For publication in our local paper this week. A reflection on White Ribbon Day.
Another White Ribbon Day has come and gone. The day challenges us to acknowledge that, for a significant portion of Mount Gambier’s population, home is not a place of security and nurture, but a place of fear and abuse.While the day is gone, that situation goes on.
This is not a circumstance that is distant and unlikely to personally impact us, like the terror attacks in Paris, Sydney or Beirut. This is violence that occurs within sight of our front doors. And, for some of you reading this, within your front door.
We demand our governments be vigilant to protect us from distant threats. How can we do anything less than demand that we ourselves stand against a threat on our doorstep?
Any consideration of the statistics available is horrifying. Any hearing of the stories of victims or survivors is harrowing.
Apart from physical suffering, the emotional and psychological effects of abuse can continue long after the abusive relationship is ended; the deepest scars are those that are in our minds. Bruises and bones heal, there are supports that can help reorient feelings and reactions, but the memories will never change.
While acknowledging that sometimes the victims of violence are men, campaigns like White Ribbon Day demand that we confront ourselves with the reality that is men’s violence against women and children, and continue to work toward a society in which is safer and more secure for all.
The Bible demands that every husband should devote their life toward the support, nurture and care of their wife. Violence, threats, financial blackmail, verbal abuse or any other form of coercion are completely unacceptable. Excuses about needs, circumstances, stress, alcohol, illness, or any other form of justification are wrong.
No one ever deserves to be brutalised. If you are, or were, a victim: it is not your fault. If you are someone who behaves in this way: you are an abuser, you must stop, and there is help and support available.
The feeling of shame among perpetrators and victims is strong. But that is no reason to keep the situation concealed. Healing can only come through the situation being addressed.
It is observed that leaving an abusive relationship is a brave action. Confessing that you are an abuser and that you need help to change is a brave act as well. Abuse is not about strength, it is driven by fear.
Don’t let fear rule your life and relationships.
The heart of Christian belief revolves around forgiveness and a new life. Life with Jesus is about change and growth. Churches strive to be communities where those who have been hurt can heal and learn to trust, and where those who have been abusers can be renewed and learn to be worthy of trust.
There are numerous agencies and groups in our town who would willingly support those who want to leave abuse behind, as well as those who have been victims.