Why am I writing about domestic violence today? I was again reminded by a caring and compassionate young friend of mine, just how prevalent this issue is.
For many of you who have never taken our crisis and disaster response trainings, it is one of the topics we touch upon – education and awareness of how many sitting in your pews may be the victims of domestic or sexual abuse. Abuse that the church often condones under the guise of submission, marital rights, or covenant.
- An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
- 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
- Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
- Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.
- Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next.
- Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.
- 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household.
QUESTIONS YOU MAY ASK IF YOU SUSPECT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE or ABUSE
From my experience, I know that abuse and violence at home is a problem for many women.
Is it a problem for you in any way?
Have you ever felt unsafe or threatened in your own home?
Ways to ask about abuse when there are physical signs of abuse:
Has anyone hurt you ?
The injuries you have suggest to me that someone hit you. Is that possible?
In my experience, women often get these kinds of injuries when someone hits them in some way. Did someone hit you?
Ways to ask about emotional abuse:
Does someone call you names? Or try to control what you do?
Does anyone you are close to criticize your friends or family?
Often, when a woman feels suicidal as you so, it means she is being abused at home. Is this happening to you?
It is important to be sensitive to the woman’s experience, particularly her isolation and fear for her personal safety. It is never helpful to make light of the situation or to ask questions such as “what did you do to make it happen?”
Ways to ask about sexual abuse in the relationship:
Asking about sexual abuse is important but may be very distressing for the patient. Therefore, it is usually best to wait until rapport has been established before asking about this type of abuse.
1 Have you ever been forced to have sex with your partner when you didn’t want to?
Has your partner ever forced you to take part in sexual acts you didn’t feel good about?
WHAT TO DO NEXT? (Preferably you already have sought out these resources)
Equip yourself with information about local domestic violence resources – shelters, counseling services, community action groups, friends who are willing to be a safe haven away from the local congregation etc.
Train with us to learn more about serving your church and community in crisis and disaster compassionate care.