About 100 people of different faith communities and backgrounds gathered at the ADAMS Center in Sterling, VA last October to discuss how to better serve domestic violence survivors and their children.
FAITH’s Domestic Violence Interfaith event was part of a month long national awareness campaign of domestic violence. Ambreen Ahmed, executive director of FAITH, said that interfaith community collaboration is the only way to address the needs of domestic violence survivors.
“Whatever happens in my neighbor's home can affect me regardless of which religion my neighbor belongs to. We all need to hold hands and provide the safety net that the survivors and their children need to become strong contributing citizens of our country, “ said Ahmed.
To highlight the effects of domestic violence on children a short video titled, “Effects of Domestic Violence on Children” was shown at the event. The imam of Adams Center, Imam Mohmmad Magid said that he found the clip to be both informative and important because it showed a different aspect of violence. Imam Majid went on to say that he wanted to continue to provide encouragement and support for FAITH and other organizations that are working in the area of domestic violence.
“We need to work on more educational programs for creating awareness, perhaps create a support group at the ADAMS center [in the future],” said Imam Majid.
Religious leaders from several faiths spoke about the dignity of human life and how each faith community needs to take a serious step in reaching out to the survivors and the children of their respective communities.
Rev. Bruce Langwiser of the Faith Communities in Action Domestic Violence Task Force said that as a community we need to understand that the abuse victim has a sense of shame and fear and the best thing we can do is to be a friend.
“The conversation needs to begin with: it’s not your fault, we understand and we will be with you for anything you may need.”
The event ended with faith leaders and members of the community signing the declaration to address violence against women and children. It was an important event, said one of the domestic violence case workers from FAITH.
“The signing of this document signifies that faith leaders are serious about firstly acknowledging that there is a problem, and secondly that they are committed to working towards practical solution. For too long domestic violence has been pushed under the rug,” said the caseworker, who wishes to stay anonymous for the sake of her clients.
With faith communities in action, FAITH Social Services plans on taking this outreach to different places of worship and to begin a movement of faith leaders who are trained and ready to respond to challenges in their congregations.
“I envision that there will be awareness of domestic violence among our faith leaders and as a result the whole family unit will prosper. We will be able to stop the abuse as soon as it starts. Because we will be able to identify the signs of abuse,” said Ahmed.