Domestic Violence is any kind of behavior that a person uses to control an intimate partner through fear and intimidation. It includes physical, sexual, psychological, verbal and economic abuse. Examples include battering, name calling and insults, threats to kill or harm one’s partner or children, marital rape, or forced abortion
Why Men Batter
- Men who abuse generally share some common characteristics. They tend to be jealous, possessive and easily angered.
- View women as inferior
- Alcohol and Drugs
Why Women Stay
Fear: for themselves, for their children, fear that they cannot support themselves.
Religion: Resource or Roadblock?
A correct reading of Scripture leads to an understanding of the equal dignity of men and women and to relationships based on mutuality and love.
- Husbands should love their wives as they love their own body, as Christ loves the Church.
- Forgiveness does not mean forgetting the abuse or pretending it did not happen. Forgiveness is not permission to repeat the abuse.
- An abused women’s suffering is not punishment from God. This image of a harsh, cruel God runs contrary to the biblical image of a kind, merciful, loving God.
- No person is expected to stay in an abusive marriage. We encourage abused persons who have divorced to investigate the possibility of seeking an annulment
Intervention by Church ministers has three goals:
- Safety for the victim and children
- Accountability for the abuser
- Restoration of the relationship ( if possible) or mourning over loss
First Responders: Priests, Deacons, Lay Ministers
- Listen to and believe the victim’s story
- Help assess the danger to oneself and children
- Refer to counseling and other specialized services
It is important to note that when dealing with people who abuse, church ministers need to hold them accountable for their behavior. Couple counseling is not appropriate, and can endanger the victim’s safety.
What Abused Women Can Do for Help
- You are not alone, and help is available for you.
- Talk in confidence to someone you trust.
- Set up a plan of action to ensure your safety.
- Find out about resources in your area, such as your diocesan Catholic Charities office or family life office.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE, provides crisis intervention and references to local services.
What Men Who Abuse Can do for Help
- Admit that abuse is your problem, and begin to believe that you can change your behavior if you choose to do so.
- Be willing to reach out for help.
- The Church is available to help you.
- Find alternative ways to act when you become frustrated or angry.