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Home Defense

Dealing with Domestic Abuse

Aggressive man with a clenched fist and scared woman covering her face in fear sitting on bed

The mission of House of Faith and Freedom[1]

From the Bible

  • Members of the church should care for each other:
    That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it ... Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. (1 Corinthians 12:25-27 KJV).
  • The NIV was used on the House of Faith and Freedom website:
    So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it… Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12:25-27 NIV)
  • Bitterness is one cause of abuse:
    Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them (Colossians 3:19).
  • Domestic abuse comes from one person trying to control another. God predicted this would happen:
    “Thy desire [desire to control; same Hebrew word as in Gen. 4:7] shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Genesis 3:6).
  • Introduction

    For a long time, domestic abuse has been a covert offense, hidden behind curtains and doors. However, this class of offenses has not been totally unknown. Societies had ways of addressing spousal violence. In England and America, there were laws against "wife beating." Some other societies limited the severity of abuse or allowed the wife's male relatives to avenge abuse by her husband. The Old Testament law forbade incest (sexual abuse). Additionally, all societies expected the head of a household to provide for those in his care (see 1 Timothy 5:8). By their very existence, these customs and laws testify to the existence of abuse and violence

    Now there seems to be an epidemic of violent domestic abuse, because we constantly hear more about it. However, there has always been abuse - a consequence of sinful human nature. We hear more about it partly because cases are more often reported, and news coverage is broader than just local. On the other hand, there may be some increase because of the breakdown of societal values

    Videocast and Show Notes

    Kris discusses the subject of domestic violence and an organization formed to address the issue in a videocast on the YouTube channel Sheepdog Church Security Academy. The audio is in a Church Security Roll Call podcast. Beneath the video screen is a link to the Show Notes (article summary). They are for this article until the nest weekly article is posted a week later. This is a downloaded PDF which can be printed to share. It can also be attached to messages and emails.[2][3]

    How Safe Is Home?

    "Safely at home" is how we like to describe returning to where we live. Feeling that our home is a safe place is just as natural as feeling the same way about church, school, or the workplace. However, for many women, children, and (yes) men, home is not a safe place. The building may be in good condition with no tripping or slipping hazards; it is a person or persons living there that make it unsafe

    Often we do not learn that a home in our community is not a safe place until someone dies or is seriously injured - usually the victim (sometimes the abuser is killed or wounded in self-defense). Domestic violence may be spousal abuse, sibling abuse, child abuse, or elder abuse, or another relationship between abuser and victim. The violence is often linked with other forms of abuse, especially mental, emotional, and sexual abuse, and sometimes spiritual abuse

    As an example of spiritual abuse, in May 2022 a young woman was killed by her husband, who beat her to death. According to her family, he used "faith" to control her and keep her from getting away.[4]

    Out the Door

    As much as a family may want to keep something as embarrassing as abuse in the dark, it can spill over, outside the door. Domestic violence can lead to violence in the community. It is a leading cause of violent incidents at church

    This was the case in the deadliest United States church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A husband who was violent at home, and had served a year in jail for domestic violence, was aiming for his in-laws when he attacked the church where his wife grew up with the cry, "Everybody dies!" Twenty-six did.[5]

    While the search for the killer of four university students in Moscow, Idaho, is a recurring news story at this time, 15 years ago in the same city a man killed his wife before going downtown, breaking into a church, and setting up a sniper's nest. He killed two more persons and wounded three others before killing himself.[6]

    Helping the Church to Address Domestic Violence

    Churches are not immune to domestic abuse, even to the point of violence. In 1968 or '69, an usher in a church near Portland, Oregon, killed and decapitated his wife and children and dumped their bodies in a park. This was a real shock. It did not happen in the church or at a church event, but involved a family in the church. Even now, I wonder what the church could have done to prevent this. Needless to say, it was depressing for the pastor

    Helping the Church to Help the Abused

    In the church, we may hear whispers about abuse. We may recognize signs of abuse. Some may say they are being abused. Do we know how to help?

    There is help. House of Faith and Freedom (HOFF) was started by Hannah Fordice to help churches and other faith-based organizations to handle domestic violence in ways that are effective. Her experience is in helping victims of domestic abuse. She has been working with several organizations and agencies, governmental and non-profit, concerning domestic violence, helping victims, and educating communities. Her husband, a law enforcement officer, has answered domestic disturbance calls

    Many churches do not know how to deal with domestic violence. HOFF has resources available to help them meet this need. To address the problem in all current domestic relationships, it is now referred to as "intimate partner violence." Either one or both partners may be members or attenders of a church

    The couple's relationship may or may not be approved by the church. What matters is the violence. From an evangelistic point of view, the church can minister to them spiritually while ministering to them practically. Helping them is an act of love, and this love must be genuine, even if tough love at times. They will care what you know when they know that you care

    HOFF resources include Hannah's book, Ready Refuge: A Cross-Denominational Guide for Church Leaders on Intimate Partner Violence. With its introductory overview of domestic violence, it also addresses "Christ-centered advocacy" and the best ways a church can respond. Training manuals based on the book's sections are coming soon.[7]

    In-person training is also available for churches. This can be day-long conferences or topical seminars

    The HOFF website has a "Resources" tab. Under this are six typed of resources:

