What can we do about it? Change our culture
We should detest pride. We should never allow derogatory language or attitudes toward others to be accepted within our culture. In all our social circles we must ‘call out’ these attitudes and behaviours – among groups of young men and brothers, in our young people’s formal and informal groups, among groups of couples, among couples preparing for marriage and during marriage enrichment activities? By doing so we may be helping a potential abuser to consider his ways and so turn to righteousness rather than evil. These groups mentioned are at a high-risk of knowing about cases of domestic violence or even experiencing it directly. But there are others. These attitudes need to be as quickly tackled in groups of middle aged brothers and sisters, our family groups and even amongst circles of older brothers and sisters.
I regret not confronting un-Christlike behaviours of husbands to wives that I have seen in the past, in what have subsequently been shown to be abusive relationships. Other brothers and sisters have told me they feel the same.
[Note: before reading this you might like to revise what domestic abuse is]
Changing the culture of abuse and denial requires us all to decide we will not accept domestic abuse and not keep it hidden. It requires that it is a subject we are willing to discuss in formal and informal settings.
Pre-marital classes must provide knowledge to the bride and groom that manipulation and control have no place in a Godly marriage. It must prepare the bride and groom to reject the first sign of abusive behaviours in the relationship and to seek help immediately. It should seek to establish patterns of loving and caring behaviours that can be practiced before marriage. The pre-marriage counsellors must be willing to consider the possibility of worrying behaviours surfacing during their discussions with the couple (e.g. “dating violence”) and be prepared to raise serious concerns about where such behaviours could lead. If abuse is disclosed the counsellors must be prepared to respond as seriously as they would to abuse after marriage and the wisdom of continuing with the wedding plans questioned. A little embarrassment may save a lifetime of pain and save one sinner in danger from rejection at the Judgement Seat. These discussions should not be light-hearted or joked about – remember domestic abuse happens across the spectrum of brothers and sisters in the ecclesia as across all of society.
Already our schools and youth settings have incorporated regular attention to relationships, the roles of men and women and marriage. This work needs to always include the counterpoint explicitly rejecting the myths that underpin domestic violence and ecclesias must use every opportunity to signal to victims that they will be believed and the ecclesia will provide refuge and support for victims. Prevention is better than cure.
If this article raises concerns you have about domestic violence in your own life or those around you can call 1800RESPECT (If in Australia) or similar services in other countries. There is also a list of support services on this website including Christadelphian Support Services.