Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

The police became my “good Samaritans” – not the church

I would like to share my story - it is also available on my website www.kahrmelwellness.com.

I survived 10 years of Domestic Violence and Abuse in the church community. It was perpetrated by the Zimbabwean Christian man I was married to. I am delighted to share my story to groups of women or larger gatherings. Here is my story:

"Kudakwashe’s ordeal ended in 2008, but her perpetrator who was a Zimbabwean Christian man, relentlessly strived to devastate her life for the years that followed – even through initiating court proceedings against Kudakwashe that strenuously lasted for 4 years. He had been supported by church leaders in his violence and abuse through religions guises, regardless of how much Kudakwashe and her children from the marriage suffered gravely. Their plight was brushed under the carpet.

Her survival, together with her children, was therefore not facilitated by the Christian community she belonged to then, but eventually by the police and domestic violence teams, heavily condemned by that Christian group. Kudakwashe often shares of how the police and domestic violence services become the “Good Samaritan” for her, while those expected to redeem her, the “Priests” and “Levites”, passed by strengthening the arms of the brutal “robber”.

Kudakwashe’s experience was also exacerbated by the violated Zimbabwean traditional and cultural norms she lived under. In the name of “submission”, raising complaints against her ex-husbands’s conduct was a big taboo. When she eventually did, her cultural community strongly opposed her, leading to increased complications. She became a victim at home, as well as in her Christian and cultural communities. In addition, her perpetrator all the more intensified his violence and abuse, not only against Kudakwashe, but her children as well.

Having fled from her perpetrator empty handed, Kudakwashe’s journey to restoration, together with her children, included a stay in a women’s refuge for almost 6 months. There she met a vast number of women from diverse faiths. These too were affected by DVA in the same manner Kudakwashe had experienced. Since then she has continually come across many more women from multi-faiths affected by this pandemic. It has to be mentioned, it is sobering that there are both victims and perpetrators of DVA in institutions of worship.

Kudakwashe now believes that faith leaders must be equipped to act in an appropriate response with knowledge and skill, and the efficiency to do so in a way that protects the welfare of victims. Finding the huge void in faith communities in the address of DVA, propelled Kudakwashe to look for the solution. Out of a number of outcomes, in 2010 she designed the model for Addressing Domestic Violence In Faith Communities, that has been used by two third sector groups in the Midlands.

In her research, Kudakwashe discovered faith institutions, were in fact harbouring perpetrators in an environment that does not change them, instead of being sanctuaries for the abused and oppressed. Through her work Kudakwashe is highly optimistic that incidences of DVA will reduce in faith communities with openness, education and commitment to change. This can be achieved by a concerted effort between similarly dedicated individuals and organisations"



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