Parachutes, Survivors, and a Challenge

In order to deal with the discomfort, sometimes the existence of abuse is doubted, and as a result, the existence of its survivors is doubted too.

If this is not “your” issue, I respect that. Then please don’t make pronouncements about what is or is not domestic violence out of ignorance. This is a life and death matter, and you don’t know who is listening and taking your words to heart. Do the research and weigh the evidence. Your attitude and response to abuse will be determined by what you believe is true.

 
One of my favorite managers from years ago was a retired Marine Corps fighter pilot. I happened to notice an interesting pin on his lapel one day and asked him what it was. It looked like a worm to me, which seemed odd, but he confirmed that it was a worm, a silkworm in fact. During a combat mission, his plane was shot down, and he was saved by his parachute. So the pin was a sign of membership in a club whose members owed their lives to the lowly silkworm. I did a search on the Internet, after hearing my boss’ story, and found that parachute manufacturers founded these survivors’ clubs. From their perspective, groups like this would be great PR. You couldn’t ask for better testimonials than from people who were living proof that your product did the job.

Now let’s move to a different group of survivors, survivors of domestic violence. Compared to people saved by their parachutes, abuse survivors are not good PR. Rather than being living proof that something worked, we are living proof that something failed, and this may make some Christians very uncomfortable.

In order to deal with the discomfort, sometimes the existence of abuse is doubted, and as a result, the existence of its survivors is doubted too. Sometimes we are blamed directly or indirectly. Sometimes we are told what a blessing it is to suffer for Christ more in keeping with James 2:15-16 than Psalm 82:3-4. But the abuse doesn’t go away, and as a result, the victims don’t go away either. Sadly, it seems that most churches aren’t prepared when it comes to domestic violence in their midst. I know this is not true in all cases because there are Christians who are speaking out boldly on this issue, but I fear they are in the minority. I also know that a pastor or church is just as unable as the victim to change the abuser’s heart. Only God has that power, but that doesn’t mean we do nothing. There are other people in need of rescue – the abuser’s targets.

Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, I am going to copy Carly Fiorina and throw out a challenge about domestic violence similar to the challengeshe made regarding the undercover Planned Parenthood videos. Namely, don’t make judgments about something you don’t know. Do your homework.

– Go to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and get the facts.
– Learn from an abuse survivor why it is so important to believe them.
Learn from a Christian psychologist/counselor with decades of experience.
– Read the stories of survivors like this or unjust church responses like this (a multi-part series).
– Read this letter to pastors on emotional and verbal abuse.

If this is not “your” issue, I respect that. Then please don’t make pronouncements about what is or is not domestic violence out of ignorance. This is a life and death matter, and you don’t know who is listening and taking your words to heart. Do the research and weigh the evidence. Your attitude and response to abuse will be determined by what you believe is true.

Persis Lorenti is an ordinary Christian. You can find her at Tried With Fire and Out of the Ordinary. This article appeared at her blog and is used with permission.