DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A coffee shop and advocacy group are teaming up to take on domestic violence. The Family Place, the largest domestic violence service provider in North Texas, and Union Coffee are challenging churches to address the issue during services with their “Safe. On. Sunday.” campaign.
The campaign will offer training to church leaders, who can pass that information on to their congregation. The sessions will help pastors identify domestic violence among their parishioners, as well as give them tools to respond to victims and abusers in the congregation.
According to a news release provided by both groups, more family violence cases are reported on Sunday than on any other day.
While the recently released video showing former NFL player Ray Rice hitting and knocking out his fiancee, Janay Palmer, has sparked a national debate about domestic violence, the S.O.S. campaign is months in the making.
“We’ve been working on this for about 6 months,” said Reverend Michael Baughman, who will lead the training along with Theresa Little, a licensed social worker and Assistant Director of Community Outreach Services at The Family Place.
Baughman, who also works as the Executive Director/Community Curator at Union Coffee, has worked in churches for more than 15 years.
“Often times clergy, with really good intentions, do things that are hurtful to the situation,” said Baughman about domestic violence. “Sometimes women are encouraged to stay to protect the marriage or for the children.”
Baughman says when it comes to those touched by domestic violence (victims and abusers0, there is no statistic difference between those who attend church and those who don’t. For that reason, Baughman wants to encourage churches to talk openly about this issue.
“The biggest ally of an abuser is silence…so when we don’t talk about it as a society, victims will accept or believe this is the way things are,” he said.
“We need to talk more about it,” Little agreed. In her experience with churches and domestic violence, she “found out a lot don’t know what to do. They don’t even know what it looks like.”
She tells a story about a woman she met years ago, who was conflicted about getting a restraining order against her pastor husband, even though she had witnessed him sexually abuse their 10-year-old daughter.
Women, who make up a majority of many churches, are often conflicted about faith, domestic violence and divorce, according to Little.
“I’m not interested in saving a marriage. A marriage can be restored, but a life cannot.”
Baughman says several church leaders have already committed to going through the training. The sessions will be offered Thursday, September 11 from 10am-2pm and Friday, September 19 from 10am-2pm.
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