Over the last 15 years, we have collected data from over 500 religious leaders concerning domestic violence. Here are some of their beliefs concerning abuse and a snapshot of their experiences related to working with victims and perpetrators.
- Pastors believe that one in five couples in their congregation is violent;
- 9.3% of pastors have counseled five or more abused women in the last year;
- 83.2% of pastors have counseled at least one abused woman;
- 8% of pastors feel well equipped to respond to domestic violence;
- 31% of pastors report that they have preached a message on abuse;
- 40% of pastors discuss violence in premarital counseling.
Evidences of a Holy Hush operating amongst Clergy
- Most pastors have never visited the transition house in or near their local area;
- Most pastors do not know by name any of the workers in the local shelter;
- Most pastors have never preached a message that explicitly condemns wife abuse and/or child abuse;
- Clergy are reluctant to refer to outside community resources those that come to them for help;
- Referrals are least likely from clergy reporting little knowledge or training in domestic violence.
Evidences of Shattered Silence in Congregational Life
- Most clergy have counseled a woman who has been battered;
- Most church women have helped a battered woman they knew;
- Many church women’s groups have supported their local transition house by financial or in-kind donations;
- Some churches have information provided in the church washrooms or other safe places that outline what to do if you are an abused woman.
What do these data tell us?
Questions to consider:
- I wonder how men get the idea that the Bible permits them to bully their wives or be dictators in the home. I wonder if we are doing enough as clergy to confront such false ideas about the Bible. Have I addressed those issues clearly enough in my teaching and preaching? Have you?
- I don’t know about you, but as a pastor I haven’t felt adequately trained to respond to domestic violence by myself. What can we do as clergy to work in partnership with those in the community who seek to help victims of abuse? Have you ever contacted the local transition house? Will you this week?