Black Church confronts Domestic Violence

Black church confronts domestic violence

Community members were ready to discuss how domestic violence impacted the community at the town hall meeting. photo by Craig Uptgrow

Town hall gives victims a voice

There was an altar call at church.  Donata Joseph went up and after the pastor laid hands on her she felt the “Holy Ghost.” The spirit led her to speak in tongues and she even fell on the floor.  It was a very deep spiritual encounter that Joseph was experiencing.  Most people in the church were just as happy in the spirit as she was.  Maybe they didn’t notice Joseph’s ex-husband furiously come to the altar and force her to get up by the things that he said and his facial expression. She believed that if she didn’t get up when he gave her “the look” then he would have hit her in church.  She didn’t want people to know what kind of relationship she had, so she left.
Joseph, the founder of Adding Doses of Hope Daily, was in an abusive relationship for seven years.  That was one of the instances where she thought someone from the church would notice or acknowledge it, but no one did.
Joseph shared this story at the domestic violence town hall meeting on Oct. 25, hosted by State Representative Cynthia Stafford.  One of the numerous ways the panel and attendees discussed decreasing domestic violence in our community was by having the Black clergy and the church join forces to combat the issue.

Will Black clergy step up to the plate?

Rev. Dr. Anthony Tate of New Resurrection Community Church started the discussion when he asked, “How could the clergy be equipped to identify abused members?”
The Honorable Michaelle Gonzalez Paulson, the 11th Judicial Circuit Court Judge, said it’s not easy, but if members are comfortable with ministers they may open up and tell their pastors.

Donata Joseph, executive Director of Adding Doses of Hope Daily Foundation photo by Lashaevia Burns

“It’s not being addressed from the pulpit,” State Representative Stafford said, while many attendees nodded in agreement. “I think until the clergy starts to blow the horn too and say that this is wrong.  We will have victims who will continue to sit in silence.”

Panelists agreed to train different pastors so that they could become more knowledgable about identifying and responding to domestic violence.
Latavea Johnson-Cobb, a Miami-Dade County victim of crime supervisor who sat on the panel, stated that they have an awareness group with people who can visit the church to identify abused victims.
The judge suggested that clergy not discuss abuse with both the victim and the abuser.

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