The month of October is many things: the peak of leaf-peeping season (if you're a New Englander like me), the time of year when all things pumpkin spice flavoured (or scented) appears in every store, the month of scarecrows and holiday anticipation.
But October can also boast one other very important claim -- it's Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The facts are shocking -- one out of every three women are being or will be abused within their own homes. This statistic is unyielding across demographics, including religion. What this means for us is that one out of every three women sitting in the pews within our parishes are being victimized within what should be the safety of their own homes. Obviously men can—and are—also victims, but domestic violence “tends to harm women and children more,” as the USCCB points out. 85% of domestic violence targets are female victims of male partners. This is the reason for the focus on women in this review.
In 1992—updated in 2002—the USCCB issued a crucial document regarding the Catholic Church’s stance on domestic abuse. Yet “When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women,” hasn’t received the attention it deserves. Unfortunately, it remains unknown by too many clergy and victims alike.
I’d like to help change that.
Many Catholic women suffering in abusive marriages feel like they have to tolerate the abuse. Their union is a sacrament, and the Church teaches that marriage is indissoluble (CCC 1664-1645). That means they’re stuck, right?
Actually, no. Not at all.
I'm Jenny duBay, a domestic abuse survivor and now advocate. My degree is in Christian theology with a concentration on spiritual direction, and my vocational emphasis is on helping those who have suffered from domestic abuse to heal and reclaim their true selves.