Violence against women is everywhere. It can be seen throughout history and is independent of your culture, socio-economic status and religion. It is the most common but least punished crime in the world. Yet it is still hardly talked about.
There have been a few cases of domestic violence that got the world talking. In 2009, Chris Brown abused Rihanna and the world was in outrage. In 2013, photographs of Charles Saatchi with his hand around then wife Nigella Lawsons’ throat were published and again the media stories were endless. Sadly, attacks such as these are common and yet are often ignored. In fact, in the UK a staggeringly high 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence and it causes 2 deaths a week.
How then do we begin to tackle this? We must get the conversation going around domestic violence and educate ourselves and others about what is and what is not acceptable. The church is in a prime position to help as not only is it prevalent throughout the world, but people often turn to it in times of need. Sadly however, victims can be let down by the advice they are given and there are still many misconceptions about domestic violence. When Christianity magazine and Restored conducted a survey within the church community they found that 40% of the people asked said that they had experience of their partner using intimidation to get their own way. 16% agreed with the statement that domestic violence takes place because women do not submit to their partner.
The church must address both these harmful actions and beliefs and begin to teach more on this area.
When topics are ignored, misunderstandings can occur, so when reading the Bible it is important that people are taught the correct interpretation of certain verses that could otherwise be twisted to condone abuse. Both men and women need to be informed about domestic violence, be able to spot the signs and know what to do when it occurs. Train your church to effectively deal with cases and teach about healthy relationships. Start conversations so that these misunderstandings do not continue and future generations of women - your daughters and grand-daughters - are not subject to abuse that could have been prevented now.
So let’s talk about domestic violence. Let's educate ourselves, your church, spread awareness and together we can stop violence against women.
If you feel that you might be in an abusive situation, help is on hand. You can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247, or speak to Refuge using their online chat function. You can also get in touch with our Survivors' Network - we're not an emergency service or helpline, but we can stand alongside you as you access the support you need.