Stopping the Other War-The One Within Our Families, Rev. Arthur G. Severance

Start Date

Domestic Violence Reading
�Stopping the Other War-The One Within Our Families�
September 30, 2007

Domestic Homicides
* On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day. In 2000, 1,247 women were killed by an intimate partner. The same year, 440 men were killed by an intimate partner.16

* Women are much more likely than men to be killed by an intimate partner. In 2000, intimate partner homicides accounted for 33.5 percent 
of the murders of women and less than four percent of the murders of men.17

* Pregnant and recently pregnant women are more likely to be victims of homicide than to die of any other cause 18 , and evidence exists that a significant proportion of all female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners.19

* Research suggests that injury related deaths, including homicide and suicide, account for approximately one-third of all maternal mortality cases, while medical reasons make up the rest. But, homicide is the leading cause of death overall for pregnant women, followed by cancer, acute and chronic respiratory conditions, motor vehicle collisions and drug overdose, peripartum and postpartum cardiomyopthy, and suicide.20 

Domestic Violence and Youth

* Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.24

* Forty percent of girls age 14 to 17 report 
knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.26



�Stopping the Other War-The One Within Our Families�
September 30, 2007
East Shore Unitarian Universalist Church
Kirtland, Ohio
Rev. Arthur G. Severance

The title for this sermon is �Stopping the the Other War: The One Within Our Families.� It could have just read, �Stop the Violence Everywhere: War is just another form of abuse, anger, and deadly force. � Today we remember those women killed by their abusive, murdering significant others, and we hope that we might make a difference in someone�s life before it is too late, before they become a name for another figure to cut out and post along the highway.

Yes, I also believe that we need to stop our part of the violence in Iraq as well, but frankly, I sure don�t know exactly how, and I also know that there are many opinions on that in our own beloved community as well. I can�t imagine anyone, however, that doesn�t want to see the violence and abuse end within our families, within all families.
I shared some hard facts on the cover and I want to share some more to bring home the horrific scope of domestic abuse, and while both males and females may abuse children, it is by far we males who abuse our significant other.


from www.endabuse.org/resources/facts:
* Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives, (according to a 1998 Commonwealth Fund survey.4)
* Thirty percent of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year.6
* In the year 2001, more than half a million American women (588,490 women) were victims of nonfatal violence committed by an intimate partner.7
* Intimate partner violence is primarily a crime against women. In 2001, women accounted for 85 percent of the victims of intimate partner violence (588,490 total) and men accounted for approximately 15 percent of the victims (103,220 total).8
* In 2001, intimate partner violence made up 20 percent of violent crime against women. The same year, intimate partners committed three percent of all violent crime against men.10
* As many as 324,000 women each year experience intimate partner violence during their pregnancy.11
* Women of all races are about equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate.12
* Male violence against women does much more damage than female violence against men; women are much more likely to be injured than men.13
* The most rapid growth in domestic relations caseloads is occurring in domestic violence filings. Between 1993 and 1995, 18 of 32 states with three year filing figures reported an increase of 20 percent or more.14

Domestic Homicides

* On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day. In 2000, 1,247 women were killed by an intimate partner. The same year, 440 men were killed by an intimate partner.16
* Women are much more likely than men to be killed by an intimate partner. In 2000, intimate partner homicides accounted for 33.5 percent of the murders of women and less than four percent of the murders of men.17
* Pregnant and recently pregnant women are more likely to be victims of homicide than to die of any other cause18 , and evidence exists that a significant proportion of all female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners.19
* Research suggests that injury related deaths, including homicide and suicide, account for approximately one-third of all maternal mortality cases, while medical reasons make up the rest. But, homicide is the leading cause of death overall for pregnant women, followed by cancer, acute and chronic respiratory conditions, motor vehicle collisions and drug overdose, peripartum and postpartum cardiomyopthy, and suicide.20 


Domestic Violence and Youth

* Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.24

* Forty percent of girls age 14 to 17 report knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.26
Domestic Violence and Children

* In a national survey of more than 6,000 American families, 50 percent of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children.28
* Slightly more than half of female victims of intimate violence live in households with children under age 12.29
* Studies suggest that between 3.3 - 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.30 

This is the other war which we must find a way to end peacefully. And yes, it literally starts at home and school and church or other religious institution. Here is where we need another peace pole, here that we need treaties, peace, love and all the while the world seems to becoming more violent as well. Changing economic pressure on all of us are increasing, given the recent mortgage crisis. When one feels powerless, one is apt to lash out in rage at the nearest target, and when the rage/anger is fueled as well by alcohol or drug abuse, it is even worse, even more deadly, adding fuel to the flame of impotent rage. 

