Blog

"These are the ‘CAPE-abilities’ that can interrupt and prevent abusive behavior and help those recover who have experienced abuse." - World Institute on Disability

June 3, 2013 0 4 comments
Blog

Children living with disabilities are more likely to be abused. An article states that one in three children with an identified disability for which they receive special education services are victims of some type of maltreatment compared to one in 10 nondisabled children.

May 27, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

An emotional abuser intentionally and repeatedly threatens or says harsh words to wear another person down. Once worn down, the victim will try to avoid hearing the threats or nasty words again by doing what the abuser asks. 

May 13, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

Churches and caring individuals can help stop elder abuse and mistreatment in their families and the community. Stand up for vulnerable adults in your neighborhoods and congregation.

May 7, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

Synod has encouraged each classis to have a Safe Church team made up of representatives from each church. The team is a resource to churches, can support local churches in creating safety at the congregational level and empowers churches to be a support to individuals affected by abuse.

May 2, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

Explain to children that, if they think that they are being abused, they need to tell someone they trust. Urge them never to keep abuse a secret, even if the person hurting them tells them that something bad will happen if they tell. 

April 22, 2013 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

Recently I was made aware of this children's book. Check it out!

 

Families as you take some time to reflect on Child Abuse Awareness Month please consider talking with your children about what they should do if they ever encounter unwanted touch. If you open the door for them to...

April 18, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

Abuse is not always physical or sexual; there are many other ways that power and control can be maintained in a relationship.

April 15, 2013 1 0 comments
Resource

Why does the CRC have Safe Church Ministry? How did it come to be? What does the denomination say about it? The resources below will help answer these questions.

April 6, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

“Dating violence refers to a pattern of actual or threatened acts of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse perpetrated by an adolescent against a current or former dating partner.” 

April 2, 2013 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

Attached is a link to a free webinar on mandated reporting for churches. As National Child Abuse Prevention Month gets underway, take advantage of this opportunity to educate and inform your pastors and staff.

 

 

http://www.christianitytoday.com/lyris/churchmanagementupdate/...

April 2, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

Power can control many things in your life, but it cannot control, or bring you, the love you seek.

March 26, 2013 0 0 comments
Resource, Poster

Find a link to the Safe Church Ministry Poster and learn more about our ministry as we strive to equip congregations in Abuse Awareness, Prevention, and Response. 

March 23, 2013 0 0 comments
Resource

Find helpful books, articles and documents on child abuse awareness. 

March 23, 2013 0 0 comments
Resource, Brochure or Pamphlet

Here's a link to the Safe Church Ministry brochure. Learn more about our ministry as we strive to equip congregations in Abuse Awareness, Prevention, and Response. 

March 23, 2013 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

Here are four books that Safe Church Ministry recommends on the topic of bullying. 

March 23, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

"Part of the work is ensuring that boundaries are established and maintained, the harm of sexual abuse is understood, and healthy relationships are actively talked about. Each of these is essential to prevention.”

March 18, 2013 0 1 comments
Blog

Dove's Nest has created resources to help churches focus on the role they can play in child abuse prevention.

March 12, 2013 0 1 comments
Q&A

We are a mostly 65 and older congregation. We would like to put a SAfe church policy in place but most info is geared at a much younger congregation with children. Anyone have any suggestions/resources where we could go??

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March 8, 2013 0 1 comments
Blog

"Often, ministers want to resolve such matters internally through counseling with the victim or the alleged offender, without contacting civil authorities.” Richard R. Hammar goes on to explain that “such a response can have serious legal consequences.”

March 4, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

We can begin to prevent abuse by starting at an early age to teach our children respect for themselves and for one another; and by helping them learn what to do in situations that feel unsafe.

February 26, 2013 0 0 comments
Q&A

In our jurisdiction, background checks cost money. Many men are having to submit to an additional level of background check involving fingerprints because their birthdays are the same as a pardoned sex offender. This is an additional cost. The police do not hold on to the information, so if the...

February 20, 2013 0 3 comments
Blog

“Remember that you can do more harm by supplying a child with words and ideas. Let the child tell her own story and give you the answers.”

February 18, 2013 0 1 comments
Blog

“Too often, intervention occurs only after abuse is reported. Greater investments are needed in programs that have proven to stop abuse before it occurs – such as family counseling and mandatory parenting education.” - Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies

February 13, 2013 0 0 comments
Resource

The following organizations have been successfully used by CRC congregations and ministries to help secure background checks. 

February 6, 2013 1 0 comments

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If you've ever known anyone who has been stalked, you know how much it impacts his or her entire life. The fact that 1 in 7people who have been stalked move as a result shows how serious it can be. No one should have to live in constant fear. And I know of cases in the CRC, so this is not something that only happens somewhere else. Thanks for the resources Rachel.

Thank you for the great resources.

Elly,

Thanks for your sensitivity and insight in this issue. I can tell you have more than a casual knowledge of SA. What we're really talking about here is changing the culture to accept the reality of male sexual abuse and then normalizing that discussion in the church.

But when the latest books still state that offenders are 'he' and victims 'she,' when national organizations struggle to even mention abuse of boys, when feminist groups only use proportionality arguments, and when churches offer no support groups for male victims, then it's very disingenuous to toss around all things 'patriarchy' while doing so little for male victims in their youth. Is the church really committed to facing this complex issue?

