How many times have you heard these or similar words: ‘If this program has raised any issues for you, please call 1800RESPECT’? Often it follows a show about domestic and family violence or sexual abuse. This national counselling service is a vital 24-hour helpline, ready to support people going through abuse or whose memories of abuse have resurfaced.
Have you wondered who might ring that number or what would it be like to take the calls of distressed and desperate people?
May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month in Australia and recently I spoke to members of the Lutheran community who work on the 1800RESPECT line about their experiences.
They say it’s a heavy burden hearing the stories of those being abused or who have been abused in the past. Some callers are in crisis, fearing for their lives, and the counsellor works to give them strategies to stay safe and to connect to services. Both women and men call. Some abuse the counsellors. Some need to talk about their trauma. Some are asking how to help family and friends they suspect are experiencing domestic and family violence.
The counsellors face many challenges. They told me about how their understanding of God’s love for everyone helps them to respond positively to those they speak with and how they pray for the right words to say. One said: ‘If I am to reach out to that person with compassion, I need to … stand alongside them as they share their pain. The name of Jesus may not be spoken, but Jesus goes along inside me as I work.’
The LCANZ’s Hidden Hurts Healing Hearts website at www.preventdfv.lca.org.au features stories of survivors, resources and support. If this article has triggered any concerns for you, you can ring the 1800RESPECT number or log in to the website at www.1800respect.org.au
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