Having experienced Domestic Abuse myself, I am passionate about supporting Domestic Abuse victims and have worked as a domestic abuse support worker since 2015, specialising in recovery groupwork, supporting around 100 women every year to rebuild their lives free from abuse.
From both a personal and professional perspective I have found that there is a lack of support for Christian women around the spiritual abuse that forms a major part of our experience, and in navigating the huge impact abuse inevitably has on our faith journey. For this reason I created Always Hopeful. I believe it is imperative that every church addresses the issue of Domestic Abuse: Why? Because the bible instructs us to.
“Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the Oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow”Isaiah 1:17
Many biblical scholars believe that ‘widows’ did not only refer to women whose husbands had died, but indeed any woman whose husband had broken their marriage covenant and therefore abandoned his wife.
How many times does the bible command us to care for widows?
Yet, research shows that 42.5% of Churchgoers report having experienced abusive behaviours in a relationship at some point in their lives, 25% report having experienced abusive behaviours in their current relationship. This means that more than a quarter of our congregations are affected by Domestic Abuse. We might think “this doesn’t happen in my church” but the evidence shows us that it does.
However, only 2 in 7 churchgoers consider their church to be well equipped to deal with a disclosure of domestic abuse
Our own sisters are experiencing abuse in epic proportions within our communities. Worse, perpetrators use their victims faith as a tool by which to oppress them. This typically leaves victims with a sense that God has abandoned them, or with a belief that they simply aren’t faithful enough for God to answer their prayers for the abuse to stop.
There are many brilliant secular recovery programmes available that I would encourage survivors to attend, but there are no programmes at all that explore spiritual abuse and help women to find answers to the questions that abuse typically causes them to ask.
Sadly, many people who experience abuse lose their faith. You have an opportunity to change this story. You have an opportunity to play a part in making sure faith is a source of strength and healing for victims, rather than their religion being a tool of oppression. This takes all of us, we all have a role to play in this.
Have a look at the Always Hopeful Programme pages to see how we can partner with each other to be a part of the solution. Check out the training and seminars I can bring to your church to help you really make a difference, subscribe to my blog and facebook page and join a thriving community determined to end the epideminc of violence against women in our churches.
If you’re looking for general domestic abuse resources free of Christian content please have a look at ANEW.