The short answer is most definitely.
In fact, a short distance from where I live sits one of the wealthiest counties in the US. After traffic violations, the county’s number one crime is domestic violence.
I’m moved to highlight this, because I am in a front row seat witnessing the explosion of people feeling terrified in their own homes. Last Battle is dedicated to giving voice to all forms of abuse to men, women and children. Sexual violence occurs in 1 out of every 7 intimate partnerships, and domestic violence (which includes but is not limited to sexual violence) occurs in 1 in 4 intimate partnerships.
Since exposure is the always the beginning of the solution, it should go without saying that domestic violence needs to be discussed online, in doctor’s appointments, on TV, on the radio, in schools, from the pulpit and so on. Diligent believers and warriors, our language and mindset need to advocate that neither gender experiences abuse of power.
However, even as I sat in church this morning and listened to the array of great advice about submission and respecting authority, I heard only one sentence blithely mention that power can be misused. But not a word was said to define the importance of getting out of a dynamic where the authority and power are corrupt. There was nothing said about the reality of abuse being continued by children who were not removed from homes where domestic violence occurred. No statistics given, therefore, no awareness increased. No encouragement to grasp the deepening spiritual and characterological scarring that occurs, and the vital importance of reaching out for help.
Now, what I don’t know, as I hustle into my week, is just how many of the women and children in these environments will face corrupt power based upon a well-intended sermon—embedded with popular verses in the Bible about keeping God’s commands. Commands which, in their essence, are about freedom and life. But in the logic of a controller, can be grossly misused as an entitlement to harm and break the spirit of the other.
When we discuss authority as it relates to families, marriages, work, ministry, and schools, it is careless not to publicly acknowledge that corrupt and demeaning authority is NEVER a part of God’s plan to teach us something, to mold us into his image. We need to speak plainly that it may be necessary to leave a relationship, a job, a school, a ministry position where the power is corrupt. Give people places to report the abuse and seek confidential help. If abuse is present in marriage, refer them to individual counseling, as marriage counseling may increase risk of further abuse. We kick at the hornet’s nest, if we do not plainly and publicly acknowledge the reality of corrupt power and taking the steps necessary to end the violation.
When insight is given on the prevalence of this problem, and outreaches are listed, we stand up for God’s reputation as a healer, who shares power and arms the helpless with solutions. We help them know that nowhere in scripture is it allowed to break the spirit and hope of another. Nowhere.
As you read the statistics below, please consider donating to hotlines and non-profits serving this population.
Also, please carefully consider whether you know of anyone who might need this advice. Please be advised that this information must be sent to the person of concern in a manner that does not further threaten their safety. If the controller has access to their social media accounts, emails, and texts, this type of information could lead to further violation. Thus, it is top priority that there would be caution used and that this would be done without being tracked by the controller.
- In Douglas County (less than a mile from where I live) domestic violence is the #1 Crime, after traffic violations.
- Since 1997, 82% of all homicides in Douglas County have been factually proven to be based in domestic violence.
- In the US, a woman is attacked ranging from bruising to murder, harassed, stalked, isolated from friends and family, deprived of physical and economic resources, witnesses the destruction of personal property, and/or is sexually violated (called sexual names to rape) every 12 seconds.
- Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, more than mugging, stranger rape and car accidents COMBINED.
- Based on 2003 dollars, the cost of intimate partner violence annually exceeds $5.8 billion, including $4.1 billion in direct health care expenses, $900 million in lost productivity, and $900 million in life time earnings.
- One in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
- The United Way ranks domestic violence as the leading cause of birth defects.
- Studies have found that child abuse occurs in up to 70% of families that experience domestic violence. Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to exhibit behavioral and physical health problems.
- 95% of boys and 72% of girls witnessing domestic violence will carry abuse into their adult relationships.
- 57% of women who are physically abused never tell anyone. 50% of all homeless women are fleeing domestic violence.
There is no excuse for abuse. EVER.
WHAT TO DO:
If someone tells you they are being abused, do not tell them what to do. Empower them to make decisions. Remind them that they are smart, strong and have resources through hotlines (and perhaps other support systems) anytime they believe it’s time to use them.
Be appalled at the perpetrator not the victim. Do not be appalled at the victim for staying or leaving, for any reason.
Contact local reporting agencies: social services, sheriff’s office. Use a phone that is not linked to your private line. All inquiries and reports are anonymous, unless otherwise specified.
Contact a lawyer who specializes in domestic violence to understand your rights as a partner, spouse, and parent. Search www.laywers.findlaw.com
Contact school(s) your children attend to convey the issues, and determine the best course of action with school safety.
Contact your physician and the children’s pediatrician to understand what steps they can take to report this.
Contact therapists who are trusted by physicians, lawyers and reporting agencies. If a case file is opened, there are therapists registered with the victim’s compensation boards connected to the law enforcement agency to assist with counseling fees.
HOTLINES will also guide you on next steps, whether you or a loved one is experiencing this:
- Douglas County: The Women’s and Family Outreach Center 303.688.8484
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: 800.839.1852
- National Resource Center for Domestic Violence: 800.537.2238
- Safe Horizons: 866.604.5350
- Go to Last Battle.org, click on Resources for phone hotline information.
- Go to Last Battle’s Domestic Violence page for a solid characterization of domestic violence.
Please don’t let the fancy watches, big homes, advanced degrees, SUV’s and country club memberships fool you. Pray for all races, classes, and creeds to receive abundance as they take the steps needed to gain freedom from this insidious crime.
Mary Ellen Mann
Mary Ellen Mann is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Denver (visit www.manncounselinggroup.com). After attending a Christian college, she did her graduate work at Columbia University. Recently she co-founded Last Battle, LLC and helped develop the first interactive website for survivors of sexual violation, www.lastbattle.org, to help survivors, family and friends of survivors, Christian leaders, and professionals who care about this population. Her book, From Pain to Power will be on the market September 22, 2015. Mary Ellen lives in Denver with her husband and their two sons.