GUEST BLOG: Having attended our training, Stephen Roberts shares his reflections.
I’ve always been aware that domestic abuse occurs in churches but it’s not something that’s talked about very much. In fact, if I’m honest I have only very rarely been involved in conversations that address the subject. The rise in the number of reports of domestic abuse, which I have been profoundly conscious of in recent times, is part of what motivated me to think more deeply about how we in the churches can respond to the situation. To help me in that, I attended the Tea Time Talks delivered by Restored, which were a great source of insight that deepened my understanding of the issues.
In the first session, we covered 'What is Domestic Abuse?' Although I knew that domestic abuse is much bigger and broader than physical violence, my focus has tended to be on that particularly disturbing and obvious (if often hidden) manifestation. The prolonged, sustained, evolving and systematic nature of abuse is something that has stayed with me as something that must be so terrible to live with and so hard to make sense of. Those in pastoral roles must be alert to this possibility in our churches and do all they can to respond as agents of God’s liberating love and justice.
In the fourth session, we covered the question 'Why Doesn't She Leave?' If I’m honest, this is a question that I have sometimes wondered about. I know that there are lots of complex answers to that question. But one thing that really struck me in this session is the potentially damaging and dangerous role of certain interpretations of the Bible in making it difficult to leave; and the need for explicit preaching/teaching in this area.
These are complex questions and it can be difficult to know how best to be ministers of God’s love to women caught in abuse. But we need not feel trapped or isolated in facing these challenges. By thinking through some of these issues, I began to see how faith – whilst sometimes contributing to the problem – can be a source of liberation and hope.
Tea Time Talks
A series of five free training sessions aimed at equipping church leaders to prevent and respond to domestic abuse. We run Tea Time Talks each Monday during term-time at 4 pm.
Grab yourself a cuppa and a pen, and take some time out to equip yourself better to understand the issue of domestic abuse.