Becoming a Safe Place for Victims of Domestic Violence
May 15, 2012
Updated February 27, 2014
2 comments 147 views
This blog provides a summary of a workshop led by Stephen McMullin, with the Rave Project, at the recent Safe Church Conference.
In churches and classes, when we think of making our churches safe places, we often think of children and youth. But how knowledgeable are we about making our churches safe places for adults? What can we do as congregations to give adults a sense that this is a safe community in which they can safely be involved?
Some of the challenges churches face in becoming a safe community include:
To make churches safer places, leaders must begin by recognizing that some families in the congregation may be experiencing violence. You can’t tell from the outside who these families are. As important as it is to address domestic violence, it should not be done without having good policies and trained leaders in place. When domestic violence is addressed from the pulpit, it tells victims that this the church is a safe place, so leaders need to be ready to respond without putting victims in greater danger.
Steps to becoming a safer church include:
Half the battle in making our churches safer involves raising awareness that there is a difference between domestic violence and common marital problems. It’s about moving from a culture of hiding and silence to one that is open and expectant.
If we don’t care about domestic violence, it can destroy our witness. Victims of domestic violence need to know that the Gospel is good news for them and that the church is a safe place for them.
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I really cringe at the statement, "To make churches safer places, leaders must begin by recognizing that some families in the congregation are experiencing violence." In fact, I don't know that some families in my church (admittedly, quite small) are experiencing violence. It can very easily be counterproductive to assume "those families are out there," which quickly leads to "and our job is to figure out which ones they are."
I would suggest it more appropriate to know there may be families in my church who are experiencing violence.
Good point. I've made that edit. Our goal is raise awareness that domestic violence occurs in Christian families as well. Thank you for your feedback.
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