Recent events (like Penn State) reveal that numbers for abused boys are now closer to 1 in 5 (girls 1 in 4), but will this have any real effect in policy and church address. So I couldn't agree more--let's be his hands and feet to all image bearers broken by SA, not  just those of a certain gender or we will create another layer of problems for the next generation.

Blessings.

My heart pains for all victims of abuse, because of the permanent damage that it does to their psyche.  There is absolutely no justification for the gratification of desire or power by the perpetrator that is inflicted on their vulnerable victims.  It is my sincere hope that we as Christians will always be open and supportive and "safe persons" for all victims of abuse to share their deepest thoughts and feelings about their abuse.  It is extremely important that we communicate that we believe them, regardless of how unlikely the perpetrator is alleged to be (the incidence of suicide is higher than the general population because they feel damaged, shame or that nobody believes them).  Let's all be God's heart and hands to all victim of abuse, including males.

One area of male sexual abuse that's in dire need of address--I know, next to the whole issue--is male rape by other males. Male SA tends to be more gruesome. Regardless, what people need to realize is that "power rape" from arrogant males doesn't traumatize just  one gender. Many male victims will struggle to trust men for the rest of their lives. When they are not believed and the systems punish them for speaking out, the self-sabotage can be devastating.

Consider this story: 

http://www.kellyclarkattorney.com/another-sad-case-of-child-sex-abuse/?u...

Any care to discuss this?

In addition, the state of Connecticut has produced resources in response to the recent tragedy (you may have to modify these for a Christian perspective - although I'm sure much of it will be very helpful as is):
http://www.cga.ct.gov/coc/newtown.htm

We also can learn from our Mennonite brothers and sisters who have been at the forefront of promoting peace in families, in churches, in communities and in the world. Search their website for great resources.
http://mcccanada.ca/peace

Blessed are the peacemakers.

 

 

I attempted to fix the link.

Because I've mentioned that survivors often have the added challenge of facing-down some toxic myths, I thought I would pass along a link that explains a few of those myths that live on in the church. I wrote this a while back.

http://www.efcatoday.org/site/article/shepherding-survivors-of-sexual-abuse

The Office of Safe Church Ministry has a copy of Dr. Schmutzer's book The Long Journey Home in our lending library.

Stanley, the issue about resources to address survivors within the church context is such an important topic, but the resources needed extend far beyond hymns and choruses. Addressing the abused needs deep and corporate rituals woven into healing services. For example, why don't we capitolize on Holy Innocents Day (Dec 28), observed by worship in commemoration of the children slain by Herod at Bethlehem (Matt 2:16). When society acknowledges National Abuse Month in April (in the US), why is it so hard for the church to acknowledge its children broken by abuse?

The most thorough address of this right now is a chapter called "Healing the Wounded Heart through Ritual and LIturgy" (293-313) in The Long Journey Home: Understanding and Ministering to the Sexually Abused (Wipf and Stock, 2011). http://www.amazon.com/Long-Journey-Home-Understanding-Collaborative/dp/1... 

I edited the book, so I know it's contribution. Blessings.

I would like to hear from: (1) male survivors as well as (2) female spouses of male survivors...what do you (and your  husbands) need for better healing and recovery? And, what have you found to be the more 'toxic myths' that have hurt you?

Rachel, thanks for being a strong Christiain voice for advocacy and care within a faith communitiy. Blessings, Andrew J. Schmutzer <aschmutz@moody.edu>

Thank you Elly for your support of Safe Church. It is great to have people like you in the church.

You ask in what ways can we expand the work of safe church ministry.  I believe the safe church ministry needs to be there foe all members of the CRC, and that includes pastors!  When we have pastors "retiring" and possible leaving ministry totally because churches don't (or won't) deal with issues such as inappropriate behavious and stalking by parishioners, it's a sure indication that we need to train and equip our churches on how to deal with these kind of issues, and even educate them how to access professional help if that is indicated and needed.  What would Jesus do?  That's something that needs to be discerned, but I know for certain that God's vision for His churches is that they are places that all members feel safe and secure, and when they are not, we need to look for guidance from the Holy Spirit and ministries like Safe Church to correct that. 

In their 2001 report on Family Violence in Canada**, The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics found that family members, including relatives, constituted the vast majority (93%) of alleged perpetrators. Another statistical study conducted in 2001 by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics**** found that:

  • among family assaults parents were the perpetrators in 56% of physical assaults against youths and 43% of sexual assaults against youth victims 12 to 17 years of age;
  • siblings were responsible for approximately 25% of physical and 26% of sexual assaults in the family that were perpetrated against youth
  • extended family members committed 8% of physical, and 28% of sexual assaults against youth

RESULTS from Dube et al.: Contact Childhood Sex Aabuse was reported by 16% of males and 25% of females. Men reported female perpetration of CSA nearly 40% of the time, and women reported female perpetration of CSA 6% of the time. CSA significantly increased the risk of the outcomes. The magnitude of the increase was similar for men and women. For example, compared to reporting no sexual abuse, a history of suicide attempt was more than twice as likely among both men and women who experienced CSA (p < 0.05). Compared with those who did not report CSA, men and women exposed to CSA were at a 40% increased risk of marrying an alcoholic, and a 40% to 50% increased risk of reporting current problems with their marriage (p < 0.05). (Dube, S. R., et al. (2005). Long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse by gender of victim. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 28, 430-438)

To be specific, it was Shawn who was hurt, and the reason had little to do with facial expressions or lack thereof.  It had to do with his perception of the minimization of violence done to men by women.   Although he wasn't specific, it possibly included violence and even sexual abuse by mothers to their sons(I believe he mentioned this at another time or discussion), an issue not addressed as often.  Domestic violence is a larger topic than just abuse of wives, and he did not seem to get an acknowledgement of that, and of the real pain he suffered. 

