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Australia: Anglican women more likely to suffer domestic violence

18 June 2021

The national report was commissioned by the Anglican Church of Australia

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ANGLICAN women are more likely to suffer domestic violence than women in the broader community, a national report commissioned by the Anglican Church of Australia has found.

While 15 per cent of Australians surveyed for the report said that they had experienced intimate-partner violence, the figure among Anglicans was 22 per cent. Questioned about specific examples of abuse, 44 per cent of Anglicans said that they had suffered domestic violence, compared with 38 per cent in the general population.

Anglicans who attended church regularly were more likely to have suffered both domestic violence and spiritual abuse than less regularly churchgoing Anglicans. Eighty-eight per cent of Anglican victims, however, did not seek help from the Church.

The report found that Christian teachings such as male headship, the expectation that marriage was lifelong, and unconditional forgiveness sometimes contributed to domestic violence. Victims sometimes heard these from church leaders or internalised them, or the teachings were “co-opted by abusers”, the report says.

The National Anglican Family Violence Research Report, commissioned by the General Synod Family Violence Working Group and conducted by researchers from Charles Sturt University, surveyed more than 2000 men and women aged over 18 in December 2019.

The Primate, the Most Revd Geoffrey Smith, Archbishop of Adelaide, has commented that all Anglicans “would feel deep sadness over these results”. He continued: “But armed with this data we can develop a better response to protect those within our church communities from domestic violence.”

The convener of the Family Violence Working Group, the Revd Tracy Lauersen, of the Victorian regional diocese of Gippsland, writing the foreword to the report, said that the research “tells us that there is a significant [intimate partner violence] problem within the Australian Anglican Church population”.

She continued: “This is tragic, it is confronting, and it is lamentable. But knowing about it, including gaining insight into the nature of the problem as it occurs in communities of faith, we can now respond appropriately to prevent and address it.”

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