Quick escape (ESC)

Why preventing domestic and family violence is a key faith issue

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.

Domestic and family violence is one of this nation's leading criminal justice, health and wellbeing issues. This is why it is also a key faith issue.

"Nobody should be more horrified by emerging stories of abuse and of grossly damaging advice from pastors than the church itself, and an honest assessment of the situation – regardless of what it uncovers, good news and bad – is crucial to finding a way forward."

Natasha Moore & John Dickson, Centre for Public Christianity

The key role of leaders

Church leaders are uniquely positioned to respond helpfully in situations of domestic abuse. Frequently pastors and leaders have the opportunity, and the challenging responsibility, to minister to both the victim and the perpetrator of the abuse.

Unfortunately, formal training and preparation for ministry have not equipped most leaders to understand, recognise, or know how to respond appropriately to domestic violence. Well-meaning words can actually reinforce an abuser’s power and undermine the victim’s efforts to get free from the abuse. Or sometimes pastors miss the indicators of abuse entirely, and go on as though it does not exist in their community.

Abuse thrives in conditions of silence. Perpetrators then continue their abuse, and victims are left to suffer in isolation, assuming their church does not care or is powerless to help.