Domestic abuse can take the form of a violent act, and is also often a pattern of behaviour, sometimes over a period of years. It could include assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten the victim. This coercive behaviour is designed to make a person dependent, so that the abuser regulates the everyday behaviour of the victim. Abuse may be physical, emotional and psychological, economic or spiritual. Abuse can often take the form of financial or economic abuse which would include a perpetrator restricting access to money, threatening to withhold financial support or taking sole control of the family’s finances.

The National Board of Catholic Women has published ‘Raising Awareness of Domestic Abuse‘, which aims to raise awareness within the Catholic community, of domestic abuse and the impact upon victims and their children:

  • To encourage Catholic parishes to become places of safety for people seeking to escape domestic abuse, especially women, and women with children.
  • To provide a resource for those who have survived abusive situations and need time and space to recover.
  • To provide a resource for those offering pastoral care and guidance.

The publication includes information and helpline sheets that can be displayed on the websites and notice boards of parish churches and social centres.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference has also published guidance on how Catholic parishes can support victims of domestic abuse. This was first developed for the ‘lockdown’ period of the Covid-19 pandemic.