Walking through the barrios of Guayaquil, Ecuador one of the ﬁrst impressions one has is the number of dogs that are everywhere. My old uncle had a saying, “You could always tell a poor man – because he has a dog; you can always tell a very poor man, because he has two dogs!” Even when there is limited food for everyone in the family – the dog is in the midst of the family and receives a little of whatever there is. Of course, here in Charlestown the whole dog thing is huge – and I confess that I add to the aﬀection folks have with dogs with my own Labrador, Lily.
Yet, I ﬁnd it troubling that, for some, the emphasis placed on pets seems more than concern for people, especially people in need. When a person is found to be abusing an animal, that story might make headlines, especially if the person is some sort of a celebrity. On the other hand, when a person is found to be abusing another person, some don’t consider it to be a big deal. But it is a big deal.
Naturally, human relationships are more complex than our relationships with our pets. Intimate relationships between friends and spouses are especially complex. When all is healthy, people understand the need for each other to express self in open and honest ways grounded in genuine love and care for the other. Yet all too often all is not healthy and one person in a relationship seeks to control the other by the use of physical, emotional, verbal, ﬁnancial and/or sexual abuse. When this happens, it is called domestic violence.
The best deﬁnition of violence I have ever heard is: “Anything done or not done that diminishes the dignity of another”. When you think about that – all of us have been violent and been victims of violence. Yet domestic violence is the systematic use of violence to gain and maintain control over another. Perhaps the ﬁrst response to this deﬁnition is to think I am speaking about something that is uncommon and certainly not in the neighborhood where I live. Sadly that is untrue.
Domestic violence aﬀects anyone regardless of age, gender, identity, sexual orientation, race, country of origin, ethnicity, culture, ancestry, socioeconomic status, religion, etc. It has been estimated that 85% of domestic violence victims are women. Recent statistics in the United States report nearly one in four women experience violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life. And it’s reported that during this pandemic time, domestic violence is on the rise. The picture is clear – Domestic Violence is a huge issue and needs to be brought out of the closet and into the light.
The more our community is aware of these realities the safer all persons in our community will be. And while the men and women impacted are many, it is the children who are in families where there is violence who are profoundly aﬀected and often emotionally crippled in their own development.
So what do we do? October is DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH. Look around. Learn about resources that are here in Charlestown and in our city that can help someone in an abusive relationship. Talk with a member of the local clergy, speak with a close friend. Often speaking about one’s suﬀering can be the ﬁrst step toward receiving help – for everyone concerned.
In God’s eyes, each of us is precious and no person, ever in any way shape or form, has the right to abuse another. When this happens, both the person abused and the abuser need help and need to ﬁnd healing and support.
Resources For Those Affected By Domestic Violence
In a dangerous or immediately threatening situation, always call 911 first, to keep yourself and your children safe.
MA SafeLink 24/7 Hotline 1-877-785-2020
• The best first step for guidance on how to approach your situation
• Directly connects women to immediate shelter and long-term housing options in Mass.
• Assists with safety planning, crisis intervention, as well as supportive listening and guidance
Multilingual counselors, and access to translation service for over 130 languages
National Domestic Violence 24/7 Hotline 1-800-799-7233
• Provides immediate support and guidance, as well as brainstorming help for appropriate next steps Also offers free support via live chat on their website (www.thehotline.org) between 8am and 3am EST, if you are not able to access a safe phone
Passageway at BWH 1-617-732-8753
• Offers legal advocacy services, safety planning, counseling, support groups, and referrals to outside resources like housing & lawyers
• Offers services in English and Spanish, with access to interpreters for other languages
• Locations at BWH, Faulkner Hospital, Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, Brookside Community Health Center, Whittier Street Health Center, and Mission Hill Community
At times other than M-F 8:30-5:30, call 1-617-732-5520, ext. 31808 to page advocate-on-call
HAVEN at MGH 1-617-724-0054
• Provides support groups, counseling, advocacy, workshops, safety planning, resource referrals, and supportive accompaniment to court and other appointments
• Locations at MGH, as well as in Chelsea and Revere
• Offers multi-lingual support through bilingual counselors and on-call translators
• At times other than M-F 8:30-5:30, call 1-617-726-2241 to page advocate-on-call
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time October 10/11, 2020
There are a number of Bible verses Christians have memorized. One of them is in Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians found in this weekend’s second reading: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (4:13). Most people deﬁne themselves either by their problems or their possibilities. Fearful people wake up each morning ensnared by their problems. Christian stewards wake up reﬂecting on their possibilities with conﬁdence and hope.
Some stewardship reﬂection questions for the week:
What challenges do you back away from because you doubt that you are up to them?
What would you attempt tomorrow if you were sure God would help you?