Shattering the Silence of Abuse
The brochure Shattering the Silence about Abuse: Support for Clergy, published by the Rave Project, is a tool church leaders can use when considering their readiness to tackle issues related to abuse in the congregation.
The Rave Project’s mandate is to equip religious leaders to respond to domestic violence in ways that are compassionate, practical, and informed by the latest research and best practices for professionals.
On the Rave Project's website, and in the brochure mentioned above, Nancy Nason-Clark, Ph.D. shares a top ten checklist for considering whether a church is well equipped to respond to individuals experiencing domestic violence. The list includes the following questions:
- Do you offer a listening ear? “Without a doubt,” the website states, “one of the single most important ingredients in assisting a woman or man who has been violated is the offer of a listening ear.”
- Does your church washroom offer information about abuse? The Rave Project website suggests placing a brochure, a card, or a sticker for the emergency battered women’s shelter on the door of each stall in the washroom inside your church where people can access the information in private.
- Does your congregation, or ministry groups within it, partner with the local transition house? Churches and church leaders should have a well-developed relationship with the local shelter and know what services are available for victims of domestic violence.
- Is violence ever discussed in your church youth group? “We need to get the message out loudly and clearly: an abusive relationship is wrong; it is never part of God’s design for healthy living,” states the Rave Project website.
- Do you make appropriate referrals to the resources in your community? Church leaders should acquaint themselves with local agencies that can help and understand how referral processes work.
- Is violence discussed in your pre-marital counseling? During pre-marital counselling, clergy have a wonderful opportunity to point out that peace and safety—and never violence—are primary features of a Christian family.
- Do you realize the importance of spiritual resources for victims of abuse? Spiritual support is important! Reading a Bible passage together and offering a prayer can make a big difference for individuals who are suffering.
- Do you share the load amongst the flock? Pastors cannot bear this load alone; it must be shared with other church leaders.
- Do you offer ministry opportunities to those who have received the care and counsel of the church? In time, those who receive care might become empowered to care for others.
- Do you hold abusers accountable for their actions? As church leaders, we need to condemn violence.