to support domestic violence community education and training. Suggest that any agency with access to the public has well-displayed information on domestic violence such as local G.P.’s waiting room, town centre’s information boards, libraries, churches.
Do telephone the police if you are concerned about a woman’s safety. There is evidence to suggest that arrest reduces the likelihood of further violence.
Do get help if you are a victim of violence.
Do get help if you are violent, or have abused your partner.