“Why do you stay with him even though he beats you?”
“You are a professional working woman. Why don’t you just report him?”
“My wife yells at me every day because I don’t earn enough money.”
“He has started to hurt the children. Who can I go to? No one will believe that my soft mannered husband is abusing us. They will blame me for everything.”
“I can’t stop shouting at my wife and children. Whenever I shout at them, I feel relieved.”
“I’m afraid my mother will slap me and call me names when I reach home because I didn’t do well in my exams. Why can’t she understand that I’m only a child?”
It was never meant to be this way. “God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man.” (CCC 1) If we have a share in God’s own blessed life, and if God keeps drawing close to us, why is abuse still happening? What went wrong?
What we sometimes fail to realize is that with every strike on the flesh, with each gaping wound, with each cry of rape and sexual abuse, with every broken promise between a husband and a wife which results in more abuse, God is in the midst of all the tears. Abuse does not come from God, and he will stop it, with our help. It is everyone’s responsibility to educate themselves into recognising the different categories of violence: sexual, physical, psychological, harmful traditional practices and social and economic violence.
Sexual violence comes in the ugly form of sexual abuse, rape and marital rape, pornography, sexual slavery, sexual harassment, sex trafficking, forced pregnancy, sterilization, abortion and incest. Types of physical violence are murder, battering (hitting, beating, choking, pushing, slapping, kicking, punching, biting, etc), burning, throwing objects at a person, refusal to get your partner help or medical attention and the use of weapons against each other.
Many of us are familiar with the types of psychological violence: verbal threats of violence and harm, emotional violence such as verbal attacks and humiliation, isolation (controlling victims’ time, activity and contact with others) and abusive acts and threats directed against or involving children for the purpose of controlling or punishing the abused partner.
In many countries these days, harmful traditional practices are being forced upon innocent and helpless victims; such as female genital mutilation, forced or child marriages, dowry related violence and sadly, honor killings. Controlling access to family resources such as time, transportation, food, clothing, shelter, insurance and money can result in the abused parties losing grip of their personal safety which is their God-given right. Everyone has the right to be financially self-sufficient.
We cannot stand by and think that it is only the victim and the abuser who need to reclaim their dignity. As one Body of Christ, we are responsible for each other’s well-being, and every time we turn away from helping another, we lose our own God-given identity and purpose in life. We barter our dignity with ignorance. Each attack on our brothers and sisters, no matter their race and religion, is an attack on us. It is an attack on the blessedness we share with our Maker.
24-7 Prayer Malaysia and Good Shepherd Services (GSS) have launched the ORANGE THE WORLD 16 Days of Activism: Nov 25 to Dec 10 “Say No to Violence against Women and Children” programme to help bring about awareness on the violence faced by women and children and to call to action towards helping and comforting those who are hurting.
On 29th November 2015, the Women’s Ministry of the Church of St Joseph, Sentul, launched this awareness campaign by appropriately kick-starting it with daily mass intentions offered for the victims for 16 days. Orange t-shirts were sold prior to the launch date to encourage the parishioners to wear them on the 29th. During Mass, several gifts were offered as a sign of our daily labour towards this cause: a Bible, orange sweets, oranges, 3 goldfishes, an Orange The World poster and the Salt of the Earth book. After Mass, both children and adults were invited to imprint their painted palms onto a giant white cloth banner in hopes that the awareness not only continues when one looks at this banner, but also as a sign of an imprint on their hearts as a personal pledge of looking after each other. The Good Shepherd Sisters and staff from GSS were also on hand to help out with the enquiries. For further awareness, orange cupcakes and drinks were sold and a Mehendi counter was opened to all.
The Women’s Ministry’s aim is to Enact, Educate, Empower and Advocate causes which can help bring the lost ones back to our Maker’s fold. So, do remember: if you know of anyone who is suffering from abuse – male or female – do not remain silent. Help is also offered to those who are committing the violence.
Numbers to call are:
013-285 1364 (Lourdsmary G. Joseph)
012-682 2081 (Barbara Retnam)
014-620 5077 (Annie Teh)
017-631 0908 (Anita Paul)
012-318 0623 (Good Shepherd Services)
by Anita Paul.