The Anglican Communion's global aid and development network, the Anglican Alliance has joined with the Anglican Consultative Council and Anglican Communion Office to release a new resource: Domestic Abuse and COVID-19: How Churches can respond, a PDF guide to supporting domestic abuse victims and taking action to stop abuse.
The guide points out that lockdown measures and restrictions on movement in countries around the Communion can exacerbate existing social problems and “have an impact on the prevalence and severity of domestic abuse and gender based violence”. It adds that “the increased fear, tension and lack of money can worsen a toxic environment where abuse can thrive unchallenged.”
The new resource comes at a time when many domestic abuse response organisations are reporting a big upswing in enquiries related to family violence as their countries go into lockdown situations.
The resource challenges church communities to pay attention to cases of abuse, reminding clergy and laity that “the Church is well placed within communities to be a light and refuge in times of need and can reach into communities where governments cannot.” It includes sections on what the Bible says about abuse, defining what domestic abuse is, and the prevalence of domestic abuse around the world.
It looks at the impact of Covid-19 on domestic abuse and sets out practical action for church leaders and good neighbours; advice for victims and survivors; and challenges on behaviour change for perpetrators. The guide focuses on the need for supporters to ‘recognise, respond, refer and record’ abuse situations, and for perpetrators to ‘recognise, repent, remove, refer, make restitution, record and review’ as the responsible and Christian way ahead.
The Anglican Communion Office’s Director for Gender Justice Mandy Marshall is author of the report.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen a rise in domestic abuse around the world. Now, more than ever, it is vital that we, as a church community, are equipped to recognise the signs of abuse and respond appropriately.” she said.
“This resource assists the churches in responding well and in line with good practice to domestic abuse. I recommend reading it, sharing it and acting on it.”
Mandy Marshall prepared the report with input from a large number of contributors around the world, including Provincial Community Development Co-ordinators from members of the Mothers’ Union worldwide as well as Rob Dawes and Naomi Herbert from the Mothers’ Union in the UK.
“This is a timely resource addressing the very real issue faced and addressed by Mothers’ Union members around the world. This will provide an excellent framework for a practical response”. said Chief Executive of the Mothers’ Union, Bev Julienne, as the resource was released.
Domestic Abuse and COVID-19: How Churches can respond is available to download as a PDF free of charge from the Anglican Communion website via this link: www.anglicancommunion.org/genderjustice.