AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Family and Domestic Violence is defined primarily as violence and
abuse perpetrated upon a partner in a marriage. It is used to gain
control over the partner and then to maintain that control.
Violence also occurs in other close relationships. A person may
be threatened, molested, harassed or attacked by someone in a
relationship or with whom he or she shares a household. Carers,
such as sons and daughters may abuse older people.
Domestic and family violence is abhorrent to God who would have
partners in a marriage live as examples of the loving relationship that
exists between Christ and his ecclesia.
It is in direct opposition to the commandment that we love one
another “as I have loved you” (John 13:34).
Men, women and children have a right to live safely and free of
fear within their own homes in relationships that promote the
development of a God-like character. Ephesians 4:15-16
Domestic violence damages the well-being and future life chances
of men, women and children.
Domestic violence occurs across all cultural and socio-economic
Domestic violence is perpetrated by men in 95% of reported cases.
Acts of domestic violence and its consequences are the sole
responsibility of the perpetrator.
Domestic assault is a crime.
The safety and ongoing protection of men, women and children who
have experienced or are experiencing domestic violence are paramount
considerations in any response.
Essential to any response are early identification, appropriate
intervention and long-term solutions to provide for the spiritual
well-being and life chances of men, women and children who have to
grapple with the issues of domestic and family violence.
On-going education and programs to promote an understanding of
the Scriptural role of men, women and children are needed to ensure
loving relationships exist within homes and families.
Any response to domestic violence requires a consistent and
planned approach in ecclesias and across the Christadelphian community.
Domestic violence is abhorrent to God, (Proverbs 21:7) and is a
crime punishable by law. All acts of physical and sexual violence
constitute assault and are criminal offences.
Domestic violence occurs in all age groups, income levels, ethnic
and cultural groups. TOP
A small minority of cases of domestic violence involves violence
perpetrated by women against their male partner.
Children who witness domestic violence or experience violence in
the home can be profoundly affected.
Although some domestic violence cases present as obvious abuse,
and men and women may speak openly about the problem, the majority of
abuse cases remain hidden. Much
domestic violence goes unreported by women for fear and safety reasons.
For this reason, it is important to be aware of indicators of domestic
OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
There are five broad categories of domestic violence:
assault includes slapping, pushing,
punching, kicking, choking, or use of weapons against a partner to
inflict injury. All acts of
physical assault are criminal offences.
abuse is the use of language, threats,
insults and abuse to denigrate or degrade the victim. Such abuse may
destroy a sense of worth, undermine self-confidence and challenge
perceptions of reality. Threats to children's well-being and safety as
well as damage to property are also used by perpetrators to inflict
psychological and emotional abuse.
abuse refers to social and geographic
isolation imposed upon a partner by conduct that impedes or curtails
access to family and friends, the ecclesia and community agencies
including welfare agencies.
abuse refers to the controlling and
withholding of access to family resources including money and the
purchase and ownership of goods and property.
assault is a criminal offence. It includes
a range of sexually abusive and exploitative behaviours including rape -
with or without use of threats or other violence being inflicted,
indecent assaults, and forced viewing of pornography.
These behaviours are used to instil fear and to maintain power
and control over the victim.
PROCEDURES WHEN FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS REPORTED OR SUSPECTED
Family and domestic violence is an abuse of power.
It is not an issue of communication or misunderstanding in
relationships. The aim of
the perpetrator is to maintain control and to discredit those who may
move to expose the abuse. The
perpetrator may present as one who is powerless and blame those who
threaten to expose the abuse. Domestic
violence is not a relationship issue; it is an abuse of power and
is an illegal behaviour. (Proverbs 21:24 and Proverbs 22:10)
As family and domestic violence and any other sorts of abuse are illegal
behaviours, the ecclesial role needs to be one, which holds the
perpetrator accountable. Mediation
or reconciliatory responses may endanger the more vulnerable when abuse
and violence is present. There
needs to be clear evidence of a change of behaviour (repentance) on the
part of the perpetrator. The
aim is to help all parties in their spiritual walk.
Below are listed some guidelines to assist in that process.
