October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we’re kicking it off tomorrow with our first AVA (Advocates for Victims of Abuse) informational meeting in the Twin Ports. In true Covenant-style (Evangelical Covenant Church, for those of you who don’t happen to be of Scandinavian stock or live in “da nort’land”), there will be coffee, there will be treats, but most of all, there will be people with a heart to tackle one of the most widespread, but seldom talked about, issues in our society today–domestic and sexual violence.
I got involved when I volunteered to write an article about AVA for The Covenant Companion. I had no experience with this issue, but a friend of mine told me they were having a hard time recruiting AVA advocates, and I figured this was an easy way I could help.
Boy, was I wrong.
Interviewing (and crying with) a woman who had survived ten years in a horrific, abusive marriage was not easy.
Digesting the fact that 1 in 4 little girls in our country are sexually-molested by the time they turn 14 was not easy.
Contemplating the fact that someone was molesting these girls (and boys–1 in 6 have been molested by the time they turn 18) and beating these women, and that there had to be a lot of them to achieve that level of statistical devastation, was downright harrowing.
And the fact that there is no substantial difference in those numbers between Christians and non-Christians? That oftentimes, our teachings have been twisted to protect the perpetrator and keep the victim powerless? That pissed me off.
Domestic abuse and sexual assault are not easy issues to get involved in. It is messy, it is painful, and it involves a lot of brokenness–broken hearts, broken minds, broken bodies, broken relationships. But Christ has come to redeem us, to restore us, to bring hope and healing! That’s the message we’re supposed to be shouting from our steeples!
I believe with all my heart the church needs to address this issue. When 1 in 4 of our precious little girls is being sexually violated by the time she turns 14, that’s not a “social problem”–that’s a humanitarian emergency! Our silence on something of this magnitude speaks volumes.
Let me ask you this: who is your silence protecting? We need to speak up, not only for the victims, but for the sake of those who are abusing others, who need to repent and get help. To ignore that sin is not kind–overlooking it may be the path of least resistance in the short term, but the long-term and eternal consequences are devastating.
Church, it’s time to break the silence. Domestic abuse and sexual assault thrive in darkness and silence–let’s stand up, speak out, and to bring the light of Christ to bear on this issue.
If you want to get involved, AVA has resources for individuals, churches, and clergy here. If you need help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline to find out about the resources that are available in your area. The number is 1-800-799-SAFE(7233).
For more information about this issue, and the statistics I used in this post, you can view the full article I wrote for The Covenant Companion here.