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“I want to tell everybody that family violence happens to everybody. No matter how nice your house is, how intelligent you are. It happens to anyone and everyone”. - Rosie Batty


Today is November 25 the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the first day of Common Grace’s 16 DAYS prayer campaign. Our 16 DAYS prayer campaign is part of a wider international movement – the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign. By learning about the issue and praying each day, you are helping to keep domestic and family violence against women and children at the top of the public agenda in Australia and around the globe.

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Around one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence – mostly by an intimate partner[1]. Around 38 per cent of all women who are murdered are killed by their partners. The World Health Organisation says that violence against women has reached "a global health problem of epidemic proportions."

Violence against women often goes unreported[2]. In countries where there is extreme poverty as well as cultural obligations to stay with a partner, leaving a relationship may not be an option for many women experiencing abuse. And in many countries violence against women is not against the law, with marital rape still permitted in many countries[3].

Even despite the existence of laws criminalising domestic violence, police and court responses are often inadequate.

“Rosa”, a victim of domestic violence in Timor Leste, travelled more than 100 kms from her remote village for a hearing at a court in the capital city. "My husband was angry and he hit me, then I reported it to police and they sent my report to the court," she said. After waiting several hours outside the courtroom, the judge failed to turn up and Rosa returned home, giving up on any hope of getting help from her country’s legal system[4].


When it comes to prevention strategies, different countries need different approaches. In poorer countries, some development organisations focus on gender equality training and supporting women’s livelihoods as a way of empowering women who may be in abusive relationships[5].


PRAY ABOUT IT

God of the entire universe, all people are made in your image. They are known by you and loved by you. All the resources of the world are yours. God, please bring your boundless resources to help women and children around the world who are experiencing violence of any kind. You know each of them by name. We only hear of them, but you see all.

We pray for governments around the world to rule wisely and to make and enforce laws to protect women and children from violence. Please provide support agencies with the resources they need to provide for the needs of victims.

And please change the culture that permits, ignores, downplays or excuses violence against women and children throughout the world. Please give your grace, comfort and healing to all those who suffer. Amen.


GO DEEPER

  • Find out more about global domestic violence statistics here
  • International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
  • Check out the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign here

 

[1] http://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/multimedia/2015/11/infographic-violence-against-women
[2] A recent EU study on 28 EU countries found that only 14 per cent of women reported their most serious episode of domestic violence to the police.
[3] Marital rape was only criminalised in all Australian states and territories in 1992.
[4] http://asiafoundation.org/in-asia/2015/07/22/timor-leste-the-economic-dimensions-of-domestic-violence/
[5] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-08/domestic-abuse-in-east-timor/5024198


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“All of us would do well to believe women's stories, because for many years, violence against women has been one of Australia's filthy little secrets."  - Former Victorian Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay.


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One woman dies at the hands of a current or former partner almost every week in Australia[1]. One woman is hospitalised every three hours. Access Economics estimates that around 1.6 million Australian women have experienced domestic violence in some form.

And these are just the official numbers. Researchers estimate that less than half of domestic violence is actually reported.

What we do know is that intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in Australian women aged 15-44. And we know that women in Australia are three times more likely than men to experience violence at the hands of a current or former partner.

Women can also suffer financially when they try to leave violent relationships. Overall, the cost to the Australian economy of domestic violence is $21.7 billion each year[2] which will only increase without the right preventive action.  When women are unable to participate fully in work, volunteering and caring roles, whole communities feel the loss.


 
PRAY ABOUT IT

God you bring light to the world. We thank you that you can bring understanding, knowledge, and acceptance of the truth. Please may the truth be known in situations of domestic and family violence.

We cry out to you that these horrifying statistics might change. We are mindful that there is so much more needed to be done in education, early intervention, and changes of heart, mind and habit if we are ever to arrest the tide of family violence. We ask that governments in Australia and communities will start to really recognise this tragedy for what it is. Amen.


