The statistics are overwhelming. One in three women has experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. One in five women has experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner. One in seven women has experienced stalking victimization. On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. Given these statistics, chances are you have or someone close to you has been a victim of domestic violence.
These statistics and the reality they describe can leave us feeling helpless. This month and the next we in the ELCA are given a chance to study and reflect on gender-based violence as a social message is developed for the church. The ELCA’s Task Force on Women and Justice: One in Christ requested that a social message on gender-based violence be created and the ELCA Church Council agreed. A draft social message is now available for study and comment.
Start by reading the FAQs to get a better sense of the process and scope of the message. Then download the message, read it and make plans to discuss it in an adult forum, at a circle or general meeting or at a special event called just for that purpose. Invite men and women, and include teen women and men. Make copies of the draft and distribute in advance. Facilitate the discussion, having someone taking notes. Offer feedback on the draft before the November 26 deadline.
Gender-based violence is truly an epidemic that cuts across every community, age, economic status, race and religion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe intimate partner violence as a “serious, preventable public health problem.” Help the church respond to this epidemic by participating now in the draft social message review.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director.
Click here or on the image to see the full infographic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.