by Linda Gehman Peachey
What can one tell a mother whose married daughter lives in an isolated setting but is not allowed to call home or receive family visits? Or what does one say to the woman whose pastor insists she must always submit to her husband no matter what he does? What hope can one give? What resources are available?
For more than 25 years, MCC staff have provided support to women in these situations, as well as resources for families and churches. Many recall the “The Purple Packet,” first assembled in 1987. More recent resources (in both English and Spanish) include a website, booklets for church leaders and “Home shouldn’t be a place that hurts” brochures.
Two new resources are a church pledge and wallet card for pastors, with tips and tools for supporting survivors of domestic violence. Both highlight the vital role church leaders can play in promoting peaceful relationships at home.
It is important to have good laws and public policies which protect and support victims of abuse. Yet it is also essential for survivors to find advocates in the church. Too often victims are blamed for the abuse, or if the marriage ends. They are urged to be more loving and forgiving, or to try harder to please their partner.
Many also struggle with questions of faith. Where is God in this suffering? How can I be a faithful Christian? Does bearing the cross mean submitting to abuse or even death? How do I protect and care for my children?
In these situations, survivors need to hear that God loves them, and that Jesus’ mission was to bring release to the captives and freedom to the oppressed. They need to know church leaders will support them, help them find safety and insist that the abusing person end the violence. They need advocates who will walk with them and demonstrate God’s neverending care.
Linda Gehman Peachey is director of women’s advocacy for Mennonite Central Committee U.S.