There are good and bad ways to address domestic and family violence. Here is a short list, specifically written for ministers and leaders, but there are many more ways that can be found through the Resources (hyperlink) page of this website.

 

DO

DON’T

Believe the victim.

Someone comes to you and asks for your help. They may not seem like the “victim-type”, but they are saying to you that they are. Believe them and start helping them.

 

Belittle their problems.

It can be hard to believe that you are talking to a victim or a perpetrator of violence. Don’t excuse away what these people are saying to you, and don’t attempt to smooth over the situation by telling the person they may be overreacting. 

 

Meet practical needs.

Some victims live in their cars as they are unable to afford a place on their on in the first instance and have no other options. They need financial, practical, emotional and spiritual support.

Just pray for them.

Prayer is an important part of the Christian life, but often victims of domestic violence need more than this.

Refer on to professionals.

Now is the time to get help for your community members that will see them make important changes in their lives – before it’s too late.

 

Counsel and mediate.

Now is not the time to dust off your counselling skills textbooks. Humbly put aside your desire to be the couple’s guide at this time, and ask a professional to step in and help.

 

Advise caution

Often domestic violence will build over time. The habits of control and desire for power aren’t always exhibited violently, especially in the first instances. Advise on to professionals.

 

Advise returning

Do not advise a victim to return to their perpetrator. This is NOT your choice and is NOT safe.

Educate yourself

Understand the real statistics and stories of domestic violence. See our resources page for ideas on where to go from here.

 

Think you’ll “work it out as you go”

Domestic violence is not an issue that can be taken lightly. It’s not enough think that you can just play it by ear – your action could be the difference between life and death.

 

Talk about repentance

A perpetrator can make a change in their life – and needs to. It is right for them to be called to account for their violence and to turn away from this. Professional support – counseling and behavior programs – are helpful ways to help repentance take shape, practically.

 

Wrongly emphasise forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of the core tenets of the Christian faith – it is vital to who we are as believers. However, the idea of forgiveness has been used to pressure victims back into their abusive relationships – without adequate consequences and accountability for the perpetrator.

 

Think about your language

Language shapes our cultural norms. Think about the way you talk about your partner, your male and female friends. Think about what kind of language you use in different scenarios and ask yourself, is this healthy? Am I perpetuating a cultural norm, which I don’t believe, through my words?

 

Laugh off sexist comments

It might be a bit of “locker room humour”, or a joke between mates, but casual sexism contributes to a culture of violence. It’s slow, quiet creeping into our daily ideas and identities often creates patterns and behaviours which are unhealthy, and potentially dangerous.

 

Rethink your culture

Ask yourself, if my church open to both male and female leadership? Is it endorsing of both genders?

 

Reaffirm unhealthy power structures

Commission an audit of your church and leadership structures. Ask for help to identify potentially toxic structures and make a change. For help on this, go here (accountability worksheet?)

 

 

 

Do you need support?

The following Domestic and Family Violence support services are available: