Paula Glassborow reflects on her professional and church experiences working with people experiencing family violence, and calls us to acknowledge what we don’t yet know, and commit to learning more.
In Australia one in three women experience physical violence in their lifetime. One in six Australian women experience physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner, and one in four experience emotional abuse from a partner.
And these statistics are just the tip of the iceberg of the brutality and horror of this epidemic.
These statistics mean that within churches there are both victims and perpetrators. How the church and Christians respond to them is crucial in seeing justice, healing and transformation. In some cases, churches have responded to domestic & family violence in wonderfully supportive ways for victims. However sadly there have been countless times when the church has let women and children down, and sometimes put them even more at risk through disbelief, minimising the victim’s experience, or staying silent. This inadequate response must not continue.
Jesus always protects the vulnerable and exposes evil. We want to follow the example of Jesus: our model for equal, loving, and mutual human relationships.
We believe that the first instinct of Christians must be a genuine compassion for those who have been harmed in our communities. We at Common Grace hope that we can support churches and faith communities to be equipped to be safe and affirming places for women to disclose abuse. Where justice will be sought, action will be taken and real support offered. Victims need to have confidence that they will be heard and believed. That domestic & family violence will not be excused, that victims will not be blamed.
We recognise that gender inequality lies at the heart of domestic & family violence. That violent attitudes and behaviours have their root in the same place – the abuse of power and control of one person over another.
Common Grace is seeking to educate Christians and equip Churches to ‘get our houses’ in order. We also believe that governments have a major role to play and so we call the Australian government to urgent, well-resourced action.
Let’s stand in solidarity with those affected by domestic and family violence – united for the common good, together, finding common ground and sharing in common grace.
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Recognising where the Church has failed victims of domestic and family violence is the first step our churches must take in addressing this national problem. But it is not the only step.