If only this book wasn’t needed; sadly, it is. Domestic abuse is far more common in our churches than many realise. Hidden Evil is an apt title.
Dr Davies has compiled stories from sufferers that help us understand how abuse starts, the fear and shame of finding oneself in an abusive relationship, and why people stay in them.
The stories are desperately sad, but it’s in the ‘pastoral response’ section that the book really comes into its own. Dr Davies suggests several signs that indicate that domestic abuse may be occurring, and discusses how to care for the abused. He notes some of the theological flashpoints common to domestic abuse, such as respect, submission, love and headship. It challenged me as a preacher to read of abused women who had never heard a balanced sermon on how a healthy marriage functions.
One reservation: on two occasions (pp.144, 167) an appeal is made for sufferers of domestic abuse to be believed. It’s vital that we listen carefully and take seriously disclosures of abuse, and Dr Davies is rightly seeking to correct an imbalance where victims have been ignored. But in a ‘believe the victim’ era where we have seen a string of high profile false allegations unquestioningly believed and acted upon by law enforcement, we need to heed the wisdom of Proverbs 18:17: ‘The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him’.
This is an important book on a neglected topic.
Nelson, South Wales