Exploring domestic violence in Catholic families, and how the church can help

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This week’s guest is Dr. Christauria Welland. Dr. Welland is a clinical psychologist in San Diego, and the founder of Pax in Familia, an organization dedicated to improving pastoral responses to violence in Catholic families. She recently wrote an article for America in commemoration of Domestic Violence Awareness month: Caring for the most vulnerable: undocumented women in abusive relationships.”

Either you sit there and stare at the blood and the broken bones, and the sadness, and the grief…. Or you get out there and try to figure out how to make a little difference.

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Dr. Welland told America about how she first learned that domestic violence was an issue in Catholic families. “It really struck me…. I just didn’t realize that this could happen in a family that had supposedly given themselves to God and made their vows before him,” she remembered. “Either you sit there and stare at the blood and the broken bones, and the sadness, and the grief, and the disbelief…. Or you get out there and try to figure out how to make a little difference.”

Dr. Welland explained the role that faith plays in her work with perpetrators of domestic abuse, in addition to abuse victims. “As Catholics we are...called to talk to the perpetrators...to bring them to a state of reconciliation,” she said. “Certainly everyone falls under the blanket of the mercy of God. There’s nobody left out of that.”

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