Holding Out Hope for Hidden Sufferers
A church in Scotland has produced some thoughtful and sensitive posters to enable domestic abuse victims to disclose safely and find hope and healing.
We realised our need for domestic abuse safeguarding posters at Charlotte Chapel just over four years ago. The idea came from the excellent book Walking with Domestic Abuse Sufferers by Helen Thorne, who also took a seminar on the issue at the Biblical Counselling UK conference in February 2018 which I attended.
These resources highlighted that in a congregation of our size, there were likely to be many who were, or had been, either sufferers or perpetrators of abuse within the home.
As we continued to mature and grow as a church committed to ‘one anothering’, we accepted that these experiences, often hidden and associated with shame, could not be denied. Our desire was to grow in honest awareness of both our sin and shortcomings alongside the redemption and healing only the gospel brings.
Reaching hidden sufferers
The aim of these posters was to make known to all in our church building - whether members, regular attenders, or occasional visitors - that we believe the gospel applies to all areas of life, however difficult or challenging, and offers hope.
The posters were placed in the church toilet facilities: a public yet safe space where an individual could access the information privately and learn how to get help.
It was important that, first and foremost, we made it clear that domestic abuse is a transgression against God’s law and not just the law of the land. Domestic abuse exists in all walks of life, including in the church. We wanted it to be clear that the church, and God, has something to say in these situations: that he can bring hope, healing, and redemption.
We also wanted to demonstrate humility in recognising that we do not have all the answers in these often difficult situations and that we would work with local and national secular agencies who have experience in helping those involved in domestic abuse.
We included named individuals in the church who could be contacted, to remove any concerns relating to generic email contacts. We also felt that including the details of external organisations who could be contacted was important to assist with overcoming an individual’s sense of shame or embarrassment.
These types of posters and notices are common in public buildings that many of us will regularly use, in our libraries, or in GP surgeries. By placing them in our churches we can be part of the process of connecting real-life experiences with the real and life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.
What does the poster say?
Domestic Abuse Happens In Churches Too
More than 1 in 4 women and almost 1 in 6 men experience domestic abuse in their lifetimes.
Are you, or is someone you know, experiencing domestic abuse? This abuse could be physical, sexual, psychological, financial, emotional or spiritual. (It can also include forced marriage.)
Here at Charlotte Chapel we:
- Acknowledge with sadness that abuse can happen, both within the church and the wider community;
- Believe that such abuse is a serious transgression of God’s law, and the law of the land;
- Undertake to support and care for all those affected;
- Seek to work in partnership with statutory agencies in order to bring an end to abuse;
- Encourage all those affected – whether as perpetrators or those suffering – to contact Pastor Paul Rees or Women’s Pastoral Worker Rachel Sloan in confidence, and share the situation.
Church office contact no. 0131 225 4812
Scottish Women’s Aid 0800 027 1234
National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000247
Men’s Advice Line 0808 8010327
Through Christ, there is hope in every situation