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.1