CHESTERFIELD — Some 20 local pastors recently attended the faith leaders’ roundtable discussion sponsored by the Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
The meeting was held Oct. 28 at the Chesterfield County Public Library. The meeting was held to help make local pastors and churches more aware of their roles in the ongoing problem of domestic violence within their churches and their communities.
Pee Dee Coalition Chesterfield Chapter Board and Executive Board Representative Marcia Butler, Doris Xavier of the Chesterfield County Chapter Board, Florence Emergency Safe Shelter Director Joan Flail, and Pee Dee Coalition Director of Development Marie Long took part in the meeting, along with keynote speaker The Rev. Carl Smith of Greenville.
The Rev. Smith is the president of Redeeming the Time Ministry, which is a counseling ministry that specializes in the biblical treatment of domestic violence batterers.
“We are the only Biblical Batterers Program in South Carolina, and the only one certified and approved by the S.C. Dept. of Social Services,” said Smith.
“Loosen up your ties, because I want to address the emotions of domestic violence,” said Smith during his opening words. “I get real emotional about the issues of domestic violence.”
Smith said that South Carolina is rated one of the top 10 states in domestic violence and that some pastors are aware their parishioners are abusive, but some chose to overlook the issue.
“Some pastors even blame the victim and tell them to go back to the abusive spouse,” said Smith. “Whether they are going through a divorce or a separation, it is a critical time for the victim.”
“One of the best ways to stop domestic violence is to change the attitude and behavior of the batterer,” Smith added. “Batterers never change on their own, we have to change them or we still have a problem.”
The group participated in a roundtable exercise involving topics such as emotions, factors in decision making, what type of actions to take, what to do a week later, what to do a month later, and who do you talk to about an abusive church member that is battering his or her spouse.
Smith pointed out that according to S.C. law, victims of domestic violence have the right to press charges with law enforcement. They can file an order of protection against their abuser, in which a judge may provide a restraining order to keep the abuser away. The judge may also temporarily address issues regarding child custody, support and possessions of the home.
The Pee Dee Coalition provides safe shelters as well as many other available resources for domestic violence victims.
The Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault 24-hour crisis line is 843-669-4600, or 1-800-273-1820.