OF AN ABUSED WOMAN
Often blames herself, but knows the violence is not
what she wants.
Continues to look
for ways to make the relationship work.
Can feel very
sympathetic towards the abuser whilst being distressed about the abuse.
May be very
compliant especially with men in authority.
May be so frightened
of the abuser that she continues to stay in the relationship despite the
risks to her and her children.
May feel guilty and
have a lot of self doubt about her choices.
May be depressed or
have other constant ill health issues.
TO DO IF A WOMAN REPORTS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BY HER HUSBAND
Respect the report, she is unlikely to be lying.
Her report of violence is probably only the tip of the iceberg.
Reassure her that she does not deserve this treatment.
It is not God’s will for her.
Ask her what she wants from the AB’s by exposing this issue.
Protect her confidentiality.
Don’t minimise her experience.
Say something like…. “From what you have told me, I am very
much concerned for you (and your children’s safety).
Pray with and for her for God’s guidance as she goes through
this valley of tears.
Emphasise that her husband has broken the vows he made before God
at their marriage to love and honour her.
Encourage her to think about a safety plan for herself and her
children. (See Attachment
Encourage her to find information that will assist her (and the
children) to prayerfully consider her future course of action.
Contact your local support/care group for resources to assist
Do not recommend she seek couple counselling.
This may place her and her children at emotional and physical
Encourage her to seek professional help for herself and her
When talking to either party see them separately (at least in the
Don’t encourage her to forgive the perpetrator or overlook his
behaviour unless there is clear evidence of a change of heart on the
part of the perpetrator (repentance).
Scripture encourages a change of heart and this is reflected in a
change of behaviours and attitudes. Perpetrators of violence need God’s help coupled with
extensive professional help to challenge their thinking and behaviour.
Encourage her to find a spiritual path through the situation and
to find freedom from the fear of violence.
Do not attempt to counsel beyond your expertise.
Be aware that those who are helping her may also be at risk.
OF CHILDREN LIVING WITH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Research has identified two types of reactions among the young who are
affected by family violence: externalising behaviours (such
as delinquency and aggression) and internalising behaviours (such
as withdrawal and anxiety). The
impact of violence on children and young people at various stages of
their development include the following
Infants may exhibit poor health and sleeping habits
and excessive screaming, are reactive to their environment, when
distressed they cry, refuse to feed or withdraw and are particularly
susceptible to emotional deprivation.
Toddlers suffer distress when witnessing violence and
can often experience behavioural problems such as frequent illness,
severe shyness, low self worth and may be troublesome when in the care
of others. They may develop
social problems such as hitting, biting or being argumentative.
Girls are more likely to become withdrawn, passive, clinging or
anxious. Boys are more
likely to exhibit aggressive behaviour.
Pre-schoolers interpret most events in relation to
violence, they may believe they have caused it and suffer acute
distress. Some children
display distress openly, some hide it, some “act out and exhibit
physical and verbal aggression” - all experience strong mixed
Primary school children begin to learn that violence
is an appropriate way of resolving conflict in human relationships.
They often have difficulties with school work and girls in this
age group have been found to have the highest clinical levels of
aggression and depression. Other
indicators are difficulty in concentrating, fighting with peers,
rebelling again adult authority, suffering anxiety and withdrawal.
Adolescents access networks outside the family.
They have begun to form opinions about the violence and often
regard the victim as being responsible.
Having lived with violence they may find it difficult to engage
in more positive forms of social interaction.
Girls are more likely to develop depression, boys more likely to
exhibit aggression, sometimes assaulting their mother or siblings.
“Acting out” in inappropriate ways may indicate a difficulty
at home. Ongoing conflict
between parents has a profound influence on adolescent development and
future adult behaviour, and can be the strongest predictor of violent
delinquency, severe marital violence and potential child abuse and
increased psychological stress.
