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The reality is that domestic abuse is all around us: in our churches, workplaces and neighborhoods. “This is not just an issue for a wom- en’s committee,” Clemente said. “This is everyone’s work. We all need to be at the table to do this.” Congregations can help just by openly acknowledging that the issue exists and erasing the sense that talk- ing about it is taboo. “We’ve got to be a church that says, ‘We take this on,’ ” Clemente said. “Could [a pas- tor] preach a sermon about domestic violence in the congregation or talk about what healthy relationships look like?”


Congregations can also:


• Take on the issue in the liturgy, prayers, preaching and even restroom stalls. Restrooms are safe places to hang posters or other information about domestic violence, explaining where people can get help.


Resources for congregations


• ELCA Justice for Women: the website has resources for congrega- tions, including educational pam- phlets, theological resources and bul- letin inserts (www.elca.org/justice; click on “Justice for Women” in the left-hand column).


• Lutheran Community Foun- dation Ending Family Violence Initiative: The ELCA Justice for Women program is partnering with LCF and the FaithTrust Institute to offer healthy and safe congregations workshops on sexual and domestic violence. Your congregation can also take part in a series of 12 free webi- nars available on their website (www. thelcf.org).


• Barbara Keller, ELCA consul- tant for misconduct prevention (773-380-2568).


24 The Lutheran • www.thelutheran.org


• Volunteer for service projects that benefit domestic violence organiza- tions. Financially support a shelter and make mention of this in church literature or on the website. • Recognize the value of empowered female role models in church leader- ship positions since women are dis- proportionately affected by domestic violence. Jones of ADVANCE said men who abuse often “ascribe to rigid gender roles. They might firmly believe that men should be in charge [or that] women can’t be trusted.”


Consider: How does your congre- gation model equitable leadership within the church? For example, does your congregation have a fair representation of women as church council members? How can your congregation make an intentional effort to communicate that women’s contributions and leadership are val- ued in the church? • Use and refer people to local domestic violence professionals for education and in crisis situations. • Stay on top of advocacy efforts for people who have been abused. • Partner with local shelters and crisis centers for people living with domes- tic abuse.


The Healing Center (also known


as the Trinity Healing Center) grew out of a Lutheran church basement. A partner of the Metropolitan New York Synod and Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Brooklyn, today it is a place where people in situations of domes- tic violence find a listening ear, help- ful advocates and support groups. The congregation’s pastor, Paul H. Knudsen, serves as the center’s spiri- tual director.


Rose (name changed for her protection), who owned a profitable retail business with her husband, found help at The Healing Center. No one would have guessed that the successful couple lived with the


secret of abuse. But for years Rose’s husband had abused her psycho- logically, emotionally and sexually. When she threatened to leave, he taunted her, saying: “I am a business- man in the community. Who is going to believe you?” Concerned about how she and her


children would survive if she left the family business and home, she went to The Healing Center for help. Whenever she felt intimidated in court or nervous filing a complaint at the police precinct, her support group at the center encouraged her. With education and advocacy from the center, Rose found a path to healing. • Support agencies affiliated with Lutheran Services in America as they connect people living in situations of abuse to social services.


Even before they seek help, those who are abused can show up in need of social services since domestic violence affects a person’s mental health, social circle and self-image. It can lead to depression, isolation from friends and family, and affect job productivity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Pre- vention and Boston College’s Sloan Work and Family Research Network. These factors also help explain why domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness in our society, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Not every LSA agency has a comprehensive program to address abuse in the family, but they can refer clients to local providers of those services. They may also offer counseling, foster care and homeless services.


“[Domestic] violence keeps


[LSA] ministries very busy trying to help people who may or may not make it into the domestic violence programs,” said Mary Ann Johnson, director of Lutheran community


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