A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

A productive training in Charlotte NC

Many of you know that I was involved in a training day Domestic Abuse and the Church in Charlotte, North Carolina last Saturday. The day went well. About 60 people attended.  The audience consisted of counselors and social workers, survivors of abuse, clergy, friends and family of survivors, and one woman who works in law enforcement. There were quite a few men there which I found very encouraging, having been to many domestic abuse events where the participants are almost all women. There were three people in the audience who I know from this blog ( I won’t mention their names, but if they want to identify themselves they can do so in the comments thread). One of the readers from this blog brought her father, who is an elder in a church in a town in North Carolina. It was so lovely to meet with these people who I have interacted with and got to know in cyberspace; to give them a hug  and get to know them a little more. And some of these people gave me a lift to my next destination in South Carolina, where I am staying with Katy at the moment — yeah, that’s Katy who comments on this blog and we’re having a great time together 🙂

The three speakers explored different facets of the topic. Julie Owens, a survivor of a severe domestic assault (her separated husband took to her and her father – a pastor – with a knife) who has been working in Domestic Abuse education and service provision for at least two decades, spoke about worldwide domestic violence, the historical and legal context, types of abuse, the dynamics of an abusive relationship, myths and misconceptions, the profile of an abuser, why anger management doesn’t stop domestic abuse, the dangers of couple counseling, whether a batterer can change, mistakes Christians make, commonly misused scriptures, and what Christian victims need to hear.

Readers who follow this blog would have recognized many of the things that Julie said from posts on this blog, but she also covered things we have not covered, like the historical and worldwide context of domestic violence.

Sunya Folayan, an African American social worker and survivor of domestic abuse, spoke about providing support to victims in ways that respect and acknowledge their individual backgrounds and cultures: ethnic, cultural, historical, familial, linguistic, economic, etc. She asked lots of open-ended questions and I think her talk led us to be more sensitive and aware of the individual differences and complexities that victim-survivors may have.

I gave a talk about the story of The Levite’s Concubine in the last three chapters of Judges, which I see as a superlative case study in domestic abuse and how abusers enlist allies. This was the first time my teaching on The Levite’s Concubine has been presented publicly and I was happy with how it went. I read from a written script but I think I was able to make it lively and interesting with intonation and gestures.

I really want to get my Levite’s Concubine teaching out to the church at large and I think that presenting it as an audio visual is the best way, so if the video recording made last Saturday is not good enough for some reason, I will re-record it somewhere/somehow, as I am determined to provide it as a audio visual teaching. I’ve been sitting on this teaching for quite a long time, so overloaded with blogging and emailing, and yes, suffering from a combination of fear and inertia and perhaps some other emotions too, that I have allowed myself to just leave it on the back burner, where it was gnawing an uncomfortable hole in my conscience. But now, having had this opportunity to do this presentation live, I am galvanized to make it available to a much wider audience.

Chris Kelly, a professional photographer from Raleigh NC, videotaped all the presentations, giving her services as a volunteer. I also discovered that she has videoed Lundy Bancroft quite a bit: once at a PASCH conference some years ago (PASCH = Peace and Safety in the Christian Home, an organization that no longer exists), and more recently for a documentary Chris is making about domestic abuse which will feature Lundy. I asked Chris to let me know when this doco comes out, so we can tell our readers and help spread the word.

Chris will be sending me a master copy of my presentations and if the audio track is good enough I’m planning to make my Levite’s Concubine talk into a DVD. I’ll have to interleave the powerpoint slides I used into the head-shot video of me (techno challenge!).  The DVD may also include the second talk I gave on Scriptural Dilemmas of Christian Victims, which summarized what I say in my book Not Under Bondage and briefly addressed the other major dilemmas faced by Christian victims: forgiveness, suffering, and submission and headship.

I’d like to thank Julie Owens especially. I only ‘met’ Julie by email in late February, and told her I was available to do a speaking engagement in Charlotte while I was there, if she wanted to organize one. She organized this training day very rapidly, taking only a month to put it all together. What a great effort!

