Generous Orthodoxy  

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Economics and violence

The Berkshire Record (Mass.) reports on an area of New England where thousands of affluent people have second homes and enjoy the wonders of Tanglewood, fine restaurants, and beautiful mountain views. Largely unseen and silent, the full-time resident population suffers. Domestic violence is rising along with increasing financial despair. With the winter approaching, many people do not know how they will be able to pay for heat. Social workers in the county report that when the economy is precarious, violence in the home becomes much more common. Much of it happens out of sight, since people who suffer from violence very often do not report it. Often they do not feel entitled to protest, or they cannot imagine where they would go if they left the only home they have.

A chilling detail in the article gives some idea of what people are living with. People fearing violent attacks by family members are advised by counsellors to stay out of the bathroom, because the space is small and enclosed; and to stay away from the kitchen, because it has "hard surfaces and weapons." We have all seen movies of murders in kitchens, but in real life most of us think of the kitchen as homey and nurturing. All the more horrifying therefore that a woman should be afraid of her own kitchen.

Being aware of the hidden suffering that goes on all around us is surely a major aspect of Christian living. In these lean times, social service agencies are in greater need than ever of our support.