Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Domestic Violence Month

October is Domestic Violence Month.

Usually I don't make a huge commitment to promoting the various 'months' which are designed, in many cases, to bring attention to many important issues, emphasis and causes. This is one of those times when I think its important enough to do so.

Violence between intimates is a sad circumstance for both men and women. As a pastor, I had the opportunity to counsel with couples whose marriages were marred with this dysfunction. While most of the time it was violence of the man in the relationship, there were times when the woman was the perpetrator. Sometimes there was physical violence, most of the times it was not the bruising of the body, but the soul and spirit, with disparaging and demeaning language, or inappropriate ways in which they treated one another in ways that degraded and diminished the other couple.

I've seen it happen in my family. My son was killed a year ago, in a senseless act of family violence that has not only robbed us of a son, but threatens to leave his wife's parents without her daughter and our granddaughter and her brother without a mother.

Domestic violence is never justifiable. It is never acceptable. It is never helpful. In the end it corrupts something in the inner being of both in the relationship.

It is especially relevant during this period in our society. For some, the anger, frustration and sense of hopelessness that people feel (particularly men, but sometimes women as well), is especially acute during tough financial times. Even then, it is never alright and we need to say so and provide help for the victim and the perpetrator.

Paige Flink Executive Director of the organization The Family Place, works with women, primarily to provide a safe haven, counseling and the space to start over for those who are victims of domestic violence.

Here are some important facts about domestic violence in Dallas County:

According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, an estimated
265,090 people in Dallas County (11.4% of the population) are victims of domestic

The January 2007 Homeless Count found 5,163 people living on Dallas streets or in shelters, including 1,139 children. For the second year in a row, women and children made up over half of the homeless population (52%). Domestic abuse/family problems were listed as the reasons for homelessness by 24% of the population.

According to WomenKind, Inc., 70% of the children of abused women are also physically abused, and 20% are sexually abused. The majority of abusive men were either abused as children or witnessed their mothers being abused.

The Surgeon General’s Workshop on Violence and Public Health reports that domestic violence is the number one cause of injury to women in the United States—more than rapes, muggings and auto accidents combined.

According to the FBI, a woman is beaten in this country every 15 seconds.
Sam Houston University Department of Criminal Justice finds that in one out
of every three relationships, some type of domestic violence occurs. Nationally,
domestic violence kills over 3,000 women each year.

At Central Dallas Ministries our public interest law firm, CDM Legal Action Works (L.A.W.) nearly half of the 80% of the cases that they handle that involve women, involve family violence and the issues that result from it: custody battles, divorce and child support.

If you know of anyone who is a victim of domestic violence, or you, yourself, yourself are a victim - physical, mental or emotional violence - encourage them, help them get help, or get help yourself. This includes acts which give evidence of obsession, jealousy, controlling behavior or stalking.

Teach your sons how to treat women. Teach your daughters how to express firmly how they expect to be treated and help them end relationships in which they are mistreated.

To get help call our law center at 214-827-1000

Or Family Place's 24 hour hot line: 214-941-1991

Or the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

Family violence is something that almost never gets better. It has to be stopped.

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