Conversation Sunday Discussion Topics

Conversation Sunday Discussion Topics

The following talking prompts are provided to guide discussions during Conversation Sunday on October 15, 2017. We have organized the talking prompts into three categories:

1.) Getting Started includes topics to begin a conversation.
2.) Making Connections includes prompts to continue the dialog.
3.) Faith Considerations explores discussions specific to groups and spaces of worship. 


Getting Started

What is meant by the term domestic violence?
Although some people might think of domestic violence as physical abuse, it can take many forms. These include emotional, psychological, financial, and sexual abuse, and stalking. Although the term domestic violence includes all family-related abuse, it most commonly is used to describe abuse by a spouse or dating partner.

How often does domestic violence happen?
Domestic violence is everywhere, affecting millions of individuals across the United States, regardless of economic status, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or education. One in three women and one in four men will be a victim of intimate partner abuse at some point in their lifetimes. Each day an average of three women die at the hands of someone who claimed to love them.

What causes domestic violence?
Domestic violence is rooted in power and control. The abuse is intentional, and saying that someone who abuses his or her partner is “out of control” often incorrectly describes the situation. In fact, abusers choose purposeful tactics to maintain their control and power, including physical and financial isolation. What do you think are other common ways offenders use power and control over victims?

How can I support someone who is being harmed?
Survivors know their experience and story better than anyone, so one of the best things we can do is simply listen. If you are able to have a conversation with a survivor – who is comfortable with the conversation and has given you permission to ask such questions – ask what they need to feel (and truly be) safe.  Say these words: “I believe you.” And never judge the decisions of survivors, even if they decide the safest decision is to stay for now. Help the survivor consider options and access resources. Share our 24-hour crisis hotline. It’s answered every hour of every day by Certified Domestic Violence Advocates: 800-544.2022.

Should I use the term “victim” or “survivor”?
Although similar in meaning, these words convey subtle differences. Many people who have experienced domestic violence prefer the term “survivor” because it speaks to strength and resiliency. Others prefer the term victim because it places blame on the abuser. If you’re unsure which term to use, ask the person which they prefer. If asking feels uncomfortable, use the term that makes the most sense to you during the conversation. The important thing is to begin a conversation.

Why so much purple?
Purple is the color designated for domestic violence awareness. Ask advocates in our mission why, and you’ll receive different responses. Some believe the color was chosen because suffragists  in the early 1900s wore purple, white and gold. Others connect meaning to the Purple Heart that’s presented to those who have been wounded while serving. More generally, the color purple symbolizes peace, courage, and honor.

Where can I find more information?
For more information about services for survivors in central Kentucky, visit the Get Help page on our website. To read some public accounts of domestic violence, check out the #ThisIsDV or #WhyIStayed hashtags on Twitter and Facebook. For facts and statistics – including resources in French, Spanish, Vietnamese, and other languages – visit the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV).


Making Connections

What are some of the most common misconceptions about domestic violence?
Common misconceptions include that domestic violence only includes physical abuse; that heterosexual, cis-gender women are the only victims; and that domestic violence is a private, family matter. Why do you think these have become common misconceptions? Do you think the media portrayal of domestic violence in films, books, and news contributes to these misconceptions?

Why not just leave?
This question is most easily answered by considering other questions. What are the barriers to leaving? What power and control does the abuser have? Remember that survivors must think about their own physical safety and the safety of their children. Leaving can be the most dangerous time because the abuser is losing power and control, and victims often have little to no resources because the abuser also has controlled the household finances.

Have you ever used “victim-blaming” language?
What did she do to provoke him?  He just wants attention. If it were that bad, why didn’t s/he file a police report? Well, I saw that coming a mile away. Maybe you’ve said or thought some of these things. You’ve surely heard others say them. We seldom assign blame to victims of other property crime, for example, so why do place responsibility on the victim for crimes of domestic violence?  Some believe it’s a coping mechanism to reassure ourselves that it could never happen to us. What do you think about this idea? Discuss ways to identify victim-blaming language during conversations and challenge friends/family to reconsider their words.

What about the children?
Every night, approximately half of the residents of our emergency shelter are children. Being exposed to or witnessing domestic violence can cause behavioral, developmental, and academic challenges for children. Consider that young children often blame themselves for the violence. As children get older, they may try to protect the abused parent and put themselves in harm. What are some other age-specific responses that children exposed to domestic violence may exhibit?

How does domestic violence intersect with other social issues?
It’s important to remember that domestic violence is an intersectional issue. Survivors often experience other “-isms,” including sexism, racism, classism, heteronormativism, and more. Collectively, these “–isms” play a devastating role in perpetuating gender-based violence and create multiple additional barriers to safety. Talk about how different oppressions and privileges affect survivors’ experiences. How can we better facilitate partnerships between domestic violence advocates other social justice movements?

How has technology changed domestic violence?
We live in a digital world, and social media has made so many things possible – both positive and negative. There are forms of abuse that never existed before, and technology-assisted abuse is becoming more pervasive. Youth are especially influenced and affected by social media and the digital world. How can we improve conversations with and education for children and teenagers about dating and domestic violence? What are some of the issues related to dating violence and the digital world that would be most pertinent to address with children in your life?


Faith Considerations

How is faith related to the survivor experience?
Many survivors of domestic violence experience faith as a distinctive element of their identity and personal lives. While faith can be a source of strength and comfort, it is also complex and, when misused or misinterpreted, can complicate a victim’s situation.

Are there aspects of your specific faith tradition that could complicate a survivor’s experience?
Consider difficult parts of your holy texts – particularly verses that might seem to condone domestic violence. How can we talk about these texts in a way that makes survivors feel safe in their own faith community?

How does your faith tradition support survivors?
Social support is vital in a survivor’s recovery. Are survivors in your religious community made to feel as though they are expected to choose between safety and their religious community or tradition? Are you familiar with KRS 209A, the revised Kentucky statute that requires professionals in a variety of sectors, including faith leaders, to provide resources and referrals for suspected victims of domestic violence?

How does your community of faith hold abusers accountable?
Religious leaders can condemn abusive behavior while motivating perpetrators of domestic abuse to appropriate community resources. How do the clergy and lay leaders in your community hold perpetrators accountable when they seek counsel or are identified by survivors?

Does your faith community demonstrate commitment to ending domestic violence?
Do groups or missions in your faith community provide assistance, such as food or clothing, to local shelters? Do you collaborate with other faith-based organizations or secular programs to address the issue?

What resources specific to faith and domestic violence are available?
The Faith Trust Institute provides faith communities and advocates with the tools and knowledge to address the faith and cultural issues related to abuse. Learn more at this link.