 
GO DEEPER

  • For more insight into statistics around domestic violence go here
  • Why do some women stay with their abusive partners? An insightful look at one woman’s experience here
  • In a year dominated by headline stories of domestic violence, ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson has spent six months on the frontline of our national crisis.  You can watch her Hitting Home report here
  • Read more about some common myths about domestic violence here



[1] http://www.ourwatch.org.au/Understanding-Violence/Facts-and-figures
[2] http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/3510350/domestic-violence-costing-217-billion/

 

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"It is the put-downs, name calling, insults, belittling and critical statements that have the most serious and long-lasting effect on self-esteem as these messages keep repeating in the victim's mind, years after the bruises have healed"  - Associate Professor Dale Bagshaw, University of South Australia

Across all demographics, victims are suffering from physical, psychological, manipulative and controlling behaviour. Many kinds of abuse come from a mindset that blames the victim and tolerates disrespect for those who are of another gender, background, lifestyle or simply powerless.

Domestic or family violence is one of the most common forms of violence against women and their children in Australia.  It can take a number of forms:

  • physical - e.g. slapping, hitting, choking, stabbing
  • sexual - e.g. rape, harassment, being forced to watch pornography
  • emotional or psychological - e.g. isolating the person from friends, family, culture, threats against children, threats to commit suicide or self-harm
  • economic - e.g. withholding money, controlling family finances, taking out loans in a partner’s name without consent
  • stalking - e.g. repeated following, watching or harassing
  • verbal - e.g. name calling, being hyper-critical, threats to physically harm
  • cyber/technological - e.g. surveillance, tracking, intimidation, rape threats on social media, revenge porn
  • cultural/religious - e.g. using culture or religion as an excuse for violence, preventing someone or forcing someone to participate in cultural or religious customs.


PRAY ABOUT IT

"Be gracious to me, O God, for people trample on me;
all day long foes oppress me; my enemies trample on me all day long, for many fight against me.
O Most High, when I am afraid, I put my trust in you...
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your record?"   
- Psalm 56:1-3, 8 NRSV

Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear the many different ways in which domestic and family violence is carried out against women and children in our communities. Thank you that you see and you hear. Thank you that you keep a record of the tossings and the tears.

Give us understanding and keep us vigilant to recognise those who need assistance, knowing that violence does not always involve physical scarring and bruising. Give counsellors and pastoral care workers understanding and wisdom as they offer support in these painful circumstances. Amen.


GO DEEPER

  • Find key statistics, facts and definitions here
  • Listen to one couple talking about emotional abuse here
  • CHVRCHES lead singer Lauren Mayberry opens up about abusive relationships, and how she got out here. Her beautiful art work is below.

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A woman in Australia is more likely to be killed in her own home by her male partner than anywhere else or by anyone else[1]. On average, one woman is killed every week as a result of intimate partner violence.

Currently this year, 64 women, 18 men and 11 children have lost their lives to domestic and family violence[2].

Together we mourn this tragic loss.



PRAY ABOUT IT

God, we grieve for those who have lost their lives to violence. We grieve for what was taken from them, and for what the world is losing in their deaths.

We especially pray for their families and friends. God, we know you are near to the broken-hearted, and you save the crushed in spirit. May friends and family of these victims know your nearness and your salvation, and find comfort and hope in you.

God of justice, we ask that you will bring justice to victims and perpetrators, to those who have lost and those who have taken. We trust in your perfect justice. Amen.



GO DEEPER

 

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Intimate partner sexual violence can take many forms. It may involve a person making threats to a person if they do not agree to a sexual act. It may include forcing them to watch pornography against their will. It can include rape, and it can also include forcing someone to participate in a sexual act they have not consented to, whether or not they have already consented to other sexual acts in the relationship.

A recent study showed that intimate partner sexual violence generally occurs in the context of other forms of violence and is often part of a larger pattern of coercive control in a relationship[1]. Victims of this kind of violence are less likely to seek help than victims of other forms of domestic violence.

The idea that marital sexual assault should remain private has resulted in a lack of public awareness of intimate partner sexual violence. This silence contributes to women feeling that they are the only ones experiencing this type of abuse and to under-reporting these kinds of sexual crimes[2].

