D031 Recognizing and Ending Domestic Violence in our Congregations

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Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church continue to speak out clearly against domestic violence as it has done in the past; and be it further

Resolved, That the 79th General Convention encourages Episcopal clergy and congregations to educate themselves on the widespread problem that domestic violence is in their neighborhoods and beyond; and be it further

Resolved, That the 79th General Convention urge all Episcopal Bishops and other clergy and lay leadership to familiarize themselves with existing trainings developed for domestic violence prevention, and create procedures for supporting domestic violence survivors in their dioceses and congregations; and be it further

Resolved, That the 79th General Convention urge the Church at every level to examine its response to domestic violence, especially its response to survivors of domestic violenc


Domestic violence affects one in every four women. ON average, nearly twenty people per minute are physically assaulted by their partners in the United States. The statistics are staggering. It is doubtful that anyone can say that domestic violence has never affected them or a family member or friend. It would be statistically impossible to also say it has never affected every Episcopal Congregation at some point.
Yet, most congregations do not have procedures in place when it does affect their congregation. How does one handle a restraining order against a member of the congregation? Should the parish be used as a safe haven for the transfer of children from one parent to another? These are questions that most congregations do not deal with until the crisis is upon them.
Understanding domestic violence means understanding all the aspects of domestic violence. Once the physical violence stops, the other, little known, abuses continue. The emotional abuse, the economic abuse, the threats, and the fear continue. At its heart, domestic violence is not about physical abuse. It is about power and control. Power and control over the victim until they feel so helpless, so depressed, that they accept their fate. It is one of the reasons one does not leave. The batterer controls everything, and the domestic violence survivor feels they have nothing. It even continues in a congregational setting. Batterers control the finances, and write the pledge. They control the survivor’s movements, so they are more likely to sit on committees and vestries. Abusers are more ingrained in the life of the church usually than domestic violence survivors.
Congregations should create policies and procedures to deal with domestic violence in their congregation. These policies and procedures should come from a place of caring for all parties, yet understanding the dynamics of domestic violence. They should be supportive of the survivor, and not judgmental or worse, not safe. Every congregation should plan for this, and in this planning should become more knowledgeable on the widespread issue of domestic violence.

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