It would also be interesting to research how often male abusers of women have themselves been abused by their mothers.   While it is true that usually their fathers are role models, sometimes it is the mothers who have built up the hidden resentments and powerlessness in the child which eventually manifests itself  in how they treat their wives.   It's complicated,  because sometimes it works the other way, where the man will look for someone similar to his abusive mother as a spouse.  

In any case, it is sin at work in us.   Simply blaming one gender will never help us to find a solution. 

Shawn, I empathize with you.   I have personally seen a woman shove a man against a vehicle in a marital dispute, without immediate provocation.   She was not a weak woman, she handled carpentry tools, and was strong.   Yet, in the end, her complaint was that her husband was abusive.   Maybe he was in some ways, but if he complained about her action, it would be pretty well disregarded, and in fact, he probably wouldn't think of complaining about it.   And who knows if he started it, or if she did. 

I know of another case where a man was kicked around a room by his "wife", a drug addict who was 50 lbs heavier than him.   He did not fight back.   When telling of it, he just grinned ruefully.  For his own sake he would not take her to court, nor seek other help.  For a child he would. 

On the one hand, we know that physical abuse by women against men is just as common as the other way around.   On the other hand, we know that men are usually dealing with it in a different way.   A woman who hits a man may get hit back twice as hard, or could be restrained by the man, or could have her broom or other weapon taken away and broken.   This is less likely to happen when a man physically abuses a woman.   Thus on average, the consequences are different for men and women, and that is what these programs are addressing.  

The difficulty for us is to separate consequences from intent.    While women suffer more severe consequences more often, that does not mean that men inherently have more evil intent than women.    In that way, they are pretty well equal.  Egalitarian, if you will.  

When you see pictures of thousands of young men in squares in mid-east cities, chanting slogans, inciting violence, encouraging retribution, you should visualize a mother behind each young man, many of them encouraging their young men in their violence. 

All the women working in the munitions factories in the USA during the WWII were certainly not hoping that the bombs they were making would fall harmlessly into the sea.   When it comes to enemies, women can become quite violent. 

The objective for a marriage, is that the two become friends, not enemies. 

Hi Forum Friends ... I am sorry to hear that someone has been hurt by this blog discussion to the point of unsubscribing to the forum. We certainly regret any hurt caused as that is not our intention for this space. This is an online space in which we want to encourage open and respectful dialogue from a variety of perspectives. However, I also understand that we will not always agree, and I also realize that sometimes our differences can cause hurt feelings and reinforce pain from past experiences. Communicating in this way -- in an online forum -- can be challenging as we are limited to typing words on a screen, and we lack the face-to-face contact that would allow us to show our concern and compassion to each other. For instance, online communication lacks the sharing of facial expressions, emotional cues and other gestures that would demonstrate that we are open and hearing each other's concerns, despite having different opinions. Please rest assured that the caring and concern are there! I know that our Safe Church leaders are acting out of the greatest love and compassion and trying hard to help all of us create safe environments in our churches and homes. They are always open to hearing how the church can support everyone better. Thanks for your understanding.

Bonnie, I'm aware of the tension about gender roles.   However, the way you describe this tension indicates how you see the problem.   The verses of the bible that are quoted, vs the verses that are ignored, also indicate a preferential view, rather than a holistic and comprehensive scripture based view.   I do not see it as authoritarian vs egalitarian.  I see it as complementarian vs homogeneous egalitarian.   In God's view, a fisherman is equal to an apostle;  that is egalitarian also.

If you choose to ignore the impllications of the woman taking the fruit and giving it to her husband, then you have reduced the validity of Genesis 1 also, since it is not more valid than the more detailed account.  If you ignore the headship of the man in Ephesians 5, then you have reduced the validity of paying attention to mutual submission in the same chapter.  It must all fit together in a comprehensible package;  not tearing off bits and pieces which are not as palatable. 

Of course, you are right that there is no room for abuse in any scenario, but if a woman  defines abuse as "controlling", can we be certain that she would not find Adam's restraint of Eve as a form of abuse?  

Of course you want respect.   But would you be happy with respect given grudgingly, without love?   Would you be happy with a respect given by an opponent who is out to destroy you?   Two spouses in the throes of divorce might still respect the tenacity of the other....   In reality, men will acknowledge respect easier than demonstrating love, and for that reason they are commanded to show love (which is often their weak point) rather than respect, which they are already more inclined to do. 

