How Faith Leaders Can Help Address Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence is literally an attack on the family. It causes fear and violence to permeate through marriages and brings trauma to adults and children. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for the church community to speak out against domestic violence on a regular basis. Many of the people in abusive relationships, will go to their church seeking guidance before ever going to the police or agencies like Partnership Against Domestic Violence.
It is not God’s design for anyone to endure domestic violence. Families are supposed to be filled with love, mutual respect, and peace. Domestic Violence represents the absolute opposite of a loving family, and it is imperative that the church continues to declare there is no room for domestic violence.
Listed below are some steps that faith leaders can take in addressing domestic violence.
- Speak Out Against Domestic Violence Regularly: Let it be known on the microphone that domestic violence has no place in your church. Even if it is once a year, that is helpful. There is a woman in your congregation who needs to hear that submission is not something that is done out of intimidation, fear or violence. Both spouses need to hear that domestic violence is not acceptable and has no place in their home.
- Domestic Violence Action Policy: If domestic violence were to rear its ugly head within your sanctuary, there should be some steps in place to ensure that a safe place is provided, even if it is temporary until a better solution is found. Check out your policies to consider what could be done if one of your staff or church members ends up in an abusive relationship.
- Confidential Place to Speak: If you were being abused by your spouse, would you feel comfortable talking about the abuse in front of your spouse? Make sure you can speak with her in a confidential place where no one else is around. This will set the tone that she can share this in confidence with you.
- Believe Them: The worst thing that a faith leader can do is not believe the violence is happening or brush it off as if it is nothing. Believe the story and ask them what they want to do. With your support, this may be the first time they actually feel that they no longer have to endure this abuse.
- Separation = Safety: When we take steps to help someone get to a safe place, it’s not that we are promoting a divorce, rather we are pushing for safety. Hundreds of women die due to domestic violence every year. Her home is no longer safe, so in moments like these everyone should choose safety over everything else, because no one knows how this story will end. Keep her location confidential and allow her to take the lead on what her next steps will be.
- Responding to the Abuser: Connect him with an abuser intervention program or family violence intervention program within your area. Keep in mind that abusive people will abuse again if they do not renew their mind and change their behavior. Change like this doesn’t happen overnight. Domestic violence is a choice. Abusers choose to be abusive, no one else is responsible for their behavior. It’s a Choice!
- Connect With Your Local Domestic Violence Agency: Within your community and online, there is a domestic violence agency like Partnership Against Domestic Violence, who can help you map out a plan and policy for the church’s response to domestic violence.
If you know of someone who is in an abusive relationship, have them reach out for help at our crisis line 404-873-1766 or through our website at www.padv.org.