October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Many of us are uncomfortable discussing domestic violence, which leaves it cloaked in silence and hidden from polite discussion. But domestic violence is everyone's business. It should never happen to anyone. Maybe you work with or live next to someone who is being abused right now, verbally, emotionally or physically. Maybe you have lived with abuse; maybe it happened just once or occurs on a regular basis. There are resources in our community to help survivors of domestic violence. The Women's Resource Center of the New River Valley has a crisis hotline that is staffed 24 hours a day; those numbers are 540-639-1123 or 800-788-1123. I am also available to speak with those who have suffered domestic or sexual violence and to help them get the help they need.
I know the thought of talking to someone who is the victim off domestic violence terrifies many of us. We don't know what to say or fear we might say the wrong thing. The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network's National Sexual Assault Hotline staff offer some phrases that can help us to be supportive through a survivor’s healing process:
“I believe you. / It took a lot of courage to tell me about this.”
“It’s not your fault. / You didn’t do anything to deserve this.”
“You are not alone. / I care about you and am here to listen or help in any way I can.”
"I’m sorry this happened. / This shouldn’t have happened to you.”
These simple words can mean the world to a person (woman or man) who is suffering in silence. For more information, visit https://www.rainn.org/articles/tips-talking-survivors-sexual-assault or www.wrcnrv.org.
"Not again. God have mercy on us." This is the text I received from my friend Karen early Monday morning. I had not yet checked the news, but Karen's text sent me straight to the computer. In the past three days we have heard a lot about the specifics of the mass slaughter in Las Vegas; we know some things about some of the victims and details of the shooter's life. But none of that calms the hurt and the rage within us, we who live so close to Virginia Tech and who remember so vividly what happened there 10 years ago. The adage that "time heals" rings hollow to those in our country and world who have suffered traumatic violence and feel as if a scab has been ripped off their wounds as they experience the blood pouring from their souls.
I wish I knew what to say. ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton tweeted this the morning of Oct. 2, when the world learned of the tragic mass shooting: “Las Vegas. There are no words. Just prayers, lament…and the witness of love and life in Jesus Christ. Lord have mercy,” I believe she is right. But as we recover as Christians and before the next tragedy happens, we must find words to bear witness to the violence that so betrays God's will for us. As peacemakers, we must find ways to actively seek the peace of Christ for our nation. Jesus Christ shed his blood so that those he loves would never have to shed theirs. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. God have mercy on us. And move us to speak clearly in your name.
This Friday, October 6, at 7:00 pm, there will be a benefit concert for James Helms at the Oak Grove Pavilion. Mr. Helms needs a kidney transplant and the concert will raise funds for his medical expenses. Three bands will play that evening: Carrie Hinckley and Virginia Hollow, Seph and TK and Little Shiver.
Please continue to keep Jan Fullbright, the mother of Phil, in your prayers. She is in a rehabilitation facility in Hickory, North Carolina, gaining strength for heart surgery.
"By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." - Luke 1:78-79