For me, the last few months have been all about entering into a new phase of life, a new beginning so to speak.
I have retired from full-time employment and become a snowbird—seeking out a warmer climate during those very cold and very snowy months that follow Christmas. For me, retirement has opened up my calendar and freed up time to do a wide variety of interesting and meaningful activities. In one sense it is too bad that you have to get much older to experience this sort of freedom.
Like others, I had some ideas about what I wanted to do in the first few months of this new-found liberation from meetings and deadlines. I can play the piano at 10:00 on a Monday morning, have friends in for a two hour lunch, or walk through a public garden in the middle of a week day afternoon. But, most exciting of all, I can say “No thanks” to responsibilities I do not want to assume and “Yes, that would be lovely” to those I want to embrace.
In a way, my new life in retirement links to the past but it opens the door wide open to seeing life in ways I have not yet experienced.
When a survivor leaves her abusive partner, temporarily or forever, she too experiences a new freedom but also some unique challenges. We use the Stained Glass Story of Abuse to narrate some of the features of her story as told to us by those who have experienced intimate partner violence themselves, or walked alongside someone who has. Walking alongside an abused woman of faith is what many of us are called to do but unfortunately sometimes we are deaf to the “cry for help.” Or, sometimes we hear her voice, but we really don’t know what to do next. Throughout our website and within the pages of our publications, we try to offer many ideas of practical and emotional support that someone can offer to a person impacted by intimate partner violence.
Last week I had a very interesting invitation from a woman lawyer who is trying to help religious leaders in her country (outside of the US and Canada) understand the dangers of failing to speak out when violence strikes a religious family. Navigating the rather choppy waters of working together with both pastors and community-based professionals is something that our RAVE Team and our RAVE website have been committed to doing for a very long time. It is hard work but our research data reveals that it pays off: when religious leaders speak out against violence, offer best practices to those impacted, and assist abusers to become accountable for their actions, change can occur!
I write these words during Holy Week—a time for Christians when we reflect on the suffering of Christ and of the glory of the Resurrection. May this remembrance encourage us to break the silence on the suffering of women around the world, suffering which many times occurs within their own homes!
March 28, 2018