Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Congregant Support

I was reading in our local paper about a new movement in conservative religions to become more supportive of congregants in domestic abuse situations. Common practice was to turn a blind eye or to blame the victim. Marriage was held to be the highest ideal and divorce not an option. I am glad to see that more conservatives are opening up to the horrible toll domestic abuse can take on victims, their families, and community. I hope that this trend continues because only with support and encouragement can a victim break free of abuse.

This also made me think of my own congregation and any efforts we might be making to help domestic abuse victims. I have noticed for a longtime that we do not have any hotline phone numbers/cards in the restrooms. This is one of the easiest ways to reach out while the victim can remain anonymous (if s/he wants to). Considering I am an MSW by training, it is a little ridiculous that I have not made an effort to put these out. I will now make it a much bigger priority. I do feel that our ministers are mostly open and responsive to any needs our congregants might have, but I am not sure how openly caring the congregation is. While I don't feel anyone would shun or judge a victim (far from that), I am not sure how to make ourselves more available so that person might come to us if they need help. Admitting something like abuse can be one of the hardest things a person may do, that is why I will try to work on ways our church can be considered a safe place. I would love to hear any ideas your congregations may have implemented and if you feel that they have been effective.

2 comments:

Bill Baar said...

whow...

Common practice was to turn a blind eye or to blame the victim. Marriage was held to be the highest ideal and divorce not an option.

My experience with the local mega Church is they would be a lot more on top of this than any UU Church in Chicago area.

We were at our local Conservative Temple too and my wife said the Women's restroom had a sign that abuse happened in Jewish Families too with a number to call.

Thanks for making me more aware of this though... I'm keeping my eyes more open on it.

Hannah said...

''''I do feel that our ministers are mostly open and responsive to any needs our congregants might have, but I am not sure how openly caring the congregation is. While I don't feel anyone would shun or judge a victim (far from that), I am not sure how to make ourselves more available so that person might come to us if they need help. '''''

I think education of those ministers would be an awesome start! You might be surprised at how much they don't know about this issue! I think that is where alot of ignorance stems from! The congregation has those issues as well! Start with the leadership - you might be surprised!

Also partner up with your local DV shelter - you might be suprised at how welcoming they are to a spiritual partner! Most churches treat them like they have the plague!

There are places like Focus Ministries, Faith Institute, and RAVE started by Nancy Nason Clark (I believe) that work with churches to help educate them - and work with them when things hit the fan!

When you have done your homework - I challege you to preach on this important topic! You might be surprised at WHOM will come! It will show those that are still afraid that you might be safe enough to approach later as well!

GOOD luck! My prayers are with you!