The Journey to Restored

by Anna Blanch on November 25, 2011

The first guest post in the 16 Days of Action comes from Mandy Marshall, Co-Director of Restored. For the first, but most certainly not the last, time during these 16 days of action, this post has a trigger warning. A trigger warning is a warning a blogger uses to forewarn readers that a post discusses subjects of a sensitive nature, such as rape, sexism, and violent crime and the posts in this series have a trigger warning for traumatic events. I apologize in advance if this material is disturbing to some readers. I encourage you to seek out someone to talk to if there are issues this post raises for you.

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‘I’ve tried everything. I’ve prayed more, I’ve been obedient, and I’ve submitted to him, I make sure all the household chores are done and his food is ready but he still beats me. You’re an expert. What more can I do?’

I was visiting Sibi (not her real name) living in rural Zimbabwe to look at what the church taught about gender and how it impacted on the spread of HIV. She pulled me to one side into her small, dark, cold mud hut (a contrast to the brilliant sunshine and heat outside) to ask me confidentially what she could do to stop her husband beating her. My heart broke. It took everything within me not to cry. I gently explained that it wasn’t anything more she could do. Her husband needed to stop. I asked her what the church had said to her husband. ‘Nothing’ came the reply. ‘They told me I should pray more for God to change him’. I was now angry about the church’s response. It shouldn’t be this way. Life is not meant to be this way.

As a result of the trip the organisation I worked for conducted a programme to engage the Church looking at gender and HIV issues. Two years later we took the case study to the AIDS conference in Mexico. At the church pre-conference, a Namibian woman told her story of how as a teenager she had hitched hiked to South Africa and been raped three times . She had contracted HIV and was now an HIV Ambassador. This was another turning point. How could we have created a world where men do such things with apparent impunity? When we looked around the conference at the response it was mainly secular and feminist. And they were doing some great work too. But it left us with two questions, ‘Where is the church?’ and ‘Where are the men?’ when it comes to responding to violence against women. This was the start of the journey to Restored.

We came back and researched who was doing what & where & what was the reality of violence against women in the UK & globally. We knew some of the horrifying stats such as 1 in 4 women in the UK will suffer abuse in her lifetime. Disturbingly, two women a week in the UK are killed by their partner or former partner. When we looked globally the UN stated in 2007 that women between the ages of 15-44 were more likely to be maimed or die due to male violence than through cancer, malaria, traffic accidents of war combined. http://www.restoredrelationships.org/info/stats/

We also found that there were pockets of excellent work going on but no-one linking this up and bringing it together to share information and learning. Nor was there any one single voice that could speak loudly to give a Christian response to violence against women, and to think though on how the church’s teaching was in some cases exacerbating the problem. During this process we prayed (for two years) before Restored was finally launched in June 2010 at the Bringing Hope Conference.

In the last year Restored has produced a Pack for Churches on Domestic Abuse (download here http://www.restoredrelationships.org/resources/info/51/ ) and launched a Men’s campaign called First Man Standing http://www.restoredrelationships.org/firstmanstanding/pledge/ to engage men in ending violence against women. We have over 40 members globally and we plan to work with them, particularly in Lain America and Africa to address issues of violence against women in theior local contexts.  We  have spoken at many events to raise awareness of the issue. On 25 November Restored is launching a new resource for men called ‘How to be a First Man Standing’ to enable men to practically outwork ending violence against women. Check out our website for the resource www.restoredrelationships.org

Restored has only been able to do this with the generous support of individuals and a couple of trusts. However, to continue into the next financial year, we need more support. If you would like to donate to Restored and sign up to pray regularly then please go to our website and take action. Be a part of the change you want to see in the world.

Restored wants the church to rise up and take action. No longer will we remain silent. No longer will we think it’s none of our business. This is our Church. This is our business. All violence against women is wrong and must stop. Will you join us on this journey together?

Restored is an International Christian Alliance to transform relationships and end violence against women. www.restoredrelationships.org. On Twitter: @Rest0red and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/RestoredRelationships

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This post is part of the 16 Days of Action toward eliminating violence against women. The 16 Days of Action is a global campaign founded by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University, I’m hosting posts across the 16 days, from 25 November to 10 December. You can help by sharing these posts on social media, by taking care of the women around you, & by standing against violence against women.
Connect with Anna on Academia.edu, Linked In, facebook page, & Twitter.

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