Respect is also a funny thing, especially for women.   To respect a woman for her peculiar role in child bearing, for how she demonstrates her love, for how she does her job, and for how she can step beyond her role....   I believe Demi Moore in one movie wanted respect as a soldier, but then, somehow also wanted respect for her woman hood.   And might receive extra respect simply because she went beyond expectations.   The only way to respect her in that case was to make life as miserable as possible for her....  but that is not much of a role model for Christians. 

In the end, what you want or what I want is not a definition of what God wants for us.   It is just as easy for us to want the wrong thing as the right thing, and therefore we must go back to scripture to find out what God wants for us.  To all of scripture.  

I have followed many of the discussions on this site since joining approximately one year ago including discussions on Pornography, Dating Violence and the need for Small Groups.  I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to be a part of these discussions and I believe I have learned a great deal about who I am as a follower of Christ from being able to read the other members’ comments and experiences.  While I find the anger, sexism and unforgiveness in many of the forums very disheartening I am very grateful for the opportunity to see how other men and women experience Christ.

Tonight when I came home from the hospital and looked into my email account to find several email notifications from the crcna site I was excited.  I was hopeful that I would see more from John as I like his style of writing (it is very easy to visualise his sharing) and I noted that Bonnie too had commented and I was very anxious to read both sets of comments knowing they would be very well written. 

As I was reading through the comments I read about how “all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect” and then I read the closing comment promoting male victims of violence as a minority and male offenders as a majority.  To say I was stunned to hear this coming from the director of Safe Church would be an understatement.  I then began trying to put the comment into context with the rest of the writing but could not.  I finally realised that I was not able to understand why you would choose to re-victimize male victims of violence…… because there is no understanding that

For myself as an individual male victim/Survivor I find I am experiencing a higher rate of re-victimization here through the sexism and gender politics than I do working with both victims and offenders daily.  This being said, for my emotional and spiritual wellbeing I must end my membership.  Christ does not victimize He redeems and uplifts.

I strongly suggest that Safe Church look at what their purpose is for promoting a gender specific statistic focusing on the supposed minority.  To the male victim/Survivor there is only one reason as shared previously with Safe Church; to lessen the impact of violence on that gender and that is re-victimization. 

 

BTW, speaking for myself, as a woman, I desire respect and do not feel love without it. I won't claim to speak for all women, but I would guess I'm not alone. (Can you hear Aretha Franklin singing, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, just a little bit?)

I might suggest the website http://www.cbeinternational.org/ - Christians for Biblical Equality for an alternate view. The CRC holds in tension more than one view regarding gender roles. That is because people of sincere faith, with a high view of Scripture, interpret it in different ways.

My point is that whether one has an authoritarian view of gender or an egalitarian view; there is no room for abuse in either one. The church must learn to more effectively respond to the evil of abuse.

Yes, Bonnie God created a partnership.  But, are all partnerships created equal?   To say it is a partnership is an oversimplification.   It is not a partnership of two homogenous beings, but of two complementary humans.   That is precisely why homosex partnerships were not intended.   And that is also why scripture says the man was created first.   Inherent in this partnership is the beauty and uniqueness of the difference of the partners.  

But more than that, Genesis 3 illustrates what happened when the partnership became involved in sin.   What was the sin or sequence of sins that destroyed the way the partnership was supposed to work?   The woman was created to be a helper to the man (Gen 2).   In Genesis 3, she decided she could make her own decisions, contrary to God's command, and without apparently asking the man whether it was a good idea.   So it says, "she took and ate".   She stopped being man's helper, and became man's temptation.  She "gave it to him, ...and he ate of it".   Their partnership seemed to be working; they were doing things together, getting along.   She wanted it, he agreed....  

And God held the man primarily responsible.   Why?  because he was with her, and kept his mouth shut.   He didn't tell her to put it down.   To leave it alone.   He didn't remind her that God not the serpent had created them.  He didn't take control.   So God held him responsible.   He blamed his wife, but it didn't help, because he was still primarily responsible.   She was his helper, not his boss.   He neglected his responsibility.  And suffered as a result.  If he had taken control, they could still have been living in paradise. 

They both wanted to blame the serpent, but that didn't help either. 

Does this mean that the man is more important to God than the woman?   Absolutely not!   The woman and the child are as important, significant, and valuable to God as the man.  The child and the farmer are as important and valuable to God as are the Pope and Billy Graham and the apostle Paul.   But just as the apostle Peter had a different role to play than the children on Jesus knees, so the husband has a different role to play than the wife who loves him. 

Can you love someone without respecting them?   Well, many women think they can.   They think they are marrying the man their husband will become when they have changed him, rather than the man he already is.   They believe they love him;  they feel they love him.   Probably they do, in a way.   The man also knows that his woman will love the baby she  gives birth to, but respect for dirty diapers, no.    Therefore for the man, he wants a love that is associated with respect.   Men see love in the respect shown.   If the respect is not demonstrated, then they will not see the love. 

First one question, can you truly love someone without respecting them?

Now, more to the issue - Before the fall we can see the Lord's plan for men and women unmarred by sin:

In Genesis 1 (TNIV) we read:

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created human beings in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Do you see it? It was designed to be a partnership - that was the original plan. Gender has been very messed up since Genesis 3. Praise the Lord that we are redeemed and through Christ are able to live lives that are more loving toward others and more honoring toward God. Our true home is a place where the original design for relationships will be a reality; that's what we were created for. And until we get there, I will pray for the Lord's will to be done in earth as it is in heaven. I don't think that there will be any abuse in relationships there.

