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I


saw a faint purplish tint on the hollow above Margaret’s cheek. Startled, I looked closer—was it a black eye? Margaret (name changed for her protection) had stopped by my office at the church to ask about a baptism for a family member. Internally I argued with myself: “Say something. No, don’t embarrass her. You can barely see the mark. It’s probably nothing.” As Margaret prepared to go, I ven-


tured: “You know, I was wondering if everything is going OK at home.” She looked at me blankly. Fumbling, I added: “I see you might have a little mark by your eye.”


The pause seemed eternal. Then


Margaret’s poker face broke. She and her children were living in an abu- sive situation.


One general way to define domes- tic abuse is a pattern of behaviors used to control and intimidate a person. It is deeply personal, often private and shameful, and frequently hidden behind closed doors. And such abuse has long been a taboo issue in society, especially in churches. When Antonia Clemente, executive director of The Healing Center, Brooklyn, N.Y., first pro- posed a ministry 12 years ago that would help women living in situa- tions of abuse, she was met with a lot of resistance.


“There were those [who] felt that the issue didn’t belong in the church, that it belonged in the field of social work,” Clemente said. “People felt it was very taboo for the church to be dealing with domestic violence.”


Mack, a former ELCA missionary, has a master of divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York and works in a domestic violence shelter in Illinois.


20 The Lutheran • www.thelutheran.org


13 is in Confronting domestic abuse


The reality is that domestic abuse is much more common than people think. “On Sunday morning, any 1 of 3 women sitting in the pew has been touched by domestic violence,” said Marie Fortune, founder of the Faith- Trust Institute, which works with faith communities to end sexual and domestic violence.


According to a 2012 fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 3 in 10 women and 1 in 10 men have reported intimate partner violence, but “these numbers underestimate the problem. Many


harmed by domestic abuse


How churches can create a point of grace By Lindsay Mack


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