Preaching Tool Question 1: Could any aspect of my communication be misinterpreted as empowering a perpetrator or diminishing a victim?

Understanding the issues

We know that in any assembled group there will definitely be victims and likely be abusers (past and current). We must consider our communication in light of this statistical reality. There is also a conversation happening in broader society and so our listeners will have experience, exposure or increased awareness and sensitivity to these topics. We can assume, for example, when we speak of suffering (trial, challenge, test, wound, grief etc) that some of our listeners are filtering our discussion through the lens of abuse.

This tool gives you communication pitfalls to watch out for as well as suggested alternatives.

I was impressed by a speaker talking about radical obedience to God because they took a moment to acknowledge that for those who had experienced abuse, the word obedience may had been misused against them. They explained Godly obedience does not control and condemn, there is no locked door with God. God is a God of freedom. Then the speaker continued, it was a low key insert but powerful.

Pitfalls to watch out for

Could a perpetrator use my words to justify their behaviour? For example:

When I talk about…Could it be heard as…
Submission“You have to submit to me (and my abuse)”
Marriage and Divorce“You can never leave me (no matter what)”
Sin and Forgiveness“Saying sorry is enough (even though my behaviour hasn’t changed)”
Commitment and Honour“If you leave me you are breaching our covenant (my abuse hasn’t done that)”

Could a victim feel silenced, minimised, or condemned by my words? For example:

When I talk about … Could it be heard as …
Forgiveness “If they say sorry, I must accept (even more abuse)”
Family and Privacy “This is a family matter (and I can’t tell anyone)”
Marriage and Commitment “Saving my marriage is more important than me (and my safety)”
Relationships and Gender “Problems in relationships are normal (even violence and abuse)”
Stereotypes and Culture “He seems like a great guy (and no one will believe me if I tell)”
Parents and Children “All parents love their kids (even mine who abused me)”
Parents and Discipline “Parents are responsible for correction (and my control / violence is a form of love)”
Sin and Conflict “It takes two to tango (so I must have done something to deserve abuse)”

Practical suggestions

Can I adjust my language to avoid these implications & inferences?

Add disclaimers or caveats to broad statements
“I’m not suggesting …”
“Of course there are circumstances where …”
“Please don’t hear me saying …”
“This is true for mutually respectful relationships …”
“There are times when other action is required.”
“This may not be true in all experiences …”

Consider re-wording to avoid incorrect assumptions

**Refer “identify, call out & name” section.

Further resources


1) 1-800-Respect
2) Men’s Referral Service: for men who want help to stop using violent and controlling behaviour. 
1300 766 491 
3) Lifeline: For support and information about suicide prevention 
13 11 14 
4) Daisy app developed by 1800RESPECT.  This app provides information about support  services in your local area.  It is available for download from Android and iOS devices.  Visit for more information.
5)  Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800, Anytime. Any Reason. 
6)  NSW Domestic Violence Line: 1800 65 64 63 
The NSW Domestic Line provides counselling and referrals to women experiencing domestic and family violence. 


1) DV Alert: Domestic and Family Violence Response Training (DV-alert) is designed to build capacity in frontline workers within universal services for whom family violence is not a core  function of their role.  There are a variety of options to choose from including eLearning  courses, face-to-face, awareness sessions, 1-day trainings, 2-day trainings, and virtual trainings.
Visit for more information

Research and Statistics

  1. ABS. 2020. Partner Violence: In focus – Crime and Justice Statistics. Available at:
  2. AIHW. 2019. Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia: Continuing the national story. Available at:
  3. Mission Australia: Domestic and family violence statistics
  4. Our Watch Quick Facts:
  5. ANROWS (Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women):
  6. Education Centre Against Violence and NSW Health:
    Fact Sheets:
    1. Fact Sheet 1
    2. Fact Sheet 2
    3. Fact Sheet 3