It would be interesting to examine the statement that our ideas about men and women have been influenced by culture.  In most cases, when people say this, they are thinking about how someone else was influenced, and not about themselves.   Then there is the possibility that our culture was actually influenced by scripture to some extent.  And how objectively will we be aware of that?  

I'm reminded of an incident as a youth, when the junior high boys were playing "keep away" the football from each other.  Somehow the ball rolled to the feet of a group of girls, and one large girl picked up the ball.  She was tall, and heavy and athletic.   She held up the ball in one hand.   The boys tried to jump up to grab the ball but they were shorter and couldn't reach it.   They didn't want to touch her.   She swatted them to the ground with her other arm, and the other girls were laughing at the boys.   There was no hope of the boys getting this ball back.   She was tough, and big.  

Finally one boy ran around her and jumped on her from the back, knocking her to her knees.   The ball bounced loose and the boys got it back.   They left the girls and went back to playing their game.   But some of the girls were outraged that a boy had knocked down a girl.   Some of the boys had question marks on their faces about whether that was the right thing to do.   Just because she had been knocking boys down for some time did not suggest to them that they had a right to do the same.   

The boys would not dare be indignant, nor complain about unfair behaviour.   But the girls would.   Those boys and girls are the 'boomers" of today, but their attitudes were formed many years ago.   Good attitudes in many ways.   But, a double standard existed then, and still does today. 

When we look at Ephesians 5, submit to one another as Christ sacrificed himself for us, or submit out of reverence for Christ, then we could potentially say that as Christ was abused, so we should be willing to be abused.    At one level, this is true.   Imagine if both spouses were willing to be abused... would there still be strife?   But it is not helpful for how we mutually must strive to serve one another.   The rest of ephesians 5 provides a more clear guideline for how to provide peace and harmony when there are times of disagreement and conflict.   The woman must respect, the man must love. 

Thanks for the post! I'm convinced, due to the prevalence of abuse, that if our churches were better at responding to it, we would not have to worry about dwindling numbers in our churches; they would be full.

Churches have huge potential in the area of responding to abuse and those impacted by it. I often like to emphasize the value of a listening ear (we all have two of them) and a ministry of presense, which is so valuable. It's important to note that churches are not alone in this. Churches can act in a "walk-alongside" role with someone who is seeking other community and professional resources. Though churches rarely will have all the resources that are needed in dealing with abuse situations, we have unique resources, with our Lord and with his people, that are simply not available anywhere else. We need to do our part.

Greetings,

And thank you to those who have posted comments. I feel a need to say a few words.

Our ideas about gender have been heavily influenced by our culture, which is fallen and darkened. We must be careful not to confuse these cultural ideas with our Lord’s design for men and women.

ALL people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect; we are created with infinite worth in the image of our Lord. Whenever we treat people as less than that, we dishonor Him. In a culture full of disrespect, we have the opportunity to shine like stars in the way we honor and love one another.

Abuse is the exact opposite of what the Lord desires for our relationships. He has shown us how to live, considering others rather than ourselves (see Philippians 2). He has commanded us to love one another. Ephesians 5 begins, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Verse 21 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”. That is the context for submission in all of our relationships. The marriage relationship is of particular importance as it reflects the relationship between Christ and his bride, the Church, whom he loves and for whom He gave his life.

Unfortunately, abuse exists. The statistics are staggering. And yes, more often it is the case that women are the ones victimized and men are the ones that abuse – although that is not always the case – and saying that does not diminish the pain of men who have been victimized.

The church must do it’s part to stop this evil among us. Safe Church is working toward that end.

I agree that Lundy Bancroft's books are an excellent resource in understanding the dynamics of power and control that operate in many abusive relationships. His books can help open people's eyes to the reality of what is really going on in a relationship. Having this greater understanding leads to a much better response and better outcomes. I  highly recommend his work.

But abuse is about much more than just physical violence.  Physical violence is a symptom of abuse.  As Laura has pointed out, she is concerned about  "controlling"  men.   But control by itself could be seen to be a good thing.   A man and his wife should definately control their kids.   The issue is not really about control, but about how that control is managed.   Is the control for their benefit?   Is the control stifling?  Is the control loving? 

Now a wife may not want to be controlled.   Sometimes she wants to do the controlling.   In reality, in a Christian context, it should be a mutual control.   They should each allow themselves to be controlled to some extent by the other.   They should both be controlled by God's Word.   They should both control their own selfishness and their own desires.   And they need to allow each other to help with that.   But, control sometimes becomes abusive if it ignores love and respect for the other.  

As an example, if a husband says he would like fish for supper on Tuesdays because it is healthy and he likes the variety in his  diet, then his wife has two choices.   Make every effort to provide the fish supper, or simply ignore his request as insignificant or preposterous or "controlling".   If she makes every effort to provide the fish supper, but misses it once due to forgetfulness, or budget, or lack of time, then the husband has two choices.  He can immediately forgive her, knowing she has his interests at heart, or he can complain and whine and accept no excuses, accusing her of wilful carelessness.   The way his simple request is handled, gives some idea about who is trying to control who.  The way about how a "miss" is handled, also gives some idea about whether the request is a reasonable control vs an abusive control.   The situation provides an example of respect for the husbands request, and of love for the wife's efforts. 

