What a Congregation Can Do To Prevent and Intervene in Domestic and Other Family Violence

Increase Awareness

  • Acknowledge that all forms of abuse and family violence exist in the congregation (move from denial to being proactive).
  • Educate congregational leaders about the "real life" problem of family violence and understanding the larger context of family violence in the culture.
  • Promote social action and outreach around family well-being.
  • Establish a vision of sanctuary or the congregation as a safe place for the vulnerable; provide for safe disclosure of abuse.
  • Promote family strengths (with inclusive definition of "family").
  • Create a committee on family violence to provide on-going leadership and oversight for congregational response.
  • Provide resource information to clergy and other religious leaders.
  • Develop a mechanism for reaching out to vulnerable and stressed families.
  • Post hotline numbers in restrooms, place domestic violence brochures from local programs where literature and resources are displayed.
  • Put a link to your local domestic violence and child abuse programs on your website.

Prevent Harm


  • Identify and use expertise within the congregation, e.g. therapists, social workers
  • Bring in outside resources (professionals, services, information, etc.)
  • Develop policies for prevention and intervention, including protocols for leaders.
  • Develop policies that require education on family violence for all workers in your congregation.
  • Screen all staff and volunteers.
  • Require fingerprinting and background checks for all staff that work with children. Repeat annually.
  • Supervise all staff and volunteers, including implementing internal disciplinary procedures when necessary.


Respond to Incidents of Abuse


  • Train congregants to be available to respond to others.
  • Know the limitations of leaders and the congregations. Establish procedures for situations when limits are reached in time, energy, resources, etc.
  • Provide safety for disclosure of abuse.
  • Develop a protocol for reporting child, dependent and elder abuse. Train all members that serve in a leadership on the protocol.
  • Respond appropriately to allegations (following the CA reporting laws accurately)
  • Understand differences between spiritual support (such as praying) and practical support (such as developing an escape plan). Encourage both.


2002, Rev. Kibbie S. Ruth, Kyros Ministry
2005, Edited by CA DHS


Document Created By: FaithTrust Institute, 2900 Eastlake Ave E., Suite 200 (please note our new address effective February 3, 2012), Seattle, WA 98102, tel: 206-634-1903, fax: 206-634-0115 www.faithtrustinstitute.org

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