Church Should Be Forerunner in Confronting Domestic Violence

By Yvonne DeVaughn

CHICAGO, IL (September 11, 2014) — The AVA (Advocacy for Victims of Abuse) stands in solidarity against all manners of domestic violence in our communities. We believe that God created women and men in the image of God, equal in dignity, worth, rights, and authority, and that sin has distorted God’s created order (Genesis 1:26-27; Galatians 3:28).

Domestic violence includes all forms of physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, verbal, spiritual, and financial abuse, including what is often a pattern of battering, threats, intimidation, isolation, and economic coercion, used by one person to exert power and/or control over another person in the context of intimate, dating, family, or household relationships. The epidemic of domestic violence is found in all types of communities and family structures, and devastates young and old women, children and men.

Domestic violence is never excusable. The exposure to and results of violence are so prevalent that it has become commonplace and almost a norm in our public and private lives. The sad and disturbing unfolding details of Ray Rice, running back for the Ravens, and his incident of domestic violence against his wife, Janay Palmer Rice, has again brought national attention to this issue that plagues every community, including all faith communities. The NFL’s decision to terminate Rice’s contract under its now “no tolerance” policy is a step in the right direction. More organizations should follow its lead.

Unfortunately, using the pretext that domestic violence is a private family matter continues to obscure the critical need to address this blight within our communities and congregations. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The NFL and other organizations can go a step further in their “no tolerance” by not only putting policies in place, but by educating and supporting those under their charge (including their immediate families) to discover ways to develop and celebrate living nonviolently.

It should not stop there; accountability should also come from their peers. And the faith community should be the forerunner offering resources rather than roadblocks to ensure that our communities are safe and healing.

Materials for helping churches, including planning a Domestic Violence Awareness Sunday, are located on the AVA website.

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