Websites for Faith Communities

Section 1 - National Websites

(Note: this list is not all inclusive)

The following are informational websites that specifically address involvement of the faith community in the issue of domestic and sexual violence:


AARDVARC, An Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection
includes a wonderful link on their site, which provides many free informational resources dealing with religion and domestic violence.


Faith Trust Institute is the premiere groundbreaking organization exploring the intersection of faith and domestic and sexual violence. Founded in 1977, they are an international, multifaith organization who's motto is working together to end domestic and sexual violence. They offer a wealth of excellent resources.


Jewish Women International (JWI) is dedicated to ensuring that every woman and girl is safe, in her home and in her relationships. JWI is recognized as the leading Jewish organization committed to ending the cycle of family violence.


Peace and Safety in the Christian Home is a loose coalition of academics, professionals, clergy and laypeople who are alarmed by domestic violence in the Christian home are interested in solving the problem of abuse in the Christian home.


The Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute is diverse group of people who are concerned about the issues of domestic violence in families and in all human relationships and the response of the Black Church.


The Islamic Society of North America's (ISNA) Domestic Violence Forum was established to bring awareness to the issue of domestic violence in Muslim communities and provide opportunities for collaboration, exchanges of information and the promotion of continued research in the field of the impact of domestic violence on Muslim families.


The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women contains 2 sections within the website at with information for faith-based communities. One is a list of resources on domestic violence prevention and education in faith-based communities which may be found at Also an
article: "Religion & Domestic Violence: Information and Resources - Key Issue: Interpretations of Religious Doctrine" and links to some related articles may befound at:



Section 2 - Michigan-based sites


Burgess Family Ministry and Consultation Service This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is located in Kalamazoo. Executive Director John P. Burgess is an ordained elder in the Free Methodist Church. In addition to providing counseling and batterer intervention services, John is passionate about working with churches to increase awareness and response to issues surrounding violence against women. He has lead many educational programs for church leaders and congregations including programs for teens regarding healthy relationships. He can be reached at the email address above.


 Safe Haven Ministries is a Grand Rapids-based, comprehensive domestic violence organization, and the only faith-based organization in the nation to exclusively provide domestic violence services. Its mission is "Motivated by Christ’s love, our mission is to end domestic abuse." In serving women and children, Safe Haven offers an emergency shelter, non-residential services, including case management, counseling, and a trauma-intervention children’s program, as well as a prevention and education program for the entire community. Safe Haven’s resources, including those specifically designed for the faith community, can be accessed by all on its website.


Section 3 - National General Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Resources


The following are general websites, not specifically focused on the faith community, which provide information and address community involvement in the issue of domestic and sexual violence.


Stop It Now! has been active since1992. Their focus is public policy, public education, and research programs to protect our children by emphasizing adult and community responsibility.


The Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence serves as a forum for, and clearinghouse on information, research, resources and critical issues about violence against women in Asian and Pacific Islander communities.


The Family Violence Prevention Fund works to prevent violence within the home, and in the community, to help those whose lives are devastated by violence.


The Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community provides leadership to end/reduce domestic violence in the African American Community.


The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization. RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline and carries out programs to prevent sexual assault, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

Team Collaboration Report Notes

Please work in a team with persons from your region or community with whom you have worked and/or plan to work to address the matter of domestic violence.


Please select one member of your team to record the team's work in the areas listed on the front and back of this page, and on the pages of this workbook related to workshop activities with regional teams.


Please select one member of your team to report on the items below at the end of today's workshop.

1.  Team member's names and organizations:

2.  After working together to design an Action Plan to bring about your intended change, please make notes describing the following parts of your strategic plan:

  • Your goals and objectives:
  • Your plans for obtaining resources:
  • The specific actions you will take to bring about your intended change:

3.  Please make any notes on your team's thoughts regarding the actual implementation of the above in this order:

4.  Please add notes on the following next steps in your team's plan:

  • How will you evaluate your success?
  • What will your next steps be?
  • Will you celebrate the process? How?

