Click on the image above to hear Steve Bartlett’s call to action.
November 2017 saw the beginning of the No Place for Violence Here Campaign, aimed at equipping churches and individuals to respond to domestic and family violence. After a year of campaign activities, will you join us in November 2018 to advocate for those affected by violence in their homes. Visit http://noplaceforviolence.com/ to download a free action pack!
The ABM’s National Council has released a statement on Domestic and Family Violence. Access this statement here:
We’re encouraging all churches in NSW & the ACT to take part in the campaign. You can register your church here.
After registering your church, you will get access to a suite of pastoral, educational and worship resources. You will also receive regular updates throughout the campaign, including ideas about how you can take action in your community.
For many people, and in many churches, domestic violence is a taboo subject which “we don’t like to talk about”. It is likely though, that there are people in every church who will know victims of violence, or be victims or abusers themselves. Increasingly this issue is on the public agenda, with Australian of the Year Rosie Batty and movements like White Ribbon Day raising the profile of the issue. This has led to recent announcements of increased funding from the Federal and NSW governments which is a great start, but there is still much to do. The issue of domestic violence calls for a grassroots response and there is the opportunity for churches to take initiative, both within the church and the community .
How can we empower local churches to confront and deal with this issue? Ideally we should be contributing to change in at least these four areas:
- Prevention in our churches
- Prevention in our communities
- Provision of safe spaces for victims
- Rehabilitation for perpetrators
The curse that results from human sin in Genesis 3 leads to the fracturing of human relationships. This is a symptom of the fracturing of the fundamental relationship between God and humanity. One relationship that is affected by the fall is the relationship between women and men. Where there was mutuality and respect, we can now find domination, and often an associated abuse of power.
However, we know that while we experience consequences of the reality of this fall, it is by no means regarded as a hopeless situation. This is not how God intends life to be.
The cross is good news for both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. While the cross opens the way for forgiveness, it does not in any way allow us to condone such violence or easily ‘get past’ it. Rather, Jesus takes our sin upon himself, while also identifying with the victims of injustice and oppression. Then the resurrection changes everything, as Jesus wins victory over the power of sin and darkness, opening up the way of hope for both victims and oppressors.
With the help of the Spirit, we should expect to be able to reshape our own relationships, and to some extent our culture’s view of gender relationships, in line with this resurrection life. (see for example the way Jesus challenges assumptions about the place of women in John 8).
For more biblical reflections visit noplaceforviolence.com and download the Theological Background Document.
Violence is extremely common in Australia. Both women and men are more than three times as likely to be physically assaulted by a man than by a woman. A man is most likely to experience violence in a place of entertainment and a woman is most likely to experience violence in her home.
The domestic violence issue is multi-faceted and rates of abuse are alarmingly high. Estimates indicate that Australian police deal with 657 incidents of domestic violence each day, which is one every two minutes. one in four women have experienced violence by an intimate partner, they may or may not have been living with. More than 60 women have been killed at the hands of men in incidents of domestic violence in 2015.
Domestic violence is a violation of a fundamental human right by the people you trust the most, with an estimated one in four women in Australia experiencing violence at the hands of an intimate partner. Most domestic violence cases are man against woman, and as such the issue is closely linked to gender stereotypes and inequality in our culture. The 2012 Australian Personal Safety Survey observes that 4.3 times as many women than men reported that they felt fear or anxiety after their most recent physical assault committed by an opposite sex perpetrator. In addition to fear, the other dynamic that distinguishes domestic violence from relationship conflict is the systematic approach taken by the perpetrator to maximise their power and control within the relationship by eroding a person’s confidence, support networks and independence.
Domestic violence is not limited to physical violence, it includes, emotional, verbal, sexual, economic, spiritual, and social forms of abuse. It also has profound effects on children. Over 400,000 Australian women have experienced partner violence during pregnancy and over half a million women reported that their children had seen or heard partner violence.
