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HOLSTON CONFERENCE On Domestic Abuse Presenter Rev. and Attorney Robin Kimbrough, Esquire October 13, 2009 Kingsport, Tennessee

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HOLSTON CONFERENCE On Domestic Abuse Presenter Rev. and Attorney Robin Kimbrough, Esquire October 13, 2009 Kingsport, Tennessee. Topics for Discussion. Dynamics of Domestic Abuse Secular Responses to Domestic Abuse Church Response to Domestic Abuse Scripture and Domestic Abuse

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On Domestic Abuse


Rev. and Attorney

Robin Kimbrough, Esquire

October 13, 2009

Kingsport, Tennessee

topics for discussion
Topics for Discussion
  • Dynamics of Domestic Abuse
  • Secular Responses to Domestic Abuse
  • Church Response to Domestic Abuse
  • Scripture and Domestic Abuse
  • Divorce, Submission, Forgiveness, and Accountability
legislative response to domestic abuse
Legislative Response to Domestic Abuse
  • TN General Assembly has clearly stated public policy concerning DV (TCA 36-3-601):

“. . . purpose . . . to recognize the seriousness of domestic abuse as a crime and to assure that the law provides a victim of domestic abuse with enhanced protection from domestic abuse . . . the general assembly intends that the official response to domestic abuse shall stress enforcing the laws to protect the victim and prevent further harm to the victim, and the official response shall communicate the attitude that violent behavior is not excused or tolerated.

united methodist social principle
United Methodist Social Principle

“We recognize that family violence and abuse in all its forms—verbal, psychological, physical, sexual—is detrimental to the covenant of the human community. We encourage the Church to provide a safe environment, counsel and support for the victim.” 

dynamics of domestic abuse
Dynamics of Domestic Abuse
  • Violent behavior is learned behavior.
  • Reinforced by interaction with society’s major institutions. (Familial, social, legal, religious, educational, medical, and media.)
  • Results from choice - not from biology or genetics.
dynamics of dom abuse 2
Dynamics of Dom Abuse (2)
  • Alcohol and drugs do not cause domestic abuse.
  • Economic control, sexual violence, and intimidation are often part of a batterer’s pattern of abuse, but have little or no connection to the use of or dependence on alcohol.
dynamics of dom abuse behaviors
Dynamics of Dom Abuse - Behaviors
  • Some acts of domestic abuse are criminal conduct. (hitting, choking, kicking, assault with a weapon, shoving, scratching, biting, rape, unwanted sexual touching, forcing sex with third parties, threats of violence, stalking, or destruction of property.)
domestic abuse behaviors 2
Domestic Abuse Behaviors (2)
  • Some acts do not alone constitute criminal conduct. (degrading comments, suicide threats/attempts, interrogating children or other family members, controlling access to family resources, or controlling victim’s time or activities.)
  • Batterers use tactics best designed to control their particular victims.
domestic abuse behaviors 3
Domestic Abuse Behaviors (3)
  • Violence within lesbian/gay relationships may include homophobic control, e.g. telling/threatening to tell family, friends, employers, etc., that victim is lesbian/ gay, or reminding victim that homophobic world will not help.
  • Threats to immigrant victims related to their immigrant status. Batterer may threaten to report undocumented victim to authorities or have children removed from his/her custody. Victims with limited English may be unable to access services or police assistance.
domestic abuse behaviors 4
Domestic Abuse Behaviors (4)
  • Some acts may appear to be directed against or involve the children, property, or pets when in fact these acts are to control or punish the intimate partner.
  • Victims of domestic abuse can be found in all age, racial, socioeconomic, educational, occupational, sexual orientation, and religious groups. DV CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE.
domestic abuse behaviors 5
Domestic Abuse Behaviors (5)
  • Victims of domestic abuse can be found in all age, racial, socioeconomic, educational, occupational, sexual orientation, and religious groups.
why won t victims just leave
Why Won’t Victims Just Leave?
  • Fear of escalating violence.
  • Financial reasons.
  • Lack of affordable, safe housing.
  • Can’t afford an attorney.
  • Cultural/religious beliefs.
  • Victim blaming.
  • Threats to kill the children.
why victims won t leave
Why Victims Won’t Leave
  • Hope that violence will stop (as often promised by Perp.)
  • Fear of hostile response from Courts/others.
  • Immigrants fear deportation or other legal problems.
  • 5 incidents of domestic violence before police are called.
cycle of domestic violence
Cycle of Domestic Violence


