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Responding

If someone in your church confides in you about abuse, your response can make the difference. Learn the difference between helping and harming.

Content warning This page involves descriptions and discussion of the experiences and impacts of domestic and family violence. Some survivors might find its content troubling.

It is very difficult for a survivor of violence to share their story and experiences of abuse with someone. If you are that someone, a great deal of trust has been placed in you. It is vitally important that you try and assist that person as best you can – often it will be best to seek help from a professional.

Beware of your own needs to feel like a powerful expert. As a minister, as a leader, and as a friend, your skills may best be suited to working alongside the professional advice provided to your community members facing these challenges.

It is important to know that most victims will minimise and downplay their experiences of abuse. They will very rarely exaggerate. You will probably be only hearing one tiny aspect of the abuse they may have endured over an extended period of time. They may even want to protect the perpetrator by only revealing a small part of the abuse. This is why your response to their disclosure is paramount. They may be testing the waters to see if they can share the full story with you.

Christians have an incredible opportunity to really listen to survivors, believe them, communicate that belief to them, and sit with them in their darkest hour. Our role is not to advise, but to care. 1

It’s time to educate ourselves on how to act when domestic and family violence impacts our communities. It’s time to believe people when they confide in us about being a victim, or about being an abuser.

It’s time to respond.

In this section:

  1. http://www.smh.com.au/comment/domestic-violence-in-church-communities-the-male-clergy-who-are-ready-to-listen-20170810-gxtye0.html