No Longer Taboo
Adventists Say No to Abuse and Violence
Family is a gift from God. Since the beginning of time, Satan has set out to destroy and harm that precious gift. More than 3.6 million claims of abuse are made to child protection agencies involving more than 6.6 million children every year. This averages out to one report of child abuse every 10 seconds (childhelp.org). The National Coalition of Domestic Violence reports that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner. On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive 20,800 calls.
Seventh-day Adventists must face a hard truth: we are not immune to these jarring statistics. Domestic violence within the church has been documented to follow the same trends in non-Adventist populations. In 2009, Adventists launched enditnow, a global initiative to raise awareness and advocate for the end of violence around the world. enditnow seeks to increase personal awareness, responsibility, and involvement to effectively help end violence in every family and community. Today, the initiative is supported by the North American Division Women's Ministries, Family Ministries, Children's Ministries, Chaplaincy Ministries and Communication Departments.
According to Debra Brill, NAD Vice President for Ministries, “enditnow began as an ADRA initiative bringing attention to the global crisis of abuse. We want our churches, homes, and schools to be places where people experience God’s love, where everyone feels ‘safe and secure from all alarms!’ The reality is that churches reflect our broken society. Understanding the threats of abuse and being intentional about solutions can lead us to become healing communities. NAD is targeting pastoral education, for they are often the first responders to members in crisis. What is our responsibility to a member shattered by verbal and physical battering by their spouse? How should we respond when a child says another child is ‘hurting’ them? What systems are in place to guide leaders when violence is reported? When a convicted sex offender comes to church, what do we do?”
In Our Homes
What does abuse within the home look like? According to the Joyful Heart Foundation, domestic violence can take many forms such as:
- Physical. Any use of force that causes pain or injury, such as hitting, kicking or slapping
- Sexual. Abuse can include sexual harassment, sexual assault or manipulating a person into having sex by using guilt or threats
- Emotional and/or verbal. Constant criticism, threatening to hurt loved ones or harassment at school or in the workplace
- Economic. Controlling a person’s income or financial assistance, misusing one’s credit or making it difficult for a person get or maintain a job
- Psychological. Minimizing or blaming a person for the abuse, intimidation and/or threats or destroying property
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, seek help. Confide in someone you trust, or use the resources listed.
In Our Churches and Schools
According to Brill, “Adventist Risk Management (ARM) has paid over $30M in abuse claims. But the dollar loss pales in comparison to the human suffering perpetrated not only by the abuser, but by those who deny the importance of caring for the abused.”
John Page, Southwestern Union Treasurer, has worked with ARM and has liaised with families and churches devastated by these events. “We’re committed to creating a safe environment. Our goal is to have zero abuse situations in our churches, schools, and families, which is why it is of the utmost importance that we use the tools that we have to protect them,” says Page.
One of those tools is a system of vetting volunteers. Every church and school has access to and is charged with using Verified Volunteer, a background-checking system that should be used to verify every volunteer.
Another tool is education. enditnow is currently focused on educating pastors and leaders with its free, online Pastors’ Summit on Abuse (September 11, 2017), which will provide vital information and education to church leadership. Find more information at enditnow.org and enditnownorthamerica.org.
National Child Abuse Hotline
1.800.422.4453 | www.childhelp.org
National Domestic Violence Hotline
1.800.799.7233 | www.ndvh.org
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
1.800.656.4673 | www.rainn.org
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline
1.866.331.9474 | www.loveisrespect.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1.800.273.8255 | www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org