Christian Ministries Developed, Aiming to Assist Victims of Violence

( [email protected] ) Sep 09, 2004 07:12 PM EDT

In response to the increasing trend of domestic violence cases in the US, the Southern California district’s Teen Challenge and Women’s Ministries and the Assemblies of God national Women’s Ministries initiated several programs to provide comfort and aid to the victims.

According to national statistics, one out of every three American women will experience an incident of domestic violence at least once in her life, and in up to 60 percent of these homes, a child is also being abused.

Approximately 95 percent of violent incidents involve a male perpetrator, and the victims are not only his wife but it can also be his children.

"If a perpetrator begins by beating his wife, it may spread broader, with children becoming direct victims. In these homes children are at a higher risk for all forms of maltreatment -- physical, emotional and sexual abuse," says Elizabeth Leonard, associate professor of sociology and co-director of the Center for Women's Studies at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California.

At times, Christians have been slow to respond to domestic violence. "We have been reluctant to become involved in issues of domestic violence because the issue is shrouded in secrecy, at least within the church," says Rachels. "But the time has come for us to get involved as a church."

Teen Challenge has started addressing domestic violence by initiating workshops and training sessions for staff members helping to bring awareness to victims of violence. Meanwhile, Los Angeles Teen Challenge's Home of Hope also initiates programs helping residents address the negative effects of drug abuse and domestic violence.

In addition, the Southern California District Women's Ministries has raised funds to purchase the home for victims, called Home of Hope. "For years we had wanted to do something for this large population of hurt women, both inside and outside the church," says Judy Rachels, director of Women's Ministries for Southern California.

"It's important for women to understand that they do not have to stay in abusive homes," says national Women's Ministries Director Arlene Allen. "Often they feel they have no other choice. We hope that churches will see the need and minister to both the abused and the abuser."

The national Women’s Ministries Department of the Assemblies of God is also preparing a newly ministry packet named “Fragile Soul”, which will be available next year for churches to assist victims of domestic violence.