Punishing the victim

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Punishing the victim

By | 2009-10-13T13:25:06+00:00 October 13th, 2009|

Interesting front page article in the Chicago Tribune today about a woman who was evicted after she called the police to report that her live-in boyfriend had threatened her with a gun.

The woman was trying to protect herself and her child. She did the right thing by calling police, getting an order of protection, and so on. But her landlord evicted her because of the threat of violence in the apartment complex–even though she’d gotten an order of protection, and kicked the boyfriend and his gun out of her apartment.

This did not happen in an inner-city neighborhood, but in a nice suburb where the median house price is $422,500. I used to work in Elmhurst, so I’m –it has some very affluent areas and some firmly middle-class areas. This apartment complex was not subsidized or government housing–which means it is exempt from federal laws protecting victims of domestic violence from eviction.

 My question is, how do we as Christians respond to victims of domestic violence? Are we doing anything to help? Unfortunately, abuse happens in Christian families, too, and often, the church looks the other way or even says that the woman should submit. They punish the victim, too.

What do you think of this situation? How can we extend compassion? What role, if any, do you think should the church play in confronting this kind of injustice?

No Comments

  1. Diane October 21, 2009 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Keri where do you get this fact, “Unfortunately, abuse happens in Christian families, too, and often, the church looks the other way or even says that the woman should submit.”

    In all my seminary training, and in the 40 years of Church work that has crossover with other denominations I have never heard a pastor, priest, or teacher admonish a victim or that a woman should submit to violence or abuse.

    This a broad statement and indictment I find unfair to our Christian Communities. It has been my experience that the families who are members of a Christian community are often well cared for and counseled and directed to professional care as it should be. There are woman’s and men’s groups in these communities who offer services, as well as prayer.

    Those individuals in our wider communities are certainly given open invitations and are often sought out by the Christan community by friends, acquaintances or neighbors to offer their help and guidance.

    I don’t know where or what your personal experience lies but I would suggest you do more research in your statements especially when you make such broad ones.
    Certainly you meant well and wanted to start a conversation. I think the Christian Communities should be lifted up by you not put in this disdaining position of defense. Your perspective to inspire conversation suprises me coming from a Christian woman.

  2. Keri Wyatt Kent October 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    I didn’t mean to imply that all churches do this. Most do not, of course. But you might want to look at an article I wrote for another blog, about allegations of this very thing at Saddleback Church (the church wouldn’t comment on the specific case).

    If you look through the comments on that post, you’ll see a comment or two from women who have been abused. I’ve also been in touch with women who have endured abuse but didn’t want to post anything publically about it.
    Look at the teachings of leaders like John Piper and Bruce Ware, who teach some very good things, but also some rather alarming things (in my view) about the roles of men and women in the family and church.

    You likely haven’t heard about this kind of thing because it’s not the kind of thing that a priest or pastor is going to admit to doing–it often falls under the category of “counseling” and as such is confidential. And the women feel like victims and don’t speak out. or they just leave the church. so it doesn’t get talked about.
    let me be perfectly clear–I’m not saying this happens in all churches. But it does happen, and it should not.
    It may not seem like it, but I am trying to “lift up” the church by calling it to a higher standard–one that valuese all people equally, as Jesus did.

  3. Diane October 26, 2009 at 10:33 am - Reply

    Thank you Keri, for your insightful response. No I have not been aware of these testimonies. I will read your sources. It is good I think you made these references for the readers. It is helpful when you see the sources especially in our day of reporters and writers who speak “off the cuff” if I might use that vernacular. In any case I did appreciate your effort to arouse conversation. It is through just that conversation that many ills are revealed that need healing and a big change in the way these matters are handled.
    I do hope this is read and discussed and not just relegated to a “peeve” of some women. God forbid. Diane

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