The Church's Response

This July we have been focusing our outreach efforts to churches. Packets with informational material on our services and domestic violence/sexual assault have been sent out to churches in our service area. When a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault reaches out to a church for help, our goal is that they know how to respond. How can a pastor, other church leaders, or a member help someone in this type of situation? We asked the churches how can they challenge abusive behavior?
Here are some great ideas:

  1.  Display posters, brochures, and cards that offer information about help that is available locally. Place domestic abuse contact number cards on seats and other suitable locations. Put up posters in rest room areas. Remember it is important for people to be able to access material discretely and with out embarrassment.
  2. Use preaching and teaching to make it plain that domestic violence and sexual assault is wrong.
  3. Pray regularly for organizations that work in your local area and for victims and offenders.
  4. Review the content of your marriage preparation. Does it deal with the issue of conflict and abuse?
  5. Challenge inappropriate behavior and encourage inclusive language.
  6. Make your church a safe environment and provide opportunity for prayer and listening.
  7. Discuss issues in youth groups with the help of one of your local agencies. Make the necessary resources available.
  8. Encourage training for greater understanding e.g. developing skills in pastoral listening.
  9. Make books on domestic abuse issues available on your church bookstall or library.
  10. Stand up for individual’s rights, in church, locally, nationally, and internationally.
  11. Bring together a group to address these issues and keep the subject in your subconciousness.
  12. Designate a special day of the year when your church will focus on developing awareness of domestic violence issues. Ask your local domestic violence agency to get involved or how you can help.

One of the most important things to do, is to enable the church to become a safe environment…

Initial response:

  • Believe the victim and refer to a local domestic violence agency.
  • Work alongside your local domestic violence agency.
  • Offer a listening ear to victims.


  • Attend courses and trainings.
  • Listen to organizations with relevant experience.
  • Listen to victims and survivors.
  • Study, read books, use online resources.
  • Evaluate your own attitudes and beliefs about domestic abuse. Consider whether they need challenging.


  • Educate your congregation.
  • Raise the issue with Church leaders and members.
  • Make space and time to address this issue.
  • Highlight the issue through prayer, preaching, and Bible study.


  • Raise awareness through preaching, teaching, and small groups.
  • Create space to discuss, educate, and develop understanding of domestic violence and other related issues.

Set up a pastoral team:

  • Develop a group of people within the church to pray,attend trainings, refer victims to local domestic violence agencies, and to provide accountability for the church leadership


This information was provided by Restored: Ending Violence Against Women. Visit for more information.

If you would like an advocate to come speak to  your church, please feel free to contact Bright Horizons during our business hours Monday through Friday 9am – 5pm. Check out other links on our website for more information.