October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. While it may seem obvious that any type of violence is not condoned by the Catholic church, the U.S. Catholic Bishops have stated that “violence against women, inside or outside the home, is never justified. Violence in any form- physical, sexual, psychological, or verbal is sinful; often it is a crime as well.”
Domestic violence can take many forms: physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and economic. And women aren’t the only ones who can fall victim to it. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men over the age of 18 have been the victim of physical domestic violence, and almost 50% of both sexes have experienced some form of domestic psychological aggression.
Although domestic violence often occurs with couples who are dating or living together, abuse can happen within the confines of marriage as well. However, the USCCB has made it clear that no one is expected to remain in an abusive marriage, and annulments may be possible for victims of abuse.
Some abusers may distort text from the Bible to justify their actions. For example, Ephesians 5:22 says, “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.” However, this verse refers to the mutual submission of husband and wife to each other and to Christ. The USCCB condemns using the Bible to support abusive behavior.
For those who find themselves in abusive relationships, there are ways to find help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you trust for help. For victims and abusers, the National Domestic Violence Hotline provides crisis intervention and referrals to local sources of help in all 50 states. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
For resources on domestic abuse, visit the following websites: