Saturday, January 05, 2013
I was touched, as was my wife Ruth, by the generosity of St. Paul's folk to Bethesda House, the local shelter for women and children who have left abusive relationships during the Christmas season. Ruth used to work at the shelter site, but for the last seven years has been an outreach crisis counsellor for the shelter, responding to the needs of women and teens who may not enter the shelter but need transition support.
Along with the mountain of gifts contributed on White Gift Sunday, the congregation gave $500 to supplement Christmas hampers to clients, and a number of individuals gave gift cards which can be redeemed at grocery and drug stores. Well done folks! This is faith in action.
Of course all this points out a grim reality. Domestic abuse continues to be prevalent in our society, even though it stays off the radar for most of us until we hear about a death. Yes, men can be abused as well, and are. But overwhelming it is violence in some form directed toward women.
You may have aware of the report released just before Christmas which estimates the annual cost to the Canadian economy for domestic violence at 7.4 billion dollars. This takes into account lost wages, institutional support, the costs of relocation and household dissolution. This really is a staggering amount. In addition the report says that more than 300,00 Canadians are affected by domestic violence every year.
I encourage you to continue your awareness, and your generosity. It is important for all of us to be aware of the signs of domestic abuse and encourage those we know to seek support. This isn't a "those people" situation. Ruth has counselled many women who are members of congregations, some of which encourage them to stay in abusive relationships because it is supposedly the Chrstian thing to do. And as Christians we need to do everything possible to address this scourge on societal health.