October 1, 2013
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“Shades of Violence, Paths to Healing” was the theme of an opening gathering on domestic violence and abuse sponsored jointly by the United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. It was an event that featured experts’ statistics as well as the personal stories of those who suffered various forms of domestic violence and abuse. It highlighted the need for being peacemakers in our communities.
Victims of beatings told of becoming survivors. While statistically women are overwhelmingly victims, men are also abused. Domestic violence often goes unreported, especially with men. At this event, a man shared that his wife hit him at home for eight years but he was too embarrassed to tell anyone. Now he proclaims that there is no shame in it and men need to seek help. One man shared a photo of a family member who had been murdered—until it happened to his niece, he had not experienced something like this personally, but now he speaks about it because people need to know. A woman shared that the church had not been very helpful to her when she came to them for help. This gathering was about the clarion call for churches to address domestic violence to their congregants and in their communities.
The event was initiated by United Methodist Women who attended a U.N. seminar in New York to focus on domestic violence and learn about the Domestic Violence Initiative of UMW and UMM. They then joined their efforts with those of UMM. The August event was the result of a yearlong planning process and work by the two groups, which included a Collaborative Action plan. Elizabeth Stemley, UMW Vice President, gave the challenge to all present to make a commitment to do one of the items included on the Action plan during the following two months, to disseminate the information to local churches, and to work with the planning team to monitor progress. The U.N. Seminar Program in New York and the Domestic Violence Initiative are supported by United Methodist Women Mission Giving.
God of great love and compassion, make our hearts tender towards each other. Help us to see the deep and abiding faithfulness of your love, which does no harm. Guide us in speaking to the violence we see around us so that we are explicit in our efforts to overcome it. Clear out our hearts of prejudice, arrogance, selfishness, insincerity, self-doubt and anything that does not demonstrate grace. Refill our hearts, O God, with only love and gentleness. As Jesus lived and loved, so may we also, Amen.
Visit our Domestic Violence Awareness page to learn more.
Julie Taylor served as Executive Secretary of Child, Youth and Family Advocacy for United Methodist Women’s national office