Domestic violence is closely linked to other social issues and particularly the need for social housing, as the experience of domestic violence often requires the victim to leave the family home. Women may struggle to leave a violent relationship – the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that 81,900 women have wanted to leave their violent current partner but never have and one in 12 women indicated that one of the reasons they returned to their violent previous partner was because they had nowhere to go.
While there is a lack of clear research, statistics would clearly suggest that this is a significant problem within our churches. By opening up the discussion we can begin to:
- change attitudes and ensure domestic or gender based violence is never seen as acceptable in our churches
- ensure our churches are safe places for people who are vulnerable or afraid
- become more aware of the services available in our community to support and empower someone who has been abused and to help perpetrators break the cycle of violence
- develop resources and training for churches to be better equipped to speak/act/work to end domestic violence
November 25 Advocacy Action
Domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness in Australia. A chronic shortage of emergency, social and affordable housing means many women and children fleeing domestic violence either end up homeless or stay in a violent situation. Sunday, November 25 is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. We’re asking Baptist churches across Australia to take 10 minutes during their services on November 25 to highlight the link between homelessness and domestic violence, to pray around this issue, and participate in a simple advocacy action calling state and federal governments to increase the supply of crisis, social and affordable housing.
You can download a kit that includes instructions on how to participate, prayers, background information and a short video at https://ajustcause.com.au/no-place-for-violence/
Register for the Campaign
Join with churches around the country to take action against domestic and family violence in the church and in the community. There are a host of resources and ideas available at noplaceforviolence.com.
Host a Men’s Breakfast Event
In 2018, Baptist Churches throughout the country raised awareness of domestic and family violence and worked on building an effective response in their churches and wider communities. This Spring 2018, we are highlighting several helpful tools that assist churches to engage men in conversations around the issue of domestic and family violence and the norms in society that allow violence to remain unchallenged. These tools include a Discussion Guide with questions formed in part around a Ted Talk by Jackson Katz entitled, “Violence against women – it’s a men’s issue”, an interview with a victim of domestic violence, and a church audit tool. This Spring 2018 would you consider hosting a men’s discussion around domestic violence?
The Discussion Guide provides some recommendations around hosting a Men’s Event, links to the TedTalk and lays out some helpful statistics and discussion questions for the event. You can access the guide here: PEG Domestic Violence DVD Booklet.
Thornleigh Community Baptist Church recently delivered a sermon series on domestic and family violence. As part of this series, the church interviewed a man who experienced domestic violence as a child. In this interview he describes a bit about his experience and gives a call to action for men. It can be accessed here (Look for “Interview with Adrian Nolan – His experience of domestic violence”): https://www.tcbc.org.au/resources/sermons/
A church audit tool was developed as part of the No Place for Violence Here campaign. It includes helpful questions to examine the culture of the church as it relates to the visibility of women in leadership, awareness of domestic and family violence, theology of gender equality and leadership, and more. It can be accessed here: NPVH-Church-Audit-Tool-1.
In your role as a pastor you may encounter incidences of domestic violence, you may suspect domestic violence in the home of someone you know, or you may have someone disclose to you that he or she is being abused. Outlined below are a series of recommended steps you can take to help with the safety and protection of the parties involved.
Timely and appropriate pastoral responses to domestic violence are critical to:
- Ensure the safety and empowerment of victims
- Prevent further violence or harm
- Provide appropriate support and assistance to victims over the longer term
- Enforce the accountability of perpetrators
- Ensure Children are safe and not exposed to harm. You have an obligation to complete the Mandatory Reporters Guide if there are children under the age of 16 who are being exposed to domestic violence. You can access the guide at https://reporter.childstory.nsw.gov.au/s/mrg
Recognising domestic and family violence
Domestic violence refers to violence, abuse and intimidation between people who are or have been in an intimate relationship. The perpetrator uses violence to control and dominate the other person. This causes fear, physical harm and/or psychological harm. Domestic violence is a violation of human rights.
