Respect life: Help keep families safe from violence Print
Written by Mary Uhler   
Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

Besides being Respect Life Month, October is also designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the United States.

In respecting all life, our Catholic faith encourages us to treat all persons with love and dignity. Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote about this in his encyclical, The Gospel of Life, warning against violence against others. He also outlined the importance of the family as the primary community of life and love in which children are nurtured.

Keeping families safe

In an article for this year’s Respect Life Program sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dr. Frank J. Moncher, a psychologist affiliated with Catholic Charities in Arlington, Va., says, “How vital it is, then, to understand how to keep family members safe from violence in their homes, and how to heal and reunite families where violence has occurred, when possible.”

Dr. Moncher points out that domestic violence touches many and knows no boundaries of race, social class, ethnicity, creed, or age (most victims are first abused as teens). Statistics suggest one in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetime, and three in four Americans are reported to know a victim, though most episodes are not reported to the authorities.

Fostering healing and peace

“Although this problem tends to be hidden, friends, colleagues, and extended family can play a critical role in fostering peace. Victims generally ask for help only when the risk of violence increases,” said Dr. Moncher.

He points out that an important step to help in preventing or stopping violence is recognizing certain risk factors such as jealousy, hypersensitivity, and possessiveness, or controlling, explosive, or threatening behaviors.

If you believe someone you know may be in a troubled situation, you should call a hotline number for assistance, or encourage the person to do so themselves (911, the local hotline, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233/TTY 1-800-787-3224).

Although the struggle toward healing and recovery can be difficult, our faith gives us reason for hope. Blessed John Paul II said, “Offer forgiveness and receive peace…. It is certainly less difficult to forgive when one is aware that God never tires of loving and forgiving us.”