We all have to do better!

That was the message church leaders received at Interfaith Forum on Domestic Violence (DV) I attended this week.  It was a privilege and a challenge to be there.  The picture of DV in our society is an awful one.  One woman is killed every week.  1 in every 3 people are affected by DV.  70 AVOs due to DV issues every month by Sutherland police unit.  On average when a person presents to the police to complain of DV they have experienced DV 18-25 times already.  DV is under reported because of the fear, stigma and shame victims feel.  DV victims include men and women, elderly people and children – but are predominantly women.

Speakers included police, Minister for Prevention of DV Mark Speakman, those advocating for DV victims and also running DV prevention programs.  One speaker was asked a profound and naïve question “what is the main cause of DV?”   The speaker’s answer was surprising frank and simple, he said, “overwhelmingly men’s view that their partner is inferior to them, less important, and his desire to enforce this relationship.  If she challenges this view he feels he must put her in her place.  It is this mindset that has to change.  And it’s intergenerational, passed on from father to son.”   Another speaker emphasised the role of drugs and alcohol in DV. These don’t cause DV but the vast majority of DV cases result when the perpetrator is “fuelled” by these.

Church members and Christian families are not immune to DV, but victims may be reluctant to mention it.  Our Diocese and church have sought to provide consistent support for victims.  This approach is summarised on an A4 sheet available in our church foyer.  This resource includes a list of agencies that offer professional support to DV victims.  Present at the forum were a number of local Shire agencies who offer practical help both to victims, but also help for us to understand DV and help, and to assist in changing the mindset that promotes DV.    Can we do better as a church?  I’m sure we can.  I’m talking with agencies and other church leaders to see what further training we can get in DV care and prevention.  Our LIFE groups have been safe places where our members can share their deepest struggles and I think we could do more to support our LG leaders in this area.    I’m interested in talking with any members who have ideas about what more we could do or would be willing to form a task force to help us.                                                     

Your brother in Christ Graham Crew