SAN ANTONIO – In December, KSAT spoke with domestic violence experts, a survivor, and some local pastors about the local faith community learning how to respond to domestic violence within their congregations.
On Monday, members of several churches attended their first training session and praised the experience.
“This was a ray of hope for me,” said Rev. Scott Simpson, associate pastor for congregational care at First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio.
Simpson echoed other faith leaders who say it’s common for domestic violence victims to make outcries to church members before their family or counselors. That’s why he invested time on Monday in a faith-based approach to domestic violence response training.
Former child abuse investigator and advocate Carrie Wilcoxson came up with the initiative more than a year ago and is finally getting to put it into place. She is beginning with a few churches but hope the program will expand across the region, to organizations of all religions.
“It was a small but mighty group — about five from First Baptist Church and two from First (Presbyterian), myself and my colleague,” he said.
Wilcoxson led the two hour training session Monday alongside Rev. Rosalind Harris with the Inspiration Center. One of the topics covered was active listening.
“Not telling a victim of domestic violence that they need to do something. We’re validating their feelings and their outcry. They’re hurting inside, and they’re looking for a safe place,” Simpson said.
Simpson and his colleagues were also taught to check for safety.
“Asking a lot of questions about the abuser. Was there a weapon involved? Were there children in the home?” Simpson said.
Simpson said he now feels equipped to disperse this new information to the rest of his congregation and hopefully guide victims who need help or want to tell their story.
“If you’re a church or organization in this city, take advantage of this, because, oh boy, this is great. It’s the gospel,” Simpson said.
If you are a member of any faith-based organization and would like to participate, there are more trainings to come.
For more information or to sign up, call (210) 300-0008 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.