Domestic violence is a serious concern that can affect members of any congregation or faith community. As such, faith leaders often encounter both victims and abusers in their ministry and should be equipped to respond appropriately.

New York Theological Seminary, in conjunction with the New York Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Governor’s Office of Faith Based Community Development Services, has prepared a set of guidelines for faith leaders to respond to situations of domestic violence in their communities. Although the guidelines were prepared specifically for New York state, they may be helpful for any faith leader in “providing support for victims of domestic violence and in holding abusers accountable.”

The guidelines include background information on domestic violence -- the proliferation of the issue in any faith community, why it’s harmful, and why faith leaders should respond to it. Lessons to be learned include how to spot domestic violence, how faith leaders can be a resource for affected individuals, how to prevent domestic abuse, how to work with affected children, and how to attend to one’s own self-care (including creating boundaries).

In addition to the provided suggestions, the guideline document also provides a number of outside resources and faith-specific background information to encourage an interfaith stance against domestic violence.

The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence offers the resource for free on their website. 

Domestic Violence and Faith Communities: Guidelines for Leaders

If you know of other resources for addressing this important topic, please let us know.