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Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Verbal abuse is a grave offense, declares Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount. “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool’ (from the Aramaic ‘raca’ a term of contempt meaning worthless, vain, empty, derived from a root meaning, ‘to spit’) you will be liable to the hell of fire.”

“No human being can tame the tongue,” writes the author of the book of James (3:8). “It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

In 2016 the US Senate declared October “National Domestic Violence Awareness Month” (Senate Resolution S566) in an effort to hold perpetrators accountable and bring an end to domestic violence.

This insidious abuse begins with words that lead to coercive behavior causing confusion and fear in victims. Abuse isn’t caused by anger or alcohol, it is a learned behavior with total control of another its goal. Ideas, customs and institutions can breed the devaluation and normalization of abusive behavior through objectifying and devaluing another by the words we use.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence asks us to have an informed conversation about abuse, asking of us the following: “ Never blame the victim, abuse is never the victim’s fault; hold offenders accountable and stop excusing their behavior; challenge widely held perceptions such as ‘survivors can just leave;’ realize that abuse is rooted in power and control, abuse is intentional; trust the survivor’s perspective; question how the media portrays domestic violence; root your conversation in equality—combat sexism, racism or any other ‘ism;’ realize that domestic violence is not a private family matter; if someone discloses he or she is a victim of domestic violence that person is in immediate danger and call for help.”

Tactics employed by abusers include: 1) lying 2) denial, 3) blame shifting, 4) moving the goal posts, 5) bait and switch, 6) projecting, 7)  generalizing and exaggerating, 8) yelling and shouting over, 9) fear-mongering, and 10) body shaming.

Dr Jill Murray warns of an alarming number of teenage girls being controlled or abused by their boyfriends and urges parents to watch for these warning signs: 1) increased isolation, 2) emotional changes, 3) constant communications with the abuser, 4) unfounded jealousy, 5) abusers need to impress, and 6) making excuses for the abuser.

We are to “encourage one another and build up each other,” writes St. Paul to the Thessalonians (5:11), and to the Ephesians Paul writes, “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear” (4:29).

It was with a word spoken by God that the universe was created, and the evangelist John writes Jesus is the Word of God (1:1)

Robert Fulghum rewrote a well known line, “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts.”

For help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224, or  Family Shelter Services, 605 E. Roosevelt Rd, Wheaton 630-221-8290 or go to http://www.familyshelterservice.org.