A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Attacked from the inside – Intimate Partner Sexual Violence

It’s estimated that almost one in 10 Australian women has experienced sexual violence at the hands of the person she’s meant to trust most – her intimate partner.

The crime scene may be her own home, her own bed.

Intimate Partner Sexual Violence (IPSV) is little understood, with insidious consequences for the women exposed to it. But thanks to survivors coming forward, research led by the University of Melbourne is now going beyond the silence.

CONTENT WARNING: These six articles discuss multiple forms of trauma, including sexual violence and assault, abuse and harassment, as well as the effects of this trauma on mental health.

Find out more — this link takes you to a list of the six articles.

Individual links to the six articles:

Trust betrayed: attacked from the inside out

When love is blind

What a friend experiencing abuse needs most is an ally

We need to talk about pornography

What drives Intimate Partner Sexual Violence?

Intimate Partner Sexual Violence and the courts

Note from Barb Roberts: I have not yet had time to read these six articles. But I trust they will be good because I have respect for the people who have done the research and the articles are based on the reports of survivors.


Related reading

The male domestic abuser is a ‘psychephile’ – a sexual offender (Don Hennessy series part 4)

Intimate Partner Sexual Violence: A Multidisciplinary Guide to Improving Services and Support for Survivors of Rape and Abuse [*Affiliate link]. Barbara Roberts wrote the chapter ‘Pastoral Responses to Christian Survivors of Intimate Partner Sexual Violence’ in this book.

*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.


  1. Anastasia

    Thank you for what you do.

    • Reaching Out

      Hi Anastasia,

      For your safety and protection, I have changed the screen name you submitted with your comment to the screen name you used most recently on our blog. If you would prefer a different screen name, email me at reachingout.acfj@gmail.com

  2. Finding Answers

    I read all six articles….they are a fairly quick read for anyone who understands the topics being discussed….they contain valuable information, and, as with so many things, they might contain new, previously unknown pieces of information.

    There were many links (and links to links) that I could have researched (and wanted to research) for hours. 🙂 (And yes, as with so many things, some of the links at the end of the chain of links were broken….I would have searched and researched for the actual links to read the information they contained, but there are only so many hours in a day, very big sigh….)

    One of the links I followed (and read, skipping only a few parts) was Issues Paper G, titled Sexual Offences: Restorative and Alternative Justice Models. I found the paper interesting….topics discussed, questions (for discussion, for input) raised, etc..

    I also followed a link to the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Health care for women subjected to intimate partner violence or sexual violence: A clinical handbook [Internet Archive link]1.

    Some thoughts that crossed my mind while reading the WHO document, followed by (only a few) of the quotes for only a few of the items of interest that struck me while reading the WHO document….

    One thought was remembering a term I first encountered on the ACFJ blog….the term sexualized assault. Sexualized assault conveys more clearly the concept that the assault is NOT consensual….the assault is not sexual, as using the word sexual might imply something more sensual or intimate….and the assault is not “merely abuse”. (Even the WHO document used the phrase “sexual abuse”….)

    Another thought that crossed my mind (again considering what words might imply) was the phrase “Intimate partner violence”. Might the phrase “intimate partner violence” convey the idea that the violence is only physical? (But then, I don’t know what other phrase might be more effective at conveying the idea….very big sigh).

    While (from the WHO document),

    The World Health Organization does not recommend universal screening for violence of women attending health care.

    ….the (from the WHO document):

    WHO does encourage health-care providers to raise the topic with women who have injuries or conditions that they suspect may be related to violence.

    To my mind, ^That is an important distinction to make….I know there are places where people (some of whom are professionals) are expected to screen for things like depression, and the intent is not always to help the person being screened.

    From the WHO document:

    Never raise the issue of partner violence unless a woman is alone. Even if she is with another woman, that woman could be the mother or sister of an abuser.

    If you do ask her about violence, do it in an empathic, non-judgemental manner. Use language that is appropriate and relevant to the culture and community you are working in. Some women may not like the words “violence” and “abuse”. Cultures and communities have ways of referring to the problem with other words. It is important to use the words that women themselves use.

    From the WHO document (and on a similar topic):

    Talk about abuse only when you and she are alone. No one older than age 2 should overhear your conversation. Never discuss it if her husband or other family members or anyone else who has accompanied her — even a friend — may be able to overhear. You may need to think of an excuse to be able to see the woman alone, such as sending the person to do an errand or fill out a form. If her children are with her, ask a colleague to look after them while you talk.

    Some of ^Those were things I had never thought of, especially the specificity that no one older than age 2 should overhear the conversation.

    From the WHO document (and something it would help if many people remembered, not just the target audience of the WHO document):

    Your needs are as important as those of the women you are caring for. You may have strong reactions or emotions when listening to or talking about violence with women. This is especially true if you have experienced abuse or violence yourself – or are experiencing it now.

    Be aware of your emotions and take the opportunity to understand yourself better. Be sure to get the help and support you need for yourself.

    I could write (and copy) a lot more from either the articles linked to in Barb’s post (or the links to the links from the articles linked to in Barb’s post), but my comment would end up being way too long 🙂

    Thank you, Barb, for providing me with such interesting and informative research material. 🙂

    1[September 18, 2022: We added the link to the WHO publication Health care for women subjected to intimate partner violence or sexual violence: A clinical handbook. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that publication. Editors.]

