Archbishop of Canterbury endorses charity that will address ‘reality of gender-based violence in our own churches’

The following is a press release from Restored.

‘It happens in churches too’ is the message Restored will be taking to the diocese of Salisbury in September to help the church deal with the hidden scourge of violence against women in our communities and our churches.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has ‘commended’ the work of Restored, a charity that will help the Church of England draw attention to the gender-based violence that exists across all layers of society, including within the church itself.

In a statement he said ‘The Church of England has signaled its strong support for this work through the motion carried at the February 2014 General Synod’.

Adding that he was ‘grateful for the way that Mandy Marshall [co-Director, Restored] spoke powerfully to the Synod of the stark reality of gender-based violence in our own churches and what must be done to eliminate it.’

Marshall spoke to the Archbishop and Synod about the case of a young Christian woman who, after escaping a partner who chose to abuse her, struggled to find help from within her own church.

Asked why she didn’t report the abuse, the woman told Marshall: ‘I really felt that nobody would understand, or they would think that I was exaggerating.’

To address the blind spot within the church about violence against women, Restored has produced a short resource document: Ending Domestic Abuse: a pack for churches. It includes a charter that Restored wants churches to adopt that will act as a public statement that the church condemns domestic violence as well as being a place that is available for information, care and support to victims.

Marshall believes the church merits special attention in educating people about domestic abuse. She said: ‘Violence against women doesn’t just happen “out there”, it is happening in our churches too. Domestic abuse must no longer be a taboo subject that the church is reluctant to talk about.

‘The church is well placed to serve the community at so many levels but domestic abuse has somehow slipped off its radar and our aim is to help churches put it firmly on their agenda.

Restored is trying to raise funding for research into levels of domestic abuse within the church.

Marshall added: ‘Anecdotal evidence clearly shows that in many churches there are women who are victims of domestic abuse. If we can get some solid, academic research funded we will be able to establish patterns that will help us advise the church on where best to focus its efforts in countering and preventing violence against women.’

Josephine Wakeling, Training Manager, will deliver the church training. She will help churches and Christian organisations to identify signs of abuse and show what the church can do to help, as well as linking it with locally available professional services.

Restored continues their training of churches with the diocese of Salisbury in September.