Pastoral Care to Battered Women
Are churches providing enough care to battered women? Or is it such a taboo subject that we prefer to sweep it under the rug?
“No faithful interpretation of Scripture can tolerate or even Condone domestic violence” Rev. Becky Robbins – Penniman
Helping Battered Women
Domestic violence awareness is something every church should get involved in. Cooper – White (1996) recommends some goals that can help when looking at awareness programs: 1) consistently, intentionally integrate the issue of domestic violence in seminary education; 2) develop models of pastoral counseling focused on empowerment of women, and maintaining vigilance against socially reinforced stereotypes that blame victims or minimize or excuse perpetrators of violence from direct responsibility; 3) develop collaborative partnerships with local battered women’s shelters, domestic violence agencies, batterers’ programs, and knowledgeable clinical and pastoral counselors in the wider community
Pastoral Care To Battered Women
4) offer pastoral care for individual victims and survivors characterized by non-judgmental listening, interpretations of scripture that are healing and empowering, and faith-grounded advocacy in the wider community for justice;5) work in congregations to foster communities of support for victims and survivors through education and other means; 6) identify responsible batterers’ programs that recognize intimate violence as part of a larger pattern of socially sanctioned power and control over women, and uphold safety as the first priority.
Domestic violence is not something new; an example from the Old Testament is the story of Tamar (2 Samuel 13) who was abused by her half-brother Amnon. Many in the faith community do not respond with compassion when incidences of domestic violence are reported. Just like the response of King David to this violation, many church leaders sweep these things under the rug. If we are really going to help domestic violence victims, then “the church must engage in a collaborative effort and resource the community and professional who are trained to respond to specific concerns of the victim” (Mollering, n.d., p.2).
“Pastoral care is perhaps the most important component which pastors and church leaders bring to the network of ministries and services needed by individuals and families suffering abuse and family violence” (Seventh Day Adventist Church, p. 1).
Faith leaders should know when they are out of their depth where caring for battered women is concerned. When needed the necessary training should be sought for the leader as well as all persons who will provide care. Leaders should never use God’s word to force or cajole a battered woman to remain in an unsafe situation.
A faith leader can be a source of grace and accountability in a domestic violence situation and such a responsibility should never be taken lightly. Everyone in this situation needs the support of the faith leader; the victim as well as the perpetrator is looking for guidance and help must be given when possible to both groups. The church family also needs to be ministered to in the case where the victim or perpetrator is a part of the congregation as this can be a very difficult thing to deal with. The faith leader can be that person who brings hope, healing and grace to all the persons who are involved in any domestic violence situation.
Cooper-White, P. (1996). An emperor without clothes: the church’s views about treatment of domestic violence. Pastoral Psychology, 45(1), p. 3–20.
Mollering, M. (n.d.) Domestic violence: The response of the Church. Retrieved from http://www.theraveproject.com/index.php/resources/resource/domestic_violence_the_response_of_the_church/
Robbins-Penniman, B. (n.d.). General Convention of the Episcopal Church of Southern Ohio
Seventh Day Adventist Church (n.d). A caring pastoral response
© 2014 Mardene Carr
Mardene R. Carr is a tech-savvy Librarian with over 15 years of experience in Jamaica, USA, Cayman Islands, Bahamas and Dominica. For more on her work please visit