“Your husband is the person whom you should be able to turn to for comfort, who should protect you. When it is the person you have entrusted your life to who abuses you, it isn’t just physical or sexual assault, it is a betrayal of the very core of your marriage or your person, your trust. If you’re not safe in your own home, next to your husband, where are you safe?” - “Linda” [3]



PRAY ABOUT IT

God of our bodies, we pray especially today for victims of sexual violence. We grieve with you over the harm done to many. You know every hair on our heads. You formed each of us in our mother’s womb. And you take seriously each wrong done to us.

For those whose trust in partners or family has been betrayed, we ask for your help and we ask for your justice. Please provide people who will listen, understand, and care.

God, pour out your boundless resources of love and compassion on those who have been hurt in this way. Amen.



GO DEEPER

Watch ‘Consent: it’s as simple as tea’ – a brilliant video on consent in sexual relationships


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“I want you to consider what twisted sense of entitlement compels a man to grab a woman in a bar or call her a slut. Men, I want you to consider why blokes are so quiet on these issues. Then I need you to correct that silence."
- former Victorian Police Commissioner Ken Lay


“The Standard you walk past, is the standard you accept”- Chief of Army Lieutenant General David Morrison

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While there is no single cause of violence against women, research and evidence tells us that the key drivers of violence against women are gender inequality, gender stereotyping and a broader culture of violence. Gender inequality is the core of the problem and it is the heart of the solution.

Studies also show Australians are more likely to excuse abusive behaviour than twenty years ago, calling temporary anger and yelling abuse normal while shrugging off the seriousness of someone controlling household finances to punish their partner.

This is why men have a vital role to play in ending violence against women and their children.

There are a number of organisations working to foster and encourage male leadership in this space, and to increase awareness and change attitudes by promoting respectful and non-violent relationships between all people.

But we need more avenues for men to speak out against violence against women, and to safely and effectively challenge the attitudes and behaviours of a minority of men who use or condone violence against women.



PRAY ABOUT IT

Lord, today we thank you for the men and boys who are already drivers of cultural change needed to prevent domestic and family violence in our communities. We ask that you continue to give these peacemakers wisdom, humility and understanding in their roles as leaders, supporters, counsellors and advocates.

We ask, Lord, that you would continue to raise up more men and boys to take a stand against aggressive and disrespectful attitudes and behaviours. We pray that championing the safety of women and children, and embodying gentle, respectful relationships will become a priority for all men, everywhere. Amen.



GO DEEPER

  • White Ribbon aims to raise awareness among Australian men and boys about the roles they can play to prevent violence against women. Male supporters can sign the White Ribbon oath here
  • Why don’t we speak up when we see domestic violence? Read more here

 



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A number of Men’s Behaviour Change programs for men who use violence and abuse are being run across the country. These programs differ significantly to ‘anger management’ courses as Men’s Behaviour Change programs deal specifically with the issue of domestic violence and invite men to explore their own behaviour and move towards non-violence and safe, respectful relationships. 

One of the key objectives of Men’s Behaviour Change programs is to help participants understand that violence is a choice, and that they are accountable for the choice to be abusive and the harm that results.

Research shows that a third of men who attend these kinds of programs will make significant and long-term changes, a third of men will make some change and a third of men will make no change at all.

Work with men who use violence and abuse can be considered high risk, controversial, and like all family violence work, hopelessly underfunded. However, without these kind of programs, family violence is unlikely to stop and may also be perpetuated into the next generation.

Men’s Behaviour Change programs, like the rest of the frontline support system, is chronically underfunded with men having to wait around three months for an assessment and then six months to attend a voluntary program.  There are also programs for boys who display violent and abusive behaviours, or for prison inmates who are incarcerated for less than six months.


PRAY ABOUT IT


God, we give you thanks that nothing is impossible with you, and that you open the door for repentance and forgiveness in the costly loving death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

Today, we lift to you, all those who want to change.
We pray for men who have learned to use violence to exert power and control over their partners and children, and who are attempting to change themselves and transform their relationships through Men’s Behaviour Change programs.
May your Spirit work within them to bring repentance and healing and a deep and genuine change in the way they treat others.

May they yield to your justice, placing themselves in positions where they can encounter sources of support and accountability as a means of practically working out this repentance and change. We pray for the counsellors and programs which seek to help those men - for strength, wisdom and more resourcing for this important work. 

Amen.


