By: Laura Bennett
Warning: The following article contains mentions of domestic violence. If you need support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au. If you have been impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.
When water polo coach Lillie James was brutally murdered last month, the nation was confronted again by the horrific, unrelenting ugliness of our issue with intimate partner violence and domestic and family abuse.
According to the Red Heart Campaign – a journalist-led project which tracks every known Australian woman and child killed as a result of murder, manslaughter or neglect – Lillie was the 55th woman to be killed this year, with two others killed in the same 10-day window.
On average in Australia, one woman dies every week at the hands of a current or former partner, and with just 5 weeks left in 2023, the country’s now on track to surpass the annual average.
It’s shocking. It’s disgusting. And the solutions needed are as nuanced as the issue itself.
In recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Anglicare Australia are encouraging church communities to understand their role in creating safe places for women and address teachings that may be facilitating abuse.
“Sadly, the rates of domestic violence in the church community are pretty similar to the wider community,” Anglicare Family and Domestic Violence Advisor Lynda Dunstan said.
That means, according to the National Anglican Family and Domestic Violence Report, that 1 in 4 “churchgoing” women and 1 in 13 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
“It’s a really important issue and we need to be able to talk about and acknowledge that it is happening in the church community,” Lynda said.
“It’s affecting women in our communities, and that sadly means there are likely to be men in our communities perpetrating abuse in their relationships.
“Churches need to learn about abuse, make it clear what it looks like and know that it’s never justified by any reading of scripture.”
In order to support women affected by domestic abuse, Anglicare launched their Renew guide. It breaks down the practicalities of addressing and removing yourself from violent situations and assists those alongside victims in being an effective support network.
“It includes a lot of practical information about what abuse is, what the Bible says about abuse and the path to recovery,” Lynda said.
“We want to encourage each survivor on that journey and hopefully [show] where her faith can be a source of encouragement and healing”.
Anglicare’s Renew guide is available via their website.
If you need help or support call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au. If you have been impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.
Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.
About the Author: Laura Bennett is a media professional, broadcaster and writer from Sydney, Australia.