A Christian response to domestic violence
An address by Bishop John Harrower, Hobart, 29 April 2004 – originally on the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania website, republished by permission.
Bishop John Harrower
I am more often in the media because of the issue of sexual abuse by clergy, than I am for domestic violence. There are, however, some parallels between the two issues. I believe we can learn from some of the mistakes the church worldwide has made in responding to these issues in the past. Mistakes that led to more children being sexually abused – or in the case of domestic violence, more women and children suffering deep and long lasting damage. (Domestic violence includes physical abuse, psychological and emotional abuse, sexual manipulation and abuse, isolation, economical deprivation and stalking.)
The first response of the church world wide to allegations of sexual abuse by clergy, was ‘not to hear’, because the belief was ‘that good Christian men, who we knew, could not behave like that.’ So the church’s first response was ‘not to hear’ and its consequence, ‘not to believe.’ We face the same tendency when told of domestic violence.