Violence Prevention Month
Domestic Violence in October
violence is a major justice and peace issue for our communities
of faith. The following are some introductions for homilies
on each Sunday in October followed by ideas for the body of
October 7th: Habakkuk
In the first reading we hear Habakkuk's cry to God for help. "I
cry out to you "violence", but you do not intervene." Habakkuk
is referring to the violence in Israel during his time. "Destruction
and violence are before me. There is strife and clamorous discord." God
answers that Habakkuk should not lose faith. God says, "Write
down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read
it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to
fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for
it, it surely will come, it will not be late."
October is the Domestic Violence Awareness month and Habakkuk's
reminds me of the desperate cries of so many women victims of
violence in our communities and our nation.
October 14: 2 Book of Kings
In our first reading Naaman is cured of leprosy after plunging
Jordan River seven times. He is thrilled and returns to the prophet
Elisha to present him with a gift in gratitude for the cure.
Elisha refuses it, Naaman asks for a few mule-loads of earth
to take home. He promises to trust only in the God of the Jews.
gospel, we hear of Jesus' cure of the ten lepers and only one
These stories of enthusiastic "thanks you's" remind me of women
liberated from domestic violence (or whom I have assisted to
liberated from DV). October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Victims of domestic violence are forever thankful for the support,
acceptance and accompaniment given them during their struggles
themselves from domestic abuse.
October 21: Exodus
In our first reading, Aaron and Hur have to hold up Moses' arms
Israel does battle against Amalek and his army. The battle continued
for a good while. When Moses grew tired and lowered his hands,
got the better of the fight.
The need for Moses to be constant in his prayer during the battle
Israelites, reminds me our need to be constant in our accompaniment
victims of domestic violence, who themselves are battling to
themselves from abuse. October is Domestic Violence Awareness
Many women suffer through years of abuse and agonize over the
whether to liberate themselves from violence or continue to try
their marriage. We who watch their struggle must be faithful
constant in our support as Moses was during the Israelites' battle.
October 28 Sirach
Today's first reading tells us that "the Lord is a God of justice
knows no favorites. Though not unduly partial toward the weak,
hears the cry of the oppressed. The Lord is not deaf to the wail
orphan, nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint."
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I have no doubt
hears the cry of so many women victims of domestic violence.
problem is that we often do not hear their cries, their muffled,
disguised and often only whispered cries.
Body of Homily
Domestic violence occurs largely behind closed doors, in secret.
often hidden from everyone but those in the family. And members
family often keep it a secret. It's too embarrassing or they
not know where to turn.
Domestic violence is rampant in our community. The statistics
is an epidemic. Many women here today are victims of domestic
and you understand how painful and shameful it can be.
-Every 15 seconds a woman is beaten in the United States.
- 1 in 4 women (25%) is battered. Imagine 1 out of every 4 women
been beaten. That means it's an epidemic.
- Annually, more than 4,000 men murder their intimate partners.
- Each year, 4 million men in America physically abuse their
- Certainly, some men are abused, but at least 95% of the victims
domestic abuse are women.
- Violence is the leading cause of injury to women between ages
- Two in five women (40%) who are murdered are killed by their
- Domestic violence results in more injuries that require medical
attention than rape, accidents, and muggings combined.
- And during pregnancy, 37% (that is 1 in 3) women of every race,
educational background are physically abused.
Definition: Many women victims of domestic violence are unaware
victims. Perhaps because they have a narrow definition which
includes physical violence. In fact, domestic violence is a behavior
pattern based on the use of power and control of one person over
another. It exists in different forms; it may be physical, verbal
emotional, economical and sexual.
Domestic violence is learned behavior, meaning it is not genetic.
since it is learned, it can also be unlearned or changed. But
abusers will not change unless they are held accountable for
actions. Some abusers will try to excuse themselves, and their
may even believe their rationalizations - such as the abuser
is under a
lot of stress or he abused her while under the influence of drugs
alcohol. Stress and alcohol can certainly aggravate abuse but
not the cause. Abusers choose to use different forms of violence
because they work to maintain power and control over their victims.
Most women victims of domestic violence struggle to liberate
from their abuser. It's difficult. For many of us, we can't understand
why they just don't pick up and leave their abusers. Many, however,
ashamed to have anyone know about it for fear of appearing to
failed in their marriage. Some don't believe they can make it
economically without the abusers' financial help. Others don't
separate their children from their fathers; despite the abuse,
often pressure their mothers not to leave their fathers and sometimes
the abusers themselves use their children against their wives.
Often women victims interiorize the emotional abuse and believe
responsible for provoking the abusers' violence. Maybe if they
better wives or mothers, they say, their husbands would not be
abusive. Many begin believing the abusers' insults that they
ignorant, incompetent, helpless and ugly. Their self-confidence
gone. Their self image is on the floor.
