October is not only Respect Life Month but is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a fitting convergence, which we mark this weekend in the Diocese of Orange. Just a few sobering statistics in Orange County reveal the extent of the epidemic of Domestic Violence:
- 1 in 4 women will be physically assaulted by a jealous boyfriend or husband during her lifetime
- 1 in 5 teenage girls will experience dating violence
- Children who grow up in homes with domestic violence are more likely to become abusers or be abused
- One-third of all 911 calls reporting domestic violence are made by children (Orange County, CA, Domestic Violence Court)
- 90% of elder abuse is committed by family members
- In Orange County, 26.3% of women surveyed said they have experienced domestic violence; the state average is 20.5%.
A recent story from the USCCB’s To Go Forth Blog speaks to the significance of the Church’s response:
An abused wife with a large family realized for the first time that Catholics cared when she saw a resource card about Domestic Violence in her church’s restroom. It was the first time she had an inkling that she was not the only Catholic woman to experience domestic abuse. The card explained that the Church teaches that no one is expected to stay in an abusive relationship and gave information about how to get help and find safety.
As Bishop Vann writes in his letter on Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention, “domestic violence is a hidden threat to our families and communities that demands more of us.” Please see the suggestions for education, prayer, action, and pastoral care from the Diocese of Orange. In particular, this Sunday take time to pray and to share a story or a conversation with someone else, that might just open a pathway for healing, rescue, awareness, or prevention. What else can we be doing as parishes and small faith communities to shed light into the darkness of domestic violence? How can I share these resources with others? Thank you for all that you do to live out the Gospel of Life!
–by Greg Walgenbach, Director of Life, Justice & Peace, Diocese of Orange