Domestic Violence Educator

Domestic Violence Educator

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Nicole M. Oldham thought she was simply sharing a part of her life with her women’s church group. All families go through struggles, she knew, and as director of women’s ministry at a Virginia Assemblies of God church, she wanted to be transparent about hers to provide an encouraging example for others to open up as well.

But when she revealed details, the other women’s faces registered shock. Several group members informed Oldham that she needed to rethink her situation more seriously; the struggles she endured went beyond normal family disagreements.

The licensed Assemblies of God minister finally admitted what others told her: she had experienced domestic violence.

In June 2018, she filed a report which led to an investigation.

Oldham fell into a deep depression, which led to a 13-day hospital stay. A forensic psychiatry specialist diagnosed her with major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and “relational distress” related to domestic abuse. She was kicked her out of their house and left homeless.

“My faith was all I had to hold onto,” she says, tearing up at the memory.

Oldham, 30, moved to Chelsea, Oklahoma, to begin a new life near her family of origin. She found a job teaching fourth grade in nearby Pryor, connected with other Christians through ClearView Church in Claremore, and did her best to heal.

“She is committed to taking her losses and making them gains,” says Bob J. Warman, lead pastor of ClearView and Oldham’s pastoral counselor and mentor. She sought to become more involved in ministry. But she wondered exactly how to serve with a new identity.

As she prayed about her options, she recognized the need to help educate church leaders on how best to aid those affected by domestic violence.

“This is such a critical issue and our wonderful pastors are woefully ill-prepared to engage it,” Oldham says. From that recognition will emerge the ministry HANDS: Home and Neighborhood Domestic Safety. Though still in its infant stages, Oldham is determined to make sure domestic violence victims have a safe place within the Church “to run with their heart, and maybe with their bags.”

“These women never know when they are going to need the Church, so I want to help leaders be ready,” she says.

Preparing for HANDS’s summer launch, Oldham is enrolled with the National Anger Management Association to become a first level certified domestic violence specialist and also she has begun her ordination process, studying with the Oklahoma School of Ministry.

“I want to be able to meet and work with pastors as peers, not as some hysterical female who has gone through this terrible thing and wants to tell them they’re doing ministry wrong,” Oldham says.

Her commitment to ministry and to healing has been noticeable.

“She’s come a long way,” says Warman. “There’s a great light in her life now and she’s so joyful.”

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