Anglicans and Domestic Violence
The National Synod of the Anglican Church commissioned a report into the prevalence of domestic violence (DV) within our denomination. The findings of that research have recently been reported. Some of these findings have made their way into the mainstream media.
Sadly, they show that the reported occurrence of having experienced domestic violence, or intimate partner violence is not less among Anglicans than it is in the general population. This research is consistent with other research, which also reveals that there is no correlation between being religious, and experiencing (lower) rates of DV.
This causes us to grieve. Sin brings pain, suffering, and brokenness. DV is a particularly destructive sin, in that it undermines the sacred state of faithfulness that ought to exist between husband and wife.
Second, it spurs us on to respond. Sydney Anglicans have been toiling in this space since 2013. This includes training, counselling, funding, a public apology to victims, and a theological paper. These findings suggest that we have begun an important work, but more needs to be done.
Third, it causes us to restate the wrongness of all DV, and reaffirm that victims ought to seek help, either from within the church through Julie Houghton or Linda Thomson, or by any other means. Those who struggle with anger management also have a responsibility to seek support, and place boundaries around themselves to make others safe.
These findings suggest that DV is a sin, a more endemic beast, a deeper struggle than what we tend to acknowledge. Church family is not a place where we ignore or deny sin, but rather we support each other as we strive against it, and its consequences.
Rev David Rietveld