Like that great song in Oscar and Hammerstein�s musical ,�South Pacific,� children learn hate, anger, and violence from their role models:

You�ve Got to be Carefully Taught
�You�ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You�ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It�s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You�ve got to be carefully taught.�

There is a cycle of violence and abuse that is difficult to break out of or away from. I remember about 20 years ago when Sweden, I think, outlawed spanking, and what a commotion that raised. Talk about liberalism and permissiveness!
Yet they were addressing violence that we all are guilty of as parents, when the children misbehave, they get spammed; there is a physical pain inflicted to teach lessons. Except that the lesson that is learned is not the one we think we are teaching, it is that the most powerful can cause pain to get their way!

Growing up as a baby boomer, even with Dr. Spock�s advice against it, I was occasion ally spanked, never what I would call beaten. I was paddled once in 4th grade for passing a note denigrating the teacher. I remember the pain, embarrassment, and a deep feeling for revenge for the stooge who picked that note up from the floor when it was dropped and gave it to the teacher. Most kids went home for lunch, but I had brought mine and received the paddling during lunch, privately,

I knew the boy that had given me up; I thought he was a friend, but now I wanted revenge. All my anger was funneled into wanting to hurt him as much as I had been hurt. I would teach him a lesson! I stood outside school, waiting for him to return. When I saw him, I was about to hit him, saying something about him being a traitor, but he asked for forgiveness saying he didn�t even read the ne and didn�t know who it was from, and if he had known it was from me, would never have turned me in. Maybe I was just a softy, because I believed him, and I found myself unable to stay angry enough to hit him. Yes, though I had been spanked occasionally, my role models were fairly positive and I always felt loved as a child. That was before anger management seminars, of course, but I was blessed with good parents and an inability to stay angry too long. I guess the anger management that I did learn was the usual, �count to 10 before you say or do anything stupid.� It�s still good advice, even for angry e-mailing!

Working as a counselor in residential treatment centers with emotionally disturbed adolescents from the inner city. most of whom had witnessed the terribly violent family life of the projects, and saw their mother as well as themselves abused. Many were seemingly able to overcome this background and were taught behavior modification. Indeed, many of them seemed like normal kids until they �lost their temper,� and might suddenly turn psychopathically enraged! Many needed physical restraint until they could calm down, and often it was difficult and dangerous to try to restrain them. No strait jackets or other devices could be used, only the physical touch of control, arms around them so they couldn�t hurt themselves or others, and your legs around theirs so they couldn�t kick.

Many of them ended up in prisons, mental hospitals or dead. I often wondered what hope there was for these kids who had witnessed first hand the terrible abuse of their families, their neighborhoods. So many of them seemed like good, decent, smart kids, but with a millstone of abuse around their necks, there seemed little hope that they would succeed. Some do, of course. But the odds stacked against them, and chances are that they will grow up to be abusers themselves, continuing the cycle of poverty, racism, and abuse. 
The recent violence in Jena, Louisiana, is more complicated than racism, but it is there, and make no mistake about progress of civil rights in small southern towns; lynching black troublemakers was not so long ago that just the symbols of nooses hanging from a simple shade tree, where whites only gathered were not pranks; they not even veiled death threats! No wonder there was violence. Perhaps if school officials had acted differently over the nooses, the violence might have been averted. 

So domestic violence is a vicious circle as well, I remember a sermon on domestic violence during my internship in Princeton, NJ that my supervising minister, Edward frost gave, when he found out that his daughter was in an abusive relationship and difficulty getting out. He talked about what we could do to end violence and we could start by resolving never to spank our children again. Cathie and I took that vow and from then on, other than few slips, our daughters were not hit, not spanked, and we developed various behavior management techniques for teaching them consequences of their misbehavior and making sire they always knew that they were loved unconditionally, and nothing they could do would ever change that. I think they will raise their children peacefully as well.