    HOFF has two podcasts: House to Heart and House to House

    House to Heart - According to the description on the HOFF site, this podcast is "about abuse, trauma, and finding healing in the arms of Christ." The hosts, Hannah Fordice and Nicky Osterhus, have conversations with various people: faith leaders, survivors of domestic abuse, professionals. In the November 17, 2022 episode, they talked with Kris Moloney of Sheepdog Church Security about how a church safety ministry can help victims of domestic violence. This interview is shown not only on the House to Heart podcast, but also on the Sheepdog Church Security Academy channel on YouTube. Hannah had been a guest about a year earlier on a Sheepdog Church Security Academy videocast, "Danger at Home," which was covered in a Sheepdog Church Security article.[8][9][10][11]

    House to House - Hannah Fordice hosts this podcast, which highlights what other houses (local churches) are doing to bring redemption and healing to their communities through love in action. In each episode, Hannah converses with a leader or two in each church about how they minister in the community. A sample of the guest churches are: Rock Hill Community Church in Duluth, Crossview Covenant Church in North Mankato, The Vineyard Church in Duluth, and Hosanna Church! in three locations

    In these conversations she covers how they conduct their ministries and how this reaches people, meeting their needs, both spiritual and material, including relational issues and safety

    Wearing Your Concern

    House of Faith and Freedom has a line of apparel under the heading Products for a Purpose: Start a Conversation. These tee-shirts, hoodies, baseball caps, and beanies bear messages promoting domestic harmony, such as [Front / Back]:

    The Role of Church Security

    In the House to Heart episode "Creating Safer Churches with Security Ministries," Hannah Fordice and Nicky Osterhus talk with Kris Moloney about how a church safety/security ministry can protect domestic violence victims (this is also a Sheepdog Church Security Academy video, "Seeking Sanctuary House to Heart Interview"). Kris described several aspects of this protection, including shadowing the victim for immediate action from threats, securing children, and screening out the abuser. He also emphasized training for these types of situations, so that when the time comes we already know what to do. For more information, listen to or watch the conversation.[8][9]


    Domestic violence is very real, and it does happen among those who attend our churches. Organizations such as House of Faith and Freedom are here to help us know how to address the issue of violence in the home and to protect those who are in our churches

    Training Notes

    Addressing the issue of domestic violence does not fit neatly within any one of Sheepdog Church Security's training modules. It is covered by four of them:

    This highlights the need for all Church Safety Team members to be trained and certified through the Safety Member Certification program.[1]

    There are three training formats: Team Certification (church-hosted classes), Individual Certification (self-paced online instruction), and Online Events (live Zoom classes)

    Quarter 3 of the 2022-'23 Online Events school year has begun. The next class is "Active Shooter Response" on February 5. A student enrolling now can continue until all the classes are taken and passed.

    Color coding:

    Related to Article







    Training Module


    Sep 11

    Nov 13

    Jan 29

    Mar 26

    Safety Team Fundamentals


    Sep 18

    Nov 20

    Feb 5

    Apr 2

    Active Shooter Response


    Sep 25

    Dec 4

    Feb 12

    Apr 16

    Deescalating Disruptive Persons


    Oct 2

    Dec 11

    Feb 19

    Apr 23

    Protecting Children from Abuse


    Oct 9

    Dec 18

    Feb 26

    Apr 30

    Basic Use of Force Laws


    Oct 16

    Jan 8

    Mar 5

    May 7

    Arson and Fire Safety


    Oct 23

    Jan 15

    Mar 12

    May 21

    Storms and Disasters


    Nov 6

    Jan 22

    Mar 19

    Jun 4

    Mass Trauma Emergencies

    Other sources of training include articles in the Church Security Guide, especially the article "Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults in the Church," Kris's book Defending the Flock,[12] and Sheepdog Interviews videos on the YouTube channel Sheepdog Church Security Academy, including "Seeking Sanctuary House to Heart Interview" and "Danger at Home - Domestic Violence."

    Up Next

    The next article, the first one in February, is "2010 New Gethsemane Church of God in Christ Shooting" (Lesson Learned)


    1. House of Faith and Freedom (HOFF) [].
    2. Kris Moloney, Sheepdog Church Security Academy, YouTube []
    3. Kris Moloney, Church Security Roll Call, SoundCloud [].
    4. Chris Fisher, "Lawrence murder victim's mother says daughter was 'manipulated through her faith'," 12News, May 20, 2022 []
    5. WGV, "2017 Sutherland Springs Church Shooting," Articles, Sheepdog Church Security, July 5, 2022 []
    6. WGV, "The 2007 Moscow First Presbyterian Church Shooting," Articles, Sheepdog Church Security, September 27, 2021 []
    7. Hannah Fordice, "Ready Refuge: A Cross-Denominational Guide for Church Leaders on Intimate Partner Violence," House of Faith and Freedom, August 24, 2020 []
    8. Hannah Fordice and Nicky Osterhus (co-hosts) with Kris Moloney (guest): "Creating Safer Churches with Security Ministries," Seeking Sanctuary: House to Heart, House of Faith and Freedom, November 17, 2022 [];
    9. Hannah Fordice and Nicky Osterhus (co-hosts) with Kris Moloney (guest): "Seeking Sanctuary House to Heart Interview," Church Security Roll Call 338, Sheepdog Church Security Academy, November 21, 2022 []
    10. Hannah Fordice and Kris Moloney, "Danger at Home - Domestic Violence," Sheepdog Church Security Academy, October 5, 2021 []
    11. WGV, "Danger at Home" (Domestic Violence and Church Safety), Sheepdog Church Security, October 11, 2021 []
    12. Kris Moloney, "Defending the Flock: A Security Guide for Church Safety Directors," Sheepdog Church Security, December 12, 2017 [].