A victim may present to you with a direct revelation of violence or control, but it is likely that many victims will also present to you in an indirect manner. It is therefore important that you familiarise yourself with some of the possible signs of domestic violence. Examples include:
- Unexplained injuries or numerous injuries
- Depression or withdrawal, or uncharacteristic outbursts and anger
- Confusion and poor concentration
- Increased lack of confidence and self-esteem
- Changes to physical appearance (e.g. stops wearing makeup or starts, covering up)
- The need to seek unreasonable level of approval and permission from a partner before making a decision.
- Often mentions her partner is jealous or has a “bad temper”
- Criticised and/or humiliated by her partner in public
If you suspect there is domestic violence, do not be afraid to ask direct questions in a caring manner such as “How does he behave when he is angry?” “Do you become frightened?” “Are you worried about your safety or that of the children?” “Does this happen often?” (Ref SA guidebook for churches).
It is also important that you familiarise yourself with local support services and the police.
Responding to disclosure
If someone has disclosed an incident to you, take the following steps:
- Listen to the person disclosing the violence. Believe her/him. Ensure that abuse cannot be accepted in any circumstances. Do not blame the victim or ask what they have done to contribute to the violence.
- Assess the current risk for the victim and any children. Ask the victim what she/he is doing to stay safe and how you can support this.
- Help to develop a plan for safety.
- Resources are available to help with safety planning. For example in NSW the DVSAT provided by the NSW government helps assess risk.
- Be sure to empower the victim. Do not make decisions for her/him. Ask how she/he wants you to help. Affirm they are the person best placed to map a path forward. Respect her/his right to make decisions.
- However it is important to remember:
- If there is imminent risk of harm, call 000
- If there are children under 16 years of age who are being exposed to domestic violence, then you have an obligation to complete the Mandatory Reporters Guide – https://reporter.childstory.nsw.gov.au/s/mrg
4. Offer support.
5. Decrease isolation. Assure her/him that she is not alone. Support the victim even if she/he decides to return to the home and an abusive situation. Let them know they have your continuing support.
6. Provide referrals to local or other support services and support her/him to access them.
- 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
- NSW DV hotline (1800 656 463)
- Mensline NSW (1300 789 978)
- Offer ongoing support, not counselling. We strongly recommend that you do not enter into a counselling relationship with either the victim or the perpetrator. Refer them to trained counsellors who specialise in domestic violence. We also strongly recommend that you do not refer perpetrators to anger management programs – these have been shown to sometimes increase the skills of a perpetrator in using more subtle forms of control over the victim rather than decrease Domestic Violence. Instead speak to specialist services in your area to find if there is an approved perpetrator program.
2. Seek to ensure that church continues to be a safe space for the victim. Often the perpetrator and victim will both attend your church. In situations where there is evidence of abuse and reconciliation is not currently deemed possible, we recommend that the victim is not the one that has to leave the church and the support that is available there. If the perpetrator wants to continue in a faith community, we recommend working with the perpetrator and the Association to seek a resolution to how this can occur safely.
Help victims find help. Call the Domestic Violence Line for help on 1800 656 463
Help perpetrators find help. Call the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491, an anonymous and confidential telephone counselling, information and referral service to help men stop using violent and controlling behaviour.
Other Links and Programs
Department of Family and Community Services – http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/parents,-carers-and-families/domestic-and-family-violence
1800 RESPECT – www.1800respect.org.au
Never Alone (Luke Batty Foundation) neveralone.com.au
Visit noplaceforviolencehere.com for more pastoral resources.
The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 (Federal Dept. of Social Services) –Click Here
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), “Violence against women in Australia: Additional analysis of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Personal Safety Survey, 2012”, 22.10/2015 – Click Here
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), “Violence against women in Australia: Additional analysis of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Personal Safety Survey, 2012: Key findings and future directions” 22/10/2015 – Click Here
Jess Hill, “Home Truths – The costs and causes of domestic violence”, The Monthly Essays, March 2015 – Click Here
‘For Christians who missed the memo: The Bible abhors all domestic abuse’ – Sandy Grant, 4/3/2015 –Click Here
‘The church must confront domestic abuse’ – John Dickson and Natasha Moore, 12/3/15 –Click Here