Become an ally in comfort
Don't forget to register to become an Ally in Comfort.
As an Ally, you will be a leader in our community, advocating for domestic and sexual violence victims, armed with education materials to inform your congregation of ways to not only recognize victims, but to help them, too.
victims and religion
It is common to hear that abusers use their religion to justify the abuse. Religious teachings can be misinterpreted, taken out of context or used as a tool by some batterers to further their control.
Victims who have been abused may struggle to understand the abuse in light of their religious beliefs. Christian victims may believe that they deserve the punishment because of original sin or that suffering may be a way to salvation. Jewish victims may fear they are not maintaining "shalom bayit," or peace at home.
As a faith leader, it is vital that you recognize and acknowledge the challenge of a victim's inner conflict. Address their guilt, empathize with them, but be clear that the responsibility for the abuse lies with the abuser.
Speaking out against domestic and sexual violence sends a message that it is unacceptable and contrary to religious teachings.
signs that someone may be a victim of abuse
remember, you may be one of the few people who see the victim in a vulnerable state.
Signs to be aware of:
- Does the victim have visible injuries, such as black eyes, bruises or broken bones?
- Does the victim tend to miss work or services because of frequent "accidents?"
- Does the victim's partner exert an unusual amount of control over their activities?
- Do you notice the partner controlling family finances, the way victim acts or dresses or the victim's contact with family members and friends?
- Does the partner ridicule the victim publicly? Do members of your faith community ignore this behavior, even though they sense the volatile nature of the comments?
- Have you noticed changes in the victim's or the children's behavior? Do they appear frightened, exhausted or on edge? Do the children seem to upset easily? Are they experiencing sudden problems in school or other activities?
Some Questions to Consider
Before you initiate contact with a victim, survivor or perpetrator to provide advocacy or faith-based counseling, ask yourself these questions:
- What are my attitudes, feelings and thoughts about domestic violence or sexual assault?
- What qualifications do I have for helping victims, perpetrators and survivors?
- What are my limitations?
- What information and resources can I access to help victims, survivors and perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence in my congregation?
"In my experience as a faith leader, I know all too well the dangers of couples or marriage counseling in situations of domestic violence. Earlier in my career, without the extensive education and training I later received on domestic violence awareness, I'd often talk to the victim/survivor with her alleged perpetrator present. The risks I placed on the abused women by my well-intentioned, but inappropriate, efforts were great. I now know that the women were not free to express the devastation under which they lived."
The Rev. Al Miles,
Author and national trainer on domestic violence awareness for faith leaders