Faith and Domestic Abuse: Recommendations for Faith Leaders

Domestic abuse is part of our society and one of the most unattractive parts. It’s not necessarily the easiest conversation topic, or something that we would like to read about – however, it is a part of society that faith communities and particularly faith leaders can do something about.

At FaithAction, we believe that faith is often the first place people turn to when in need. This could be because they are new to the area, have existing relationships or they simply cannot get an appointment with their local public service. Therefore, the role for faith leaders in addressing domestic abuse is often invaluable. This publication of recommendations is to help in those instances.

This publication has been written with input from a number of individuals from different faith communities with different perspectives on how to deal with domestic abuse. You can find the videos of the interviews we held with faith leaders, faith-based organisations and practitioners below. The consensus was clear: faith leaders could and should do something to address domestic abuse in their communities.




  1. I am in a domestic abuse situation. It’s much better now, for the moment, but I know things can change quickly. I have been married for 8 years and have 2 children. Both myself and my husband are active members of our local church, but no-one knows this about us. It’s tough, keeping Faith is hard when you are living in this situation. I wondered where I stand in terms of my marriage vows, For better or for Worse, which I made in front of family, friends and God and of which I meant every word? I would appreciate some advice

    • Hi Anonymous. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. Personally, I would recommend talking to someone about this. A trusted friend, your local pastor—someone. They can help you keep faith, and they can also give you more personal advice about where your marriage stands. I would also urge you to do everything you can to ensure that you and your children are safe. Domestic abuse is a serious crime, and you might be at serious risk.

      Your situation is too complex to I think when one half of a marriage is (or has been) committing violence against another, they are not fulfilling their marriage vows to their spouse, community, and God. The PDF on this page gives a helpful perspective: “Marriage is a covenant; divorce is the breaking of that covenant. When a man chooses to be abusive, he breaks the covenant. If his wife chooses to divorce him, she is making public his breaking of the covenant, not going against what the Bible says about divorce.”

      Ultimately, where your relationship stands is up to you. But as I said, I would urge you to go to trusted friends or your local pastor; consider going to a lawyer or talking to the authorities. Your husband may not be abusive currently, but you and your children could be at risk at any time. And it’s your husband, not you, who has not been standing by his marriage vows.

      • I’m unsure where our relationship will end up. At the moment, things are ok and he has been working really hard to change; he knows what he has done in the past is wrong. I cannot talk to anyone in our church about it, for a start, I’m not sure I will be believed, my husband is quite a prominant figure within the Church and secondly, If we do end up staying together, I don’t want people to think any differently of him. I have arranged with a friend to go to her house with the children if I need to, but she does not know the reason why; although she may well have guessed but hasn’t said anything. Whilst I am absoutely convinced he will never hurt the children, i will not hesitate to leave if he ever lays a finger on them, but I don’t really fancy the idea of being a single parent! It’s a horrible, horrible situation to be in. My children’s needs come first, and they need their dad, they need their mum and dad to be together. It’s not fair on them to be split between us

        • Hi…

          I’m sorry to hear about your situation.

          Do check the publication for recommendations of who to speak to. At FaithAction we aren’t professionals so do find someone on the list in the directory at the back.

          Many thanks

        • As someone who grew up with divorced parents, take it from me, your children are much better off with parents who aren’t together than parents who are at risk of domestic abuse situation. Of course, if you decide to stay together, that’s fantastic, and there are so many obvious benefits. But it’s something I think you should give serious thought to.

          And as the FaithAction people said above, please speak to a professional. Your local faith leader, a therapist, a domestic abuse shelter, a police officer—someone who can give you some personal advice on your situation, and who can better safeguard you and your children in the event that your relationship becomes violent again. Please, make sure you’re not going through this alone. There are people out there who are willing and eager to help you!

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