Readers  in North Carolina may be interested in this Faith-Based Domestic Abuse seminar that is being held in the town of Matthews in September: Shine A Light On DV. The lady organizing this seminar was one of the volunteers who helped last Saturday’s event run smoothly, so I’m sure the seminar in September will be well organized.  🙂

30 Comments

  1. Barbara, will the DVD of the conference and your talk be made available for purchase?
    FOCUS Ministries will be training those that want to become facilitators of a faith based support group for women of abuse on June 21-22, 2013 in the Chicago area. It is a certificate training. 14 CEU’s are available to licensed counselors and social workers. More information can be found at http://www.focusministries1.org/partnersinthejourney.asp.

    • Paula, please see what I wrote elsewhere in this thread about how I’m pondering what to do with the video.

  2. Anonymous

    This is very exciting news! I will be praying about the outcome of all of this for you and looking forward to the DVD coming out. I am glad that someone was able to tape it all. Perhaps they could put together an DVD of the entire conference. That would be great!

  3. MeganC

    I just love hearing about this! I am so glad that it went well, Barb!!

  4. katy

    I’ve heard the presentation on the chapters in Judges (The Levite’s Concubine) – and it was really amazing. Amazing for a lot of reasons but one of the main things that jumped out to me was how TOTALLY obtuse some of the commentaries on those scriptures are.
    anyway it’s been a fun and educational week for sure!

    • in case anyone is wondering, I have been staying at Katy’s and gave her the Levite’s Concubine presentation as we sat on her couch.

  5. Just Me

    Sounds great! Barbara, I had never even heard of the story of the Levite concubine until 4ish months ago. What a horrific example of abuse right there before our very eyes in the Bible and yet it is almost never spoken of.

  6. Oh, I WISH I could have been there! I’m so glad that it went so well! 🙂

  7. Debbie Prce

    Thank You, Barbara & May God’s Blessing be with You!! I wish I could’ve been there!

  8. KingsDaughter

    Since you are putting a DVD together, does that mean the teaching will not be available on youtube? I was really hoping to be able to watch the sessions and to share them on facebook.

    • Dear King’s Daughter. I have been tossing this question over and over. I first thought of just putting it up on YouTube for free. Then someone suggested I make it into a DVD and sell it.
      Dilemmas like this (to market my work or to give it away for free) bring up a complex and yucky knot of emotions for me; it’s a longstanding problem for me and I like to bury my head in the sand and avoid these dilemmas most of the time. I may be able to write and teach, but I don’t have the aptitude for being a business-woman.

      Sorry I can’t be more definite at this stage; but I’ll let you all know which way I end up going. I am seeking counsel and support from my back-of-blog team. Pray for me.

      But in the meantime, I am still to receive the master copy from the photographer, so no action can be taken yet to make it available. Remember, she vidoegraphed the training out of the goodness of her heart; pray for God’s blessing on her.

      • KingsDaughter

        Praying for you.

  9. MeganC

    I am so glad it went well, dear Barb, and that you met so many of our friends/family. 🙂

  10. MeganC

    I am so glad it went well, Barb!!

  11. Barnabasintraining

    Sounds like a great conference!

  12. Kalman

    Playmobible has a wonderful version of this story here which might warrant a re-think of the usual line. See : http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=4720872&id=533841022&l=9962e21ae3

    • Katy

      Kalman –
      that interpretation of the story is exactly the stuff I was talking about with Barb – totally clueless. It paints the concubine as a whore that deserved what she got, and paints the Levite as a merciful and loving husband.
      Looks like the Levite tricked you too, just like everyone else that gets duped by an Abuser!

    • Kalman I published your comment not because I like that Playmobile interpretation of the Levite’s Concubine story, but in the interests of free and fair debate. I do not like that Playmobile version at all. Like Katy, I believe it portrays the Concubine as a shameful sinner and the Levite as a pretty good fellow. I believe that interpretation is very wrong, and those who take the interpretation are missing the domestic abuse dynamics that are illustrated in that narrative of Judges 19-21.

      Kalman, I believe you are the creator of that Playmobile version, is that correct?

