Does a member of your congregation need help?

If a church member’s safety is in immediate danger because of domestic violence, call 911 right now.

The police will take the situation seriously. If that person is not in immediate danger, please call our 24-hour Crisis Line at (317) 745-1496. Your call will be answered by a trained professional who will ask questions and offer recommendations about the best ways to get help.

ISN’T COUPLES COUNSELING AN EFFECTIVE SOLUTION?

In most cases, not initially. Abuse tends to become more frequent and more violent over time, so a more intentional intervention is usually needed. Remember that domestic violence is a crime. In addition, abusers are often skilled at appearing to be contrite and apologetic, and victims are usually eager to accept apologies and promises. Or abusers will threaten or coerce victims into only disclosing certain information. Victims are less likely to share if their abuser is present for fear of retaliation. To those who are not accustomed to working with abusers and victims — including experienced clergy — the situation may appear to have been resolved, when more serious abuse is actually likely.

HOW CAN I TELL IF SOMEONE IS BEING ABUSED?

The indicators of possible domestic violence vary widely, as does the nature of the abuse. If you notice one or more of these symptoms, you should be concerned:

  • personality changes
  • unexpected and unplanned absences from regular activities
  • withdrawing from contact with fellow church members
  • a spouse who appears to be controlling the other’s actions in public settings, such as refusing to be separated from the other during church events
  • strange bruises and frequent odd medical complaints
  • attempts to cover bruises with long sleeves or sunglasses

HOW CAN I HELP WHEN I SUSPECT ABUSE?

Most victims of domestic abuse are embarrassed and afraid, and may even be in denial that abuse is occurring. If you call our 24-hour Crisis Line at (317) 745-1496, our team will listen to the situation and offer advice.

WHAT CAN I DO FOR SOMEONE WHO TELLS ME THEY’RE BEING ABUSED?

You can best protect a victim by encouraging them to get help. If that person isn’t sure that he or she is being abused, have him or her answer these questions.

WHAT CAN OUR CHURCH DO TO PREVENT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

You can help your church community better understand the realities of domestic violence. Sheltering Wings can provide presentations for your staff and congregation about what they can do to prevent and respond to abuse. We also have resource cards and information that you can place in restrooms and other areas. When you take an active role to educate church members, you send a clear message that abuse is wrong and will not be tolerated. Sheltering Wings has resources available to educate and minister to your congregation about abuse.