The laws are complicated; domestic violence most often occurs between intimate partners. The impact is complicated; children who witness domestic violence are shamed into silence and the family system is shaken as the cycle of power and control plays out. The solutions are complicated; the survivor is often financially supported by her abuser and dependent upon him for basic needs. (We learned that nearly all cases of domestic violence, the survivor is a woman.)
We heard from a panel of clergy (Baptist, Catholic, Jewish and Non-denominational) who unanimously indicated that one’s faith community can be the first place victims break the silence. We heard from “Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse” who shared the astonishing figure that one in four women experience abuse in her lifetime. Using case studies, Anna Harper illustrated for us how power and control plays into the cycle of abuse and certain identifying behaviors and emotions that survivors may demonstrate. We heard from several behavior health specialists discuss frankly what congregations can do: break the silence and create a safe space for survivors to explore solutions.
It’s complicated — and in our parish, we can support survivors and help break the silence.
We both would like to offer our presence and guidance if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence: physical, emotional or spiritual. Know that you are in a safe place and that we can support you through complicated times.
We can break the silence, with compassion.
—The Revs. Vicki K. Hesse and Greg A. Foraker