Every 9 seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten.
I’m not done sharing the month of October with you yet. There is something else you need to know about October - it is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
According to a domestic violence website...
“Domestic violence should not happen to anybody. Ever. Period.”
... but the reality is that one in four women (25%) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime. And nearly three out of four (74%) of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. The most shocking fact is that Domestic Violence is one of the most chronically underreported crimes. (Statistics according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence).
Facts about Domestic Violence: Domestic Violence is known by many different names, such as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence (including child abuse and elder abuse), and intimate partner violence. It can be physical abuse (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects), sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or verbal abuse, but it can also take on the form of controlling, domineering, intimidating, stalking, neglect, threats, and economic deprivation.
The U. S. Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) defines domestic violence as a "pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.” The definition adds that domestic violence "can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender."
Someone you need to meet ... Mae Weller is someone I met when I moved to Colorado and became involved with the Columbine Emmaus community. As we have gotten to know each other, our friendship has become such a blessing. Mae might be soft spoken and small in stature, but her love for the Lord is as big as you can get and her message is a powerful testimony of her journey through Domestic Violence. I asked Mae some tough questions, and here is her story...
Mae said, One night when things first started going bad, my daughter and I left and went to my parent’s house. We were in the basement hiding, and I picked up my Bible with a need to find comfort and strength. I opened the Bible and the verse I found in my darkest moments was the Lamentations 3:22-24, “The Lord’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning; Lord, your loyalty is great. I say to myself, “The Lord is mine, so I hope in Him.”
How long did you live in silence? I lived with Domestic Violence for 2 years (but as I look back now, I see that there were signs before).
What made you stay? I thought it was my duty to try to change him. Because of my marriage vows, I thought it was God wanting me to stay. I was very misguided in my thinking.
Before you left, what affects did it have on you? I felt isolated, and was in constant fear. I thought I was crazy.
What were some of your thoughts? I was constantly asking myself questions such as ... When is he going to go off the deep end again? How can I keep my daughter safe? When will I have to call the police again? How could I have put my daughter in this situation?
What changed? The turning point was when I had to seek a Women’s Shelter. While I was there, I turned to God. One of the first days that I felt safe enough to venture out, I went to the library. I checked out a copy of the “Doubleday Book of Prayer” and that is what got me through the first weekend. (Today I have my own copy of the book at home.) Another big step was seeking help from my minister.
What would you tell someone that is living the same story? Get out, just get out! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of ways and people to help you.
How are you doing today? My spiritual life has blossomed.... strength has abounded. Emotionally I am getting stronger, and I am finally ready to make a difference by reaching out to others.
What are your plans? I have been helping behind the scenes by donating my used cells phones, and praying for other women that might be in a domestic violence situation today. I am also beginning to speak out about my experience. I am also looking forward to becoming an advocate for Domestic Violence Awareness. No one seems to want to talk about it – whenever it’s brought up in a conversation, people become uncomfortable, or act like it doesn’t exist. But remember the statistics that were spoken at the beginning of this article... it is reality... it is a fact!
Finding Safety and Help ...
If you are in immediate danger - call 911, your local hotline, or
The U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233
The National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673
The National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline 1-866-331-9474
If you need help, but are not in immediate danger -
• Call the police
• Get medical help, if needed
• Get support from friends and family
• Find a safe place (ie. battered women’s shelter)
• Get a personal protection order
• Make a safety plan
It’s Friday, Let’s “Sparkle” ... action required ... So you have read the facts and statistics, and heard a story of transformation from abuse, to hope, and beyond. Is God tugging at your heart? You may be asking, “How can I make a difference?”
You can be an angel to someone without even knowing. Mae said, that God told her he was giving her “angels” because she needed help. People were there for her just when she needed a shoulder to lean on, a word of encouragement, legal assistance, or total protection. One such person even accompanied her to protection order hearings. Did you know that people (like you and I) can make a difference in someone’s life? Here are some suggestions:
Go to your states coalition against Domestic Violence website and check out ways to volunteer, or go to the NCADD (National Coalition) website ... http://www.ncadv.org/
Call your local Safe House or Women’s Shelter to find out how and where you can take donations.
Just like Mae mentioned, one huge way to help is by donating used cell phones – and you don’t even have to pay the shipping, check out ... http://www.ncadv.org/takeaction/DonateaPhone.php
Does your church have an outreach ministry? If not, consider starting a simple collection drive to donate items for your local women’s shelter or ask the shelter for literature that you could make available at your church.
I’d like to thank Mae for sharing her story. Our prayer is that someone reading her story might be touched and find encouragement to make a change. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all God’s glorious power, so you will have all the endurance and patience you need (Colossians 1:11). When I look at Mae, I see a beautiful survivor, not a fearful victim. Did you know that when God looks at you, He sees a survivor too ... don’t be a victim any longer.
God’s Peace, Donna Weaver
I am holding you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God.
And I say to you, “Do not be afraid. I am here to help you.”
- Isaiah 41:13