Healing the Trauma of Violence
by Esther Chen, TWR Women of Hope Intern
When a woman experiences violence, every area of her life is affected. It harms her physical, mental and reproductive health, and it hurts her socially and economically. According to the World Health Organization, about 1 in 3 women in the world have experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly from an intimate partner. Reports of domestic violence have risen dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns as women have faced increased exposure to abusive partners yet have less access to services where help can be found. Where can they go for help?
In societies where norms limit education for women and lower their social status, violence happens more frequently. In one Central Asian country, for example, laws are not strict enough, and men who abuse their wives and children usually go unpunished. But change is slowly coming. Comprehensive international legal treaties like the Istanbul Convention are bringing change as they focus on preventing violence, protecting victims and punishing offenders.
As the world recognizes the extent and impact of violence against women, strategies are emerging to guide nations and cultures in how to move forward. One such plan uses the seven letters in the English word RESPECT: building relationship skills, empowering women, providing services, reducing poverty, creating safe environments such as schools, preventing child abuse, and transforming attitudes and norms.
New laws and strategies offer greater protection for women and are necessary. But women also need to be healed from the trauma that comes with violence. When women turn to God in their pain, he “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Ps. 147:3). He reminds them, “I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you” (Isa. 41:10). Nothing in the whole universe can ever separate them from his boundless love (Rom. 8:38-39).
God is using TWR Women of Hope in these difficult circumstances. Episodes from the Arabic series Because He Loves Me, I Have Changed From a Victim to a Masterpiece show women how they can find healing after suffering from physical, emotional, verbal, financial, social or religious abuse. They encourage Arab women to persevere, help them find hope in Jesus and enable them to transform their communities. Also, through social media, our Arabic teams minister one-on-one to women who are in great need of someone to listen to them and direct them to a God who loves and cares for them.
As we pray for women who have been violated, ask for them to experience God’s love and forgiveness. God desires to heal them and to “restore them to life again” (Ps. 71:20). This healing strengthens women in their relationships with God but also helps them find freedom in learning to forgive others, including those who have hurt them.