Trina is in a situation that is of her own making – at least she thinks so.
You see, last Tuesday she got home a bit late from work and didn’t get dinner done on time. The kids were cranky, and the tension in the house boiled to the point that her husband blew a gasket.
Later, after the kids were in bed, she tried to talk to him, and in his humiliation, frustration and inebriated state, he lashed out at her, smacking her across the face.
Why does she think she caused the situation? Because she married this man. She knows it isn’t right to hit, but she feels trapped in this codependent relationship.
1 in 4 women in the US has experienced domestic violence in her life time. 74% or three in four people in your congregation know or have known someone who has experienced domestic violence. (Source)
Trina is trapped in a place of poverty. Not just a physical poverty, but a poverty of spirit. She doesn’t have enough strength on the inside to stand up for her family and build a different future for her kids.
According to the World Health Organization, worldwide domestic abuse (or “intimate partner and sexual violence”) risk factors include:
- lower levels of education (perpetrators and victims);
- exposure to child maltreatment (perpetrators and victims);
- witnessing parental violence (perpetrators and victims);
- antisocial personality disorder (perpetrators);
- harmful use of alcohol (perpetrators and victims);
- males who have multiple partners or are suspected by their partners of infidelity (perpetrators); and
- attitudes that are accepting of violence (perpetrators and victims).
Trina is going to show up Sunday at church (bruises hidden) because she wants desperately to belong. She hopes that an outside influence will somehow change her children’s future. It just might.
How can you help Trina?
Deep down in the ocean, is a place where the pressure is so great that even submarines will get squished. Yet, down there in this deep dark place, fish live. How do these fish live at such great depth? The fish that live down there have a pressure inside of them that is equal to the pressure on the outside. Therefore, they are able to survive.
Trina and her family are in a high-pressure situation. Trina is currently being squashed by her situation, and is unable to get out. If you were to convince Trina to leave, chances are high she would return and the violence would escalate. In fact. on average, a woman who leaves a domestic abuse situation will return 4 or 5 times before leaving for good. Even more women who leave this sort of situation jump right into a similar or worse situation.
Trina needs you to introduce her to God’s grace, forgiveness, peace and joy. She needs to know that God loves her, even in her situation, and that He has a plan for her life. She also needs to know that God doesn’t just love her, but He loves her husband too. God has a plan to bring this family to wholeness.
Can you help her understand the indwelling Spirit of God?
Can you teach her to hear God’s voice?
As God infuses her with His Spirit, she will develop strength for her situation. Obviously, this situation is not healthy. Trina needs God’s answer so that she will have the strength to bring God’s healing answer to her family.
Here are some things you can do to help Trina:
- Have a women’s group that is safe, private (what is said here, stays here) and prayerful.
- Know at least two options for women in abuse situations. What shelters are available? What would it be like for a woman with children to go to one of those shelters?
- Have a secure prayer request system – either online, via phone, or a drop box – that will allow people in desperate situations to reach out anonymously. Telling someone that you are in a bad situation is the first step to recovery. Sometimes the first baby step is to do so anonymously.
- Recognize from the pulpit that the many of the people in your congregation are being or have been affected by some sort of domestic abuse – either in their family of origin, perhaps a boyfriend or girlfriend, or their current living situation. This experience puts them more at risk for perpetuating the dysfunction. We all need our minds renewed by God’s Spirit. We need God’s perspective so that we can live as people of grace, peace and joy even in hard times. Let your people know the only real choices they have in life is whether to believe Jesus and whether to act or react in any situation.
Please pray for the Trina’s in your congregation. Women aren’t the only ones abused – there is a growing trend where women are the abusers. Not only do the abused need support and grace, but those who are making the bad decisions of violence are precious people to God as well. Pray for those whose anger is ruining their lives.
Let’s help Trina build a home of faith and peace. It will make a secure and different future for her children, and eventually, her grandchildren.
The people in this “Coming to Your Church This Sunday” series aren’t real. They are a compilation of people we have known, read about, heard of and heard from throughout the years. If you see yourself in them, you just have a lot in common with the rest of the human race.
If you, or someone you know is suffering in an abusive situation, you can call:
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Staffed 24 hours a day by trained counselors who can provide crisis assistance and information about shelters, legal advocacy, health care centers, and counseling.