TO DO FOR CHILDREN WHO ARE WITNESSES OF FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Remember children are at risk in domestic violence situations and
Encourage their parents to seek help for children·
Provide local numbers and information for children’s services·
Encourage as much normal interaction as possible with violent
free activities (and settings)
TO DO IF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS SUSPECTED OR AN ECCLESIAL MEMBER REPORTS
THE POSSIBILITY OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN THE ECCLESIA
We have a duty of care for one another and it is not God’s will
that these things remain hidden. It is important that the perpetrator be encouraged to confess
his sins and seek forgiveness from the person(s) wronged. It is essential that this be accompanied by “works meet for
Be aware of safety issues for the victim or victims. They need to
feel as safe and secure as possible.
(Does the victim have somewhere to live, have access to finances
etc.) They carry the secret of the abuse and will probably be frightened
if approached to talk about the violence (and may deny it is happening
Does the victim have trusted friends in the ecclesia or are they
Does the victim have
strong family support?
Is the perpetrator isolated in the ecclesia, or do they have
Have safety information, phone numbers, local resources
Take time to talk to the victim and observe how they are.
OF PERPETRATOR BEHAVIOUR
May deny the abuse happened.
May minimise the abuse, blame the victim, justify
Talk about women/men in derogatory, disrespectful
Denigrate women’s/men’s intelligence, ability to
manage money, parenting abilities etc.
Have bad relationships with opposite sex.
Blame others for abuse (eg families, ecclesia, work
stress, financial issues etc).
May be “over-protective” of partner and family
(this can be the smothering of them and their attempts to lead their own
Be excessively angry about everything.
Be remorseful/weepy when she leaves.
Does not want to be responsible about the violence.
Makes her appear unreasonable.
TO DO FOR THE PERSON PERPETRATING THE VIOLENCE
Hold him accountable at all times.
Do name the violence as his issue, not hers.
As long as he perpetrates violence his spiritual walk is
Don’t confuse remorse with true repentance (repentance brings
the need to bring restitution and an understanding of the impacts of
violence). (1 John 1:9)
Encourage him to control his behaviour, not hers.
Help him face his behaviour and its consequences.
Do pray with him and for him and assure him of your support in
his efforts to overcome the violence.
Encourage him to seek professional help.
Provide a package of local resources, phone number, web addresses
where information can be accessed.
Do address any religious rationalisations he may offer.
Violence is never acceptable.
Do assess him for suicide or threats of homicide.
DO warn those against whom he has made threats
Don’t go to him to confirm her story.
This places her and the children at risk.
Remember violence happens in the home, when others are not there
Don’t give him information about her whereabouts (if she has
Don’t accept his attempts to rationalise, blame, deny or
justify, gently hold him accountable. (Say something like….“How does
it help you to keep blaming her?”)
Don’t be taken in by his “conversion”.
If it is genuine, it will be strength to him as he moves towards
being more accountable. If
it is another way to manipulate you and others, it endangers people.
Scripture teaches that a change of heart needs to be genuine and
this occurs over time. For
the perpetrator, if this is so, it will be seen through a recognition of
personal accountability for their violent behaviour and a need for
Do not attempt counselling beyond your expertise.
CAN ECCLESIAL MEMBERS DO TO SUPPORT VICTIMS AND PERPETRATORS OF FAMILY
AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Support those who disclose abuse and those who speak out against
Help to find resources to support either party.
It is unlikely that she is lying.
Talk to victim and accept her story.
Encourage her to move through the losses that she may experience
(eg, loss of partner, homelife, hopes of unity in walking together etc).
Talk to the perpetrator and encourage them to accept their
Don’t accept blame, justification, rationalisations as an
excuse for the violence.
Give the children
opportunity for normal interaction free from violence where they can
experience safety to just “be” children.
following information may be of use to the victim of domestic and family
you are in an abusive relationship, think about….
Having important phone numbers nearby for you and your children.
Numbers to have are the police, hotlines, friends and the local
Ecclesial member, friends or neighbours you could tell about the
abuse. Ask them to call the
police if they hear angry or violent noises.
If you have children, teach them how to dial 000.
Let others know a code word that if you use means you
How to get out of your home safely.
Practice ways to get out.
Safer places in your home where there are exits and no weapons.
If you feel abuse is going to happen try to get your abuser to
one of these safer places.
Any weapons in the house. Think
about ways that you could get them out of the house.
Even if you do not plan to leave, think of where you could go.
