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Here are some quotes to consider.

First of all, violent acts are forbidden and Assemblies are not to tolerate domestic violence.

The National Spiritual Assembly will not tolerate domestic violence and condemns its existence. Violent acts are forbidden. The Universal House of Justice has said: “Acts of violence might properly be regarded as a negation of the persistent emphasis on concord, understanding and unity which are at the heart of the Bahá’í Teachings.” (Letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, 22 September, 1983)

The Baha’i Faith recognizes that domestic violence is a criminal act connected with an inability or unwillingness to apply the principle of equality and to recognize the right of everyone to be treated with consideration and respect.

The National Spiritual Assembly wishes to convey to the Bahá’í community a clear message that acts of domestic violence are at complete variance with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and that violence in the family is a practice to be condemned. In addition, domestic violence is a criminal act in the United States. Such behaviors, on the part of either men or women, are rooted in longstanding social practices connected with an inability or unwillingness to apply the fundamental spiritual principle of the equality of women and men, and to recognize the fundamental right of every human being to be treated with consideration and respect. (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 20).

While we know that suffering may be the cause of spiritual development, it’s never a justification to

• ignore abuse
• fail to assist those who are suffering
• fail to call to account one who is perpetrating abuse

Recognizing that suffering may be the cause of spiritual development is never a justification for inflicting or ignoring abuse, failing to assist those who are suffering abuse, or failing to call to account one who is perpetrating abuse. (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 134).

If a woman suffers abuse or rape by her husband, she can turn to the Assembly for assistance and counsel and seek legal protection. This abuse would gravely jeopardize the continuation of the marriage and could well lead to irreconcilable antipathy.

If a Bahá’í woman suffers abuse or is subjected to rape by her husband, she has the right to turn to the assembly for assistance and counsel, or to seek legal protection. Such an abuse would gravely jeopardize the continuation of the marriage, and could well lead to a condition of irreconcilable antipathy. (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 24 January, 1993)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself suggested that women remain faithful and forbearing towards her husband but if his cruelty became unendurable, she should leave him to himself and live separately from him:

There is a case recorded where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote to a Western believer who had sought His advice. She was told that she should remain faithful and forbearing towards her husband but, should his cruelty become unendurable, she should leave him to himself and live separately from him, as this was better and more acceptable. (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 22 July, 1987)

It takes courage to report an offence but it can provide the perpetrator with the motivation to change; and allowing the situation to continue through our silence could be a greater evil than the abuse itself.

This motivation [to change] is often propelled by the courage of those who report the offence, even in the face of the possibility of temporarily increasing the danger to the victim. Allowing the situation to continue, by silence, may very well be the greater evil. (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada, Canadian Bahá’í News, Kalimát, B.E. 150, p. 44)

If Assemblies counsel a couple to stay together under these circumstances, there’s no guarantee the violence will not recur and if so, the Assemblies would appear to be condoning it.

If, alternatively, the couple is counseled to remain together to try and reconcile their differences, there can be no guarantee that the violence will not recur, in which case the Assembly could appear, inadvertently, to be condoning it. (National Spiritual Assembly of Australia’s Policy Regarding Domestic Violence, From Australian Bahá’í Bulletin, July 1990)

Couples are encouraged to separate and seek treatment from professional counselors:

At present the prevailing method, within the Australian community, of treating domestic violence, is to advise the couple to separate and to seek treatment from professional counseling services. It is suggested that Assemblies follow this method of treating domestic violence also. (National Spiritual Assembly of Australia’s Policy Regarding Domestic Violence, From Australian Bahá’í Bulletin, July 1990)

After the couple separate, the Assembly can provide an independent forum within which the couple can try to resolve their differences.

If the couple separate, however, the role of the Assembly can then become that of providing an independent forum within which the couple can come together and try to resolve their differences. (National Spiritual Assembly of Australia’s Policy Regarding Domestic Violence, From Australian Bahá’í Bulletin, July 1990)

Overcoming domestic violence in Baha’i communities requires us to develop an environment:

• in which abusive behavior is not tolerated
• where individuals are sensitive to the warning signs of abuse
• in which no individuals or families are so isolated that they have no one to turn to in times of difficulty , an
• in which there is a “spirit of loving encouragement and support to families

Overcoming domestic violence requires developing an environment in the community in which abusive behavior is not tolerated, in which individuals are sensitive to the warning signs of abuse, in which no individuals or families are so isolated that they have no one to turn to in times of difficulty, and in which there is a “spirit of loving encouragement and support to families…” (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 119)

If you are in an abusive relationship, please get help!

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