Whether the woman whose father locked her in the bathroom for a week, or the Iranian whose husband tormented her during a visit to Turkey, women are making courageous escapes and breaking cycles of domestic violence with the help of the Church.
In Arab countries, 1 in 3 women have been subject to domestic violence.¹ Would it surprise you that here in the United States, 1 in 4 women are abused by an intimate partner?² By the time you finish reading this, over 20 people in the United States will have been physically abused, some of them men.³
National Domestic Violence Awareness Month reminds us that domestic violence is an epidemic, an evil that has no place in thriving societies. To end domestic violence, helping survivors is not enough. Society must also confront aggressors and the root sources of their rage. Viewers who struggle with anger and personal trauma are finding advice on how to deal with these issues from a biblical standpoint as they watch programs like Inner Home and Medicine and Life on SAT-7.
Women are finding hope and support in You Are Beautiful, a new program on SAT-7 for women in the Middle East who face abuse, social rejection and unhealthy living conditions. Sherif Wahba, Producer at SAT-7 Egypt, says:
Many women who experience abuse from their fathers or husbands hardly find any protection or support from society. Consequently, they lose hope in their value succumbing to any treatment because they resent themselves.”
That’s where the new program You Are Beautiful plays a role in explaining to abused women their true God-given worth based on Scripture. The show also introduces them to counselors and ways to survive the abuse. “They can’t be stuck in a dead end. There’s a way out. Someone can help,” Wahba says. The program producers have created counseling lines in Egypt, Syria, Jordan and other Arab countries for viewers.
In one episode, a woman explained that her father had sexually abused her and locked her in the bathroom without food or drink for a week. Her mother and brothers knew of this sexual abuse but did nothing. She fled and became homeless until a governmental organization sheltered her and helped her heal and find work to support herself.
Women elsewhere in the Middle East are reaching out as well. Feriyal from Iran writes:
I had been to Turkey for fifteen days where my husband tormented me the whole time and betrayed me before my very eyes. He beat me up and I felt completely distraught. Opposite my room was a church and one day I asked Jesus Christ to help me and bring me peace. No one knew how I was during those days except for my wonderful God. I spoke with Jesus and asked Him for His protection and promised that I would be a servant in His Church.
“A few days after I returned to Iran, one of my sister’s friends whom I didn’t at all know came to see me and saw how I was. I somehow knew that she was a Christian, and she told that she had come to see me because Jesus has told her to come and help me. Then I knew that Jesus has truly touched me and was helping me.”
God is providing a way out for survivors like Feriyal. After being rescued by the church worker, she’s been contacting SAT-7 on her phone using WhatsApp® to receive biblical counseling and prayer support.
There is hope for a better future in spiritual victories like these. Together, we are making a difference and every life counts in the Kingdom. Continue to pray for those who are still facing violence at home.
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Names used for illustrative purposes only.