Domestic Violence, Church Response, Resources
I am pausing our Sunday Gatherings for the rest of October. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and I would like to take this time to talk about how the church can effectively respond to domestic violence.
This month I have asked the church to become educated about domestic violence, to re-evaluate beliefs that keep victims in abusive relationships, and to move into action to help victims of domestic abuse. Today, I want to focus on resources that the church should be aware of when helping victims of domestic violence.
Local & State
When a victim of domestic abuse comes the church asking for help, the church should have local resources readily available that can provide professional assistance. Here are some ideas to help you put your resource list together:
- Police Chaplain – Talk to the Chaplain of your local police department to find out how the police are trained to respond to domestic violence calls. The Chaplain may know your local resource centers and shelters for victims.
- State, County, and City resources – A simple Google search will help you identify resource centers, shelters, and victim compensation laws. Domestic violence resource centers are extremely helpful to victims who are pursuing restraining orders, are looking for counseling, or need other legal assistance.
- State laws – For a better understanding of how officers cite offenders of domestic violence, read the laws. Petition your representatives when laws that affect victims of domestic violence are in process.
- City roundtables – Check with your city office to see if they offer a roundtable that focuses on domestic violence. This is a great way to connect and network with local providers and advocates.
- Shelters – Know the domestic violence shelters in your area. Unfortunately there are not enough shelters available for victims who need to leave their homes. Ask your shelters if your church can help support victims in any way.
- Talk to Professionals: Identify people within your own congregation who might work with victims of domestic violence and talk to them about what is available in the community.
Knowing local resources is key to helping a victim of domestic violence obtain help. There are national resources that are helpful as well.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline – This is a 24/7 staffed hotline that helps provide counseling to victims of domestic abuse, referrals to local resources, and information to people who are wanting to understand abuse. They also offer printable flyers and palm cards that you can stock in women’s restrooms or at front desks.
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) – VAWA was drafted and signed by Congress in 1994. This act helps fund state victim’s compensation funds, domestic violence training, and local and tribal domestic violence resources. Immigrants may also apply for special visas if they have experienced domestic violence.
Here are more ideas about how you can educate yourself and your church members about domestic violence:
- Domestic violence resource centers may have resource booklets that you can stock at your church. Many offer training to community members. Be open to hosting a training at your church.
- The National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence offers trainings and webinars across the country.
- Do you have a YWCA in your city? Check to see if they offer training on domestic violence or shelters to victims.
- Do you have a church library? Stock it with books about domestic violence and encourage members to read about the issue.
If you need help finding domestic violence resources in your area, please let us know by either leaving a comment or sending us an email at SpiritualSB@gmail.com. We are more than happy to help you start a list of resources that you can keep at your church when victims seek help.
The church can play a powerful role by offering healing and hope to victims of domestic violence. Make sure abusers are aware that the church will not tolerate abuse of any kind. Affirm victims that they are believed, cared for, and loved. Teach teens that abuse of any kind in relationships is not okay. Let the community know that you will defend and support victims of abuse. It is time for the church to stand up against abuse!