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The Other Pro-Life Movement

The Other Pro-Life Movement

How to recognize and help rescue the battered women among us
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Many years ago Catherine Clark Kroeger faced a decision that would influence her life's course. Serving alongside her pastor husband, Catherine became aware of a woman in her church whose husband was physically abusing her.

Incredibly, several influential church leaders discouraged Catherine from getting too involved. "To them, I was destroying the home by encouraging the woman to get away from the abuse," she remembers.

Then Catherine received a call from the battered woman's counselor, who said, "You've got to get either the husband or the wife out of the home, or you're going to have a murder."

So Catherine drove to the woman's house to pick her up and help her find shelter. "I decided preserving the life was more important at that time than preserving the family," Catherine says. It wasn't a popular choice among members of her congregation, but the woman likely is alive today because of it.

It was the first in a series of similar incidents that made Catherine realize the prevalence of domestic violence within Christian circles, and how women desperately need help. She went on to become a seminary professor, counselor at a local shelter, and coauthor of two books on domestic violence.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. And this statistic often excludes incidents of emotional and sexual abuse that go untold.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than cancer or traffic accidents. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gyneco-logists, domestic violence is the cause of nearly a quarter million hospital visits every year.

In their book No Place for Abuse (IVP Books), Catherine and coauthor Nancy Nason-Clark reveal that 83 percent of American and Canadian clergy interviewed during a six-year study shared that at some point in their ministry they've counseled a woman who has an abusive spouse or partner. Additionally, Paula Silva, cofounder of Focus Ministries, a small Illinois-based organization that reaches out to battered women, reports that her ministry alone received 2,000 calls, e-mails, and visits in 2007 from Christian women in abusive situations seeking help.

"Saying that abuse isn't happening to women within the church is like saying sin doesn't happen," says Paula, who's also coauthored Violence Among Us: Ministry to Families in Crisis (Judson Press).

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Corrie Cutrer

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Displaying 1–3 of 19 comments


April 20, 2009  3:12am

This is agood ministry indeed. I believe that in my church there also alot of women who are abused but cannot say it out for various reasons. I am inerested to start this ministry in my church will you please help me how I can go about it. More especially I will need to know what type of advise to provide to what type of problem. I am also in abusive marriege and I want to stand up ans help others as well as myself. Andiwalire


April 18, 2009  10:29pm

Ladies, I was almost beaten to death by my ex husband. I had to legally change my name and take my 3 kids and move to a different state. It is a life I pray to God no woman can relate too. We cannot rely on law enforcement or the government to protect us... this is just not going to happen. Therefore, I challange every woman to go to every one of her girlfriends, and vow a pact of accountability where if there is even a hint of violence, your girlfriends will provide safe harbor! It seems the only way that violence against women is going to be curbed is for us women, to protect other women. We can make this happen! We have to... its a matter of life and death.

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April 18, 2009  9:59pm

Well done Catherine... wish more people were brave enough to come forward and help women like this. I was in an abusive marriage for 15 years and was advised to stay in it as that was 'scriptural'. God in His mercy delivered me from my situation and I was able to get out of it with my 13 year old daughter. Today.... 15 years later I know that I should have got out long before that.

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