  13. Brian

    Barbara, it was a real treat to meet you and Julie, and I learned so much from you both last Saturday! The ride in the car all together for a couple of hours afterwards was an unexpected bonus and we all had a wonderful time that we will always remember, despite the rainy, dreary weather that afternoon. I appreciate the new light on some scriptures that have probably been misinterpreted for centuries. We also enjoyed meeting and sharing with the other blog folks we met that day as well, including Katy and her beautiful, sweet children. What a day!

  14. Kalman

    Hi Barbara,

    Yes that’s right.

    I fight against domestic abuse daily, but the idea that the righteous Levite was an abusive man (and that is why the woman fell into prostitution or ran away, or why the Levite did not defend his concubine) is a stretch, and something not found anywhere in the text (or even hinted at). The parallel story to this story is actually that of righteous Tamar, who was raped by her half-brother Amnon. The Levite didn’t cause his wife’s unfaithfulness any more than Tamar caused her own rape. Both are innocent parties and can be defended.

    Kind regards,
    K

    • katy

      Kalman, there is no indication that the Levite was a righteous man. Just the opposite, in fact. and insisting that it was the concubine’s fault that he threw her out to be gang raped is quite an interesting stretch. I really think you will be amazed once you see an alternate reading of these chapters in Judges.

    • Anonymous

      Dear Kalman,
      I have not heard Barb’s presentation on the Levite and his Concubine nor do I have any extensive Biblical knowledge. But as I have read this story and done some very limited research it seems that there is a strong argument to suggest that the Levite was not as “righteous” as some would like to believe.
      For example, a reading of Judges 19:2 in several translations reveals a disagreement in wording. The ESV, NCSB, ASV, KJV, and other translations use wording that would indicate an adulterous act (i.e. unfaithful to him, played the harlot, played the whore). On the other hand, the NLT, RSV, NET, and The Message as well as others seem to suggest that an argument may have caused the concubine to become angry with her husband and leave (i.e. became angry with him, got angry at him, quarreled with him).
      According to Dr. Claude Mariottini, Professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, “the word translated ‘played the whore’ and ‘unfaithful’ in Hebrew is zanah. The word has a primary meaning of committing fornication, being a harlot. However, according to Koehler-Baumgartner, Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros (Leiden” E.J. Brill, 1958), 261, the word also can mean ‘to be angry, hateful’ or to ‘feel repugnant against.'”
      Additionally, it is important to note that in the story of Tamar, which you referenced, Judah’s first reaction upon hearing the allegation that Tamar was a prostitute and now pregnant (Genesis 38:24) was “Bring her out and let her be burned.” This would have been an expected response for according to Mosaic Law (Lev. 20:10) and the customs and traditions of that time an adulterous concubine or wife would have been executed. However, it is interesting that there is no record of the Levite having such a response. In fact, he does the opposite and goes to her to allegedly “speak kindly to her and bring her back” (Judges 19:3 ESV). If, in fact, she had left him due to an adulterous act, the shame brought upon the Levite would have been great and the idea of him going to her to seek reconciliation rather than to seek her execution would have been rare indeed.
      Do I fully understand all that is to be gleaned from this story? No, but I do believe there is enough evidence (and there are additional aspects of this story that could be considered) to suggest that this “righteous” Levite might be an abuser masquerading as a “righteous” man. Or to use the phrase that has been used on this blog before – A wolf in sheep’s clothing!

      • Kathy seldon

        And lest someone try to say that the Levite spared her life after her affair because of his great loving kindness toward her, what loving husband travels a far distance to win back his love only to throw her out the door to be gang raped to death the very next day. He was not loving, he cared nothing for her, and I think anon is right that if she had committed adultery he would have just had her killed.

    • Kalman I don’t think this discussion is worth pursuing on this blog at this point, since your Playmobile interpretation is available for our readers to see but my teaching is not yet widely available. I have decided not to publish the most recent comment you sent in and am declaring this debate shut down for the present.

  15. Pastors daughter

    Barbara,

    I admire the work you do on this blog, however, I am deeply concerned on the following description of your day.

    “The day went well. About 60 people attended, many of them people of color. The audience consisted of counselors and social workers, survivors of abuse, clergy including a few African American pastors, friends and family of survivors, and one woman who works in law enforcement.”

