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How you can make two wishes come true

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11 December 2015

Restored, a member of Micah, have just completed 16 Days of Activism as part of a global campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence and its devastating impact upon individuals, families and churches. Yesterday was International Human Rights Day, and Peter  Grant, Co-director of Restored published the following blog encouraging everyone to take action against the injustice of violence against women.

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How you can make two wishes come true

Since Mandy and I founded Restored five years ago, we’ve had the privilege of speaking with many, many Christian women who have experienced domestic abuse and violence. And, if you ask them to reflect on their experiences and what might have helped them, two key themes arise:

The first is “I wish I’d understood that it was abuse”. Domestic abuse doesn’t always involve physical violence. It often involves other types of control – for example, unreasonably limiting your access to money, stopping you from seeing friends and family, threatening or humiliating you. Often a relationship that seemed to start out well can change over a period of time, without a woman realising that her partner is now abusing her.

The second is “I wish I’d been able to turn to my church for help.” It takes enormous, uncommon courage for a survivor of abuse to tell others of their situation. But those that do talk to a church leader are often met with disbelief, or are told to ‘try harder’. Perpetrators of domestic abuse can seem, to the outside world, to be quite charming. This makes it all the harder for others to believe that they could be capable of abuse.

Today is International Human Rights Day. God calls each one of us to stand up against injustice. And, with 1 in 4 women experiencing domestic abuse, this is surely one of the greatest injustices of our generation. How can we help to right it? 

  • We need to make more people in our churches aware of the extent of domestic abuse, and lobby for church leaders to make addressing it a much higher priority.
  • We need to raise awareness of what behaviour constitutes domestic abuse, so that women better understand when they are in an abusive relationship – and seek help sooner.
  • We need to train churches to become a place of safety and to offer compassionate support so that more women experiencing domestic abuse feel able to come forward for help.
  • And we need the men in our churches to take this issue seriously, to speak out against it, so that it becomes unacceptable – in churches, and in wider society.

Restored is actively engaged in all these areas. We’ve trained leaders of over 500 UK churches since March. Our new Church Pack is out in January, which will give churches a basic grounding in what domestic abuse is and how to address it. We’ve already developed a range of other resources for churches too. We’ve raised awareness of domestic abuse amongst Christians through media campaigns, public speaking and events, in the UK and overseas. Over 1000 people have joined our First Man Standing campaign, aimed at involving men in ending domestic abuse. And we’re in the process of developing a Survivor’s Network for Christian women who have experienced abuse. Internationally, we're working with partners to resource and train churches in Latin America, Africa and India.

We’ve come a long way in the five years since we launched. But there is much to do. Government funding for services around domestic abuse is being cut back whilst domestic abuse is on the rise. More than ever, we need our churches to speak out against it and to support those women experiencing it. 

We want women survivors of domestic abuse to be able to say, “I’m glad I knew it was abuse, so that I could seek help” and “I’m glad I was able to turn to my church to get the support I needed”.