What a Faith Leader Can Do to Prevent and Intervene in Domestic and other Family Violence

By weaving an awareness of abuse issues into the fabric of your congregation, you can be a true sanctuary of peace. Add your own ideas about how to integrate abuse prevention themes into sermons, education, and training opportunities.


  • Articulate in your words and model in your actions the essence of healthy relationships and sanctuary.
  • Practice self-care and prioritize your own primary/family relationships.
  • Pay attention to how references to family, partner, parent & child obligations and ethics are worded and discussed. Be sensitive to the fact that not all relationships are loving or well-intentioned.What does "honor your father & mother" mean if you are abused by one of them?
  • Be careful not to assume that all marriages/relationships are healthy.
  • Require fingerprinting for all those that work with children or youth.
  • Become politically active around issues of abuse prevention.
  • Honor abused persons during religious services and ceremonies: e.g. "This prayer is for persons who are abused in their own homes..."
  • Become familiar with ways in which sermons and text have (a) reinforced tolerance of abuse and (b) spoken out against abuse. Develop alternatives.
  • Publicly recognize October as domestic violence awareness month. Wear a purple ribbon in honor of abused women. If Jewish, tie a purple ribbon to your Sukkah.
  • Publicly recognize April as child abuse prevention month. Wear a blue ribbon in honor of abused children.
  • When discussing the Exodus or other liberation texts or events, include those who remain enslaved today, or discuss who our current "Pharaohs" are.
  • Openly mention and discuss references to domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and other abuses of power that occur in sacred writings. Choose one of these topics for a sermon or discussion.
  • Identify and use community support systems and resources.
  • Serve on a county domestic violence or child abuse prevention council, or participate in other efforts to end abuse.
  • Advocate publicly for violence-free families.
  • Volunteer at your local domestic violence agency or at a child abuse center.
  • Remember your professional specialty as a spiritual guide and support and as a community leader.
  • Speak out against abuse.
  • Support local domestic violence, elder and child abuse agencies through affirming their work publicly and in the pulpit.
  • Invite an expert from the local domestic violence and/or child abuse program to speak to your membership.
  • Encourage members to do a volunteer project or collect needed material goods or money for local abuse programs.
  • Report suspected child abuse, dependent adult and elder abuse to appropriate civil authorities.
  • Refer abuse victims and offenders to specialized community services for help.
  • Include "those abused in their own homes" in prayers and during healing services and ceremonies.


Document Compiled By: FaithTrust Institute, 2900 Eastlake Ave E., Suite 200 (please note our new address effective February 3, 2012), Seattle, WA 98102, tel: 206-634-1903, fax: 206-634-0115

Strategies for Building Relationships with Faith Communities

Strategies for Building Relationships with Faith Communities

Based on lessons learned from DVAFCL teams in California

Make personal contact with religious leaders


  • Personal conversations work better than sending out letters.
  • Try to find at least one religious leader or lay person from within the congregation who can be your ally. If you are a member of a faith community, talk with your own leaders about the issue.
  • Recognize that domestic violence is one of many social and faith issues the faith leader may be dealing with.
  • Be as clear and succinct as possible about what you would like them to do – for example, call three other pastors to come to a breakfast or meeting to watch a video and talk about domestic violence in the community.
  • Offer a concrete proposal to present a workshop, deliver a message, or help create a program at the church/temple/mosque or spiritual gathering place.
  • Appeal to their self-interest – that you and others can help them build their skill base in serving the needs of their community.
  • Meet religious leaders where they are
  • Recognize that many religious leaders have not had training on domestic violence – at the same time, they do not want to feel ignorant, shamed or inadequate for not knowing much about this problem.
  • Acknowledge the positive things that faith leaders are doing already and the strengths they bring to the situation (i.e. that they have the trust of their members and can play an important role in raising awareness and promoting safety for families).
  • Be respectful of faith leaders' religious beliefs – focus on underlying shared values of safety, respect, compassion and trust. But also be aware of the need for accountability (from the community as well as the batterer).


