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Lisa Oakley research

Domestic abuse charity Restored together with Broken Rites, an organisation working to support divorced clergy spouses and partners, and Professor Lisa Oakley and Dr Clea Wright of the University of Chester conducted the important study. Thirtyone:eight is partnering with Restored, Broken Rites and the University of Chester to launch the research.

The research was conducted to develop understanding of and effective support for those who experience domestic abuse in the Christian faith community.

The research was completed by 192 respondents and illustrated a range of responses to disclosures of abuse and the roles which people being disclosed to held. It demonstrated the role Christian texts and teaching can have in experiences of domestic abuse. It also detailed the spiritual impact of this form of harm. The research also included suggestions for the way in which churches can improve their response and support for survivors.

Teachings about the role of men and women, marriage and forgiveness were all reported to contribute to some survivors’ feeling trapped with abusers. Importantly, the research also demonstrated that where church leaders are adequately trained, the support of a church community can empower survivors to flourish and find restoration.

This research highlights the need for churches to be aware of domestic abuse and recognise when it’s happening and demonstrates how important it is for churches, statutory and other agencies to work in partnership. Church should be a safe place for everyone and those who need help need to know how to find it. The more openly domestic abuse is talked about and acknowledged, the better those who have been subjected to it can be supported. 

The research findings will be presented by Lisa Oakley, Professor of Safeguarding and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Chester who is currently chair of the British Psychological Society safeguarding advisory group.

The roundtable respondents will be: Bekah Legg - CEO of Restored, a Christian charity working to speak up about violence against women, to equip the Church to stand against domestic abuse and support survivors; Margaret Wilkinson, Chair of Broken Rites, an international group offering mutual support and information to divorced and separated spouses and partners of clergy and recognised ministers;

Andrew Pain, a mental health speaker and trainer, leading in work on men’s mental health and resilience and a lived-experience survivor of domestic abuse and Pav Kaur – Faith lead NWG Network, a charitable organisation formed as a UK network of practitioners who disseminate information down through their services, to professionals working on the issue of child exploitation (CE) and trafficking within the UK.)

Bekah Legg, CEO of Restored said: “This research has highlighted the impact a church can have on the life of a survivor, for good, or for bad. At Restored we are committed to equipping churches to be places of safety and hope, where survivors can feel heard, supported and, critically, be empowered to find freedom and flourish.”

Leigh McFarlane, Public Policy and Research Manager at thirtyone:eight said:“Thirtyone:eight is delighted to be partnering with Restored, Broken Rites and the University of Chester to launch this important research.  We encourage churches to continue creating safe spaces for everyone.”

Margaret Wilkinson, Chair of Broken Rites said :“Broken Rites welcomes the findings of this research which sheds light on the hidden issue of domestic abuse in clergy households.”

Prof Lisa Oakley, said: ‘We are really grateful to all who completed the survey, especially survivors, who have enabled us to learn more and to work towards better prevention and response in the future.”

The following link can be used to register to attend the Roundtable

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