Sanctuary for the Abused
Monday, July 04, 2005
Conference to explore issues of faith, domestic violence
GINNIE GRAHAM World Staff Writer
Battered spouses often find conflict in their beliefs in God and violence occurring in their homes.
They hear from faith leaders that divorce is a sin, women must reconcile with their husbands and believers should not go to court against other believers.
So a battered spouse returns to the violent home hoping for better.
"Because we were not dealing with the reasons why our clients were staying in these relationships, which had to do with faith, they were dropping out," said Felicia Collins Correia, executive director of the Domestic Violence Intervention Services.
"We had a number of clients coming in with these issues of faith and are paralyzed. We had to educate ourselves."
An interfaith advisory committee was created in the late 1990s to create a bridge between the work of DVIS and the faith community.
Through its work, partnerships have been created in Tulsa for intensive training sessions for faith leaders and annual conferences.
A conference exploring the role faith leaders have in ending domestic violence begins at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Jewish Federation of Tulsa, 2021 E. 71st St.
Three national speakers will provide keynote addresses, lead small group sessions and participate in a panel discussion.
The event is being presented by DVIS and Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries with sponsorships from the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Tulsa.
The Rev. Dr. Joseph C. Parker Jr., pastor of David's Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Austin, Texas and former trial attorney, will discuss how a church can support a batterer while holding that person accountable and requiring change.
Nancy Murphy, director of the Northwest Family Life Learning and Counseling Center based in Seattle, will speak about providing a compassionate response to victims of family violence and the role of faith leaders in aiding victims.
Naomi Perry, lead coordinator for the Parent-Child Interaction Training Program in Washington state and therapist at the Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress in Seattle, will address how children respond to domestic violence.
"We put on the conferences for the community and for ourselves," Correia said. "We bring in leaders who challenge us and our organization."
Correia said DVIS has been working with the faith community since 1988, when the agency located various spiritual and scriptural references for clients to use in decision making.
"If anything is new, it's that we're not taking the issue and putting it in a corner," Correia said. "We are looking at what our organization can do as a nonprofit to be of help and have partnerships."
Since the training sessions and conferences began, faith leaders are understanding that DVIS is not about breaking up families, Correia said.
The leaders have gained knowledge about not minimizing violence that may occur and how to react to the serious nature of violence in families, she said.
Keeping faith leaders accountable for appropriate counsel -- similar to law enforcement -- is a suggestion from the DVIS interfaith advisory council.
Currently, faith leaders will contact each other with concerns about advice given to families in crisis.
"This is not just us as an outside organization, but us on the inside saying these are important issues," Correia said.
"People now in the faith community understand what our role is and how and when to refer to us."
Ginnie Graham firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tulsa World
Tulsa World (Oklahoma)