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Restored: speaking up and doing something about violence to women

restored Restored UK
5 min

“We must speak up and do something”. These are the words of the people of God as they gathered together in horror after a terrible act of violence (Judges 19:30). A woman, neglected and rejected by a husband who valued his own life above hers, had been gang raped and killed. God’s people came together, grief-stricken, outraged and formed a desire to speak out.

Imagining that scene, the people of God coming together in holy horror and grief, it's a little like the scenes we witnessed at the vigil on Clapham Common after the murder of Sarah Everard. A collective outpouring of grief and anger as one person’s story connects with the lives of so many others.

The descent of a godly nation

What happened in the time of the Judges, to a woman whose name we don’t know, galvanised a society. It shook a community that had drifted further and further from God, and who were horrified with the consequences.

That drift resulted in a social, economic, and moral decline in the nation of Israel. When you pay attention to the women whose lives are described in Judges, that drift is documented in the treatment and status of women. It begins well with the incredible agency of Aksah in chapter one, who ask for land and receives it. Deborah, the prophet, leads the army of Israel to victory, and of course the courageous Jael plays a critical role in defeating Israel’s enemies.

But then comes the descent. It starts with the plight of Jephthah’s daughter in chapter eleven and spirals down to the story of the nameless woman in chapter nineteen.

It’s still happening today

As God’s people it’s easy to distance ourselves from the story. It happened 3,000 years ago in a time we see as ‘more barbaric’, with people who ‘weren’t like us’. We like to think we would never do something like that, that it couldn’t happen in today’s world, to women and girls we know.

But it does. According to UN statistics, 15 million adolescent girls have experienced forced sex. Nine million of those in the last year. Nine million girls whose names, like the women in the story, we’ll never know.

One in three women in the world have been subjected to sexual or physical abuse. One in four women will be subjected to domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime.

Around the world, every day, 137 women are killed by men who were meant to love them - fathers, husbands, brothers.


Every single day.

And it’s not just in ‘other’ parts of the world. In the UK, that translates to two women a week being killed by an intimate partner.

Women are still being neglected and rejected, their lives are still valued as less than the men around them and they are still being subjected to sexual and physical violence. It happens on our streets, and it happens in our homes.

It happens in our churches

That’s not a sentence I enjoy writing. Restored, together with the University of Coventry and Leicester, conducted research in 2018 that showed that one in four churchgoers have experienced abuse in a current relationship.

One in four - that’s the same figure as outside of the church.

I don’t like writing that sentence either. Most of us don’t like thinking about it at all, we don’t want it to be true, so we look the other way. But it’s time to turn our eyes and recognise the problem, so that we can create a Church which genuinely focusses on the problem. We can create a culture that stands against abuse and creates a place of safety and refuge. We can build a church that models the kinds of marriages and relationships that reflect the love of Christ to the world around us.

Who are Restored?

Restored is a charity that answers the call of Judges 19 today. They speak up about violence against women and girls through their research and campaigning, and they do something by training churches to recognise and respond to domestic abuse in their communities and to support survivors.

There are too many women who don’t have a local church equipped to support them, so Restored hosts an online community for Christian survivors of domestic abuse. More than 600 women have found a safe space in this community and have been able to find understanding, belonging and restoration. Restored consider it is such a privilege to walk alongside these women as they rediscover themselves, God and their purpose in life.

They know that what they do transforms lives, but they long to see the Church equipped to do the same. They invite Churches to join the Restored Beacon Network to partner with us to stand against domestic abuse, and ensure that every survivor of domestic abuse is able to find a safe welcome in their local Church and a beacon of hope in their darkness.  



You can help Restored by financially supporting them in their mission. 



Our research suggests that domestic abuse is a great taboo in many of our churches. Nearly 60% of respondents had never heard domestic abuse mentioned in a sermon, most churches don’t have information about where to go or who to speak to if you're being subjected to abuse. Only two in seven of Christians surveyed felt their church was adequately equipped to deal with a disclosure.

Those are things we can do something about; we can tackle the difficult topics in our sermons, talk about healthy relationships, reach out to support our local refuge and get trained to respond to disclosures. We can make it clear that we care, and that there is a safe place for people to talk and find support.

Let us not turn the other way, let us remember the women and speak up. Let us raise our voices to tell their story and to stand against violence against women in all its forms. Let’s do something to restore dignity and security to those who’ve had it taken away and help them to find a new identity in Jesus. 


Please pray for the work of Restored and the wider work of the church in tackling the issue across the UK.

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