What a Faith Leader Can Do to Prevent and Intervene in Domestic and other Family Violence

By weaving an awareness of abuse issues into the fabric of your congregation, you can be a true sanctuary of peace. Add your own ideas about how to integrate abuse prevention themes into sermons, education, and training opportunities.


  • Articulate in your words and model in your actions the essence of healthy relationships and sanctuary.
  • Practice self-care and prioritize your own primary/family relationships.
  • Pay attention to how references to family, partner, parent & child obligations and ethics are worded and discussed. Be sensitive to the fact that not all relationships are loving or well-intentioned.What does "honor your father & mother" mean if you are abused by one of them?
  • Be careful not to assume that all marriages/relationships are healthy.
  • Require fingerprinting for all those that work with children or youth.
  • Become politically active around issues of abuse prevention.
  • Honor abused persons during religious services and ceremonies: e.g. "This prayer is for persons who are abused in their own homes..."
  • Become familiar with ways in which sermons and text have (a) reinforced tolerance of abuse and (b) spoken out against abuse. Develop alternatives.
  • Publicly recognize October as domestic violence awareness month. Wear a purple ribbon in honor of abused women. If Jewish, tie a purple ribbon to your Sukkah.
  • Publicly recognize April as child abuse prevention month. Wear a blue ribbon in honor of abused children.
  • When discussing the Exodus or other liberation texts or events, include those who remain enslaved today, or discuss who our current "Pharaohs" are.
  • Openly mention and discuss references to domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and other abuses of power that occur in sacred writings. Choose one of these topics for a sermon or discussion.
  • Identify and use community support systems and resources.
  • Serve on a county domestic violence or child abuse prevention council, or participate in other efforts to end abuse.
  • Advocate publicly for violence-free families.
  • Volunteer at your local domestic violence agency or at a child abuse center.
  • Remember your professional specialty as a spiritual guide and support and as a community leader.
  • Speak out against abuse.
  • Support local domestic violence, elder and child abuse agencies through affirming their work publicly and in the pulpit.
  • Invite an expert from the local domestic violence and/or child abuse program to speak to your membership.
  • Encourage members to do a volunteer project or collect needed material goods or money for local abuse programs.
  • Report suspected child abuse, dependent adult and elder abuse to appropriate civil authorities.
  • Refer abuse victims and offenders to specialized community services for help.
  • Include "those abused in their own homes" in prayers and during healing services and ceremonies.


Document Compiled 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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