Not every request by a husband or wife will seem reasonable to the other.   This is because people are different.   So there will always be some conflict.  But just because a conflict does not end in physical violence, does not mean that somehow there is no abuse.   Any unfair fight involves a degree of abuse, whether it is yelling, tantrums, walking out (ignoring), preventing use of the car, or withholding money, etc.   I'm sure you can think of more unfair, mean-spirited things. 

Physical violence is a symptom of abuse.   But abuse is more than just the violence itself.   Nor does abuse equate to "control".   Abuse equates to using unfair or mean-spirited means to attain selfish ends.   Both the husband and wife are capable of this. 

Our society makes an idol out of physical well-being.  For that reason, it has all kinds of laws and fines about seatbelts and bicycle helmets, with very few comparative fines and laws about watching pornography, or using bad or abusive language.  If your skin is scratched, it is bad;  if your mind and emotions are damaged, well, not quite so bad. 

How does this relate to our discussion here?   This discussion centers on physical violence.   But men and women largely look at physical violence differently.    Men are drawn to it.   This is why they like to watch football games and hockey games.   Bodies smashing against each other.   Feats of strength and physical contact.   Ultimate fighting.  Boxing.  Wrestling.  Car derbies.   glorious!  

Women tame them down.   And so they have to keep violence in control, within boundaries.   The main boundary is not to hit a woman.  Basic.   But when they themselves are hit or physically abused in some way by a woman, they regard that as unpleasant, but permissable.   They can take it.  They are tough enough.   They wouldn't whine and complain about it, because it would make them less of a man to do so.   Only a few make an issue of it.  

Even physical abuse by other men often gets downplayed and ignored for the same reason, unless it is very serious and repetitive.   I can think of several instances from childhood where school boys have physically abused others, which everyone simply accepted and kept quiet about.   It was just a fight.   Or it was just a bunch of guys trying to teach someone a lesson.   Or some guys trying to prove they were tough.   So from my experience, physical violence is considered very differently between most men and women.  For this reason, you have different reporting of similar type incidents. 

As Shawn pointed out, statistics indicate that men are as likely to be physically abused as women.   But because they are tougher in general, and refused to seek protection, and usually have sufficient resources, and usually don't feel their children are threatened, they will not seek shelters, even if they were available.   They might seek counselling, but even counselling is merely a confirmation of their inadequacy, and an admission that they are affected by the blows of a woman, so that will be a last resort.

@ M. Laura Kooger

I do not follow your last comment on myth and men’s shelters.  I suspect it is sarcasm in response to my previous comment regarding my belief that it is myth that domestic violence is a situation of mainly male offenders.   

It is obvious from your comments that you and I have two polar opposite views on Domestic Violence and on God’s place in that equation of violence for that matter.  I believe violence does not have a gender and your comments suggest that it is a matter of men offending women with few exceptions.

I respectfully disagree. We have known for several decades without promoting the facts within studies such as Steinmetz 1978; Straus, Gelles and Steinmetz 1980 & Straus 1997; which show clearly that females physically assault partners in marital, cohabiting, and dating relationships as often as males assault their partners. 

You point out that there are no shelters for battered husbands as proof that there are no victimized husbands.  Before the sixties there were no shelters for battered wives either but that did not mean we did not have female victims of domestic Violence.  It simply meant women did not have a designated resource to reach out to when they were victimized the same as men have few if any designated resources available to them today either within society or within the body of Christ.

The fact that our society has chosen not to recognise equality of the genders except in situations where it benefits the agenda of that gender, does not change the fact that violence does not discriminate and that as a Christian community we should not discriminate either. 

Where in my participation of acceptable discrimination am I emulating Christ’s teachings or actions….

Where is God’s redemptive love and forgiveness in my promotions of this worldly belief…. 

These are just two of the questions I had to look at over the years in my walk with the countless victims of violence who I have had the privilege to journey with as they found their voice and stepped into Survivorship.  Through prayer and self-evaluation of my own biases I was able to honestly answer these questions.  Doing so has freed me to help other victims of violence to make the decision to leave the life hatred and anger of unforgiveness in victimization behind, and to seek out the redemptive healing of Christ Jesus.  I respect the fact that you believe and experience the topic of Domestic Violence differently than I do and I strive to maintain my belief and understanding without condemning or belittling with sarcasm yours or others beliefs.  I expect the same in return if we are to debate and learn from our differences and experiences.

NOTE:  I seldom use statistics as they are typically generated to promote a specific finding that favors a specific agenda.  I do so in the matter because the studies were conducted by/in partnership with a female working in the anti-violence community. 

Myth?  are you serious?  I guess that's why there are so many men's shelters around the country for battered men?  I thought this was a serious discussion. 

His expertise and his studies all focus on "Male as offender in violence against women' model.  The fact that he notes it is possible to step outside of that model does not qualify as speaking to domestic violence as a whole.  As for the myth that it is a situation of mainly male offenders I disagree.  The fact that male victims have nowhere to come forward to for treatment or recourse does not change the fact that they are victimize but unaccounted for.  

