Czechia debuts handbook on dealing with church domestic abuse

19-09-2023

Central Europe

Kathryn Idema, CNE.news

A woman who is silenced by a man. Photo Pexels, Karolina Grabowska

A Christian group in the Czech Republic has released a handbook nationwide on how to confront domestic violence in its churches.

Czech Evangelical Alliance (CEA), the organisation responsible for launching the handbook, says they want to provide a tool for a practical and pastoral response when churches encounter both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence”.

Surveys have shown that up to 16 per cent of people have been victims of domestic violence in Czechia alone. At least 91 per cent of the cases involve women, and at least one in five Czech women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetimes, the Czech Evangelical Alliance said in an Evangelical Focus Europe report.

The handbook’s content is adapted from an English pamphlet by Restored UK, a ministry that educates Christians on domestic violence. The three-part book explains the current situation, along with guidance on how to assist victims and perpetrators. The last section gives various theological perspectives on the issue.

Glacier

Like an iceberg, domestic violence has both “visible and invisible components,” the handbook says. A large part of the “glacier” are behaviours, customs, and traditions that dictate what is on the surface.

“We must realise that certain interpretations of Biblical passages and certain teachings about relationships between men and women can be and were understood as approval, apology, or justification for domestic violence. If we are to stand against domestic violence in our churches and congregations, we have to deal with these distorted views. This can be achieved using of good teaching which breaks down their unhealthy consequences and instead confronts the perpetrators domestic violence with their sin and encourage them to repentance and change of behaviour,” the CEA said in the book.

Standard

Jiří Unger, Secretary of the CEA, says that he hopes the handbook will act as a standard for churches in how to deal with the issue. Unger worked with a team of five others in creating the publication.

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Jiří Unger. Photo Czech Evangelical Alliance

Additional volunteers helped with updating helplines and locations for victims to get help. “We saw the need to provide something practical to churches,” he said.

Unger added that while sexual abuse in the church has received much media attention, the topic of domestic violence is often avoided and even considered a taboo. “They tend to underestimate this problem,” he said.

Although more controversial measures such as the Istanbul Convention have brought domestic violence up for a political vote, the CEA has different course of action-educating as many churches as possible. “It is important to decide as churches that this is something we will not tolerate,” he said.

Emotional blackmail

The CEA held a webinar last Friday on how to assist victims and avoid common pitfalls when helping someone.

According to the handbook's website, domacinasili.ea.cz domestic violence can take on several forms. In addition to physical and emotional violence, it can also include economic abuse, emotional blackmail, and spiritual violence.

As for the future, the CEA hopes to continue campaigning on the issue for a couple more months. Unger says that he hopes his team will collaborate more with domestic violence organisations for women and that they will start publishing news releases to non-religious news outlets.

Chain

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