Hitting Home – How We Can Curb Domestic Violence
The statistics surrounding domestic violence are staggering. Consider the following:
- In the United States, one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
- An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
- Eighty-five percent of domestic violence victims are women, with women aged 22 to 24 being at the greatest risk.
- Intimate partner violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the U.S.
- More than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in the U.S. every day.
- Women who are divorced or separated report being battered 14 times more often than those still living with their abusers.
- Between 2009 to 2011, a total of 49 individuals died in Dallas County as a result of 34 intimate-partner-violence homicide cases.
- African-American women are approximately 2.5 times more likely to die by intimate partner violence than white females or Hispanic females.
What is domestic or intimate-partner violence? Intimate-partner violence, according to the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for Social Work Research, consists of physical abuse, sexual abuse, threats made against the self or family, and verbal abuse. Behavior exhibited in intimate-partner violence demonstrates a pattern of abuse used by one person to gain or maintain power, control and authority over another.
What perpetuates domestic violence? A patriarchal view of relationships toward women and children that asserts control over cooperation and mutuality tends to open the door to domestic violence. In addition – in our contemporary culture – a warped understanding of masculinity has developed that equates being violent to being a man.
Additional resources on domestic violence can be found below.
The Book of Discipline recognizes that family violence and abuse in all its forms is detrimental to the covenant of the community. The United Methodist Church encourages congregations to provide a safe environment, counsel and support for the victim. While the UMC deplores actions of the abuser, we also affirm the perpetrator to be in need of God’s redeeming love. According to the Book of Resolutions, the Church must reexamine the theological messages it communicates in light of the experiences of victims of sexual and gender-based violence. Part of our call, as individuals and as a Church, is to address the root causes of violence, eradicate it in all forms and be God’s instruments for the wholeness of affected victims. People of faith should take the lead in calling for a just response by the community in the face of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
What We Can Do
(Tips from the United Methodist Women)
- Examine the biblical and theological understandings of the nature of love and Jesus’ example of non-violence in relationships. Use “Articulating Our Theology: Domestic Violence” Presentation put forth by the General Board of Church and Society.
- Explore the United Methodist Church’s stance and resources about domestic violence.
- Work to raise awareness of domestic violence-causes and responses-in both church and community. “What Churches Can Do” DVD produced by Faith Trust Institute is a key resource. They have other free resources on the issue.
- Lead a class on Texas Council on Family Violence’s resource, “The Faith Community and Domestic Violence” and/or the General Board of Church and Society Webinar.
- Distribute the “What Every Congregation Needs to Know about Domestic Violence” brochure.
- Promote church and community resources for domestic violence victims and abusers. Here is a link to Texas shelters and other resources: http://tcfv.org/service-directory/
- Post the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233, and the Power and Control Wheel, in church and public restrooms.
- Gather a small group of men, women and youth from your congregation to explore the United Methodist Women’s toolkit to see how you might work with your congregation to create a safe space for people – including training and ongoing awareness.
- Support the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence annually, from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10.
- Plan to observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month each October.
Attend Upcoming Events
- Oct. 18-20: 2017 North Texas Facing Family Violence Conference
- Oct. 18: A Survivor’s Story Candlelight Vigil by Desoto Domestic Violence Advisory Commission & Police Department
- Oct. 20: Are We Winning the War on Domestic Violence? by Creative Communication Network
- Oct. 28: Bruised Not Broken Stage Reading by I Am What I Believe Foundation
- GBCS Statement on Domestic Violence
- Article on Domestic Violence Awareness Month by the GBCS General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Susan Greer Burton
- Coordinated Community Action Model demonstrates ways communities can accountably act to support women and children and hold batterers accountable for their behavior
- Equality Wheel models healthy relationships
- Myths and Facts about Domestic Violence by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
- Family Violence Statistics in Texas by Texas Council On Family Violence
- Dallas County Adult Intimate Partner Violence Fatality Review Team Interim Report
- Statewide Prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence in Texas by the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for Social Work Research; School of Social Work; University of Texas at Austin
- Harmful Traditional and Cultural Practices Related to Violence Against Women and Successful Strategies to Eliminate Such Practices – Working with Men by Dr. Michael Flood, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP) Expert Group Meeting