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Use churches as ‘safe places’, Archbishop says to domestic violence victims

Archbishop of Armagh Richard Clarke has said that the Church of Ireland is investigating how parish churches can be designated as “safe places” for domestic abuse victims.

The Archbishop is the head of the Anglican church in both Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The church does not have a reputation as being a place of safety, the Archbishop confessed. Domestic abuse exists in every community. “Globally, at least one in three women, or up to one billion women, have been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in their lifetimes,” the Archbishop added.

He said that Armagh Diocese is currently investigating how parish churches can be designated as “safe places” for victims.

In the Republic of Ireland, one in five women in a relationship has been abused by a present or former partner. In Northern Ireland, the police service responds to an incident of domestic violence every nineteen minutes on average, day and night, seven days a week.

“People who suffer in this way must be encouraged to seek help,” the Bishop opined.

“One of the possibilities that we are investigating in Armagh Diocese is how parish churches can be designated as safe places for those who are suffering domestic abuse”, he said.

“For many people, in every part of this island, the Church does not have a reputation as being a place of safety, far from it,” he admitted.

“Surely we can work together to reverse this notion of what we are,” he said.

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