Domestic abuse affects large numbers of people both inside and
outside the church, and children as well as adults. The Methodist
church has worked with partner churches and agencies to bring about
the second of two reports for Conference.
What is the history behind the report?
Women's Network and Family and Personal Relationships
commissioned research into Domestic Violence and the Methodist
church in 1999. Work was done by Dr. Loraine Radford and Cecilia
Cappell of University of Surrey, Roehampton, Southlands College and
funded by Southlands College Methodist Centre. Their findings were
published in the report," Domestic Violence and the Methodist
Church, The Way Forward ?" which was taken to the Methodist
Conference in 2002.
The resolutions from that report ensured that further work would
be done, based on these findings, which would look at theology,
training, monitoring and good practice.
Why has the title changed?
As more was learnt about the nature of Domestic violence so it
became apparent that the word 'violence' did not include all the
aspects of victimisation that were being reported. By using the
word abuse it was felt a more accurate picture was given of just
what the issue is about.
What is the second report saying?
The writers of the second report believe that any behaviours
that contravene the intention of God's creation should be
considered sinful. That where power is used to control and
manipulate it is not being used for the right purposes that God
intended, of enabling and empowering people to be all that God
desired for them. That the church must become open and transparent
so that the hidden evil of abuse can be brought out and dealt with
and victims, survivors and perpetrators can be nurtured back to
full life with sympathy and with justice.
How do we know that Domestic abuse is happening within
our own church?
We don't know, or sometimes if we do we pretend that it isn't
happening. "The Way Forward" report showed that as many women were
abused in the Methodist church as in society. Abuse of any kind is
very difficult to deal with so mediation or help should never be
undertaken without professional advice or by an individual on their
own. However, should anyone disclose such allegations they must
always be believed and supported.
What can I do?
Have a look at the Guidelines for good practice and implement
some of the ideas.
2005 Conference Report Domestic Abuse sections
4.6 - 4.8.) Then report back, with anything you feel should be
addressed to the relevant person.
Make sure that there are lists of suitable agencies with their
telephone numbers prominently displayed in your church. (Lists of
agencies can be found in the second conference report.) Encourage
local preachers, deacons and ministers to mention it in their
preaching and teaching. Use the theology section of the report as
study material. Be a good listener! Tell a responsible person what
you have heard especially if there are children involved.
But above all……..
Pray that those who are suffering will be believed and helped,
those who are perpetrators will be supported in their journey back
to wholeness. Pray also that we will all be forgiven for remaining
silent when we should have spoken out and that those who are
involved will be able one day, to move to a place where they can
forgive and be forgiven. Also pray for those who assist in the
running of the church that they will work towards making it a place
of sanctuary and hope in which truths will be honoured and
falsehood will be revealed and shown for what it is.
Guidelines for Good Practice when working within the issue
of Domestic Abuse
Church of England report 2006:
Responding to Domestic Abuse: Guidelines for those with pastoral