    This is how it should read…..The day went well. About 60 people attended. The audience consisted of counselors and social workers, survivors of abuse, clergy, friends and family of survivors, and one women who works in law enforcement.

    Can you clarify “people of color” for me?

    • Dear Pastor’s Daughter
      Please forgive me if I have used inappropriate words. I had no idea. As an Australian visiting the USA I did not know that the wording I chose might be heard as offensive or inappropriate. In Australia we have our own sets of expressions that are politically correct and politically incorrect; but the sets of expressions are not quite the same in America, it would seem. I truly did not now I was saying anything wrongly.

      All I meant by the phrase ‘people of colour’ was that there were people of various ethnic backgrounds there including African Americans and Hispanic people. I thought it was wonderful that so many people of different ethnic backgrounds were present. When I have attended domestic abuse education events in Australia, the majority of the participants have always been from Anglo-European backgrounds — which I have found disappointing as I would like to have seem more ethnic backgrounds being represented at such events. So I was very glad to see the range of participants who were present at the Training Day in Charlotte.

      If I have offended anyone else at this blog, as well as Pastor’s Daughter, please forgive me. I will modify the wording in my post.

      • I’m not sure where Pastor’s Daughter is from, but here in the midwest and generally speaking in the SJ circles I’ve frequented, ‘people of colour’ is considered polite and PC when referring to more than one ethnicity, I am not sure what her objection is. She was perhaps disturbed by the fact that it was pointed out at all, as it should be irrelevant? In a perfect society it would, but as you pointed out, when the majority of participants is always white and you come to an event with more diverse attendance, I think it’s absolutely worth mentioning and a cause for encouragement and gladness. But for the record, I am not PoC, my intersectionality lies elsewhere.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Thanks Barbara, and Pastor’s daughter. You might remember that sometime last year I wrote a post in which I mentioned how I once was a pastor in Alaska. In a sermon I preached, I used as an illustration of the fallen condition of man, a drunken man I had seen lying on the street in downtown Anchorage. But I didn’t just say “man,” I said “a native man.” Which he was, but one of the native men in our congregation told me afterward that this offended him. Of course initially as we do, I was defensive and was thinking – “well, what’s the big deal? He WAS a native man. That’s a fact.” But as I thought about it further, I began to realize that I would not have said “a white man” if the drunken guy had been white. The thing creeps up on us pretty subtlely.

        Anyway, I see Barbara’s point as to her meaning, but we all have been educated a bit more by PD’s input here, so that’s good.

        You know, one final thing on this. I have to confess. I don’t know WHAT to call people of other races. I mean, we only have white people here where I live, other than some numbers of hispanic folks, so in a situation where it is necessary to identify a person’s race, people like myself just kind of bumble along. Asian? Mexican? Black? Afro-American? White? I remember one time when my wife worked in a bank in Anchorage, she worked in a department where all the gals there got along famously. All of them were white except for one Afro-American lady (Lila). They really didn’t think of color after working together for so long. Well, one day a customer came in and asked for the lady who had helped her the day before, but couldn’t recall her name. My wife went down the list of names, but no success. So she started to describe the others who weren’t there right then and when she got to Lila, she asked the customer “was it Lila, the black lady who works at that desk over there?” Sure enough, it was. But the customer lit into my wife for saying that Lila was black – “she’s just like everyone else here – a human being! Why did you have to bring race into it?” The customer was a white person, by the way.

        Anyway, as I said, we bumble along. Until one day what has already begun will be perfected in Christ and all nations and tribes and tongue of people will inhabit the new heavens and new earth, Babel will be totally reversed. I don’t think race or nationality will be done away with totally perhaps? Maybe? But it won’t matter. Christ will receive all glory for redeeming His people from every nation from the ends of the earth.

  16. Pastors daughter

    Barbara,

    I totally understand your verbiage as you used it in your post, now that both you and Jeff have explained. We all come from different parts of the world which makes it a bit tough to be politically correct everywhere one may travel. I’m sure if you we’re to ask anyone who knows me, they would confirm that I am FAR from being perfect.

    You do wonderful work with your blog and conferences in which you should be very proud. So, get back to the appropriate subjects of your work and passion. Enough said on this one!

    Safe travels,

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