GO DEEPER

Can a violent man change? Watch Call Me Dad - a new documentary that follows a group of men as they undertake a Men's Behaviour Change program.

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Read these tips for men in challenging harmful attitudes and behaviours here

 Read about someone who works as a Men’s Behaviour Change program facilitator here

MRS provides anonymous and confidential telephone counselling, information and referrals to men to help them take action to stop using violent and controlling behaviour. Call: 1300 766 491 or visit www.mrs.org.au



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‘Aboriginal women are strong. They are survivors who have borne the brunt not only of all policies of colonisation enacted upon our people in this country, but also the ripple effects and trans-generational trauma for several decades. We have done so under extraordinary adversity yet we are still standing and we are still carrying on. And we are still amazing.’Celeste Liddel


VIDEO: Watch Archie Roach sing about domestic violence with his song “Walking into Doors

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Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience disproportionately high levels of family violence. An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander woman is 45 times more likely to experience domestic violence than a white woman, 34 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of domestic violence, three times more likely to be a victim of sexual assault. And 70 times more likely to be hospitalised for domestic violence brain injury[1]. Perpetrators of this abuse are both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people alike.



PRAY ABOUT IT

Prayer written by Larissa Minniecon, Facilitator of the Common Grace Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Justice Team.

 
O Great Spirit whose voice I hear in the winds, I am your child, one of your many, many children. I request that your Spirit be with the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples suffering Domestic Violence.

O Great Creator, 60,000 years ago you created Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples to be the custodians over this great south land of the Holy Spirit. We know that today due to colonisation, loss of identity, loss of country and loss of culture, racism and generational violence our Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples suffer from extremely high family and domestic violence.

We pray for our women to be strong and resilient, to have the courage to speak out and seek help. We pray that our women and men will receive the support they need and address the issues of violence within all our communities. We pray that our children will live in peaceful and loving environments without violence.

Hear my prayer. Amen.

 

GO DEEPER

Watch Jane and Tom’s story (filmed in Doomadgee, Qld) here

Read more from Celeste Liddle on her blog here

Read “Domestic abuse of Indigenous women a 'national crisis’



[1] Reporting on Family Violence in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Communities


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“I don't feel I'm treated like a human being. I just want to leave this situation and live in peace with my daughter. I don't want her to be exposed to all this humiliation against her mother. [1]"  - “Sarah”

Many women with disabilities are manifestly vulnerable to domestic violence. This is particularly so where their place of residence is in a group home, supported accommodation or institution.  Statistics indicate that 90% of women with intellectual disabilities have been sexually abused during their lives and that 68% of women with an intellectual disability will be subjected to sexual abuse before they reach 18 years of age[2].

Migrant women who are victims of domestic violence are also very isolated due to a lack of cultural awareness, language barriers and community support. Aspects of their migration experience such as the normalization of violence against women in their community of origin, their current isolation in Australia, a lack of or limited English language skills, visa sponsorship and/or spousal sponsorship, refugee status and a fear of being ostracized by their community if they speak out, all contribute to ongoing abuse in the home. 

We know that there is also domestic and family violence in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) community[3].  While the dynamics of abuse are the same as those present in abusive heterosexual relationships, there are very few frontline services geared towards the specific needs of the LGBTI community.



PRAY ABOUT IT

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge;

in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by.
I cry to God Most High, to God who fulfils his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me, he will put to shame those who trample on me.

God will send forth his steadfast love and his faithfulness. - Psalm 57:1-3
Lord, today we bring before you people in our communities who have experienced domestic violence in a context where they already confront social inequality and disadvantage. We are mindful today of the way in which our society often forgets and excludes those who, due to disability, cultural background or sexual orientation, fall outside the ‘mainstream’. May our personal and collective responses to abuse within all groups be truly inclusive. Amen.

