Progressive religious publications offer us incisive articles about the pressing social issues of our time, informing us about the human suffering behind the statistics and calling us to action on behalf of the victims of war, poverty, and AIDS. The best of our religious leaders and churches steer us toward that risky prophetic edge, leading us to place our bodies on the line to protect others from military violence or to prison for protesting one of the many ways multinational corporations harm indigenous people and the environment.
Yet on the issue of family violence in the United States, which has a devastating impact on the lives of millions of children and adults, the leaders within the peace and justice community, and our churches, are mostly silent. (The related issue of clergy sexual abuse, particularly how it has manifested within the Catholic Church, has been of course headline news for the past several years.)
The victims of family violence live among us wearing the masks of Sunday school teacher, committee member, co-worker, elderly neighbor, nursery school child, youth group member. Their wounds are not visible like those inflicted by guns. Nor do they heal as quickly. The likelihood that a victim of sexual assault will develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is greater than that for soldiers serving in combat.
At least one in four girls, and one in six boys, is sexually abused before the age of 18. The majority are abused within the circle of "family and friends." One in three women is battered by an intimate partner.