Why do domestic violence victims hesitate to come forward and seek help?

June 20, 2013

 “Where is a Samaritan When You Need One?  Let’s Review”
Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune, founder of FaithTrust Institute, which works to end sexual and domestic violence, tells how victims of domestic violence can be victimized not only by the perpetrator but also by the reactions of others who, out of fear, often withhold support and even act in ways that add to the pain. She provides a brief television news report about a mother of four children who, after 14 years of teaching in a Catholic school, has been fired because she is a domestic violence survivor. The school is concerned about school safety in case the violent husband gets out of jail and shows up at the school.  Dr. Fortune says this story “is part of a larger pattern of employees losing their jobs after incidents of domestic violence.”  She writes that “it would be bad enough if Carie had been fired from a public school or a bank or a restaurant for being a battered woman. But the fact that a faith-based school would cast her aside and feel no responsibility for standing by her in this crisis is unconscionable.” The woman’s children were also told to leave the school.  Marie Fortune refers to Jesus’ parable in Luke10:29-37  in which religious and community leaders passed by a victim of violence as he lay bleeding beside the road. Only a Samaritan, a marginalized person in that society, who happened to come along and see the victim of violence lying there, showed compassion and provided help.  Read the comments that came in after Marie Fortune called her readers’ attention to the unfortunately common problem of unconcern and “passing by” victims of domestic violence and the situations they face.   Related: Just as we were ready to post this Link of the Day, a report has come in that a “good Samaritan” has offered the teacher a new job in a different city. Yet, the problem for other domestic violence victims remains and the need to discuss the problem and work toward solutions remains.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni is an independent scholar, writer, and editor. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992).

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