From * Domestic Violence: Protecting Yourself and Your Children(American Academy of Family Physicians) - 

In the following examples of Emotional Child Abuse from one source, listen to how innocuous some sound as first, and then realize that they are similar for spousal abuse as well. Indeed listen to some of the examples of religious abuse:

�1, Intimidation
2. Yelling, screaming, threatening, frightening, or bullying.
3. Belitting or shaming
4. Humiliating the child, name-calling, making negative comparisons to others. Telling the child he or she is �no good," "worthless," "bad," or "a mistake."
5. Lack of affection and warmth
6. Showing little to no physical affection (such as hugs) or words of affection (praise, saying �I love you.�)
7. Habitual blaming
8. Telling the child that everything is his or her fault.
9. Ignoring or rejecting
10. Withdrawing attention, giving �the cold shoulder,� disregarding
11. Extreme punishment
12. Confinement to a closet or dark room, tying to a chair for long periods of time, or terrorizing a child.
13. Exposure to violence
14. Witnessing violent behavior, including the physical abuse of others.
15. Child exploitation
16. Taking advantage of a child, including child labor.
17. Child abduction; the trauma of being kidnapped, including kidnapping by a parent, amounts to abuse.�

Again, more facts that might help us identify these relationships, especially if we feel trapped within them:

: When domestic violence occurs, it often follows a pattern of three stages: 

1. It starts with a build-up of tension -- criticism, yelling, swearing, using angry gestures, coercion, threats.

2. This leads to physical or sexual attacks or threats of attack or other punishment. The perpetrator's rage is out of control.

3. The final stage is seduction -- the perpetrator apologizes, blames the behavior on being drunk, promises to change, gives gifts. This reinforces the victim's hope for a healthy, loving relationship and allows the cycle to be repeated.

Three reasons explain why it is often difficult for a victim to leave an abusive relationship: love, hope, and fear.

1. Love for the partner. Most relationships have their good points -- they aren't all bad.

2. Hope that the relationship will change. The relationship obviously didn't begin with abuse, and the abuser often keeps promising to change.

3. Fear that the abuser's threats will become reality.

Some women do not realize they are being abused until it is pointed out to them. They have developed such low self-esteem that they believe abusive treatment is what they deserve.�

Abuse is relational terrorism, and even though we may know that the abuser was probably abused himself, that is not an excuse for criminal behavior. If you or anyone you know is in such a relationship, there is help, but it�s a difficult decision to leave, especially since you might already feel responsible for your own abuse! As men, we can help by making sure we are peaceful role models for our growing boys and by helping children learn how to control their anger and how bullying is also a form of abuse. It is no easy task, but it is one that we, as beloved community, can help with. 
We must, of course, teach peace as well as model it; perhaps we might want to consider what war does to those involved, even the innocent. No one wins a war, one side just loses less. 

All religions should be about loving and helping one another; yet some religious interpretations themselves can be abusive. Indeed the Old Testament/Jewish Bible tells of a God that sometimes seems abusive! The Mission of this church, which I might narrow down to living teaching ,and working for peace, love, and , justice in a religious community and the world.. More formerly as stated in the Bylaws:

To offer a loving, joyful, accepting religious community where the right to freedom of belief is unfettered by any prescribed creed, and where our liberal religious tradition is made accessible to all;

To provide support for the individual in a free and disciplined search for religious and ethical values that enrich our lives;

To provide a religious education for children and adults, which enables self-knowledge, respect for others, and awareness of the interdependent web of all existence of which we are but a part;

To celebrate together rites of passage through the great and profound moments of life; and

To affirm Unitarian Universalist principles by reaching out to the greater community to promote truth, justice, responsibility, and love in the world.

I add something written in our unison readings in the hymnal that many churches use in some form:

-Love is the spirit of this church and service its law.
This is our great covenant: 
To dwell together in peace,
To seek the truth in love,
And to help one another. -James Vila Blake

May peace begin with us.

So let it be. Shalom, Salaam, Peace, Love, Compassion, Namaste, Vaya con Su Dios and Abrazos a Todos, (hugs all around)

Event type
Worship Service