Sisters4Sisters Support Services – with support from the Women’s Information and Referral Exchange and other family violence specialist organisations, including consultation with members from Victoria’s diverse faith communities, have produced Preventing and Responding to Family Violence: A Faith Leader’s Practice Guide and Toolkit, a broad and wide-ranging guide for Faith Leaders in responding to family violence. Specialist input was given by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), affiliate researchers, and strategies from specialist CALD and LGBTQIA+ family violence organisations. The guide is available for download.
Faith settings are important environments where social networks and social norms are formed and are therefore an important context in which we can target activities to prevent violence against women and family violence. This Faith Leader’s Practice Guide and Toolkit shares the best of Australian and international research evidence on the factors that cause and reinforce family violence in faith communities.
In this guide, we also look at what works to address these factors and the role of faith leaders and communities in responding to and preventing violence. The resource draws from the evidence produced by the National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), affiliate researchers, and strategies from specialist CALD and LGBTQIA+ family violence organisations. It also uses the ‘Change the Story framework’ of Our Watch, the national organisation leading the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia. It is also informed by the wealth of good work already practised in diverse faith communities in Australia and across the globe.
This guide is divided into sections:
- Part 1: Understanding Family Violence
- Part 2: Prevention Works
- Part 3: Understanding Family Violence in Faith Settings
- Part 4: The Family Violence Response Toolkit
- Part 5: Key Services, Appendices and References
Part 1 Understanding Family Violence:
Family Violence Law in Victoria: In Victoria, the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 says that family violence is behaviour by a person towards a family member of that person that is:
- Physically or sexually abusive
- Emotionally or psychologically abusive
- Economically abusive
- Coercive or in any other way that controls or dominates the family member and causes that family member to feel fear for the safety and wellbeing of that family member or another person, and
- Behaviour by a person that causes a child to hear or witness, or otherwise be exposed to, the effects of the behaviours referred to in the points above.
Part 1 includes:
- The Royal Commission into family violence
- What is family violence?
- Power and control tactics
- Evidence based risk factors
- Impact of family violence on women
- Why is it hard for women to leave a relationship?
- When children are involved
- Family violence in different communities
- Responding to myths about family violence
Part 2: Prevention Works
Preventing family violence means stopping it before it starts. Preventing violence is separate to responding after the violence has happened. Both forms of action are important to reduce the risk to women and children in faith communities and build more healthy relationships over time. As a faith leader, you have a role to play in both preventing and responding to violence.
To break down a culture of violence, you must challenge these myths and attitudes that support violence and gender inequity and send the message that family violence has no place in your faith community. You must do this both in private (when having conversations with community members) and in public, through sermons, publications and at gatherings.
Part 2 includes:
- Stopping family violence before it starts
- Strengthening respectful relationships
- Intersectionality: How it can inform your work
Part 3: Understanding Family Violence in Faith Settings
This resource shares the best of Australian and international research evidence on the factors that cause and reinforce family violence in faith communities, what works to address these factors, and the role of faith leaders and communities in responding to and preventing violence.
Faith leaders provide a source of social, moral and ethical guidance and support for their community members, and may provide invaluable support to women experiencing violence and their families. Faith settings are important environments where social networks and social norms are formed and are therefore an important context in which we can target activities to prevent family violence and violence against women.
Part 3 includes:
- The Evidence
- Contributing factors of family violence in faith communities
- Practical prevention ideas for faith leaders
Part 4: The Family Violence Response Toolkit
This toolkit is a guide to support faith leaders to respond to someone who tells them they are experiencing family violence as well as safely engage with those causing harm. It aligns with the MARAM Framework and focuses on the safety of the victim-survivor/s, including children who are victim-survivor/s in their own right.
By having all faiths share the unequivocal message that their religion never intends for any human being to be abused or oppressed by another, faith leaders can support and strengthen the victim-survivor’s faith and at the same time condemn attitudes and behaviours of the person using abusive and violent behaviours by stating unequivocally that these attitudes and behaviours were never founded in, nor do they have a place within faith settings.
Part 4 includes:
- Scope of the role of faith leaders
- Information sharing and confidentiality
- Creating a safe environment
- Working with victim-survivor/s of family violence
- Working with a person using violence
- Self care
Part 5 includes references, appendices, and resource guides. It also includes guides to Australian government laws and where to seek support on the following topics:
- Forced and Early Marriage
- Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting
- Dowry Abuse
- Family Violence and Partner Visas
- Human Trafficking and Slavery
- Sexual Assault