Loving our neighbour where there’s domestic abuse
Two thousand year ago, Jesus’ brother James asked the church: “What’s causing all the quarrels and fights among you?” (James 4:1)
It would seem tensions were running high, and people were losing their temper.
That might sound familiar.
Our lockdown world has created pressures and exacerbated tensions across the world as people are locked in together with health worries, money worries and no idea how to help their kids with their maths homework.
It’s easy to answer James’ question with a hundred reasons; the kids won’t be quiet, somebody wasted the last egg, I spend my life clearing up after people and/or I just need some space.
James, however, doesn’t have time for those kinds of answer, instead he invites his readers to look at the selfish desires within themselves, at the personal insecurities that cause them to lash out. He encourages Christians to pray prayers that go beyond personal wish lists and that really invite God to work transformation in their lives.
What James doesn’t do is make it OK or excusable to lash out and hurt the people around us. In every home, people are desperate to get out and get some space. For some, that desperation is very real. Families who were walking on eggshells before lockdown, now have no let up, no place to escape and feel like they have no one to turn to. And they’re getting hurt. Early statistics suggest that domestic abuse has increased significantly since lockdown.
Domestic homicides have more than doubled in the UK, calls to national domestic abuse helplines have risen by 125% and these figures, as much as we hate to believe it, are reflected in our congregations. Research commissioned by Restored in 2018 showed that 1 in 4 church goers had experienced an act of abuse in a current relationship.
We can’t look the other way.
As church leaders we’re called to look out for our flocks and protect them from danger, and as much as this pandemic has filled our minds, we mustn’t forget that other dangers exist. We’re to create a safe place to find refuge, and that isn’t just a comfortable pew on a Sunday morning, it might be a very real refuge for a family escaping violence.
1 in 4 church goers had experienced an act of abuse in a current relationship.
Domestic abuse is a hidden danger, but we follow a God who knows no boundaries and who sees everything.
Can I ask you to spend some time as you pray today, asking the Holy Spirit to guide you to those families in your care who might need you to check in on them, to give you a spirit of discernment and the courage and wisdom to step up to the challenge?
Restored’s website has a huge wealth information & resources around how the church can respond to domestic violence particularly during Covid 19
They’d also be delighted to support church leaders who would like to know more- get in touch here
Restored are also running a series of Tea Time Talks
These are 15 minute talks about key subjects regarding domestic abuse and how to respond more appropriately.
They will take place on Mondays at 4:00 (tea time!) starting on the 4th of May.
For more information click here
The 24/7 National Domestic Abuse helpline is free to call on 0808 2000 247.
The Respect Phoneline provides confidential advice and support to help perpetrators stop being violent and abusive, and is free to call 0808 8024040
Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327 a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic violence and those supporting them www.mensadviceline.org.uk
Karma Nirvana: 0800 5999 247 Mon to Fri 9am–5pm supporting victims of honour based abuse and forced marriage www.karmanirvana.org.uk
Hour Glass: 0808 808 8141 challenging the abuse of older people in all its forms www.wearehourglass.org
Galop LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 999 5428 www.galop.org.uk
Childline: 0800 1111 If you’re a child or young person and domestic abuse is happening in your home or relationship.
For more information about support services that are available, go to https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/daa/domestic-abuse/