A new Family Place campaign is challenging churches to properly address domestic violence within their congregations. The Dallas charity has enlisted the help of the Rev. Mike Baughman of Union coffeehouse on the initiative called Safe on Sunday, so named because more family violence is reported on Sunday than any other day of the week.
“Sunday is supposed to be a peaceful day. It is supposed to be a day of rest and a day of worship,” says Theresa Little, licensed social worker and assistant program director of community outreach services at the Family Place. “When we found out the statistics, we knew we had to do something.”
Churchgoers are just as likely as the rest of the general public to be victims — and even abusers — in domestic violence cases. And the truth is that most pastors have little or no training on how to talk about family violence from the pulpit or address it when members of the congregation reveal that abuse.
“Statistics show that women, other than their family, are most likely to lean on their faith in domestic violence situations,” Little says. “So when the members of the church don’t know how to handle a domestic violence situation, what is the victim to do then? We have to help church leaders so they can help the victims.”
The Rev. Baughman and Little lead the Safe on Sunday training. They hope to make these discussions a priority in churches in October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Baughman, a longtime supporter of the Family Place, has a passion for training clergy and adolescents across the country on how to address family and partner violence.
“I started this work because I, as a pastor, was convicted several years ago by the church’s silence on matters of family violence,” Baughman says. “Our hope is to train as many church leaders as we can and challenge as many churches as we can to speak out about domestic violence.”
You can register online for the training; the next session is September 19, 10 am-2 pm, at Union Coffee. Registration costs $25 and includes lunch, a beverage and a USB drive full of resources to help you better serve domestic violence victims in your church.
With domestic violence at the forefront of media attention due to the recent Ray Rice NFL suspension, now seems as good a time as ever to talk about the new campaign, which promotes education about something that one in three women will face at some point in their lives.
“This incident in the NFL has occurred and has got everyone talking about domestic violence,” Little says. “It is our goal to encourage people to never stop talking about it. Our goal is to be all up in people’s faces, letting perpetrators know that we have a zero-tolerance policy for this stuff in our society.”