Domestic abuse happens in churches too: new research highlights churchgoers’ experience

Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS)

March 21, 2018

New research into the prevalence of domestic abuse amongst churchgoers shows that one in four people have experienced abuse in their current relationship. The research, by academics at Coventry University and the University of Leicester for the Christian charity Restored, surveyed churchgoers in the north-west English county of Cumbria for the ground-breaking study of domestic abuse.

“Domestic abuse happens in churches too,” Dr Kristin Aune of Coventry University, who led the research, said. “A quarter of the people we heard from told us they had, for example, been physically hurt by their partners, sexually assaulted, emotionally manipulated, or had money withheld from them. This includes 12 women who have experienced between 10 and 20 abusive behaviours and six women who are currently in relationships where they fear for their lives.”

The co-author of the research, Dr Rebecca Barnes, of the University of Leicester, said: “More broadly, 42 per cent of the people we heard from had experienced in a current or previous relationship at least one of the abusive behaviours we asked about.”

The report says that 438 churchgoers from a range of churches completed the survey, and 109 of them said they had experienced abusive behaviours in their current relationship. People aged over 60 were less likely to say they had experienced domestic abuse than younger adults were, and women more likely to say they had experienced serious forms of abuse than men.

Only two in seven churchgoers felt their church was adequately equipped to deal with a disclosure of abuse.

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