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.