GO DEEPER

  • More facts and figures about domestic violence and women with disabilities here
  • Women with Disabilities Australia - website
  • inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence - website
  • Another Closet – specialised support service for people in LBGTI relationships experiencing domestic violence

 

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-12/migrant-women-trapped-in-violent-relationships/5441630

 



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"For some reason I thought he was safer in an open space with people around and then you realise that you're not safe." - Rosie Batty, Luke's Mother

One in four children and young people in Australia are exposed to violence against their mother, as well as the atmosphere of fear and distress the violence creates. There is growing evidence that children who grow up in environments where violence is being perpetrated against their mothers don’t just witness domestic violence but truly experience it, whether or not they are present during violent incidents. Children can also be harmed when they intervene to protect their mother, and physical and sexual abuse of children is also more common in households where there is already domestic violence[1].

A recent NSW report found that over the last ten years, 238 homicides in NSW occurred in a domestic violence context. Out of that number, 55 were children, with the vast majority of those - 96 per cent - killed by a parent. Half of all child victims were under two years of age[2].

Research indicates that there is an increased risk of mental health issues, behavioural and learning difficulties from childhood exposure to domestic violence. Additionally, children exposed to violence in the home are more likely to commit or experience violence as adults[3].

There are around 44,000 young people who are currently homeless in Australia - 40% of the total homeless population. Domestic violence is the principal cause of homelessness for children and they will often end up with significant issues, such as mental illness, and drug and alcohol abuse, and the life-long consequences of not completing their schooling[4].


PRAY ABOUT IT

God our Father, we cry out to you on behalf of children who witness and experience domestic and family violence. We ask for intervention and safety.


Help us to recognise at risk children in our own communities. Place wise and skilled people in their lives – counsellors, social workers, youth workers, teachers, and pastors – who can provide strength and support through their fear and distress.

God, knowing that these children encounter intense physical and emotional trauma at the hands of ones they love, we ask that you would draw close to and comfort them. Heal their wounds. Free them from fear. Amen.


GO DEEPER


[1] http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4906.0Chapter3002012
[2] http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-24/domestic-violence-findings-nsw-police-training/6342152
[3] http://www.aic.gov.au/media_library/publications/tandi_pdf/tandi419.pdf

[4] https://www.missionaustralia.com.au/content/item/597-new-research-provides-insight-and-understanding-into-youth-homelessness



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Did you know that one in four young Australian men believe that controlling and violent behaviours are signs of male strength?  New research[1] shows that one in three young men and women believe ‘exerting control over someone is not a form of violence’. Also, more than a quarter of young people consider male verbal harassment and pressuring females for sex to be normal practices.

These attitudes display an urgent need for prevention strategies that help young people to develop healthy, safe, equal and respectful relationships.

The Man Cave - a new preventative mental health and emotional intelligence program for young men – is one of those strategies. The program facilitates workshops with boys aged 14-18 in high schools across the country.

The program tries to get teenage boys thinking differently about girls by exploring the social construct of male power and male domination. It teaches that just as masculinity does not equate to big muscles and toughness, being a woman doesn't equate to weakness and vulnerability.

 

PRAY ABOUT IT

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish." - Ephesians 5:25-27 NRSV

Lord, fill young people with your vision for loving, healthy relationships based on service and kindness. Give young people strong role models to help develop character. Help churches and youth groups offer real support and community to young people. Please grant wisdom to policy makers and educators as they deliver respectful relationship programs in schools. And may your love transform and your life-giving Spirit empower emerging generations to challenge stereotyped beliefs, to value one another, and to live holy and loving lives. Amen.

 

GO DEEPER



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“It's tough anyway because you're walking into someone else's home, which they deem is their kingdom. That's pretty hard and it's always high risk. Every time you go in you think 'anything could happen'."  - Sergeant Larissa Shaw, Logan, QLD

“It takes victims a long time to break away from the abusive cycle. Sometimes we go round to these people two, three, four times. We find that by the time we get involved, the offender has got absolute control over the victim.” - Senior Constable Brian Johnson, Mt Druitt, Sydney


Australian police handle one domestic violence matter every two minutes, an average of 657 cases of domestic violence every day[1].

Crucial services are still unable to meet current demands. Last year, 1800 RESPECT - the national crisis telephone line for sexual assault, domestic and family violence – was not able to respond to one-quarter of enquiries made to that service when someone called for help[2].

 

PRAY ABOUT IT

Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed…. you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands; the helpless commit themselves to you; you have been the helper of the orphan … Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear, to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that those from earth may strike terror no more. Psalm 10:12,14,17-18 NRSV


God, thank you that you do not forget those who are oppressed or terrified, that are in trouble or grief. Please draw near to those in trouble today.

