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.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s endorsement in full:
‘Gender-based violence is one of the greatest injustices in our world today. Every time an act of violence is committed, the inherent dignity of the women or girl affected is degraded. Having seen the after-effects of this violence during a recent visit to the DRC, I know all too well just how destructive it can be. The Church is already supporting and caring for those affected; it must continue in that work and must condemn the notion that such violence is ever acceptable. The Church must be an advocate for restored relationships of mutual respect and love, modeling the reconciling love shown by Christ to all people.
‘I commend the work that Restored and its partners are doing, highlighting gender-based violence in our society, and seeking to tackle it through positive, practical measures. The Church of England has signaled its strong support for this work through the motion carried at the February 2014 General Synod, and I 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. Her role as the Church of England’s representative at the most recent session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women underlines the commitment of the Church and Restored to engage proactively in ending gender-based violence. We cannot pretend that we are not aware of the reality of gender-based violence. Through the continuing work of Restored and other organisations, it is now our responsibility as people of faith to speak out and end it.’
More about Restored
- Restored is an international Christian alliance to transform relationships and end violence against women (VAW). It exists to answer the two questions, ‘Where is the church?’ and ‘Where are the men?’ when it comes to ending violence against women. Restored has a vision to see the practice and culture of VAW made unacceptable in both the church and wider communities in the UK and internationally.
- First Man Standing is Restored’s campaign to engage Christian men to respect all women, challenge other men and join in the cause with women in ending violence against women.
- Globally, 1 in 3 women will be a victim of abuse in her lifetime. (UN)
- Domestic violence is the largest form of abuse of women worldwide irrespective of religion, culture, ethnicity, education, class and religion (United Nations)
- In the UK, two women each week die due to intimate partner violence (Women's Aid 2010)
- Women who are victims of domestic violence are three times more likely to be injured when pregnant (refuge 2007)
- In the UK 25 per cent of women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime (Home Office 2007)
- The estimated total cost of domestic abuse in the UK economy is around £15.7 billion (Professor Sylvia Walby 2008)