This policy on Domestic and Family Violence is the foundation document that guides how MBM deals with Domestic and Family Violence in our church families.
At MBM our core safe ministry values are based on:
- That all people are respected and valued as they are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and the desire to see the flourishing of all people as they journey with God in safe church and ministry environments.
- Our commitment to the protection of children and vulnerable people in our community as essential to our living out our Christian faith (Matthew 18:5-10).
- The knowledge that concealing the truth is contrary to the character of God, unjust to victims and a disservice to offenders.
- NSW State legislation, particularly in the area of child protection. Our policies are developed to help us live out both our Biblical mandate and legal responsibilities.
The primary focus of this policy is the abusive or intimidating behaviour inflicted by an adult against another person who is a current or former spouse; romantic partner or family member:
- This can be between two people, who are married, divorced, dating, with or without children. It can be between teenagers, young people, adults, or the elderly; a man and woman, two women, or two men; two people from any race, culture, nationality, religion, neighborhood, financial status, or educational level.
- Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) includes but is not limited to emotional, verbal, financial, psychological, spiritual, physical and sexual violence or abuse. Such behaviour often seeks to control, humiliate, dominate or instill fear in the victim.
- It is important to note that DFV, if witnessed or overheard by a child, is a form of child abuse by the perpetrator of the abusive behaviour.
To ensure the safety of vulnerable people and children in our communities, in conjunction with the Anglican Church of Australia:
1. MBM commits to recognising that Domestic and Family Violence exists within our church family and requires a serious and realistic response:
- All forms of DFV cause damage to the victim/s and are wrong.
- DFV can occur in all communities, including churches.
- DFV, if witnessed or overheard by a child, is a form of child abuse by the perpetrator of the abusive behaviour.
- Sometimes people can be both perpetrators and victims of DFV simultaneously.
2. MBM commits to upholding Scripture and its abhorrence of abuse in our words and public statements by:
- Clearly teaching that DFV is wrong and that the Bible should never be used to justify or excuse any form of abuse.
- Clearly teaching that the Bible does not condone DFV and should not be interpreted to demand a spouse tolerates or submits to DFV.
- Raising awareness of domestic violence agencies, support services and resources.
3. MBM commits to being a safe place which:
- Recognises equality amongst people, including husbands and wives.
- Promotes a culture of healthy relationships of mutual responsibility in marriages, exclusive relationships, families and congregations.
- Ensures that all people feel welcomed, respected and safe from DFV.
- Strives to follow good practice in protecting those experiencing DFV.
- Refuses to condone any form of abuse, and
- Enables concerns to be raised and responded to clearly and consistently.
4. MBM commits to upholding Faithfulness in Service (FiS) as the Sydney Diocese Code of Conduct for clergy and church workers, specifically as it affirms that:
- Abuse of power is at the heart of many relationship problems in the Church and in the community. In essence, abuse is one person’s misuse of power over another. Sometimes abuse will be a one-off event and at other times it will be a pattern of behaviour (FiS 6.2).
- It is important for clergy and church workers to be good citizens and to obey the laws of the community, except where those laws conflict with Christian convictions (FiS 6.4).
- You are not to abuse your spouse, children, or other members of your family (FiS 6.6).
- MBM extends this definition to include people who are dating or in an exclusive relationship.
5. MBM commits to respecting people who come to us for help by:
- Valuing, listening to and respecting the victims.
- Valuing, listening to and respecting the alleged or known perpetrators of DFV.
- Appreciating the need to ensure appropriate distance is kept between the victim and the perpetrator.
- Refusing to condone the perpetration or continuation of any form of abuse.
6. MBM commits to ensuring safety first by:
- Ensuring that those who have experienced DFV can find safety and informed help as a first priority.
- Taking it seriously by ensuring that any disclosures of abuse are taken seriously and not dismissed.
- Getting assistance from appropriate government and non-government agencies, to provide support and advice to victims, perpetrators and MBM staff.
- Working with the appropriate statutory authorities during an investigation into DFV, including when allegations are made against a member of the church community.
- Keeping it confidential by respecting the need for confidentiality within the bounds of good safe ministry practice.
- Challenging with care, by carefully challenging inappropriate behaviour, but only in a way that does not place any individual, especially a victim at increased risk.
7. MBM commits to offering support to those in our care by
- Offering informed care by ensuring that informed and appropriate pastoral care is offered to any adult, child or young person who is or has come to harm from DFV.
- Being guided by the victim by recognising and respecting that it is the victim’s prerogative to forgive or restore a relationship with an offender.
- Understanding that reconciliation comes with conditions by any reconciliation between victim and perpetrator is dependent principally upon genuine repentance and reformation of the perpetrator, and also upon the willing grace of the victim.
- Coordinating the care by identifying the appropriate relationships of those with pastoral care responsibilities for both victims and perpetrators of abuse.
- Ensuring equal access to care by working to ensure that clergy, clergy spouses, lay ministers and their spouses all have the same access to support and resources as others who experience DFV.