Looking through old boxes while moving, I found a paper I did for my psychology class. I chose research the faith community’s response to family violence. My professor encouraged me to approach this topic from a different angle, and I included interviews with two ministers, and an imam. The imam interaction was a brief contact, one time only; I completed my interview with a young woman, one of their teachers. Because we had a short time to complete our papers, I could not include rabbis, as the appointments were outside the deadline.

I saved my interviews with women survivors, who were actively involved in their churches, for last.

This assignment garnered me an A+, but the knowledge and understanding of the faith communities’ sense of duty to the call of ministering to hurting congregants meant more to me than a grade.

The interviews were eye-openers. The young woman I talked with at the mosque was very knowledgeable, breaking down the similarities/differences in southern/northern cultures’ view of women and their status in their respective regions. She was from the northern middle east region, where women are allowed to receive an education, drive a car, pursue careers, own property, own and operate businesses-pretty much different from the media portrayal I’d experienced ( I didn’t ask her where she was from, since my paper’s focus on this issue was general). Women living in the southern region were not so fortunate. It surprised me to learn that the wives walked two steps behind their husbands. I appreciated all she had to say, but I left with the impression that not too much is done, other than the women are given assistance. I received this interview after attending their worship service; I saw the imam after this interview. He just wanted to know if I was satisfied with what I learned.

The interview that impressed me, to this day, was with the minister who personally involved himself in assisting one of his congregants to safety-to another state; and helping another woman to move forward after counseling with the husband proved futile. He was Mexican, and I learned his perspective on the cultural views of women in his country, north and south regions. The surprise here was the similarity to the young woman’s interview. The story was the same.

My interview with the last minister, an African-American, was similar to the other minister. He was involved on a community level, working with social agencies, and preferred to maintain a distance from the families he serviced. His experiences led him to not become personally involved. So my question to the minister who involved himself on a personal level: Why?

He understood his ministry goes beyond praying with and for his congregants. He understood the practical religion of Jesus Christ. Both families are still active in their respective congregations. He maintains contact with them, even though he no longer pastors them.

Pastor….key word.

My interviews with the women who left their abusive relationships was interesting. I say interesting because these women were very active, holding leadership positions, on the surface looking like “I’m a survivor”-but still attached to their abusive ex-spouses- emotionally and mentally. One woman, married twice, was battered in both marriages. The pain, the emotions were still very raw. One couldn’t talk anymore after opening up. I respect that, I feel for them, having been there myself.

They didn’t say too much about their churches’ responses to their situations, and whether their pastors kept in touch with them.

My mentor, a social worker, offered much support to me and my family, along with the pastor and his wife whose leadership my family was under at that time. I know these individuals were the reason I was able to move on, forgive my ex, and live freely.

That was five years ago when I did that assignment. I was researching this morning, and want to explore it again, this time along with spiritual abuse.

 

 

 

 

 

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