Think of how you might leave.
Try doing things that get you out of the house – taking out the
rubbish, walking the pet or going to the shops.
Put together a bag of things you use everyday (see checklist).
Hide it where it is easy for you to get.
Go over your safety plan often.
you consider leaving your abuser, think about….
Four places you could go if you leave your home.
People who might help you if you left.
Think about people who will keep a bag for you.
Think about people who might lend you money. Make plans for your pets.
Keep change for phone calls or get a mobile phone.
Open a bank account or get a credit card in your name.
How you might leave. Try
doing things that get you out of the house – take out the rubbish,
walk the pet or go to the shops. Practice
how you would leave.
How you could take your children with you safely.
There are times when taking your children with you may put all of
your lives in danger. You
need to protect yourself to be able to protect your children.
Put together a bag of things you use everyday.
Hide it where it is easy for you to get.
TO TAKE IF POSSIBLE
(if it is safe)
Keys to car, house, work
Important papers for you and your children
Health card, credit cards, Centerlink identification
School and medical records
Mortgage payment info, unpaid bills
Domestic Violence Order
Any legal documentation
Photos, jewellery, things that mean a lot to you
Items for your children (toys, blankets etc)
His tax file number
Think about reviewing your safety plan often.
you have left your abuser, think about….
Your safety – you still need to.
Get a mobile phone.
Get a Domestic Violence Order (protection order) from the court.
Keep a copy with you all the time. Give a copy to the local
police, people who take care of your children, their schools and your
Change the locks. Consider
putting in stronger doors, smoke detectors, security system, outside
Tell friends and neighbours that your abuser no longer lives with
you. Ask them to call the
police if they see your abuser near your home or the children.
Tell people who take care of your children the names of people
who are allowed to pick them up. If
you have an order protecting your children give their teachers and
baby-sitters a copy of it.
Tell someone at work about what has happened.
Ask that person to screen your calls.
If you have a protection order that includes where your work,
consider giving your boss a copy of it and a picture of the abuser.
Think about and practice a safety plan for your workplace.
This should include going to and from work.
Ensure bank accounts, mobile phone statements (all identifying
information) go to a safe address where the abuser does not have access
to the information.
Not using the same shops or businesses that you did when you were
with your abuser.
Someone that your can call if you feel down.
Call that person if you are thinking about going to a support
group or workshop.
Find a safe way to speak with your abuser if you must. Consider putting in an answering machine to filter calls.
Go over your safety plan often.
try to control their victim’s lives.
When abusers feel a loss of control – like when victims try to
leave them – the abuse often gets worse.
Take special care when you leave.
Keep being careful even after you have left.
SOME SCRIPTURAL CONSIDERATIONS
God equates violence to faithlessness.
Violence is antagonistic and therefore offensive to God.
Luke 3:14 “Do
violence to no man” a clear scriptural injunction to those who have
the power to oppress.
Psalm 11: 5.
God’s “soul hates him that loves violence”
Malachi 3:15 God
desires Godly offspring and that is not possible where violence is
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
We are Gods holy temple – the violence of mankind cannot dwell
with God’s spirit
Violence and wickedness are considered to be evil.
This Psalm also gives insight into the heart of a violent man,
despite what he might be saying
Also links violence, oppression and deceit..the heart of a person
who uses violence
Each partner is to submit to each other out of reverence to
Christ. Submission is an
act of will, not a forced event
Love your neighbour as yourself – Christ did not say love your
neighbour at the expense of
yourself, this also means not accepting abusive behaviours
This piece of Scripture describes a unity where each part is
supportive of others, in love.
1 Corinthians 7:4-5.
Although not specifically talking about abuse in this passage, it
does give guidelines about what to do when couples separate.
Devote oneself to prayer, this is true for all parties.
Spiritual retreat may be necessary to find the mind and spirit of
1 John 1:9
Confession of sins is necessary before God, if we are to seek
forgiveness. There is a
clear scriptural process. First
confession, second repentance (which is a godly sorrow – see 2nd
Corinthians 7:10), third restitution or reparation (Leviticus 6:4)
It is easy to believe a man of violence, he uses enticing words