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Women's Report - October 2010
MCC U.S. Women’s Advocacy
Peace at Home
by Linda Gehman Peachey
It is not enemies who taunt me — I could bear that; it is not adversaries who deal insolently with me — I could hide from them. But it is you, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend, with whom I kept pleasant company; we walked in the house of God with the throng. (Psalm 55:12-14)
One of the grim realities of life in our society is the violence which occurs in our families and homes. On average, 3 or 4 women are murdered every day in the U.S. by their husbands or boyfriends. While this number has declined over the past few decades, it is still more on average than the daily number of U.S. soldiers killed these past years in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dating violence is also an increasing problem, with 1 in 3 adolescent girls experiencing physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner (The Facts on Domestic, Dating and Sexual Violence, Family Violence Prevention Fund). According to Nancy Nason-Clark, the incidence of abuse in Christian homes is similar to general society; the only difference is that Christian women tend to remain in an abusive relationship longer.
One woman described her experience this way:
Whenever people share a living space they run into little problems….But in our house the problems would not be solved…I would try harder to please him but he would not be soothed….Physical and verbal abuse became a regular pattern. He would grab me or push me if he thought I wasn't listening to him. He would throw things and tell me that I was a lousy wife or mother or housekeeper….
A beating is a hard thing to describe. It's a hard thing to remember, not because the memories have faded, but because they are so clear and painful. I felt an inexpressible fear, my arms pinned immobile to a bed by the knees of the man I loved, his fist coming toward my face. I have looked in the mirror and not recognized myself…
I finally realized that I was living in a kind of hell, and that it surely couldn't be God's will for anyone to live like this. So I ran away, to the Crisis Intervention Center in my town. That's where I began to learn to be alive again (From an anonymous story, at http://abuse.mcc.org)
The consequences of such violence are severe, not only emotionally, physically and spiritually, but also in terms of major disease. For instance, women who have experienced domestic violence are 80% more likely to have a stroke, 70% more likely to have heart disease, 60% more likely to have asthma, and 70% more likely to drink heavily than women who have not experienced intimate partner violence (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008).
As Christians who seek to follow Jesus’ way of peace, these realities challenge us. What do we say? What do we teach? How do we support those experiencing abuse? How do we confront and hold accountable those who behave abusively? How do we work at prevention?
For discussion and reflection