April 18, 2014

​Adventist Leaders Promoting First-Responder Training for Domestic Violence


Adventist Church leaders are
hosting a four-day summit next month to continue the denomination’s promotion
of abuse awareness, this time focusing on the need for a trained
first-responder in local congregations worldwide.

The EndItNow Summit on
will be held at the church’s world headquarters in
Silver Spring, Maryland, from May 1 to 4.

The summit will include
first-responder training that was developed by Southern Adventist University in
the U.S. state of Tennessee.

“It’s disturbing how much abuse goes on that we
don’t know about within Christian homes,” said Heather-Dawn Small, director of
the world church’s Women’s Ministries department. “We want attendees of this
summit to go back to their churches and train others to be first responders so we
can help people who are being abused.”

The EndItNow Summit on Abuse will be held at the Adventist Church's world headquarters May 1 to 4. [Photo: ANN]Her department is co-sponsoring the
summit along with the North American Division Women’s Ministries department.
Additional supporting church departments include Health Ministries, Family
Ministries, Youth Ministries, Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries and the
Ministerial Association.

Since 2001, the church has sponsored a worldwide “abuse prevention emphasis Sabbath” on the
fourth Saturday of August. Small said the initiative continues as the
“EndItNow” Sabbath. Many administrative units in the denomination still heavily
promote the issue.

Small said the Adventist Church is ahead of
other religious organizations in admitting and promoting awareness of the issue
in order to bring healing and hope for those being abused.

Previous annual campaigns have
focused on abuse of children, violence toward women and emotional

“People need to be aware that abuse happens and what to do about it,”
Small said. “A lot of times people just say, take it to the pastor. But pastors
need first-responder training, too.”

Small said people need to be aware
about what to say and not to say to a person who reveals that they are being
abused. Listening is key, she said. Also, a first-responder needs to see if the
person wants to file a police report or see a doctor. Often, a social worker
should be brought in to assess the situation, she said.

One red flag, Small said, is
control. “He’s telling you what to wear, how to have your hair, where to
go—he’s not respecting you and letting you make your own decisions.”

Small said many people would be
surprised how often physical abuse begins while the couple is only dating, yet
they still get married, with one person hoping the other person will change.
“What we are finding out is that many of our young girls are already in abusive
relationships—physically or emotionally—and they feel powerless to get out of
the dating relationship.

Willie Oliver, co-director of
General Conference Family Ministries department, confirmed that abuse is happening
in Christian homes.

“It is our responsibility as the people of God to help
people in need,” Oliver said. “We want everyone to be well—those being abused
and those doing the abusing. But that’s not going to happen until we
acknowledge the fact that abuse is taking place in many of our homes. We must
be intentional about helping those being abused to find safety and emotional
assistance. We must also be concerned about getting help for abusers who are
willing to change.”

To register for the summit or to
see resources on abuse prevention, visitadventistwomensministries.org or enditnow.org.