No one deserves abusive treatment
Catholic Social Services works in a variety of ways to push respect for life
By Karen Johnston
QUESTION: I recently received information about the work of your agency in the area of domestic abuse. I am a former battered woman and want to know what services you provide and what you have done to let people know about your services.
ANSWER: Your question is both timely and important. Many communities focus the month of October on Domestic Violence Awareness and Respect Life concerns. We see these as integrally related since they both have to do with respect and value for each individual.
Our agency, through the collaborative efforts of the Green Bay Diocese, has had a strong commitment to the issues of domestic violence prevention. We play a vital role in responding to domestic violence with compassion, knowledge and insights that help to ensure the physical safety and emotional well-being of the communities we serve.
We are in a unique position to influence community attitudes about domestic violence. As the efforts our agency has taken over the years show, we take seriously the Gospel mandate to respect life, to love it and to foster it in our words and actions. These efforts include sponsoring
workshops, providing grants to domestic abuse shelters, helping to advocate for culturally sensitive services in shelters, providing alternatives to violence programs, and publishing and distributing materials to parishes and community members.
Domestic violence and abuse generally represent a pattern of behavior, but can easily manifest
itself in a single incident. These patterns may take many forms. While usually involving physical
violence or threats of physical violence, it can also include emotional, sexual, and economic
abuse that is intended to engender fear and gain control over the victim.
Our focus is on teaching non-violent responses to people so that equality is at the core of
relationships. This model of non-violence, promoted by many providers, advocates for the
building of economic partnerships, responsible parenting, honesty and accountability, trust and
support, non-threatening behavior, negotiation and fairness and shared responsibilities, and most
importantly, unconditional respect for others in our lives. Safety is a key element in all we do.
Our agency has materials available for parishes and community groups on the topic of domestic
violence. We continue to distribute pastoral packets to churches that are interested in formalizing
their response to domestic violence. We continue to lend our professional expertise to groups
wanting a speaker on domestic violence prevention and, as mentioned above, we continue to
serve communities through our direct services and collaborative partnerships with shelters and
Community Coordinated Response teams.
As a community of people who care for one another, we are called to respond to domestic
violence and respect for the dignity of all life with support, affirmation, love and concern.
-- If you suspect that someone is being abused, reach out and offer your support.
-- Dedicate yourself to non-violence as a way of life.
-- Teach conflict management skills.
-- Have the courage to speak openly about the issues of domestic violence.
-- Volunteer your time to the shelters and ask how you might be an advocate for those who are victims, young and old alike.
No one deserves to be abused.
(Johnston is director of Catholic Social Service for the Green Bay Diocese.)
Send questions to Counselor's Corner, c/o Catholic Social Services, P.O. Box 23825, Green Bay 54305-3825. All questions will be answered in print or through the mail. Identities will remain confidential.