Most pastors want their churches to be a safe haven, but don’t have a plan to get there.

When it comes to domestic violence, Protestant pastors want to be helpful but often don’t know where to start.

Most say their church would be a safe haven for victims of domestic violence.

But many don’t know if anyone in their church has been a victim of domestic violence. And only half say they have a plan in place to help if a victim comes forward.

Those are among the findings of a new report on churches and domestic abuse from LifeWay Research, based on a phone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors.

The study was sponsored by Autumn Miles, a radio host and speaker whose church was caught off guard when she told them about her domestic violence experience.

“If a woman comes forward and says, ‘I need help—I am being abused,’ a church needs to respond,” she said. “There’s a lot to lose if churches get this wrong.”

Most pastors (87%) already believe that “a person experiencing domestic violence would find our church to be a safe haven.” Eleven percent somewhat agree. One percent are not sure.

And most pastors (89%) also believe their church regularly communicates that domestic violence is not okay.

Yet almost half of pastors say they don’t know if anyone in their church has been a victim of domestic violence in the last three years (47%). A third say a church member has been a victim of domestic violence (37%). Fifteen percent say no one has experienced domestic violence.

Church size plays a role in whether pastors know of a domestic violence victim. Pastors at bigger churches—those with more than 250 attendees—are most likely (65%) to know of a victim of domestic violence in their church. Pastors at smaller churches—those with fewer …

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