Thank you for police and frontline responders who play such an immediate and significant role at times of crisis. Equip them with compassion and grace - they are your hands and feet in helping those in need.

Please pour out your boundless resources that the funding and services that are so desperately needed are made available in our nation. Amen.


 

GO DEEPER


[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-29/domestic-violence-data/6503734
[2] https://theconversation.com/budget-brief-where-is-the-new-help-for-domestic-violence-41428

 

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Domestic violence is one of the biggest causes of homelessness for women and their children and refuges continue to have an essential place in the response to domestic violence. While nothing keeps every woman safe, research consistently identifies two things as making women safer – going to a refuge and contacting a specialist domestic violence service.

Many shelters provide a range of essential supports for people fleeing violence. However, demand for shelters outstrips supply. More than half of all women who seek refuge are unable to be accommodated. Many feel that they have no choice but to return to abusive situations.

Domestic Violence Victoria sums up the systemic issue around funding: “Family violence services, and indeed the system broadly, are funded as though family violence is an individual, incidental and temporary problem – a marginal and private issue – rather than the complex, long-term and widespread social problem it is.”

“Funding is insecure, short-term, cyclical and subject to the vagaries of changing governments and policy agendas." [1]

 

PRAY ABOUT IT

Jesus, as we pray for those women and children who face homelessness because of violence, we remember that you too were homeless. You know what it is like to be without security, and to be hunted.  You know and you understand.

Together, we pray for shelter, stability and security for women and children facing homelessness. We pray that shelters would be well-resourced, and that they would never have to turn anyone away.

Activate our whole community to call for full funding for refuges, housing, counselling, legal and other essential support services. And give our nation’s leaders the will to respond. Amen.

 

GO DEEPER

  • To end the family violence crisis we need full funding of family violence services. Write a letter to key government Ministers as they develop the next federal budget.
  • An interesting article on the history of women’s shelters in Australia
  • Is there a women’s shelter in your town or city? Google ‘women’s shelter’ and your postcode to learn more about local refuge services. Could you and your church community put together care packages for women who have sought refuge with these services?

 

 [1] http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jul/13/the-family-violence-royal-commission-must-tackle-these-four-issues-to-suc



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Tomorrow, we’ll hear about and celebrate the great things that are happening within churches in response to domestic and family violence, but today we acknowledge that the church has not handled the issue of domestic and family violence well.  

‘So let's be clear for any Christians who missed the memo. The Bible says any abuse or aggression from one spouse to another, whether physical or verbal, is wrong... Jesus said the leadership his followers exercise is about serving others. Never, ever lording it over others. So don't be defensive. We can learn from others as we join in shining a light on domestic abuse.’
Sandy Grant (Senior Minister, St Michael's Anglican Cathedral in Wollongong)

"But that our churches are not as bad as others is no excuse … in fact, it’s an opportunity for the church to lead the way; to say it loud and say it often: the church won’t tolerate abuse, and women and children should never submit to violent men. Never ever."
Shane Clifton (Dean of Theology, Alphacrucis College)

Mark Conner, Senior Minister, CityLife Church in Melbourne, details what he says are the six failings of the church[1]:

  1. We have not done a good job of helping to prevent domestic violence, of confronting it when it does occur, nor of helping those involved - both the perpetrator and victim.
  2. There has been too much ignorance about the prevalence of domestic violence. Many church leaders have failed to believe that it can happen, even in Christian homes.
  3. There has been much erroneous teaching about ‘submission’, ‘authority’, and ‘obedience’ in the home. This has led to a culture of silence and acceptance.
  4. Preachers have not taught on this subject nor referred to it enough in their messages.
  5. Pastors and church leaders have not been equipped to address this matter nor have they equipped their congregation members with proper responses should domestic violence occur.
  6. Pastors have often emphasised forgiveness and repentance at the expense of a person’s welfare and safety.


Across Australian faith communities, there is now a growing awareness of the reality of violence that even occurs within our own churches. We want to see more churches committed to doing a better job at helping to prevent domestic violence, confronting it when it does occur, and offering help to those involved – both the victim and the perpetrator.

