“Help Us Meet the Basic Needs of Survivors of Violence”
Salem Lutheran Church is a designated drop-off site for a Basic Needs Drive hosted by the Washburn County Coordinated Community Response Team (CCR). Throughout the month of October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, donated items that include Ladies’ Sports Bras, Socks, Underwear, Deodorant, Tampons and Maxi Pads, are being collected. These items are often needed by victims of domestic violence – they are all essential needs of many survivors who are left without them when they leave an abusive relationship. You can donate these newly purchased, unopened items and drop them off in Pastor Sue’s office at Salem Lutheran Church.
Pastor Sue has been a member of the CCR and “Embrace” teams for several years. As a partner in this effort, she has completed two intensive educational training sessions — one for several days in Chicago – and meets regularly with other team members from the county medical, police, and social services communities.
Last April, the people of Salem Lutheran Church hosted a special event that addressed child safety as part of Child Abuse Awareness Month. On Sunday, April 7, from 10:30-12:30 p.m. in the Salem Fellowship Hall, we teamed up with “Embrace” of Washburn County to present an awareness program entitled “Darkness to Light.”
The program is an evidence-based prevention training that teaches people how to prevent, recognize and react to child sexual abuse. The “Darkness to Light” organization is based in Charleston, South Carolina, and focuses on five steps to protecting children:
- Learn the Facts – in over 90% of the child sexual abuse cases reported, the child knows the perpetrator. Statistics show that 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday
- Minimize the Opportunity – more than 80% of child sexual abuse incidents occur when children are in isolated, one-on-one situations with adults or other youths
- Talk about it – Open conversations with children about body safety, sex, and boundaries is one of the best defenses against child sexual abuse
- Recognize the Signs – The most common symptoms of child sexual abuse are emotional or behavioral changes
- React Responsibly – Intervening when boundaries are crossed or reporting abuse when suspected is critical to protecting all children from sexual abuse
Although teaching children about their bodies and boundaries is important, protecting children is an adult responsibility. The “Embrace” presentation at Salem included a video that featured survivors who lived through child sexual abuse and experienced its immediate and long-term effects. They were eventually able to find healing.
The people of Salem Lutheran also hosted a learning event for our confirmation students and their parents, also led by our county “Embrace” staff. Pastor Sue has also toured a “Time-Out Family Abuse Shelter” in Ladysmith, Wisconsin. The shelter houses Washburn County family members as well as people from other communities. A facility Crisis Line is open 24 hours a day at 1-800-924-0556.
For more information about our Basic Needs of Survivors of Violence efforts in October, call Pastor Sue at 1-612-229-8885.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month
The month of October has been named “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” and as the clergy representative from Washburn County, I recently attended a four-day conference in Chicago that helped the 30 people in attendance better understand and respond to Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Elder Abuse.
I met counselors, therapists, advocates and other clergy who live in North Carolina, Alaska, Colorado, Vermont, North Carolina, Tennessee, New York, Texas, and Wisconsin – all of them determined to assist victims in a time of need.
We heard a speech on “Understanding Trauma and Strengthening Resilience Through Building Steadfast Communities by Lisa A. Tieszen. She is a senior consultant with Organizational Resilience International and is Content Expert for the State Victim Assistance Academy and helped create and direct a program for advocates working with victims of trauma. This 8-week series model helps to identify and respond to the traumatization of trauma responders themselves who are continually working with victims of domestic violence (work-related exposure to trauma situations).
We also experienced a series of activities that modeled how to move individuals, communities and organizations toward a more inclusive society. The instructors were Heidi Wallace, Executive Director of EmpowerMT in Montana, and Fae Brooks, the Director of Law Enforcement Programs with the National Coalition Building Institute. Together they help train people to build safer schools, organizations and communities.
We listened to a presentation by David Adams, Co-founder and Co-director of Emerge, the first counseling program in the nation for men who abuse women. He has led groups for men who batter and conducted outreach to victims of abuse for 40 years. He is also an Expert Witness in family and criminal court cases involving allegations of domestic violence.
Finally, we heard a discussion of Elder Abuse led by Anne Marie Hunter, Director of Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence, and Alyson Morse Katzman, Associate Director of Safe Havens.
Participants learned that there are three intrinsic responses to a threatening situation: fight, flight and freeze. Victims of domestic violence may experience one or more of these responses. Over time, it can cause emotional and physical stress, anxiety, and illness. This stress can affect brain development in children and impacts a person’s self-identity, relationships with other people, expectations of self and others, and world view in general.
Those who wish to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse can build on the strengths that the victim has, and then leave the door open for discussion while conveying trust, compassion and empathy. It is important that the shame belongs to the victimizer, not the victim – even when the victim appears to feel shame of any kind.
There are five things an advocate or special care person can provide a victim:
- Keep the victim well-informed about the judicial, medical and governmental aspects that are in place. Don’t surprise them – tell them what is going to happen ahead of time.
- Outline clear expectations of the outcome.
- Support the victim with goal-setting affirmations
- Provide choices for the victim whenever possible
- Remember that the word “listen” has the same letters in it as the word “silent” and sometimes the best way to listen is to be silent.
We learned about common ground solutions to complicated and divisive situations. It is good to form positive and agreed upon solutions, not just list topics that require only a “yes” or “no” answer to them. And it is important to remember that some victims of domestic violence want the abuse to end, but not the relationship itself.
Violence is anything that produces fear in another individual. And once a victim decides to leave an abusive relationship, it takes an average of 7 years to actually do it. It is important to remember that when a marriage ends due to domestic violence, it is the violence that breaks the covenant, not the victim who walks away.
Statistics show that in the United States, one in four older adults, (ages 60 and over), are abused. Faith is very important to this age group, so clergy can be very beneficial to a victim of elder abuse by praying with them, sharing communion with them, and visiting them on a regular basis.
Caregivers of the elderly can help by not judging victims, listening to them and honoring the legacy they hope to leave behind. Always ask them what they would like the advocates to do for them?
For more information, contact Rev. Susan Odegard at 612-229-8885.
A History of Salem Lutheran Church
Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Salem Church, now known as Salem Lutheran Church, was established in Shell Lake, Wisconsin on December 22, 1888 by a Swedish circuit pastor, John D. Nelsenius and 14 Swedish settlers. To meet their increasing needs, a new Swedish Lutheran Church was built at the corner of 8th Avenue and 2nd Street in the town of Shell Lake in 1895. The name of the church was officially changed to Salem Lutheran Church in 1953.
In 1967 the Heart Lake and Salem congregations merged into Salem Lutheran Church in Shell Lake, and in 1969 Salem built a new parsonage in the Ridgeway addition of Shell Lake. Groundbreaking for a new Salem Lutheran Church began in 1981 and a formal dedication of the new church was held on September 19, 1982; its’ location very nearly in the footprint of the old church at 8th Avenue and 2nd Street in Shell Lake.
The build-up to the 1988 Centennial of Salem Lutheran Church began in 1987 with A World Day of Prayer on March 6; the Heart Lake Pilgrimage on August 30; the Santa Lucia Breakfast on December 12; and the New Year’s Eve Watch on December 31. The official year of the 1988 Centennial Celebration began with the presentation of a Historical Quilt on January 3; Recognition Sunday on May 15; Midsummer Festival on June 25; the Bell Tower was erected on August 3; and culminating in the 100 years of history Centennial activities August 12 – 14, 1988.