Some churches have approached me regarding domestic abuse policies and while I do not have a standard response yet, I will be creating a process in the future, I do find it helpful to see what others have done. Below is an example of a first draft proposal created by one local church.
Domestic abuse, or intimate partner abuse, is the desecration of the image of God in the abuser’s spouse or intimate partner through a pattern of intentionally misusing power, overtly or covertly, in words or actions, to gratify self.
Abuse is an assault upon the image of God in another human being.
Abuse usually occurs in a pattern that is typically increasing in frequency and/or intensity.
Abuse is intentional, though the abuser may not be self-aware enough to recognize the intentions of his or her heart. Abuse is never perpetrated on accident.
Abuse is about the misuse of power to control or manipulate another for selfish gain. It is an act of oppression.
Abuse can involve physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, economic, spiritual, or psychological means.
The goal of abuse is self-gratification – to get what one wants at the expense of another.
Domestic abuse, which can be used interchangeably with the term “domestic violence”, is pervasive in our culture. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced domestic abuse in their lifetime. Domestic abuse is under-reported, so those statistics are conservative. We know statistically that domestic abuse is just as pervasive at ______________ as it is in the culture, and so we must be alerted to it.
Domestic violence in any form – physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or spiritual – is an assault upon the image of God in a fellow human being, and is therefore an assault upon God himself. When it is between a husband and a wife, it further violates the one-flesh covenantal relationship that God established. Under no circumstance is abuse ever justified. Neither is it ever the fault of the victim. Domestic abuse severely damages relationships and often destroys the relationship beyond repair. An act of abuse is never an act of Christian love. Christ's self-giving love encourages the full growth of the individual, while domestic abuse seeks to stifle the victim's autonomy through dominance, replacing love with violence and fear. Given this acknowledgement, ________________ Church affirms the following:
domestic abuse in all its forms is sinful and incompatible with the Christian faith and a Christian way of living;
all abuse is spiritually damaging for both the person being abused and the person who is abusing;
domestic abuse is a serious problem which occurs in church families as well as in wider society;
domestic abuse is not primarily an anger problem, a marriage problem, the victim’s problem, or even a legal problem, but rather a sin problem;
domestic abuse is primarily perpetrated by men, against the very people whom God has given these men to protect and shepherd - women and children.
we will listen to, believe, support, and care for those affected by domestic abuse;
we will urge abused persons to consider their own safety and that of family members first and to seek help from the church, professional counseling, and legal resources, to bring healing to the individuals and, if possible, to the marriage relationship;
we will discipline abusers and remove them from the church if they are unrepentant;
we will work with local domestic violence support agencies, will learn from them and support them in appropriate ways, and will publicize their work;
we will teach that domestic abuse is a sin;
we will teach what it means to be male and female image-bearers of God, equal in value, dignity and worth;
we will train all pastors/elders, ministers/deacons, and lay leaders;
we will seek to utilize trained professionals to encourage best practices and keep church members and leadership trained on and informed about the implementation of this domestic abuse policy.