*Content Warning: Article includes discussion of sexual assault*
The front door of the church for most first time visitors is our webpage. Sometimes people go to our virtual front door because they are interested in finding a church home. Sometimes people arrive looking for help. This page is also a resource for you because you may know someone or learn of someone needing help: housing, food security, help with utilities and domestic/intimate partner violence.
One resource on our resource page is www.tethered1.org. Our own Courtney Armento is the founder and operator of this site which is, “dedicated to the up leveling of our communities around conversation, support, and action for those whose lives are touched by Domestic or Intimate Partner Violence.”
Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence does not distinguish between economic levels, educational backgrounds, race, or religion. While both men and women are victimized, women are 3 times more likely to be victimized. The violence is both physical and verbal; the absence of bruises and cuts does not equal an absence of violence.
The conservative estimation is that 1 out of 3 women experience physical violence from an intimate partner. The conversation about that violence continues to focus blame on the victim and that’s where we come in as the church, the healing body of Christ in the world.
Last year, a stellar swimmer at Standford incurred a wrist slap for raping a woman on campus. Known as Emily Doe inside the court room, she publicly identified herself just last September. Chanel Miller was sexually assaulted behind a dumpster on Stanford campus by Brock Turner. The university created a garden in that spot, pledging to install a plaque that would include words of her choosing from the victim’s impact statement she read in court.
“In the two years since the garden was built, the university has twice rejected the language Miller chose for the plaque, instead offering alternatives she has nixed… Miller withdrew from the project, and the space. . . Students recently launched a petition to install a permanent plaque selected by Miller, collecting nearly 1,700 signatures from students, faculty and alumni. But in its absence, a virtual marker went live last week with Miller’s chosen passage: “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”
The students who created the virtual space do not see it as a substitute for marking the space physically, so people know why the garden is there. The concern expressed by the University to not trigger people who have been victimized by sexual violence rings hollow for me; the world is full of those triggers already.
Chanel Miller has been blamed for being a victim, as still happens to many victims of rape and sexual abuse. I grew up believing that my behavior could be the cause of someone attacking me, violating me. I wonder why it wasn’t that boys were taught they were accountable for their behavior, period and violence was wrong. Chanel had been to a party where there was a lot of drinking. I found myself stuck in that old view, that “she should’ve known better” view. But as she said, the consequence of having too much to drink should be a hangover, not getting raped.
I encourage you to join me, as the healing heart of Christ in this world, to shift our belief and behavior in favor of people being victimized by domestic partner and intimate partner violence. We can be part of the change, and part of the healing.