Survivors of domestic abuse are being offered faith-based support and counselling tailored to their needs.
Safe in Faith is a new initiative from Caritas Westminster.
And the aim is to create a network of professionally qualified counsellors, therapists and practitioners to support people living through domestic abuse as well as women and girls experiencing violence.
From a Catholic context, this includes a programme of training for priests, deacons and religious to offer support.
Huda Jawad, co-founder of the Faith and Violence Against Women and Girls coalition, said: “Faith communities play a vital and unique role in the response to and elimination of violence against women.
“However, many survivors of domestic abuse feel that specialist services don’t understand the dynamic of how faith can be used both to empower women but also as a form of oppression.
“For someone with a faith, this faith informs all the decisions they make and the way they think, and this needs to be understood when a survivor of domestic violence is seeking help.”
Nikki Dhillon Keane, adviser on Domestic Abuse to the Catholic Bishops' Conference and leader of the project said: “Our churches are becoming more aware of the issue of domestic abuse, and are getting better at signposting people to other organisations but the aim of Safe in Faith is for faith communities to be able to walk alongside survivors in their journey.”
This project was developed with support from from the National Board of Catholic Women, Jewish Women's Aid, the Association of Christian Counsellors, Marriage Care, and the Black Churches Domestic Abuse Forum, among others.
All the groups involved have a common aim of promoting the safety and dignity of survivors of abuse above all, and supporting them within their faith communities, where they can best be enabled to recover from trauma and rebuild their lives.
Training is available for professional counsellors, therapists and practitioners – or anyone in a pastoral role in their faith group. Further information is available from email@example.com
The National Board of Catholic Women, has produced a resource, Raising Awareness of Domestic Abuse, which focuses on the Catholic community and the impact of abuse upon victims and their children.