An ounce of Prevention
At CrossRoads we care deeply for vulnerable youth and the single parent, both within our church body and the local community. We feel called to offer spiritual and practical support to those who parent alone and to mentor youth.
Practical Ways You Can Make a Difference in Family Violence
Submitted by Roy Mitton
November is family violence prevention month in Alberta. A topic not commonly spoken about within the church and because of the “behind closed door” nature of this family dynamic plus the grave and dire misconceptions we have in our society regarding family violence it is very difficult to comprehend how grave the situation is for many families in Central Alberta. In his recent report for the government of Canada, Dr. Gregory Taylor shares that the statistics he collected on family violence are merely “the tip of the iceberg”. In an interview he conducted with CTV he said that 230 Canadians are victims of family violence every day. To see statistics you can log on to www.masqueradeministries.com.
I see the greatest challenge in prevention is that those affected do not recognize what their family is experiencing as family violence because of social myths and stigma. Until we see family violence for what it is and the motive behind it this reality will continue to manifest itself (Jeremiah 6:14). Here are a few “ounces of prevention”, practical ways you can make an impact:
- Look at the word violence the way God does. The Hebrew word we translate into violence in our English bibles is not only an act of physical force. Biblically, violence is any violation in mind, body and spirit. Loved ones affected by family violence seldom report an act of physical force as the most hurtful.
- When a someone reaches out for help never assume. They are not likely to use identify it as family violence. Learn to red flag symptoms of family violence. Treating family violence with methods intended to make relationships better seems logical but will only compound the problem. Family violence is not a relationship problem. It’s a power and control problem.
- God’s true religion is to protect the vulnerable (James 1:27, Isaiah 1:17). If power, control and entitlement are hurting, or jeopardizing the safety of a family member in mind, body or spirit make their safety the priority. Family violence is a deal breaker in God’s design for families. A new pattern of repentance is the responsibility of the one who has broken trust before any hope of true restoration is possible.
- Avoid using labels. Many terms are strife with stigma and will have a better chance of alienating rather than leading to help. Stick to the specific attitudes or behaviors that are at play in the relationship. Be consistent in God’s message that nobody has the right to control how you think, feel or act.
- Learn the basics in family violence. Crossroads church can refer you to a complimentary four hour workshop. A mere four hours of a weekend will provide a framework of understanding in this very misunderstood family dynamic.
- Don’t tell those hurt by family violence what they should do. They already have someone telling them what they should think, say or do and they don’t need to replace that controlling relationship with another.
- If I was to choose one take away for you it would rest in this. To prevent family violence from occurring we need to equip our family leaders in understanding the impact the misuse of power and control has and how to correct their behaviors with long term ministry if it’s occurring. The “ounce of prevention” is helping all leaders in Christian families understand they are asked to lay down their rights to take up their responsibilities. To influence, not manipulate. Just as Christ so lovingly for us, his family. Roy Mitton is the founder and Executive director of Masquerade Ministries, a Central Alberta based society dedicated to freedom from domestic abuse through hope and grace. He has used his own testimony to become a public example of the transformation possible for a man who has hurt the ones he loved, to become the husband and father God created him to be through Jesus Christ.