What can a pastor do when a church member tells him that their spouse has been abusing them? Pastors are dedicated, caring people, but few report receiving any or adequate training in domestic violence during their journey through the seminary. In fact, 52 percent of senior pastors in a national survey said they lacked sufficient training to help domestic and sexual abuse victims.
Sheltering Wings hosted a Church Leadership Training workshop for pastors and lay leaders to expand their knowledge of domestic violence intervention in March. We know that churches are often the “first responders” for troubled families. Our workshop educated these faith leaders about domestic abuse, including the warning signs, how to respond when they learn of abuse, the resources available to them and their church members, and how churches can provide loving refuge to victims.
It’s sad, but no congregation or community is immune to domestic violence. When you gather with your faith family on Sunday morning, there are those among you who secretly live in fear and shame. But they are not without hope, because the more you know about domestic abuse, the more you can do to increase awareness and help the victims around you.
The participants in our workshop shared stories of their own encounters with abuse victims, and learned how they could intervene more effectively. They developed a stronger understanding of the dynamics of troubled relationships, so they could see that couples counseling — the “traditional” response — is rarely a safe solution for abuse victims. And they received information to share with their congregations.
One participant put it best when he said, “Knowing that you are here as a resource for me to use when I have to address a situation of domestic violence is a relief.” Thanks to your generous and prayerful support, Sheltering Wings is able to continue to serve as that resource, and we are deeply grateful.