November 5, 2003, here on slacktivist: In their distress
My grandmother taught women’s Bible studies in churches and homes all over North Jersey. She was a strict fundamentalist who frowned on divorce (she literally frowned on things of which she didn’t approve, and there were many). And Grandma was certainly no feminist — she taught only women because she believed it was wrong for a woman to teach men.
But in the course of meeting with so many women over the years, and because of the privacy and intimacy of the small groups of women, she met a fair number who were in abusive marriages. She didn’t lecture them on “forgiveness” or on the “sanctity of marriage.” She simply bundled these women into her Nash Rambler and drove them off to [an Anglican] retreat center. There the nuns could look out for them while she got her son the lawyer to file the restraining orders and divorce papers.Grandma and those nuns were what I was thinking of when I said that churches could be “well-situated to make a difference.”
A church’s role needn’t be that direct. It doesn’t have to provide all the services that victims of domestic violence need, but it should at least be a doorway to those services. That can mean something as simple as hanging a flier for the local hotline on the church bulletin board (or better yet, in the women’s bathroom — that sanctuary within a sanctuary).