During the Covid-19 pandemic, where the shelter-in-place orders are still enforced in many places, families are forced to stay closer together for longer periods of time than ever before. This can come as welcoming news to some while to others it may be worrisome.
People who are victims of domestic violence have no choice but to stay closer than ever to their abusers.
During these uncertain and vulnerable times, churches should be more sensitive to the subtle cries of help from their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Churches can act as a safe haven for those who need a place to feel safe and the people of God can reach out to help guide them in Christ.
Unfortunately, both abusers and victims of domestic violence often do not speak up because they want to hide the mixed feelings of fear and shame. So in order for church leaders to help, one must sharpen their awareness about the signs of domestic violence.
The first way church leaders can sharpen their awareness is to know the community. Christians should develop a strong-knit community so that they can depend and lean on each other without feeling judged. Initiate a conversation with the sister or brother and try to maintain and grow a wholesome relationship. When a solid relationship is built, it is harder to hide sins like those of abuse.
The second way to sharpen awareness of domestic violence is to know the signs of abuse. Violent behavior can include the destruction of property, verbal abuse, isolation, deprivation of physical and financial resources, and forced or demanded sexual contact. These violent behaviors often repeat in a habitual manner so it is important to catch and recognize the cycle to avoid future problems.
The third way for the church to sharpen awareness of domestic violence is to know the community resources. Know your city's organizations and resources designed to aid victims of domestic violence. Church partnerships with such organizations can signal to victims that they can be safe at your church.
In order to fight domestic violence, the church should unhesitatingly preach the gospel to reassure the unchanging love of Christ to the victims and to teach the beauty of repenting for God's forgiveness to the abusers.