Spreading the Word Against Abuse
A local woman’s mission to end domestic violence
Linda Cargo attended her district United Methodist Women’s “When Love Hurts” program on domestic violence and heard a familiar story when the director of a local women’s shelter and a social worker from an area church addressed the group.
“Many years ago when I was newly married, my husband and I lived in an apartment above another young couple where the man became physically abusive one evening,” Ms. Cargo recalled. “The woman tried to escape, at which point we became involved by calling the police and bringing the woman into the safety of our apartment.
“I will never forget my shock and disappointment when this woman told the police she could not file charges against the man who had beaten her because she loved him! I simply did not understand how that could be until I attended this program and gained some understanding of how it might feel to be in that kind of a situation.”
Ms. Cargo was moved to action. Her church, Bishop Janes United Methodist Church in Basking Ridge, N.J., financially supported a local women’s shelter, but she wanted to do more. Ms. Cargo invited June Tamburro of Bridgewater United Methodist Church and Mary Baughman, executive director of Jersey Battered Women’s Services of Morris County — facilitators of the district’s program — to speak at her local church about domestic violence.
The program was announced during worship and publicized in the church bulletin and monthly newsletter, the local newspaper, online, through fliers and by word of mouth.
“I learned even more the second time I listened to June and Mary!” Ms. Cargo said. “Our pastor and another local retired pastor and his wife attended. Both had contact with domestic violence over the course of their years in the church, and they were able to add their perspectives and experience. They confirmed that even though our church is located in a very affluent community, domestic violence happens here too.”
Attendees learned about the role faith can play to both sustain and end intimate partner violence. Ms. Tamburro and Ms. Baughman used the parable of the Good Samaritan and urged those in attendance to heed Jesus’ words to “go forth and do likewise” to confront domestic violence.
“Probably the most important thing I learned, and what I would want women in an abusive situation to hear, is that the abuse is in no way their fault,” Ms. Cargo said. “[Abusers] can be manipulative in so many ways to make you think they hold the power and control. But there are people who care about you, will believe you and want to help empower you and bring you and your children to a safe place.
“Show compassion. Provide a place to heal. Set an example. Think about what would Jesus do.”
The Church has a key role to play in ending intimate partner violence. United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men have embarked on a historic joint campaign to raise awareness about the problem of domestic violence and to get the church to provide resources to help people experiencing it.
For resources on raising awareness and helping those suffering from intimate partner abuse, visit unitedmethodistwomen.org/act/domestic-violence or contact the Women’s Division Office of Child and Family Advocacy at 212-682-3633 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quiana Nicole Stokes is a freelance writer living in New York City.