 

PRAY ABOUT IT

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou them, O God, which confess their faults. Restore thou them that are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.
- 1662 Book of Common Prayer


Father, please give us grace and insight to face uncomfortable truths about how the gospel has been misused and our church communities have been complicit in the abuse of women and children. Please help us not to downplay or deny our involvement, but help us to see our own individual and collective responsibilities.

For the times where we have sheltered and supported abusers in place of the abused, we are sorry, and we repent.

For the times where we have spoken, counselled or taught thoughtlessly or insensitively, or wrongly, we are sorry.

For the hurt that we have caused or perpetuated or excused, we are sorry.

We thank you that you are merciful and you take our wrongs so seriously that Jesus died for them. We ask that you would enable true and full repentance within us and our churches that healing and transformation would abound.

Amen.

 

GO DEEPER


[1] http://markconner.typepad.com/catch_the_wind/2015/06/responding-to-family-violence.html

 


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The Christian story is rich with the news of God’s passionate love for the oppressed and the vulnerable. Jesus always protects those in trouble and exposes evil. And God’s church is to be a place where resurrection life has broken in and relations between women, men and all creation are right and gracious, transformed by God’s Spirit. The promised future we all await is one of peace and justice, where violence and tears are banished and where Jesus reigns in loving service. We cry for God’s Kingdom to come!

We praise God that, more and more, there are churches and Christians who are recognising that domestic and family violence is far more prevalent than it should be within and outside the church, and are acting to ensure real change is made. We have been deeply encouraged by seeing both inter- and cross-denominational responses to domestic and family violence, and we celebrate the commitments church leaders have made to ensure that their churches are safe communities for women, children and families. Below are some examples of the variety of programs and initiatives that we’ve encountered, at both national and state levels.

National:

  • National Council of Churches in Australia: Safe Church Program - The Safe Church Program works with 34 denominations, setting standards for safety for children and vulnerable adults, including addressing issues of family violence.


New South Wales:

  • Anglican Diocese of Sydney’s taskforce - This domestic violence taskforce has been formed with the aim of improving the education of clergy, church workers, and lay membership in preventing and responding to domestic and family violence.
  • Hillsong: Colour Sisterhood donated 6,197 items (toiletries, bath and face towels, pyjamas and toys) for women and children seeking refuge from domestic and family violence in shelters in Sydney.


Queensland:

  • Queensland Churches Together: Joint Churches Domestic Violence Prevention Project (JCDVPP) - A coalition of 16 member churches in Queensland established the JCDVPP in 1991 to address the problem by raising the awareness of clergy and lay people through the publication of literature and workshops.
  • Churches of Christ, Gladstone: HopeLINK is a support group for men experiencing family crisis


South Australia:


Victoria:

  • Baptist Union of Victoria (BUV) - Over the last 18 months, the BUV has been equipping and informing Baptist church workers in various different spheres to respond well to victims and perpetrators. They have also developed a partnership with Crossway and NewHope Baptist Churches, to develop a church leader training pilot program that focuses on providing safe communities for women.
  • Anglican Diocese of Melbourne: Anglicans Helping to Prevent Violence Against Women - The Anglican Diocese of Melbourne provide resources to churches on domestic and family violence, along with advocating for preventative approaches to domestic and family violence which foreground a ‘Biblical commitment to gender equality, respectful gender relations and freedom from violence’.
  • Churches of Christ in Victoria and Tasmania - The 2015 Churches of Christ AGM passed a Resolution and Action Steps in response to domestic violence.


International:

  • World Vision Australia has been involved in developing a program called Channels of Hope to bring biblical teaching on gender relations and domestic and family violence in the Solomon Islands. This clip introduces the program.

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PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, God, that you are able to do powerful things in and through our churches.

Thank you that you have made us see domestic and family violence more clearly for the sin it is against you and the people you love.

We praise you that you have the power to change each of us – from the inside out. Make us more aware, and enable us to act on our awareness. Give us vision to see hope and more loving ways forward. Please work in each of us so that we can help our churches be places of care, safety, justice and truth for everyone.

Amen.