Gratefully we serve a God who is bigger than abuse, bigger than gender, bigger than stigma and myth, bigger than discrimination and can change anyone’s heart.  He loves each of us and wants each of us to glorify Him when we witness His love in action on those who we weak sinners deem unchangeable.  I think I must amuse God some days with my weaknesses and my attempts to shoved Him into a mold of my design rather than my following His design.

 

Bancroft does not exclude violence against men or in same sex partners.  One of the first things he says in the book is that the book is written as women as the victim as this is most often the case.  He goes on to say that evidence proves the same actions happen against men and in same sex partners.

Lundy Bancroft has and does tremendous work in the area of Male Offenders of Violence Against Women.  This woul dgive one point of view into the violence but does not speak to Domestic Violence as a whole because it excludes male victims and/or female offenders. 

I believe we have a book of Gods word which provides us with everything we need to know about how to overcome but we often choose not to look to it preferring to look elsewhere for our answers.  I think I purchased every self help book there was for most of my life all the while ignoring Gods book.

Violence knows no gender and is a hater of forgiveness.  I firmly believe having Survived violence that forgiveness is the only solution to violence and only God, through Christ Jesus can offer us forgiveness..... as I forgive others.

@John

My wife Lucie and I watched a series on "Love & Respect" a couple years back and for us it spoke truth.  I love my wife to the point of distraction and I know she does me as well.  I also know, that while I cherish her love for me it is nothing if I do not have her respect whereas she has said many time.... "Go ahead and respect me all you want but it better come with a whole lot of loving words and actions"  ha ha  God did design us differently wether we like it or not.  Blurring the lines will not change that reality.

 

A controlling man can never give his whole heart to Jesus.  That would require a loss of control and a requirement to follow God's word.  In a controlling man, love is conditional.  I will love you if... If you cared about me, you would do... and the list goes on and on for a lifetime.  God can heal an abusive man if the abuser is willing to change.  That rarely happens in real life.

To fully understand how an abusive, controlling man behaves, read Bancroft's book "Why Does He Do That?"  You will find that man in this book and finally begin to understand why he does what he does. Bancroft has spent over 20 years working with thousands of abusers.  He knows whereof he speaks.

I find most speakers on the subject of abusive and controlling men talk a good talk but unless they have worked with abusers, it doesn't mean a lot.  They simply don't get that a man can behave like this for years and years and not want to change.  It's all a big smoke screen with him controlling the smoke.  I didn't get it and I lived it... for decades.

I heard a recent sermon on Ephesians 5.  I've heard similar ones before, but this one was very specific and explicit.   It was a sermon by Mark Driscoll as part of his marriage series.   Ephesians 5 provides an answer and a solution to abuse, but only if people are really interested in making God the priority in their lives.   Only if they are interested in living by God's word rather than by their own ideas and desires.  

Ephesians 5 says that man is head of the wife.   If the household is not going well, it is the man's fault primarily.   Sometimes men use this as an excuse to abuse, since they feel the guilt of an inadequate or disharmonious household.  But when they abuse, they are ignoring the command to love their wives, which is part of the same chapter.  The chapter does not say that the man and woman can negotiate who is head;  it is simply the man.   The choice is not who is the head, but does the man do it well or poorly.  If he does not love his wife, and does not show her and prove to her that he loves her, he is leading poorly.   This means a man who abuses his wife is leading very poorly.   He is demonstrating poor behaviour and poor leadership.   Primarily he is simply demonstrating a lack of love. 

On the other hand, this chapter says that a woman must respect her husband.   A woman might assume that her love for her husband means she must take over his role of leadership.   But she would be wrong.   This would demonstrate a lack of respect, which is more important to a man even than her love.   Her love without respect would diminish him, make him smaller and less significant, and thus would be regarded as a false love or an insincere love.   The simple attempt to assume leadership would be a measure of abuse, since it abuses his honor and self-respect.   The ways in which this is done, such as to imply that he is incompetent, or that he does not have the mental capacity or knowledge, or that he will not be respected by others, or that he doesn't know how to plan, etc., are the beginnings of a process of abuse.    In some cases, physical abuse or sexual abuse (denying sexual intimacy) are ways of driving home this point.   Threats, arguments, even tantrums are sometimes used to drive the man to submission.   But the basic problem is the lack of respect. 

Mark Driscoll points out that the man is head of the wife (and the household), but the wife is the referee.    He decides when he is being respected, and the wife decides if she feels loved.   This is part of the mutural submission of one to another.   When this is done well, then abuse can be removed from the situation.   Then love for each other is real and respect for each other will work.   And both will be happier!  

Agreed; it is very difficult to understand that concept. Unfortunately, it is true with many abusive, controlling men. They do not want to change as they would have to give up that control. Everytime my spouse was in counselling and making progress (I thought), he quit as soon as he was required to actually DO something about his controlling behaviour. It has taken me decades to understand this. I thought he would want to be a better husband and father; I know now that was not of interest to him at all. As long as his needs were met, everything would run fairly smoothly in our home but his needs were often at odds with what was best for our children and family.