Present yourself as a resource


  • Offer information about domestic violence that is relevant to faith leaders' level of knowledge and experience.
  • Videos such as "Broken Vows" or "Religion and Newsweekly" as well as "What Every Congregation Needs to Know About Domestic Violence" may be helpful. Check out the resources at FaithTrust Institute:
  • Religious and lay leaders may not be aware of the services that are available to victims, children and batterers. Provide brochures to put at the place of worship; offer to make a presentation to the congregation or provide a workshop for lay staff at the church/temple/mosque or other place of worship.
  • Prepare a list of local resources and phone numbers that faith leaders can call for help in situations of domestic violence.


Be aware of cultural and linguistic issues


  • If you are not a member of a particular community you are reaching out to, make sure to build relationships first with a few key people in that community. Ask questions about what cultural issues are relevant in that community. Try to support those people to take on leadership roles in the effort.
  • Provide support (including financial) to translate materials.


Move toward joint strategic action


  • Trust comes through an experience of doing things together
  • Present steps for doing a joint action plan – provides a structure for concrete activities toward a common goal.
  • People have different skills – some are great networkers, some are salespeople, some are good at strategic planning or facilitating – everyone brings a strength to the action process.
  • Provide financial resources or other benefits (good food!) if possible.


Recognize that this is a long-term process


  • Building lasting relationships with faith communities takes time and effort
  • You will be challenged along the way to examine your own belief systems – we can't assume that there's only one belief system.
  • Remember to celebrate your accomplishments along the way – every seed planted and watered makes a difference.


Document Created By: FaithTrust Institute, 2900 Eastlake Ave E., Suite 200 (please note our new address effective February 3, 2012), Seattle, WA 98102, tel: 206-634-1903, fax: 206-634-0115

What a Congregation Can Do To Prevent and Intervene in Domestic and Other Family Violence

Increase Awareness

  • Acknowledge that all forms of abuse and family violence exist in the congregation (move from denial to being proactive).
  • Educate congregational leaders about the "real life" problem of family violence and understanding the larger context of family violence in the culture.
  • Promote social action and outreach around family well-being.
  • Establish a vision of sanctuary or the congregation as a safe place for the vulnerable; provide for safe disclosure of abuse.
  • Promote family strengths (with inclusive definition of "family").
  • Create a committee on family violence to provide on-going leadership and oversight for congregational response.
  • Provide resource information to clergy and other religious leaders.
  • Develop a mechanism for reaching out to vulnerable and stressed families.
  • Post hotline numbers in restrooms, place domestic violence brochures from local programs where literature and resources are displayed.
  • Put a link to your local domestic violence and child abuse programs on your website.

Prevent Harm


  • Identify and use expertise within the congregation, e.g. therapists, social workers
  • Bring in outside resources (professionals, services, information, etc.)
  • Develop policies for prevention and intervention, including protocols for leaders.
  • Develop policies that require education on family violence for all workers in your congregation.
  • Screen all staff and volunteers.
  • Require fingerprinting and background checks for all staff that work with children. Repeat annually.
  • Supervise all staff and volunteers, including implementing internal disciplinary procedures when necessary.


Respond to Incidents of Abuse


  • Train congregants to be available to respond to others.
  • Know the limitations of leaders and the congregations. Establish procedures for situations when limits are reached in time, energy, resources, etc.
  • Provide safety for disclosure of abuse.
  • Develop a protocol for reporting child, dependent and elder abuse. Train all members that serve in a leadership on the protocol.
  • Respond appropriately to allegations (following the CA reporting laws accurately)
  • Understand differences between spiritual support (such as praying) and practical support (such as developing an escape plan). Encourage both.


2002, Rev. Kibbie S. Ruth, Kyros Ministry
2005, Edited by CA DHS


Document Created By: FaithTrust Institute, 2900 Eastlake Ave E., Suite 200 (please note our new address effective February 3, 2012), Seattle, WA 98102, tel: 206-634-1903, fax: 206-634-0115

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