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We continue to commit ourselves to reforming our community, to find new meaning in our life and to renew our lives and the lives of our people. Domestic Violence is abuse which occurs within an intimate relationship. The partners might be married or unmarried. Research has shown us that it is most likely that the abuser will be male and the victim the female. However, domestic violence can also occur in the same gender relationships. Domestic violence is not about having a bad temper or being out of control over an intimate partner. Domestic violence encompasses a pattern of control and behavior exercised by one person over another.
The abuse can be physical, sexual, verbal, and emotional or cyberspace. Abuse can come in the form of the continuous use of demeaning words like you are slow, stupid, unattractive, or idiotic. It can be total access to and control over bank accounts and finances. It can be threats to injure children or pets. It can be monitoring and limiting friendships, going out, or talking on the phone. Domestic violence impacts the entire family, injuring the children who witness abuse by hearing it or seeing it.
We are not outsiders looking in from a distance. We want only to look upon our families and our communities and call out “how beautiful” but all is not so beautiful inside our souls. We do not like to talk about what is ugly and painful. We feel shame in revealing our less than perfect family lives. We do not want the outside world to know. We do not want each other to know. So we remain silent. But we are hurting; many are suffering, right in our presence. Others inflict deep pain upon those they claim to love. Some of us know the secrets that dwell with us in our homes. Some of us know that “how beautiful” is not quite true.
The time has come for us to address the problem of domestic violence in our community. Our silence has not saved us yet. We are still hurting; our silence will not help us now. With awareness and with courage we can help to save lives and bring about justice and healing. Our commitment should be to end domestic violence within our community, within our lives. The challenge is not impossible. Here are some suggestions:
We can assist victims of domestic violence establish their safety. In order to establish safety we need to establish ourselves as safe. We do this by offering educational programming and developing awareness about our community’s resources. We do this by developing relationships with local shelters and advocates so we can make appropriate referrals. We do this by providing religious material to the shelters for their religious residents. We do this when we listen to a woman and believe her when she says she is being abused. We do this when we speak with kindness and respect for one another, when we refuse to tolerate demeaning speech or behavior in our presence. We do this when we speak out as a community against abuse.