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“Where Are We?”

May 15, 2009 — Categories: ,

As I was presenting a workshop recently on how we should challenge the roadblocks which the church can present to battered women and affirm the resources, I noticed one participant was very quiet and reserved.

As I was presenting a workshop recently on how we should challenge the roadblocks which the church can present to battered women and affirm the resources, I noticed one participant was very quiet and reserved.

An Anglo woman in her 40s, I had no sense of her response to my message. Towards the end of the session, she raised her hand and asked: “I want to know why I never see anyone from the battered woman’s church sitting with her in court. I am a prosecutor and I never see a person of faith accompany her. Sometimes a pastor will be there--sitting with the perpetrator. Why is this?”

Indeed. This is a question I face every day in working with faith communities. The absence of a pastoral presence in support of a battered woman or a rape victim is such a profound contradiction in our faith traditions. In Judaism, Islam and Christianity, the expectation is fundamental that we support those who are oppressed or injured as they seek justice and healing.

Maybe the problem is that too many people of faith don’t see the battered woman or rape victim as oppressed or in need of support. Rather perhaps they are so busy trying to figure out what she did to “cause” her own situation, they don’t have time to re-read the story of the Good Samaritan (for Christians).

I realize that many people simply don’t know what to do or say to a victim of violence. They may also hesitate to engage with cancer victims or friends in grief. Mostly people just need us to show up.

So I figure if we can spend 4 hours sitting with a cancer patient while he receives his chemo, we can surely spend 4 hours sitting with a battered woman or rape victim while she seeks justice.

It just may push us beyond our comfort zone--and we might discover something about how we are the hands and feet of God for one another.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute

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Time to Connect

Posted by Miranda Palmer, LMFT at Jan 11, 2011 05:14 PM
I feel like God has plans to connect faith based organizations and secular organizations to provide real support and healing for victims of violence. I think many people feel like supporting a victim who is seeking justice means giving up on families, or giving up on the perpetrator who may be expressing some remorse.

Accountability is not giving up on families. We can love someone and meet them where they are at, and still not condone a crime. I appreciate the approach provided here to support faith based organizations.

Miranda Palmer, LMFT
http://counselingmodesto.com

Support for victims from their Faith leaders.

Posted by Alsah Bundi at Jan 11, 2011 05:14 PM
I've worked in the domestic violence, sexual assault field for nearly 25 years. I have only witnessed one case in court where a pastor was in support of the defendant in a domestic violence case. The pastor was the defendants father. His son was found guilty and sentenced to prison.
The victim in that case had only our domestic violence victim advocate sitting in court with her. Her faith leader had been that pastor.