by Lauri Przybysz, D.Min.
Faith leaders are often called upon to be first responders in domestic violence situations. Actually, if someone knows you are a praying person, they may turn to you for help.
All Catholics need to be prepared to recognize abuse, respond appropriately and refer people to professionals who are equipped to help. Catholics for Family Peace, a clearinghouse for Catholic resources about domestic violence, offers training for parish staffs and parishioners, as well as guidance for preachers and faith formation leaders. It also provides restroom signs and informational brochures from a Catholic perspective for free download on their website www.catholicsforfamilypeace.org.
Catholic psychologist Dr. Christauria Welland has written a 100-page booklet, How Can We Help to End Violence in Catholic Families: A Guide for Clergy, Religious and Laity, which was distributed to all participants at the recent Synod on the Family in Rome. The booklet, available for free download in six languages from www.paxinfamilia.org, discusses ways all Catholics can respond to and prevent domestic violence and how to educate Catholic youth and couples for peace.
Here are some positive steps that Catholics in ministry can take to make a difference in this serious problem affecting families:
- In collaboration with community agencies, schools, colleges and other community resources, educate all Catholics and people of good will to prevent marital abuse, intimate partner abuse, and teen dating abuse.
- Using Catholic teachings and evidence-based research, address the safety and healing of the victim survivor and any children, as well as the healing and recovery of the abuser.
- Ensure that pastoral staff of Catholic parishes and organizations, as well as family and friends, know the best steps to respond effectively to situations of domestic abuse.
- Equip pastors and staffs to recognize and assist abuse victims by directing them to appropriate support agencies and know how to connect abuse victims to safe, immediate assistance.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides crisis intervention and referrals to local service providers. Call 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 800-787-3224 (TTY). E-mail assistance is available at firstname.lastname@example.org .
*Dr. Lauri Przybysz is a Co-founder of Catholics for Family Peace. She also serves president-elect of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers and past-president Christian Family Movement-USA. She blogs about family ministry at www.familyministryresources.com.