Domestic Violence: Hidden Reality

Helen Thorne | 18 Mar 2014

No-one really wants to admit it's there - especially in churches. We're God's precious family and we're supposed to act like it. That shouldn't include beating up your husband ... or wife ... or elderly parent. But, in families across the globe, it does.

Domestic violence is not just out there, it's common. According to The Crown Prosecution Service website nearly 1 million women in the UK experience at least one incident of domestic violence each year and, each week, 2 women are killed by their partner or ex-partner. And churches are not immune from the phenomenon.

Sometimes the violence is physically minor - the occasional slap - at the other extreme, life-threatening injuries are inflicted. Sometimes the violence is premeditated and extreme care taken to avoid any injuries that can be spotted; more often it's a heat of the moment response resulting in bruises that need to be covered with concealer or explained away by yet another fictional sporting injury or clumsy walk into a door. It's always a recipe for brewing a climate of fear. And invariably a sign of deep emotional and spiritual turmoil in those who are being hurt and those doing the hurting.

It can be hard to bring domestic violence into the light (on average, women endure 35 incidents of abuse before reporting it to the police). But God is not unaware and the church need not be inert in the face of this deeply distressing phenomenon. This week on The Good Book Blog, we're going to take a glimpse inside the world of domestic violence and prepare ourselves to pray and act.

Suzy Andrews

7:01 PM AEDT on March 18th
Thank you for raising this. A dear friend of mine once revealed what led up to her divorce. Her husband, a CofE minister, abused and humiliated her. She had no-one she could confide in, was ashamed, felt she was in some way to blame, was frightened. In the end a family member, outside the church, rescued her. It spurred me to keep praying for marriages, especially those of our pastors/ministers, and to be open to this possibility that the one who is to be "above reproach" may not be. Love them practically.

Helen Thorne

Helen Thorne is Director of Training and Resources at Biblical Counselling UK. She formerly worked with the London City Mission and has written Hope in an Anxious World, Purity Is Possible, Walking with Domestic Abuse Sufferers and 5 Things to Pray for Your City. She attends Dundonald Church in Raynes Park, London.