What should you do to start a domestic violence ministry to victims in your area?
Bethzaida Garcia, (shown above right, during a radio talk show) is a domestic abuse survivor and founder and director of Life in Your Hands, an organization committed to bringing awareness to the Central Florida area. She shares some insight from her experiences to answer questions about starting a ministry to domestic violence victims:
- Pray—and ask God for guidance.
- Meet with your pastor.
- Be familiar with your state’s status regarding domestic violence, and State Victim Services through your state’s Office of the Attorney General.
- Meet with a certified local center to see what you can do to help, or if there is a gap that needs to be filled.
- Take some cultural awareness classes, to become familiar with those in your area.
- Learn about options, like safety planning, which is the victim’s choice.
- Start small, with just a few women from your church’s Women’s Ministries. Take advantage of Annual Domestic Violence Awareness month (October); pass out cards or flyers with the Domestic Violence hotline number, and words of encouragement from the pastor.
When meeting with the victim:
- First—listen! It is imperative to listen to what she needs to say about her experience. Sometimes she just needs someone to talk to. I don’t say a word; I just let her speak.
- Help her look for help. Know what she needs, and help her know where to find it.
- Help her forgive herself. She needs to understand it wasn’t her fault.
- Encourage her to love—love God, love herself, and love her neighbor. She needs to rest and stay still; God will take care of her needs.
- Encourage her to rest in the Lord. “ ‘Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, It is mine to avenge, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19, NIV). He will never fail her.
- Encourage her to flourish—enjoy the blessings that are coming her way.