Advocating for an Abuse-Free World

Articles November 28, 2023

Source: The Health Connection Newsletter | 2nd Quarter 2023

Recently I was contacted by an abuse survivor in need of help. This person had read an article I wrote on “Keeping Our Homes Abuse Free” and shared the realization of experiencing many warning signs of imminent danger due to the abusive relationship in the home. “What can I do about it,” was the question. “I want to live a life free of abuse for me and my children…I want to have counseling, but I don’t know who I can trust.” Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon experience among people of faith. We could go on retelling many stories of child abuse, intimate partner violence, and elder abuse, which unfortunately happen in Christian families more than we would like to admit.

Domestic violence includes any attempt by one person in an intimate relationship or marriage to dominate and control the other, whether they are the spouse, the child, or the parent. Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose: to gain and maintain control over another. A perpetrator of an abuser uses fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear the other down and keep them under their thumb.

Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal assaults to violence. And while physical injury may pose the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy one’s self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make the victim feel helpless and alone. A history of abuse is among the top root causes of addictive behaviors. Survivors of abuse also have an increased risk of physical health problems like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. No one should have to endure abuse or experience its negative consequences.

Health ministries must take on an active role in preventing abuse and helping survivors. It is a duty to educate people on recognizing when a relationship is abusive and to connect survivors with helpful resources. On July 31, the world focuses on raising awareness about human trafficking, another form of violence and abuse. We can make a difference by reaching out to the survivors and providing hope and assistance.

The Adventist church has for nearly 15 years advocated against violence/abuse through its ENDitNOW initiative (See resource list on page 2 of this newsletter). August 26 is the ENDitNOW Sabbath, and every church can use the resources prepared by the church to educate church members, faith leaders, and the community at large. Plan ahead with your health ministries team to join forces in the ENDitNOW initiative and bring hope and healing to those experiencing or perpetrating abuse. Pray and consider what you can do to add your voice as an advocate for an abuse-free world.