I have great difficulty understanding the belief that the abuser does not want to change.  To think that she "enjoys the power and control too much to change" says that she does not experience the separation from God that spiritual illness brings.   In this matter of domestic vilence; the spiritual illness is her violence against her spouse.

The best resources are Lundy Bancroft's books; I finally understood WHY and realized it was his choice and I could not change him no matter how hard I tried.  He doesn't want to change as he (read abusers) like the power and control and refuse to give it up.

I am very excited to be working with Safe Church Ministry. I have been involved with Safe Church for about 13 years. I have been a team member in Classis Northern Michigan and more recently been the Advocate.  In addition to my work with Safe Church, I will continue working part time in Cadillac, MI as a Licensed Professional Counselor. I am married (to a pastor) and have 3 children and 1 grandson. In my spare time I like to knit, read and travel. One of the areas I would like to work on in Safe Church Ministry is educating on the need for church leaders to healthy boundaries and to be aware of their own vulnerabilites. I also feel strong about bringing Safe Church principles to other CRC agencies. I look forward to my work. Please feel free to contact me, if I can be of support.

Blessings,

Alicia Mannes

amannes@crcna.org

Shawn,

Thanks for the reminder that males can also be victims of domestic violence. As a licensed counselor I have worked with men who have been victims. We will continue to seek out resources for men as well. Thank you for your vulnerability.

Alicia Mannes

Safe Church Associate

Hi Shawn, The Network has Blog and Forums. Blogs are usually written by the Network Guide (myself) or a designate, or guest blogger. Not everyone can post a blog. Network Forums, on the other hand, allow any member of the Network to ask a question and respond to it. As a Network Guide, I post a weekly blog but anyone can start a discussion on the Forum with or without my involvement, and we encourage people to do so. I want to encourage forum discussions, but I do not get alerts when a discussion begins, so I may not always respond when a discussion about a safe church topic is taking place. When people respond to a blog I have authored, I do get an immediate email alert. Forum discussions, however, may not come to my attention until someone sends me a message or when I have the opportunity to view the page and notice that there has been some activity. Thanks so much for your understanding.

Hi Shawn, I will most certainly cover a wide variety of resources in upcoming blogs. I was pleased to attend a session sponsored by my classis that featured a guest speaker and researcher from the Rave Project. So I decided to highlight this topic this week, and that is why I have featured the Rave Project website. If you have suggestions for other resources, I welcome you to post them! Sometimes people post other resources in response to a blog. Thanks

Hello Rachel: Thanks for sharing and for looking to promote the topic in your upcoming blog.  For those of us who are not that computer savvy…. I take it this is not your blog site?  If so, where do we go to read your blog and guest blogger writings?

I believe input in this from both you and Bonnie will help keep the thread alive but I fear I am less hopeful when it comes to the question the topic asked and which was reiterated by the Poster.  I believe our silence and refusal to attempt an answer is in fact, our answer.  That being no, we are not doing anything in our Churches for male victimization.  I suspect the shame I feel typing that answer is the same others experience and this is why the question has not been answered.  I would love to be corrected on this.

Personally I find the struggle in society as a victim/Survivor to locate services to be discouraging but I have to admit, the fight to be acknowledged within the Christian community is even more difficult.  Fighting myths, stereo-types, inaccurate information, agenda movements and sexism are not issues male victim/Survivors should be fighting within the body of Christ. 

I pray the veils be lifted from each of us and we begin to see the needs of people hurting first before we see the gender of the person.  I truly believe this is how Christ would act.

Remain blessed;

Shawn 

 

Welcome Alicia:

I hope your expereince with Safe Church is one which brings you to a new and broadened understanding of Church.

 

Remain Blessed;

Shawn

Another great topic which needs discussion.  Do you think it is possible to broaden your resourses to include a resourse for male victims of domestic violence.   The RAVE Project does speak to male victimization but only those in same sex partnerships.  For hethrosexual men in the Christian community.... what resourses do you suggest?

 

Thanks

Shawn

Thanks for a great posting.

Hi Everyone - Thank you for this lively discussion! I just wanted to let you know that I will be featuring this topic in an upcoming blog with a guest blogger to give this topic more attention and to raise awareness in our church communities. Thanks everyone for sharing your perspectives.

Thanks for your thoughts Bonnie. Indeed, the CDC is a credible source, but as a male survivor, it is not affirming nor adequately forthcoming about the abuse rates of boys/males. Please understand how difficult this kind of rhetoric can be for male survivors who are overwhelmingly castigated in the abuse literature as "he" (= the abuser).

Further, such sites have nothing to offer for the practical and theological concerns of churches who are called to address this in a redemptive manner as well. Only the Church is talking about real forgivenss, restoration, and reconciliation, in addition to facing the horror of the data.

I'm also working with 1in6.org. and GRACE.org. These should be consulted as well. Few sites focus on the needs of male survivors. So, again I ask, where are the ministries in our churches addressing male sexual abuse?

Again, thanks for your thoughts, Bonnie.

Andrew

Rachel,

Thanks for any time you can give. I can completely identify with your frenetic schedule! Thanks also for your gracious response. To all fellow writers, please be gracious in your comments. Some times we who are survivors can be curt and suspicious of others--let's be aware of that. 

Thanks for your ministry in holding up this issue, Rachel.

Blessings, Andrew

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