October is domestic violence awareness month which provides opportunity to explore how we can combat the danger of domestic violence.

Meet Joy. I think you know her. She’s quiet, polite, and really nice. She doesn’t contribute many of her own thoughts but is quick to serve you. She’d like to join in activities but her husband relies on her at home. If you ever see them together he is quick to say something demeaning and she is quick to defer and excuse his roughness.   When she is not around he is a real charmer.

At home she can’t keep the house clean enough, the food tasty enough, or the kids organized enough to please him. He flies off the handle yelling and belittling her. She is always “stupid”. He is always right.  He gets rough sometimes, but he really loves her. He’ll change. He’s not really like this.

She is an excuser, and he is an abuser.

Domestic Violence is Far Too Prevalent

Every 3 seconds in the US someone is assaulted or beaten by a domestic partner. Every 3 seconds. That is more than 12 million abuse victims annually.

Joy is 24. Domestic violence is most common among women between the ages of 18 and 24. As a young mom, she is easily isolated and depressed.  She blames herself for his outburst.  And like too many others, she does not seek medical attention, even after her arm is broken. Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.

Joy is a statistic. One in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will suffer domestic violence in their lifetime. But Joy is much more. She could be your neighbor, friend, co-worker, or family member. Domestic violence is prevalent in every community and affects all people regardless of age, socio-economic status, gender, race, religion or nationality.

For more read our blog 3 powerful ways to combat sexual violence toward women

Domestic Violence is Far Too Hidden

Joy’s friends see her timidity.  They hear her excuses.  They notice she wears long sleeves sometimes in the heat. But like 54% of Americans who think they witness domestic violence, they don’t know what to do. 2/3 of Americans say it is hard to determine abuse. 90% fail to define repeated emotional, verbal, sexual abuse and controlling behaviors as patterns of domestic violence and abuse.

“Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises.” Ps. 10:1-2.
Often the abused cry out like the injured man on the Jericho Road. They see people walking by and no one stops to help.

As President Obama stated in his Domestic Violence month proclamation:

The physical and emotional scars of domestic violence can cast a long shadow… During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we shine a light on this violation of the basic human right to be free from violence and abuse, pledge to ensure every victim of domestic violence knows they are not alone, and foster supportive communities that help survivors seek justice and enjoy full and healthy lives.

Domestic Violence is Far Too Costly

Joy worked as a receptionist. With two young children, her boss did not think much about the days she missed. She was unaware of the bruises, threats and broken arm.

Victims of domestic violence lose a total of 8 million days of paid work each year. The cost of domestic violence exceeds $8.3 billion annually.  What if business owners could change that?  What if you could change the story for your employee?  You can.  Visit our business page to learn more.  All of us need to be involved in combating domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Must Not Be Accepted

We must stand against domestic violence. That begins by standing with – not against – victims. Our national politics drive more women into the shadows as they watch the response of some leaders. How do you tell your daughter it is OK to talk about or treat women like objects? How do you explain it is just “locker room” talk?  You don’t.  Because when you do, every victim of abuse dies a little more. For their sake and the sake of daughters and sisters everywhere, don’t excuse abusive talk or controlling actions that slide the blame elsewhere.  We must stand against such conduct wherever it is found.

For more on how quick we are to judge victims see our blog Let’s be Honest.

Here’s how we combat the danger of domestic violence together.

1. Be informed.  Learn the facts and share them. Domestic Violence Awareness Project and the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence have excellent resources. We have an excellent resource as part of our Justice For All Club which provides a short overview, discussion questions and specific action steps. Finally, the Department of Justice has helpful information.

2. Get off your donkey.  Next week is National Week of Action (Oct. 16 – 22) for Domestic Violence. Don’t you dare be a Priest or a Levite and walk past a neighbor in need.  (Luke 10:25-37). Be the Good Samaritan. Enter into gentle conversations to provide hope and help. Start with being certain the person is safe. Often that means helping them find a lawyer.

“Research tells us that effective legal representation is the single most important factor in whether victims are able to escape this domestic violence cycle. Yet, studies estimate that only 1 in 5 low-income victims of domestic violence ever get to see a lawyer.” ~ Vice President Joe Biden

The lack of access to legal resources is a critical problem.  1 in 3 Americans cannot afford an attorney.  When the issues involve safety, stability and basic needs, the consequences can be dire.

Joy attended a church. She went to a leader when her arm was broken but was told to go home and seek counseling. That’s the advice given by 62% of church leaders according to a major report. Joy’s husband owned several guns and she was in a dangerous situation. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.

Help restore hope for victims of domestic violence

A friend sensed Joy need help.  She told her about a legal ministry and encouraged her to visit. Joy had no control over the finances and when she learned there was no cost to meet with a lawyer she couldn’t believe it. She broke down crying when the first thing the lawyer did was pray for her. The lawyer asked good questions and assessing the real danger worked with a team to put together a plan for safety, a new donated phone (something you can do), and a court protective order.  This gospel justice team involved the church and others as part of a comprehensive plan which restored Joy.

Today Joy knows joy. She volunteers at the legal ministry when she’s not busy with her children. She discovered she has gifts and teaches Sunday School. A gospel justice community helped free her from serious legal burdens so she could flourish.

Help a neighbor today. You can change someone’s story. Contact us to get started.

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