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'No more': how churches in Honduras reduced violence against women

Warning: contains mentions of sexual and gender-based-violence that some readers may find upsetting.

Agnes McGrane | 13 Aug 2021

Photo of woman looking out of the window

Photo credit: Virginia Lattul/Tearfund

Every three hours, a woman in Honduras reports a sexual assault. Countless more women never report the violence they experience, and some don’t survive. To tackle this abuse epidemic, Tearfund’s local partner in Honduras has set up a project equipping church leaders to challenge harmful behaviours and attitudes that perpetuate sexual and gender-based violence.
 
All of her life, Estella* has experienced violence and abuse from men. As a child, Estella was physically and emotionally abused by her step-father, and this continued in her relationships with men as an adult.

‘If it had not ended, I think I would be dead by now,’ she says.  Estella first heard the truth of how women deserve to be valued, treated with respect and care when she attended a support group run by Tearfund’s local partner.

Tearfund and our partner are working closely with ten churches in Honduras, establishing community groups to support women like Estella. The groups discuss healthy relationships between men and women, raise awareness in the wider community, and provide emotional support for survivors. So far, at least 120 women and girls have been supported in their emotional, spiritual and physical recovery.

Breaking free

Through the group’s support, Estella realised the behaviour she had accepted as normal was abuse. She gained confidence that she should not be subjected to violence.

‘I decided that I am a brave woman,’ says Estella. ‘That’s when I said: “No more. Enough violence." It has not been easy. But, thank God, the day came that I had to end this situation.

‘The meetings have helped to heal my soul. I can help other women who have suffered the same. I am no longer afraid. I don't feel ashamed because I know that there are women who have gone through the same.’

 

Empowered to help

Training from Tearfund’s local partner empowered church leaders to help even more women like Estella. Husband and wife pastors Marvin and Dilsia now speak out against violence from a biblical perspective. They can also spot the signs of abuse and respond appropriately.

‘This project taught me how to support women who have suffered violence,’ says Pastor Dilsia. ‘I am already more confident to talk [about it] and empowered to help others.’

Pastor Marvin has started challenging the harmful beliefs held by many men in the community. 

‘Thank the Lord, many things have changed,’ says Pastor Marvin. ‘We have a weekly men’s meeting, where we talk about our problems and support each other. Now there is less violence.’

 

A new way

Survivors like Estella have noticed a difference in their communities. There is hope that both men and women can move forward together, free from abuse and violence.


‘For a long time, women have suffered violence from their husbands,’ says Estella. ‘God does not want this, so he sent women from Tearfund’s local partner to help us. I thank God for them, because today we have recovered.’ 

 

In just two years, violence has decreased, relationships have been transformed, and survivors have started to heal. But this is just the beginning. Sexual and gender-based violence is something that affects women and girls globally. It’s something that grieves God. Please pray that we can expand this work in Honduras, and beyond.

 

Pray with us

Find a space to pray without distractions. You could play some worship music to focus on spending time with God.
 
Lift up women and girls who have been affected by violence. Maybe you know someone who has been personally affected, and you can pray for them by name?
 
Don’t rush to move on. Spend some time in God’s presence, praying however you feel led. You could write your prayers down or speak out God’s promises for those who are hurting. 
 
Ask God what you can do to be part of the solution to this problem in your everyday life. Try to identify one or two simple actions that you can start taking now. For example, could you set time aside each week to pray for this issue? Or talk to your church leader about how your church can raise awareness of violence against women in your community?
 
Thank God for the progress already made – that women like Estella are now living free from fear. Commit all that you have prayed for to God, as you commit to the small changes you are able to make. 

 

 

 
*Name changed to protect identity.
 

Agnes McGrane

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