Tension Building



secular remedies for dv victims
Secular Remedies for DV Victims
  • Order of Protection.
  • Criminal Warrants.
  • Domestic Violence Shelters/Agencies.
community beliefs and domestic violence
Community Beliefs and Domestic Violence
  • Domestic violence is a problem of personal or individual pathology.
  • The victim has the power to leave: "Why doesn\'t she just leave?“
  • Domestic violence is a private, family matter. "It\'s none of my business."
what shapes these community beliefs
What Shapes these Community Beliefs?
  • Biblical teachings.
  • Male/Female societal norms.
  • What else?
churches should not be another hurdle for domestic violence victims
Churches Should Not Be Another Hurdle for Domestic Violence Victims
  • Should use Scripture to encourage victims to leave dangerous relationships.
  • Convey that God does not want anyone in an abusive relationship.
  • Domestic abuse is a sin.
  • Do not blame victims.
  • Churches/Clergy should hold abusers accountable for violent actions it sends a clear message to the batterer that what he is doing is a sin and in need of repentance.
scripture and domestic and sexual violence
Scripture and Domestic and Sexual Violence
  • Cain and Abel: Genesis 4
  • Rape of Dinah: Genesis 34
  • Rape of Tamar: II Samuel 13
  • Rape of the Concubine: Judges 19
Remember . . .
  • Understand the dynamics of domestic abuse.
  • The main objective should be safety, not to make the relationship work.
  • Preach biblical texts that promote mutual relationships. DV relationships are about power and control.
commonly used texts
Commonly Used Texts
  • Genesis 1 vs. Genesis 2

God created woman from the man.

  • I Timothy 2:8-15

Women should keep silent; they are inferior.

  • Titus 2:3-5

Young women must be taught to be good homemakers and be obedient to their husbands.

  • Ephesians 5:22-33

Wives submit to their husbands.

commonly used texts 2
Commonly Used Texts (2)
  • I Corinthians 7

Says that neither spouse can deny the other sex unless both agree.

  • I Corinthians 11:2-16

The man is the head of the household.

  • I Corinthians 14:33-36

Submission means learning from the husband. Shameful for women to speak in church.

  • Colossians 3:18-19

To be a Christian wife, must submit to the husband.

think about it
Think about it . . .
  • How do these texts keep women in abusive relationships?
  • What texts can we use to empower and give permission for victims to leave abusive relationships?
what is the sin
What is the sin?
  • Abusers and clergy convince victims that leaving the relationship is a sin because they are operating against God’s will.
  • For this reason, victims believe and society believe that victims can do something to stop the behavior. NO!!!
  • Clergy must emphasize that the abuse is the sin.
  • The batterer must be held accountable for the sin.
divorce and other legal remedies
Divorce and other Legal Remedies
  • There is two outs of a marriage: adultery and death.
  • Domestic abuse is a violation of the marital covenant. It warrants divorce.
  • Fixing the marriage should not be the objective; victim safety is the objective.
  • Encourage victims to seek help from and advocate and other legal avenues like an order of protection.
  • Submission is a mutual response to grace—a response to love. It is not about power and control. It is an unconditional response to the other person.
  • Submission is not forced or coerced with violence. God does not beat anyone into submission.
  • Submission does not allow either partner to treat the other as a slave—to have total control over the person’s finances, friends, mind, body, or soul.
  • Submission works when both partners have submitted, in a Christian context, to Jesus Christ.
submission and suffering
Submission and Suffering
  • Misinterpretation of biblical texts have permitted men to coerce women into submission and convinced women that a part of their suffering is related to the call of submission or their refusal to submit.
what does the suffering look like
What does the suffering look like?
  • Victim-blaming. The batterer, family, and friends blame the victim. This blame leads to guilt and shame.
  • Isolation/Abandonment. A victim may have been abandoned or isolated from her family and other supports, and now she feels isolated from or abandoned by God.
respond to the suffering issue
Respond to the Suffering Issue
  • God’s will for us is not to suffer, but it happens.
  • God is present in the midst of our suffering.
  • God can bring healing and spiritual renewal.
forgiveness and the batterer
Forgiveness and the Batterer
  • Abusers often seek forgiveness from a clergy person.
  • While the abuser may be genuinely contrite, he is seldom able to end the abuse without assistance and treatment.
  • The batterer must be held accountable, not excused for his abusive behavior. THE DEVIL DID NOT MAKE HIM DO IT.
  • The clergy person needs to assure the abuser of God\'s forgiveness and confront the person with his need for additional help to stop the abuse.
forgiveness and the victim
Forgiveness and the Victim
  • Timing is everything. A clergy person\'s need for the victim to finish and resolve the abusive experience may lead him or her to push a victim to forgive the abuser.
  • Forgiveness in this case is seen as a means to hurry the victim\'s healing process.
  • Victims will move to forgive at their own pace. Respect the victims time. It may take years.
  • Then the forgiveness becomes the final stage of letting go.
clergy response
Clergy Response
  • Hold the batterer accountable. Abuse is a sin, not being a victim of abuse.
  • Let the congregation know that any kind of abuse is unacceptable.
  • Help the congregation deal with the issues of domestic violence, educate members through sermons and by setting up appropriate educational programs for adults, teens and children.
  • Make contact with the local domestic violence program.
  • Find out what the congregation can do to support your local domestic violence program.
  • Familiarize yourself with legal matters which may arise.
thanks for your attention

Robin Kimbrough

2 International Plaza, Suite 425

Nashville, Tennessee 37217