How long, O Lord?
will you forget me forever?
how long will you hide your face from me?
How long shall I have perplexity in my mind,
and grief in my heart, day after day?
- Psalm 13 : 1 - 2
Remember us, nourish our souls, comfort us with your goodness, and give us peace.
- Adapted from BCP 55 (p. 831)
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and We Will Speak Out U.S. is encouraging faith communities to act against abuse.
In the United States, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. I know that sounds unbelievable, but here's a link to the CDC report documenting it.but here's a link to the CDC report documenting it.
Given that intimate partner violence is such a pressing concern, how can individuals and faith communities respond?
What The Episcopal Church is doing
The Episcopal Church, and Episcopal Relief and Development, are partners in We Will Speak Out U.S., a movement of diverse faith groups from across the U.S. joining together with other leaders for action and advocacy to end the silence around sexual and gender-based violence. Mare sure to check out their website at: https://wewillspeakout.us/
Also, you may know that I have had the honor of serving the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion on their delegation to UNCSW. If you are ever interested in hearing more about how our Church is advocating for survivors of violence around the world, feel free to ask - I'd love to share!
What St. Paul's is doing
During the month of October, we will be making resources with hotline numbers available throughout the building.
We will also be offering special prayers, including in the Prayers of the People, and special prayers in the bulletin.
You can also stay tuned for more activities to come as we plan into the future!
What you can do
Loving God, who died by violence so that we could have abundant life, stand always with those hurt by abuse. Surround them with your care and protect them by your loving might. Let them feel your presence, and be confident in you, so they may enjoy healing and peace. Move the hearts of those who abuse others. Help them to know that every human being is made in Your image. Comfort and protect all who work to help victims of violence and abuse. Fill Your Church with the willingness to respond to violence with compassion. Help me to be humble, willing to apologize, make amends, and change any hurtful behavior.Help me to find the courage to stand up for others as you would. Amen.
-adapted from the Domestic Violence Month Prayer Calendar at mnys.org
Given the horrifying prevalence of abuse, it's almost certain you know someone who is being hurt, or has been hurt, by someone else. If someone reaches out to you, how can you help?
Know that there are many crisis hotlines there to listen, and help refer to resources.Below are a few. I suggest people save them in their phones, so they have them on hand in case a loved one ever needs them.
Please know these hotlines are always happy to speak with the loved ones, colleagues etc, of people who are surviving violence.
They are also happy to help people whose abuse happened in the past who need some emotional support and resources.
Also keep in mind - they want to help.If you don't reach the right hotline, they will help you find the best resources possible. If in doubt, call.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7223
The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network: 1-800-656-4673
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Most importantly, if someone shares with you that they are not safe, or are struggling, believe them. Listen to them, and ask them: what can I do to help you? What do you need right now to be safe? If they don't know, let them know you are there to support them when they are ready to make a safety plan.
It may take time (and even a few attempts) for a person in an abusive relationship to be able to safely leave their partner. Don't forget that they are the expert of their situation, and they know better than anyone what their partner is capable of.
Connect with groups locally
I have served as an advocate with Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, and the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. I've done many different kinds of work with these organizations over the years, and it's been an incredible ministry. If you are interested in finding out how you can support groups that are helping survivors, I encourage you to reach out to them and find out what they need you to do!
Never doubt that God loves you EXACTLY as you are and is working through you WHEREVER you are.
God loves you, and wants you to be well.
Remember healing and hope are ALWAYS possible.