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 the emphasis we place on our pets seems more
than our 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, it is not such 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 of 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 is estimated that 85% of domestic violence victims are women costing our country $5.8 billion each year. 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. 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 impacted 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, each life is to be respected, 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.
HarborCOV 24-hour Hotline 617.884.9909 (Crisis Only)
P.O. Box 505754, Chelsea, MA 02150
Business Phone 617.884.9799
October 12/13, 2019
In today’s Gospel, we hear of the ten men afflicted with leprosy, and the one who glorifies God for being healed. It is a dramatic scene of gratitude. But in order for the miracle to happen in the first place, these men had to start walking in faith before their diseased conditions change one tiny bit. Good stewards of their faith realize that they cannot wait until their problems are over to start walking in faith. They praise God even in the darkest of nights, and in the worst of circumstances.
Do we walk in faith, offering the Lord our gratitude even when we are in difficult circumstances?