No one knew that I attended one of the above-listed conferences without a penny to my name beyond flight money, conference registration and hotel room.
I was flat broke.
From Friday night to Sunday afternoon, I had zero dollars for food or drink.
Thankfully, the conference organizers know that protective mothers desperately need the resources presented at this conference but are often financially devastated from legal fees forced on them by their abusers, so I was thankful indeed for the continental breakfast the hotel served and for the conference-provided coffee and snack on Saturday.
With no money for dinner, I was sustained largely by English muffins and peanut butter [carried back to my hotel room from the continental breakfast] .
I share this story for a couple of reasons. First, I was there as an advocate [who almost could not attend because I was strapped for cash]. I Thank God I was able to go. The knowledge and insights I received at that conference have proved invaluable to my understanding and ability to function as a good advocate (and this was after I went through abuse myself and published my book).
At the conference, I met protective parents from all walks of life (protective fathers as well as protective mothers--but mostly mothers, hundreds of them), I met other advocates, listened to the presenters, met judges, lawyers, social service professionals, and business professionals from outside of the expected legal and social service fields protective parents might need.
The protective parents I met at that conference desperately needed informed advocates. And trust me, Google cannot come close to achieving what just one of those conferences achieved in opening my eyes and equipping me as an advocate.
Prior to attending my first Battered Mothers Custody Conference, I began an outreach to the Christian Community that I called The Dorcas Network. My hope was, that every church would have a "Go To" person in their congregation should a battered/abused wife or protective mother approach them for help. The Dorcas Network focus was on Christian response to domestic violence (which includes child custody issues) education and empowerment. To my delight, I received an enthusiastic response from women across the country. To my disappointment, I never heard from any pastor or church leader, and the idea never made it past a single pastor's desk when approached by their church members.
The other reason I share this behind-the-scenes story about my hungry conference experience (Oh my, how the savory aroma's coming from the hotel restaurant and other attendee's take-out made my mouth water!), is that I have a great hope that churches and ministries would see fit to sponsor someone from within their congregations (whether victim or advocate) to attend annually.
What a difference something like that would make in so many lives. Finances are often the only hindrance to someone being empowered by the information and resources that abound at this conference.
*BMCC is a secular event that lots of Christians attend (and lots more need to), but do not expect a Christian environment--sometimes far from it. Do expect an abundance of practical, useful, and empowering information in navigating the difficult and sometimes deadly landscape of marital violence and abuse.
Despite the disheartening lack of response to The Dorcas Network so many years ago, I am reaching out again.
My lunch-less/supper-less conference was worth it.
But why should any advocate or victim have to attend a conference hungry? Or worse yet, not be able to attend at all? Leave a comment below and share with others what you, your church, or organization are doing to help support protective mothers.
Author and speaker, Jocelyn Andersen, is an eclectic Christian writer. She is a Bible teacher who writes about many subjects including Bible prophecy and equality of the sexes. She is best known for her advocacy in domestic violence awareness. Her book, Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence, has been a staple in the library of resources on that subject.
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