27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27. ESV.)
Most of the time, I work with children. I have taught dance classes, Sunday school, been a substitute teacher at a private school, and a court appointed child advocate. Currently, I am working to finish my bachelor’s degree so I may attend law school and become an attorney for children in the foster care system/ dependency court.
Sometimes, though, I also serve the “widow”. However, she is not always the one whose husband has physically died. At times, she is the one whose husband is “spiritually dead”. Or, she may be a wife, and mother, whose husband is abusive and/or has left her, and their children. (Side bar: I know it can go both ways. I have seen women who abuse their husband and children, too.)
Wednesday, I became very excited for a campaign I recently became aware of on Facebook. Admittedly, I am not a Facebook fan but it is one of the top social networks for marketing and is an effective tool on that level. Though Snopes points out various issues with “the black dot campaign” such as,
The black dot campaign is merely one person’s idea for helping victims of domestic violence. It is not an officially-sanctioned program; it is not taught to police officers, doctors or anyone else who may be able to help someone in an abusive relationship. While victims of domestic violence can certainly draw a black dot on their palms, they should not expect that symbol to result in aid. (Read more at http://m.snopes.com/black-dot-campaign/#csSYhvw8usiogOq6.99)I feel it is raising awareness and maybe even offering hope to those trapped in such a relationship who feel isolated and imprisoned. Though someone would not be able to wear a black dot on their hand around their abuser, they would be able to quickly draw one on at school, work, church, or anywhere else in public where the abuser may not be present. A symbol is easier than speaking words, sometimes.
So, although there are issues, as Snopes has pointed out, at least now there is more awareness. Child abuse, spousal abuse, elderly abuse, etc. is very difficult in nature, confusing, heartbreaking, etc. Oppressors can be highly manipulative and come across as charming in public. The one on the receiving end of the maltreatment most times still loves the one that hurts them and would never want to cause them harm. Other times they are afraid. And though God’s word teaches us to not fear man it also instructs us to be wise! Try it sometime when you are being hit, punched, kicked, threatened, screamed at, belittled, terrorized, manipulated, etc. Please do not down play it or tell someone on the receiving end they should not be afraid especially if you are not speaking from experience on the matter. Not everyone responds to stress the same way. It takes a lot for an afflicted person to reach out for help for MANY reasons...safety being the #1 concern. PLEASE be as eager to help the “widows” as you are the children. Give her the benefit of the doubt even if you are not sure…her life, health, and wellbeing, and those of her children, might depend on it. You were sent by God to assist her, to take her to a professional regarding the matter. Just as God has provided doctors to serve those who are physically sick or injured, He has provided those who can be of service to those who live with abuse and neglect.
learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow's cause. (Isaiah 1:17. ESV.)
A Couple Domestic Violence resources:
Family Violence Prevention
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
(Photos by Verdens Gang.)