The Archbishop of Canterbury has commended the work of Restored, as you can see from his quote on the front page of our website. This is to help draw attention to the gender-based violence that exists across all layers of society, including within the church itself. In a statement he said 'The Church of England has signaled its strong support for this work through the motion carried at the February 2014 General Synod'. Adding that he was 'grateful for the way that Mandy Marshall [co-Director, Restored] spoke powerfully to the Synod of the stark reality of gender-based violence in our own churches and what must be done to eliminate it.' Mandy spoke to the Archbishop and Synod about the case of a young Christian woman who, after escaping a partner who chose to abuse her, struggled to find help from within her own church.
The Archbishop’s commendation was picked up by the Sunday programme on Radio 4. Last weekend they interviewed Peter and Mandy as well a Christian survivor of abuse and a representative from the Ava Project (http://www.avaproject.org.uk/). We were able to talk about the fact that violence against women also happens in churches, that it can be exacerbated by inappropriate teaching and that Restored provides training for churches to be more aware and equipped to respond to the issues. You can hear the programme again at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04fy1cc#programme-broadcasts and our feature is about 16 minutes and 30 seconds into the programme.
'It happens in churches too' is the message Restored will be taking to Salisbury in September to help this diocese of the Church of England deal with the hidden scourge of violence against women in our communities and our churches. Josephine Wakeling, Training Manager, will deliver the church training. She will help churches and Christian organisations to identify signs of abuse and show what the church can do to help, as well as linking it with locally available professional services.
Restored has also produced a short resource document: Ending Domestic Abuse: a pack for churches. It includes a charter that Restored wants churches to adopt that will act as a public statement that the church condemns domestic violence as well as being a place that is available for information, care and support to victims.
Mandy noted that the church merits special attention in educating people about domestic abuse. She said: “Violence against women doesn’t just happen “out there”, it is happening in our churches too. Domestic abuse must no longer be a taboo subject that the church is reluctant to talk about. The church is well placed to serve the community at so many levels but domestic abuse has somehow slipped off its radar and our aim is to help churches put it firmly on their agenda.”
Restored is trying to raise funding for more rigorous research into levels of domestic abuse within the church. Mandy added: “Anecdotal evidence clearly shows that in many churches there are women who are victims of domestic abuse. If we can get some solid, academic research funded we will be able to establish patterns that will help us advise the church on where best to focus its efforts in countering and preventing violence against women.”