I’m again at my parents home as we travel together the road of aging and adjustment and leftovers from the past. While here, where resources are varied and relatively plentiful, I am looking for the help I need.
My first inquiry was at the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence. I asked about ways I could help and be helped. The dear woman who spoke with me listened, very still, as I described my mental stall and the decisions needing to be made and why I feel so divided and trapped. Very quietly, like a gentle ripple on water, she said, “You don’t trust yourself.” This wasn’t news to me, but the way she said it…so gentle and direct, was soothing. I nodded. She added, “I am a survivor, too, and I don’t trust myself either. I would like someone else to make the decisions. It’s been a while, and it doesn’t go away….I’ve just learned ways to cope.” Oh my.
I told her I had encountered much pain, frustration and loss of faith as a result of the teaching and counsel of my church communities. She said she hears that all the time. I asked if there was any training being provided to faith-based communities to help them stop giving such damaging advice. Yes, she said. There is a woman who started her own shelter, with full support of her Baptist church, and that she has formed a team of survivors who share their experiences and teach faith communities about domestic violence. She said that when she was abused, her pastor and church responded ABSOLUTELY APPROPRIATELY! Oh! Oh! How absolutely, positively, wonderful!
I have the contact information for the Baptist shelter founder, and three resources where I can have counseling and attend support groups for DA survivors. Today, I contact the counselors and find the times/places of the support groups. I will be asking the following questions, recommended by two generous fellow bloggers after I requested personal input about PTSD.
Questions to Ask:
1. Are you trained specifically in trauma?
2. If so, do you have experience with trauma patients? How many years?
3. Are you in your own therapy?
4. Are you under supervision? (I forgot to mention this and it is very important – you don’t want someone who goes rogue, on their own)
5. What is your training/approach type? (Cognitive behavioral focus is more coping skills vs. Psychoanalytical which is more about getting to the root)
Would EMDR be helpful and are you trained to do that?
And I picked up an information sheet based on a 2010 survey of 35 out of 39 domestic violence programs in Arizona in a 24 hour period:
1,622 victims served (1,180 in emergency shelters or transitional housing)
442 adults and children received non-residential services (legal, counseling, children’s support groups)
336 hotline calls (more than 14 calls per hour)
131 unmet needs for services (short funding, short-staffed, lack of space)
105 of the unmet needs were from victims seeking emergency shelter or transitional housing
83% of respondents reported higher demand for services, attributed to job loss, decreased community resources, and decreased funding
1 John 3:16-18 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
Titus 3:14 Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.
“Salad Suppers” and retreats were the ESSENTIAL women’s group activities at my previous church…so much so that any alternative ministry to women outside the church was superseded by these lofty priorities (which is why I resigned as WMs president after an ultra-short term). Wouldn’t it be nice if…instead of party decorations for the next salad supper…the money and time were donated to a nearby family violence shelter or program? And, instead of the usual paid speaker for the next retreat…advocacy training was provided by a survivor…or domestic violence professional?
And, if a church REALLY wanted to go for it, they could involve the MEN’S ministries, too! Since men are the Christian “authority,” and since domestic violence is so ruthlessly damaging to women and children (also known as families), maybe their speaker could be a professional who could address MEN’S roles in abuse, prevention of abuse, and recovery. OF FAMILIES – men, women, children.
Abusers and victims.
And, instead of manufacturing functions and campaigns to entice un-churched people into the building, creating relationships to serve them outside the building to heal their hearts and souls? Which would Jesus choose?
I am very, very grateful for funding sources and dedicated people who are making it possible for me, and others, to receive help. But there aren’t enough dollars and people to get it done given the magnitude of the problem.
This isn’t just a women’s problem. It isn’t just for government entities and secular non-profits to address. Maybe, within the church, there could be less energy spent on indignation about prayer and the Ten Commandments in (or out of) schools (and other hot topics) and more energy spent on learning about and wisely addressing domestic violence (and mental illness, sex trafficking, neglect, homelessness, etc., etc.).
It’s not such a huge mental shift, really, is it?
The influence of Christianity and churches on the world is HUGE, for positive or negative. Representing Christ, or not. Can you imagine how beautiful this could be?
I welcome your thoughts and comments.