The 19th Universal Brotherhood Seminar was held at the Home of the Parent on August 27 with 190 participants. The seminar, organized by Tenrikyo Committee for Promotion of Integration, seeks to promote the teaching “We Are All Brothers and Sisters.” This time, the seminar focused on domestic violence including child abuse in response to the recent increase in domestic crimes.
General Affairs Department Head Akio Shikao delivered the opening remarks, in which he said, “At this seasonable time, when we are advancing toward the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama with ‘cultivating the mind of saving others and implementing salvation work’ as our guiding principle, it is important for us followers who engage in salvation work to take the deteriorating social circumstances as our own concern.”
Ms. Minako Fujiki, representing WANA Kansai, an NPO (nonprofit organization) aimed at supporting women’s economic independence, then delivered the keynote lecture. She talked about the present situation of domestic violence and related her own experience of having been abused as a child and subjected to domestic violence after her marriage. She first defined “domestic violence” as violence inflicted by one’s partner, former partner, family members, others sharing the same house, or close relatives. After describing several cases of domestic violence between husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend, child abuse, juvenile violence, and elder abuse, she pointed out that there was a causal connection among these varieties of domestic violence. For instance, in a case where a husband has treated his wife violently, there is high possibility that when his children have grown up, they will behave violently toward their father. She further explained that, in addition to physical violence, there is psychological violence inflicted verbally, social violence by excluding one from a circle of friends, economic violence, and sexual violence.
Ms. Fujiki was raised as a daughter of a single mother and was abused by her stepfather for many years. Looking back on her life, she said: “Due to my experience of having been abused, I became someone who looked on all people with suspicion, wary that they might treat me cruelly. Consequently, I often caused troubles in my relationships. I always took what others said in a negative way. I then realized that I had lost my self-esteem, thus preventing me from loving myself.”
She then introduced one of the cognitive behavior therapies that had given her a chance to regain her feeling of self-esteem. This is a therapy that helps people have self-esteem and respect themselves. She said: “This therapy helped me recognize my disposition toward self-hatred and enabled me to accept my own feelings. While making repeated efforts to practice this therapy, I came to respect not only myself but also others.” She thus explained how she was able to put her life back on the right track.
Furthermore, she proposed precautionary measures to prevent crimes caused by domestic violence. In the case of marital relationship, she emphasized the importance of communication between husband and wife. She said that both should make efforts to express their feelings and opinions about questions asked by the partner without cutting off communication by giving a blunt answer.
Finally, she pointed out that the ties among people in the community had weakened in recent years. She maintained that many people are indifferent to domestic violence in the neighborhood, which further isolates homes where domestic violence is taking place. In order to rectify this situation, she said, it is necessary to communicate with the people around us on a daily basis. She closed her address by calling upon the listeners to convince victims that it is certainly possible for anyone to start one’s life anew at any time, and she encouraged them to become a supporting force to the victims so that they would not give up trusting others.