By Tera Alston
Special to Inside The Pew
One of the dark and often dirty secrets that plague our society is domestic violence. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in every four women will experience this type of abuse in her lifetime; a statistic that is alarming. Based on these numbers, more work is needed to help those affected by this oftentimes unseen form of violence.
Resources allocated for programs that assist individuals in need have steadily decreased over recent years however, there are still agencies that continue to see the need and continue to reach out. One such agency is Inner Peace Christian Life and Marriage Coaching, a Portsmouth, Va., agency that helps individuals deal with issues that negatively affect their lives and helps them understand God’s plan for their lives. One main focus of Inner Peace is to help women affected by domestic violence. The CEO, Erica Hermann, started the agency because she saw a serious need and realized there were limited places for abuse victims to go for assistance.
While working for years in home health, “I found myself doing more ministering when I went to visit versus anything else,” Hermann said.
Hermann said she sees her work as a ministry not just a business. God was telling her where He wanted her to be; He wanted her to go towards ministry, and she said yes.
Once launching her business, Hermann quickly began to see the layers of issues clients were dealing with. Women would come in for one issue and through coaching sessions, other issues such as childhood sexual abuse and low self esteem would be revealed. When these issues are coupled with current physical or emotional abuse, it makes the path towards healing a long road to travel for many. To help clients down this road, Hermann uses individual coaching sessions along with Bible studies that focus on the biblical truth that God loves them and the beauty God sees in women. Lessons also focus on topics such as the Proverbs 31 woman.
According to Hermann, “a large percent of the women do not know who they are in the eyes of God” and because they are in abusive relationships, many find it hard to believe God really loves them.
Another issue that Hermann helps the women deal with is the jaded view many have concerning submissiveness. This view often comes from years of misinterpreting what the bible truly means about the subject and often times this causes many Christian women to stay in abusive relationships. It may be hard for an abused woman to relearn what submissiveness truly means in biblical terms and to learn that the husband is mandated by God to love their wives as their own body (Ephesians 5:28), not to abuse them. Hermann believes the church can play an important role in helping women get over this hurdle by providing sound biblical teaching about submissiveness, providing domestic violence education to their congregations, and offer support groups.
Hermann’s prayer is that her services will help women get to a point when they are no longer in abusive relationships. To help women get to this point, the agency offers more than just coaching sessions. Inner Peace also provides job training/placement assistance, transportation, assistance finding shelter and other community resources. These added services can be invaluable to a woman fleeing abuse.
Inner peace says a lot about what Hermann is trying to accomplish. To her, inner peace means “to have peace; a peace that God meant for us to have” and her desire is to continue to minister to abused women so they can experience the inner peace that can only come from God.
Tera Alston works as a women’s ministry leader and human resources professional in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. She also partners with her husband to assist at-risk youth and their families. She has a BSBA from Old Dominion University and an MBA from Saint Leo University.