Domestic violence often takes the form of economic control, especially
in cases where the woman works at home. She has no income and
ask, if not plead, for every penny she needs for the household
children. The abuser demands full accountability and continues
belittle her as financially irresponsible and not to be trusted
Sexual abuse is common also, notably when men demand their wives
pornography, or engage in activity or wear clothes the women
offensive. Some even force their wives to have sex, actually
Most victims of domestic violence go through a stage of trying
their abusive partners. They try to placate them as best they
walk on egg shells. Clearly they are motivated by fear and completely
dependent on their abusers' whims and moods. They may avoid explosions
of physical violence or angry outbursts but they live as oppressed
victims of emotional violence. If the abuser simply says he will
it may be enough to silence and subdue his wife for a life time.
After severe episodes of violence, whether beatings, yelling
abusers generally become remorseful. They apologize and ask for
forgiveness while at the same time blaming the victims for having
the violence they themselves perpetrated. This is the honeymoon
and it is highly unlikely to continue. The change of mood confuses
victim, however, as she begins to think he will change. In fact,
abusers generally do not change. Soon the tension will begin
again as he pursues his goal of maintaining power and control.
will not change until they are held accountable for their violence.
Unfortunately, our church has in some ways been complicit in
epidemic of domestic violence. We have not spoken out against
have not preached that no one deserves to be abused and no one
stay in an abusive relationship. Many victims take literally
marriage is forever, and, therefore, they can never leave their
husbands without offending God. Maybe their mothers even told
have to carry their cross just like they themselves did. Certainly
abusers are quick to quote scripture to justify their power and
They distort the Word by insisting women were created to serve
that wives must be subject to their husbands.
Today as we hear our scriptures, we must set the record straight.
church rejects all forms of domestic violence and urges women
themselves and their children, even if that means a separation
divorce from their abusers. Our church must help to protect them
assist them in freeing themselves from the violence.
As a community of faith we reach out to every victim of domestic
violence. We encourage you to come out of the shadows and seek
want to support you in your struggle for peace. We want you to
and free, filled with love, joy and hope for the future.
Many of us here today know someone who is experiencing domestic
violence. We need to tell them they do not have to suffer the
We need to listen to them and to assure them that we support
their efforts to free themselves from the violence.
Story: At some point in the homily, the preacher should add his
own personal story of a woman victim of domestic violence. Here
A woman came to see me last week. She asked me to talk to her
because he was drinking a lot. I asked her how he was treating
"Not well," she said. "Does he use bad language on you?" "Yes," she
replied. "What words does he use?" "He calls me stupid and even
names," which I can't mention in the pulpit. "Does he hit you?" "No,
not recently." "How long ago did he hit you?" "Three months ago."
"How did he hit you?" "With his fist, but he apologized the next
and hasn't hit me since. "Does your family know about this?" "No,
ashamed to tell them." "Do you have anyone to talk to or support
"No" she said. "Well," I said, "you don't deserve to be treated
way, and I want to support you. I'll bet you don't feel very
yourself, do you?" "No," she said. "Well, I want you to talk
counselor to build up your self-esteem and make you strong enough
can confront your husband and figure out whether you will stay
or free yourself from this terrible abuse. If your husband wants
talk to me, I would be happy to."
Conclusion: Return to make connection to scripture.
October 7 Habbakkub cried out to God about the violence in his
and he thought God did not hear him. Today, many victims of domestic
violence cry out to God and we must hear their plea. We, as individuals
and as church, can and should be God's messengers of love, liberation
and peace for these women who endure the torment of domestic
and have nearly lost hope. Let us be sensitive but strong in
response; let us be compassionate but firm in our resolve to
liberating grace to so many victims of domestic violence.
October 14 Naaman thanked Elisha for his cure from leprosy, and
Samaritan leper returned to thank Jesus for making him clean.
victims of domestic violence will thank God and us for our support
encouragement in their struggle to free themselves from domestic
We, as individuals and as church, can and should be God's messengers
love, liberation and peace for these women who endure the torment
domestic violence and have nearly lost hope. Let us be sensitive
strong in our response; let us be compassionate but firm in our
to bring God's liberating grace to so many victims of domestic
October 21: Moses remained constant in prayer while the Isarelites
battled again Amalek and his army. We must be constant in our
of women victims of domestic violence who struggle to free themselves
from domestic abuse. We, as individuals and as church, can and
be God's messengers of love, liberation and peace for these women
endure the torment of domestic violence and have nearly lost
us be sensitive but strong in our response; let us be compassionate
firm in our resolve to bring God's liberating grace to so many
of domestic violence.
October 28: The Bible reveals to us a God of justice, a God who
the cry of the poor and oppressed, the widow and orphan but also
victims of domestic violence. We need to open our ears to their
and respond with the same understanding that Jesus should to
suffer injustice. We, as individuals and as church, can and should
God's messengers of love, liberation and peace for women who
torment of domestic violence and have nearly lost hope. Let us
sensitive but strong in our response; let us be compassionate
in our resolve to bring God's liberating grace to so many victims
Prepared by: Chuck Dahm, OP (St. Albert) North American Co-Promoter
of Justice and Peace
The National Domestic Violence Hotline:
Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Family Violence Prevention Fund
International USA site on human rights for women
Prepared by: Chuck Dahm, OP (St. Albert) North American
Co-Promoter of Justice and Peace