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What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence (also known as Intimate Partner Violence or IPV) is a pattern of abuse where one person exerts power and control over another in an intimate relationship. The abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, verbal, financial or spiritual. 

Who does domestic violence affect?

Abuse can affect anyone regardless of age, race, class, ethnicity, country of origin, first language, sexual orientation, or degree of able-bodiness. Unfortunately, it affects people of every faith as well.

1 in 3

women and

1 in 5

men have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence or stalking at the hands of an intimate partner.

What does faith have to do with it?

A study of older adults found that,


"respondents, especially minorities, often indicated that their ‘first stop’ would be a member of the clergy if they were to discuss their [abuse] with anyone." *


Clergy and lay leaders stand on the front lines of the domestic violence and elder abuse crisis. However, we do not always feel prepared to respond. To make matters worse, an abuser may have already used faith as a weapon against the victim. As a result, victims may believe that they should forgive, live with the abuse, or honor the covenant of marriage no matter what.


Faith leaders are uniquely placed to reach out to victims and help direct them to services and safety. Starting right in our own congregations, we can transform faith from a weapon to a resource and support victims with knowledge and compassion.

*Richard Beaulaurier, Laura Seff, and Frederick Newman, “Barriers to Help-Seeking for Older Women Who Experience Intimate Partner Violence: A Descriptive Model,” Journal of Women and Aging, Vol. 20(3/4) 2008, p. 240-241.


What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual violence is NOT about sex; it is first and foremost about violence. It is a crime that misuses human sexuality in order to control, humiliate, and harm. Sexual violence is an all-encompassing, non-legal term that refers to crimes like sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.

Who does sexual violence affect?

According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN):

every 73 seconds, someone living in the US is sexually assaulted

Only about 20% of women who are assaulted will report their assaults

Women ages 18-24 who are college students are 3x more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence

Women ages 18-24 who are NOT enrolled are 4x more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence

Of adult victims:
73% knew the attacker
38% were friends of the attacker,
28% were in an intimate relationship with the attacker
7% were a relative of the attacker

Child victims knew the offender before the attack 93% of the time

What does faith have to do with it?

Victims of sexual violence are members of our faith communities. If we are not taking about sexual violence, they probably are not talking about it either.

Although it can be difficult to talk about sexual violence, faith communities DO talk about healing, justice, and peace, which are all critical to victims and survivors. Even in the aftermath of sexual violence, survivors can find healing if they can talk about what happened, find support in their families and communities, and reach closure.

Pieces of a Bigger Picture

Pieces of a Bigger Picture

Faith Communities and Service Providers Working Together to Support Victims of Sexual and Domestic Violence

For many victims who seek services for domestic or sexual violence, faith is a critical resource, crucial to their identity and community, and an element in decision-making and healing. At Safe Havens, we believe that faith communities can be a resource for these victims. Safe Havens provides training, resources, and technical assistance to help build a network of support for faith-based victims and survivors.

Hearts and Hands

Hearts and Hands

Rural Communities Responding to Sexual and Domestic Violence

Faith is a fundamental pillar of identity and community for many rural Americans. When faced with sexual or domestic violence, rural survivors often understand these traumas through their faith and seek help from people they trust in their faith communities. In addition, access to community services can be particularly challenging in rural communities. Safe Havens provides training, resources, and technical assistance to help build a network of support for rural victims.


April is
Sexual Violence Awareness Month

October is
Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Kettle on Gas Stove
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