How does Focus respond to abuse victims?
Every call our care and counselling team receives is handled with care, concern and compassion for each caller’s unique journey. When a caller to Focus on the Family Canada’s counselling line describes a relationship that sounds abusive, our counsellors carefully help the caller assess their safety. If the client is in imminent danger, we help them explore resources accessible to them to ensure that they (and their children, if involved) can be physically safe.
Our staff rely heavily on the resources of frequent Focus on the Family Broadcast guest Leslie Vernick to address issues of emotional abuse and damaging relationships. We help callers distinguish between what Leslie calls “difficult, disappointing and destructive” marriages. We highly recommend and regularly gift copies of Leslie’s book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage to callers and invite them to assess and address their relationships according to her teaching. We also strongly promote this resource to pastors and leaders who consult with us on how to address these issues in their circles of influence.
We recognize the limitations of the one-time free counselling consult that we offer callers and provide referrals to locally based Christian counsellors for further help in these situations. We also strongly encourage callers to build a small, trusted support network for themselves which might consist of a counsellor, a pastor, wise family members and/or friend(s) who will pray, discern and provide practical support as the caller walks through the journey of discerning what can be done to address the struggles. We believe that decisions such as separation or divorce are momentous choices and need to be made in the context of good support and wise, godly counsel.
Our crisis marriage program Hope Restored, along with our marriage conferences and retreats, strongly affirm the value of every individual as created by God and the responsibility of each person to guard their own hearts from harm, even from intimate partners who should be caring for them and not harming them. We teach the value of the institution of marriage and see it as God’s design, and that God’s plan is for marriage to be a mutually supportive and loving relationship. It is never God’s plan for marriage to be a place where individuals are abused.
Callers frequently express feeling heard, understood, equipped and resourced by our team when calling about these issues. They are valued, taken seriously and encouraged to realize that God cares for their well-being as his beloved child.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, we encourage you to contact our care and counselling team at 1.800.661.9800. Our office hours are Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
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