Faith Leaders Speak Out Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
Working at the intersection of faith and domestic violence for over 20 years, we know that many people turn to trusted faith leaders in a moment of crisis. These faith leaders can play a critical role in helping survivors of abuse reach professional services safely. The problem is that many faith leaders lack training or resources to do so. Our hope is that by building bridges between service providers and faith communities, we can establish more trusting relationships between these two groups, and ultimately, serve victims better and save more lives. Fortunately, many faith leaders already take strong stances against violence, which quickens this work.
Statements from Faith Leaders
“The Bible does not support domestic violence.”
“Silence in the pulpit can be the same as perpetrating domestic violence - we must
re-teach our congregants.”
"[It is important to realize] the marital covenant is broken by the abuser; [we] need to help the victim understand that."
"Faith can be both a strength, comfort
and support as well as a barrier."
"[I am] learning about how abusers manipulate,
use power and control, including remorse and pity. Many faith leaders (pastors) are not equipped to understand this."
"Be proactive. Form the relationships (with DV/SA staff) and get phone numbers and resources now, before there is a crisis. Build the team now."
"[I am learning the] importance of being victim-centered."
"[It is] so important to understand the faith
aspects that can frame a victim’s experience."
"[It is] not my place to have all the answers but to be able to refer the victim to the appropriate service provider with a supportive referral."
"[I am] compelled to counter the weaponizing of faith."
"[I am] impressed with the importance of 'not being silent'."
"The[re] [is] need for the faith community to educate the congregation that violence is not
okay and that we need to work with others in the community to support victims."
“Don’t talk organizing. Do organizing.
Don’t talk collaboration. Do collaboration.”
“Forgiveness is a tricky issue: it can
bring change, or it can trap the victim.”
"The leadership for this needs to come from the faith community. Clergy need to learn how to make a presentation on this issue to other clergy.”
“The ideal Muslim family is one that considers its elderly members worthy of great respect and honor. Gratitude toward God is based on gratitude toward people. The elderly should be engaged, not isolated; protected, not abused.”
"Human dignity, justice, and peace are some faith-based foundations for work
to end sexual and domestic violence."
"A congregation can get the community behind the service provider so that when the service provider is “attacked” (that is, the state budget is cut, or someone questions the legitimacy of their services), the community is already on the side of
the service provider."
"Clergy need a wider strategic plan for addressing this in the congregation, not just a one-time training."
“We have found that when rabbis and other faith leaders speak out, they can make a big difference in assisting those suffering from abuse. It is imperative
that our synagogues become sanctuaries of peace – that rabbis speak from the pulpit about abuse, that Jewish community leaders and educators create communities where survivors of abuse know that they are not alone.”
Denominational Statements on Domestic Violence
Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence has begun compiling denominational statements and declarations on domestic violence and violence against women. The purpose of this project, which is a work in progress, is to help you explore what different faith communities say about domestic violence. If your denomination has a statement that you would like to add to this resource page, please email us with the link to the resource.