On November 25 2017 Australian Baptist Ministries (ABM) launched a nationwide campaign called ‘No Place for Violence Here’ to address domestic and family violence (DFV) in our churches and communities. It will be running throughout 2018.
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
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.
We aim to compile “A Report from the Grassroots” in which churches meet with domestic service providers in their federal electorate to find out where those providers are struggling to meet demand. It will involve 2-3 people (or more if you preferred) dedicating a couple of days identifying DV service providers in your electorate, phoning them to arrange a meeting time, and then meeting with them.
We need the research returned by the end of July. The results will be compiled into a report that offers a snapshot of what is and isn’t happening in domestic violence space right across Australia. This will be taken to Canberra by a group of Baptist leaders in September and presented to parliamentarians. Churches also will be able to take an action on Sunday November 25 (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to bring the situation before God and our political leaders.
To access the survey for your local domestic violence service provider, Click Here: DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE FEEDBACK PROJECT
Please email Scott Higgins at email@example.com if your church is willing to participate or you want more information.
If children under 16 years of age are being exposed to domestic violence, then you have an obligation to complete the Mandatory Reporters Guide (MRG) which can be found at:
This will guide you as to whether a report is required to Community Services or not. The outcome of the MRG should be printed and kept.
If you believe an adult is at risk of harm, you should encourage them to make a statement at their local police station, ideally to a Domestic Violence Liaison Officer, however if one of these people is not available, then the officer on duty. Advise the person to always get the Officer’s name and rank, as well as an event number.
If you believe there is imminent risk of serious harm, you should call 000.
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