DD r. David Williams, Honorary Associate of Health Ministries for the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists presented a challenging message to church leaders during the Annual Council session of October 12th. His presentation centered on the EndItNow – Effectively Confronting Domestic Violence initiative.
The United Nations defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”. These acts can present themselves in physical, sexual, economic, or psychological ways. In 2018, the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime reported that, “the home is the single most dangerous place for women” because “a female runs a greater risk of assault, physical injury and murder in her home than in any other setting.” Recent studies have shown that women make up 82% of the total homicides that occur by intimate partners or family members; that is equal to approximately 50,000 women a year that die at the hands of an intimate partner or family member, or six women killed every hour, by someone they know. Currently, Africa has the highest rate of violence against women, followed by the Americas.
The Case in the Church
Unfortunately, violence against women is also prominent and an issue in the Church. The Seventh-day Adventist Church may be, both especially prone to domestic violence cases and yet have a protective measure at the same time. This is explained by the fact that domestic violence is said to be more common in small, theologically conservative religious groups. At the same time, domestic violence is twice as likely in families where the spouses belong to different religions. Given the low rate of Adventists marrying outside of their faith, this is likely a protective barrier. However, a random sample study conducted in 2006 of 1,431 Seventh-day Adventists from 70 churches across a five state region, found that 46% of survey participants reported that they experienced common couple violence, 29% reported experiencing sexual violence, while 10% reported severe physical violence. Though Dr. Williams shared several statistical figures, he emphatically declared, “the bottom line is [that] sexual harassment is common.”