“It is vital that we do not turn a blind eye to this phenomenon in our churches”, says the Czech Evangelical Alliance. One in five women have been victims.
The Czech Evangelical Alliance (CEA) has launched a handbook called Domestic violence and the church, which aims “to provide a tool for a practical and pastoral response for churches that encounter both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence”.
Read the booklet here (in Czech).
Several surveys show that in Czech Republic up to 16% of people have been victims of domestic violence. In 91% of cases, these are women, and that figure increased even more during the lockdowns. One in five Czech women has experienced some form of domestic violence.
The content of the handbook is not fully made by the CEA, but an adjustment of an English material from Restored UK, a Christian ministry specialised in this area.
The document is divided in 3 sections. One explains what domestic abuse is and analyses the current situation in the Czech Republic. A second section, the core of the material, is a practical guide on how to help victims and perpetrators, “especially if they are church-members too”. The last section contains theological reflections on the topic.
The CEA will hold a webinar on 15 September “on how to respond effectively to domestic violence cases, provide help and support to those affected, and how to avoid the most typical mistakes”. There will be space for an open discussion and a case study of how a particular case was handled within the church will be presented.
According to Jiří Unger, Secretary of the CEA, “it is hard to admit that domestic violence can happen in our churches, but it is vital that we do not turn a blind eye to this phenomenon”.
“How we respond to these cases shapes the culture of our congregations and has a huge impact on those who have experienced domestic violence in our communities and congregations”, he said in the presentation of the guide.
Unger warned that “ironically, precisely because marriage is so sacrosanct and important to the Church, it is difficult for us to talk about the issue of domestic violence, and the stigma and shame surrounding further hide it”.
It is more, sometimes violence against women at home “is theologically justified, and we fail to confront it effectively or too easily believe the apparent repentance of the abuser”.
“I believe that the Church can be a safe place and an important source of help and healing for all who are affected by domestic violence”, concluded Unger.
You can read the the handbook published by the Czech Evangelical Alliance here (in Czech).