TOWARDS A SAFER CHURCH - Safeguarding against domestic abuse


With Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser Ruth Rogan

In February we delivered our first training session on Domestic Abuse. This is defined as ‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse perpetrated by those aged 16 or over who are or have been, intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to, psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse.’

Whilst it is overwhelmingly women who experience abuse from a male perpetrator, men also experience abuse from women, and it occurs in lesbian bisexual, gay and transgender communities as well as heterosexual ones. 1 in 4 women in England and Wales will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes (Crime Survey of England and Wales 2013/14), while 2 women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner (Office of National Statistics 2015).

At the heart of domestic abuse is the abuse of power over another person, and a desire to control them. Coercive Control became a criminal offence when the Serious Crime Act 2015 was implemented a year ago. This act distinguishes between controlling and coercive behaviour:

  • Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape, and regulating their everyday behaviour.
  • Coercive behaviour is a continuing act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten the victim.

The training considered how to recognise signs of domestic abuse, and how to respond to domestic abuse situations. It also made clear that it is our responsibility to refer on – not to assess and investigate. There are three more training sessions planned:

  • 11 May 14.00-16.00 in Rothbury
  • 11 July 18.00-20.00 in Belford
  • 16 September 10.00-12.00 in Riding Mill

If you are affected by domestic abuse, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline is available around the clock on 0808 2000 247, and there are local domestic abuse services. As always, please get in touch with me if you’d like to discuss any concerns you might have – either related to yourself or others. We are clear that all forms of abuse are irreconcilable with the Christian faith.
07825 167 016

View the news archive