  3. Shannon Hope Dingle

    I am sorry that I can’t reply to your questions on Dee’s blog post. She refuses to approve messages that include facts she doesn’t like, which is a common tactic to silence survivors.

    Sadly, she doesn’t want the truth; she just wants her truth.

    I do have major issue with Sam (i.e. the lawyer Samantha Kilpatrick) staying at the church, but it was and is a huge church so she chose to stay because, my guess is, she thought some things were redeemable. She did bring a lot of change to policies and practices there. But obviously, considering that I left, I didn’t agree. I won’t fault her for staying to enact change.

    • Thank you for your comment, Shannon Hope Dingle. I appreciate you going to the trouble of commenting here at the ACFJ blog.

      For readers who are wondering what this is about, Dee Parsons from The Wartburg Watch (TWW) recently published a blog post titled Part 1: I Still Believe in G.R.A.C.E. [Internet Archive link] [Editors’ Note: Dee Parson’s original post title was Why I Can No Longer Support G.R.A.C.E.. Shortly after publishing that post, she had a change of heart, re-titled the original post Part 1: I Still Believe in G.R.A.C.E., striking through (crossing-out) the parts of her original post that she no longer agreed with, rather than completely replacing the original post. While there is no Internet Archive of the original post Why I Can No Longer Support G.R.A.C.E., the re-titled post Part 1: I Still Believe in G.R.A.C.E. still contains the contents of the original post.]

      There have been a lot of comments at Dee’s blog post (and on Twitter) about Dee’s change of mind regarding G.R.A.C.E.

      Shannon Hope Dingle and I have both commented several times at Dee’s blog post. Shannon has now commented here at the ACFJ blog. Shannon tells us that Dee is not publishing all of what Shannon has submitted in comments at TWW. If this is true (and I have no reason do doubt Sharon’s truthfulness) it is deeply worrying to me, but it does not surprise me.

      This brings up the question of the rights and wrongs of a blog owner choosing to not publish some comments at his or her blog. At my own blogs, I choose not to publish comments that seem to me to be from abusers and their allies who are trying to throw spanners in the works, or trying to frighten or trigger victims, or trying to spread lies and myths and misinformation. I also choose not to publish some comments from people who claim to be survivors but who, despite my courteous requests, repeatedly tell other victims what to do, or what to think or what they should feel and what they should not be feeling. However, when a commenter submits a comment questioning my understanding of the facts or my opinion or my conclusions, I generally publish the comment and then reply to it. That can lead to fruitful dialogue. It can also lead to us learning more information about the issue under discussion. This kind of public dialogue can be time consuming, but if both parties want to pursue it, other readers can benefit….which means the survivor and advocacy community can benefit. This is the kind of dialogue I like to encourage.

      I might at some stage publish a blog post here at ACFJ about Dee’s change of mind regarding G.R.A.C.E. I do not have time at the moment to publish such a post as I am in the process of preparing to move house. I am moving from Melbourne to rural Victoria. I also have many other things on my ‘must write’ list!

      • I have commented again at Dee Parson’s blog post.
        You can find my comment here: Part 1:I Still Believe in G.R.A.C.E. [Internet Archive link] [Editors’ Note: This link is to Barb’s comment (comment #448505) on the original post Why I Can No Longer Support G.R.A.C.E., which was Dee Parson’s original post title. Shortly after publishing that post, Dee Parson’s had a change of heart, re-titled the original post Part 1: I Still Believe in G.R.A.C.E., striking through (crossing-out) the parts of her original post that she no longer agreed with, rather than completely replacing the original post. While there is no Internet Archive of the original post Why I Can No Longer Support G.R.A.C.E., the re-titled post Part 1: I Still Believe in G.R.A.C.E. still contains the contents of the original post.]

        It will be interesting to see whether Dee leaves my comment up. I hope she does. If Dee is restricting the discussion at her blog, she would be shooting herself in the foot, in my opinion.

      • Anonymous

        And Barbara Roberts is extremely fair in her banning of commenters because I was banned and it did me good. I got to realize just how severe my PTSD was and how it was affecting me to the point where I was writing aggressive comments, as I was extremely triggered and responding out of pain and triggering, not a more sound place.

        Cheers to Barbara for her blog, her reasonableness, her kindness, and her book!

      • Thank you, Anonymous.

    • Michael in UK

      Although brief, this gives a bit of of the answers to the questions of Barbara and “Concerned”. I wonder if your experience of church rows is similar to mine. You will spend the next 35 years learning more about that one, as well as witnessing several more, all serious ones. I heartily recommend “Trauma and recovery” by Judith Herman MD, ISBN 978 0 465 06171 6. Almost all evangelical churches are nowadays set up (by the “accredited” pattern / model) to cause trauma unawares. We are not against each other, we are against the manoeuverers.

      • Reaching Out

        Hi Michael in UK,

        We already have Judith Herman’s book Trauma and Recovery listed as an Amazon Affiliate link on several of our Resources pages. 🙂 Or readers can click here [*Affiliate link] for a link to her book.

        *Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
      • Hi, Michael in UK, thanks for your comment and welcome to the ACFJ blog. 🙂 I have seen you commenting at The Wartburg Watch and I appreciate you taking the time to find your way here as well.

        —from Barb in Australia

Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: