(CW: This post includes discussion of rape and domestic violence)
Domestic Violence calls for communal grieving in my area as well as in our nation. One of the myths surrounding the issue is that many perceive it as a private family problem. However, violence against others behind closed doors is symptomatic of a greater social issue. The prevalence of disproportionate violence against women suggests that the issue is not gender neutral, and is indicative of a systemic “numbness” of violence perpetrated by men against women.
One author whom I love so much, Walter Brueggemann, provides a picture of prophetic imagination made possible through the public expression of grief and weeping that personalizes the experience and disrupts numbness of the community. In Prophetic Imagination, Brueggemann states, “weeping is radical criticism, a fearful dismantling because it means the end of all machismo…” It is important that people take into consideration the power of language and call into question the present reality wherein hope subverts the status quo. Language, or word choice, has a tremendous impact on what we think of ourselves and other people. survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence experience the impact of negative language or words every time someone questions their actions or doubts their experiences. In the society today, people often undervalue/underestimate the importance of choosing appropriate language when discussing the issues of domestic violence, sexual abuse racial justice, LGBTQ equality and lay engagement.
For my Re/Generation project I am creating a space through my ministry of Young People Small Christian Communities (YPSCCs) where women tell their story in the reality of their perils that disrupts numbness and beckons a response. Over the weekend while I was talking with my three sisters in Kenya via WhatsApp, I was reminded of two occasions in our church where women shared their tragic stories, one of rape and the other of an abduction into sex trafficking. During their testimonies, there were audible and visible signs of people grieving and weeping. There was not a dry eye in the church. Most profoundly, both women expressed a hope in their future, and for their children (one child conceived from rape) according to God’s word and faithfulness, articulating the “godness of God” in their situation that humanness cannot generate for itself. I believe, at least, that this scenario represents the elements of authenticity, public grief and subversive hope. The two women were not expressing themselves as victims of circumstance, but as survivors with power and freedom to hope that only come from God.
Now that I just became an uncle (two weeks ago, to a beautiful baby girl, Sharnell) and being a brother to three beautiful, well educated young women, I am motivated to create a conducive environment for them and other young women to thrive and meet their goals in life.
Finally, I want to leave this discussion open, but I think people of all genders must be willing to have a mutual conversation/dialogue in order to address the stereotypes and oppressions that are being used in the society today to maintain the status quo of domestic violence against women and children. In John 13.34-35 Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also love one another.” I think domestic violence will never thrive in a community where people love one another or they look at each other as brother, sister and kin.