 

GO DEEPER

Common Grace's Domestic & Family Violence Justice Team's strategy is two-fold: to support the church in Australia as it seeks to 'get our house in order' AND to call the Australian government to urgent, well-resourced action. You can read about our hopes and plans here. We will keep you informed as together we go on this journey, but at the moment we have two questions:

  • Practical solutions for the church - We are keen to know what churches and Christians are already doing to address violence against women and their children. Does your church have a proactive strategy to address instances of family violence? Are you working to make change inside or outside of your faith community? Finally, have you ever disclosed abuse and been genuinely helped by a community of faith?
  • Creative and impactful events - We are keen to facilitate creative events around Australia that draw attention to domestic and family violence. We have some ideas, but we need willing supporters who can organise these events. Can you help?

We'd love to hear from you.

 

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Today, on International Human Rights Day, we come to the end of Common Grace’s 16 DAYS prayer campaign.

Domestic and family violence has exploded onto the public agenda this year. It has always been present in our community, but the tragedy of Luke Batty’s death and the rise of the voice of his courageous mother Rosie, has helped us to see the urgency of addressing it. Australia has found a moment which should not be lost if we are to make lasting change, to end violence in the hearts of our society – in our families.

We believe that Australia needs a coordinated national policy and service response to deal with it.

We also believe that we need to offer a personal, practical response to deal with it.

Each of us needs to be ready to offer support to those who need it.  Reaching out for help or offering it to someone who might be at risk is not easy. It is often an act of great bravery that comes with serious risk. Victims of domestic and family violence need to feel that when they ask for help they won't receive judgment and shame. Responding appropriately starts with how we discuss the issue at home, report it in the media and the support we offer victims.

We hope and pray that the experience of praying for 16 DAYS against domestic and family violence has been a powerful one for you. Even more than that, we hope and pray that God will use our prayers to end violence against women and children everywhere.

Please keep praying, learning, and advocating, and keep in touch if you’d like to get involved in future Common Grace campaigns!


PRAY ABOUT IT

You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.’  - Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

God we thank you that you give us the power to learn, grow and change. Thank you for what we have learned over these last 16 days.  We thank you that you have heard every one of our prayers, that they are precious to you. We thank you that you pay attention to every tear we have cried because of our own suffering or that of others. We thank you that you are able to bring about change in us and the world. We pray for those we know or suspect are suffering or at risk of family and domestic violence. What would you have us do to care for them? Please show us, and help us to help them. Amen.

 

GO DEEPER

  • If a friend, family member or colleague tells you she has experienced violence, the most important thing you can do is listen to her, believe her and make sure she knows you're there to support her. More on how to support someone you know who may be experiencing domestic violence here.
  • Keep on praying for Domestic & Family Violence with this downloadable pdf of the Lord's Prayer, print it out and stick it up on your wall to keep praying. You can see the text below:

 

Our Father in heaven, you are a good Father, who loves to give good gifts and who cares for us.

Hallowed be your name. May you be known as a God of justice and mercy and compassion and truth, by victims and perpetrators of domestic and family violence.

Your kingdom come. Bring the full resources of the kingdom for victims and perpetrators of domestic and family violence. Your kingdom upends oppressive powers and exalts the humble and low, brings healing to the wounded, and goes beyond outward appearance and reaches to the heart. Your kingdom brings together people of every culture, tongue and tribe in equality and grace and hope.

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We trust in your perfect will. Because you are completely good, we trust in the goodness of your will.

Give us this day our daily bread. Father we have many needs. Please give us the support we need to escape situations of violence. Please give us the compassion and wisdom to be supporters. Please give us hope through your gospel.

Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. God we ask for your forgiveness over our complicity, our apathy or our involvement in domestic and family violence. God please give us grace to forgive.

Lead us not into temptation. We are tempted to give up, or despair. Lead us away from that, into perseverance and hope. We are tempted to maintain cultures and habits which oppress and control. Lead us away from that, into respect and freedom.

And deliver us from evil. You have conquered all evil – all that is wrong within us, and without. There is no power that can stand against you. Please give freedom, healing and protection to all who need it.

 

Support our Family & Domestic Violence work by giving a 1st Birthday gift here.

 

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