Religion & Domestic Violence: Information and Resources - Key Issue: Working with Victims

Religion and faith are part of deeply held belief systems for many and can play a significant role in the experiences of victims/survivors. Supportive faith communities and secular programs can help identify options that are unique to their situations.

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Religion & Domestic Violence: Information and Resources - Key Issue: Working with Victims by The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (2007)

Religion and faith are part of deeply held belief systems for many people and can play a significant role in the experiences of victims and survivors of domestic violence. Battered women of faith may look to faith leaders as sources of spiritual nurturing and guidance and often seek their support before or in lieu of traditional domestic violence services. Religious scholars, however, have acknowledged that the institutional structure and lack of training in theological schools about how to address violence against women can contribute to the perception that communities of faith support batterers, blame victims and encourage them to return to dangerous situations (Fortune, 2003). Similarly, secular domestic violence advocates may feel ill-equipped to address the spiritual concerns of victims and survivors due to a lack of training. Both faith communities and secular advocates who are not prepared to respond to a battered woman of faith may inadvertently contribute to her feelings of abandonment, isolation and guilt. Supportive faith communities can add a unique dimension to the sometimes overwhelming experience of seeking help, and secular domestic violence programs that are sensitive to the values and beliefs held by battered women of faith can help them identify options and resources that are relevant and unique to their situation.

Excerpt: "Faith leaders and secular advocates each have unique and parallel roles in the effort to eliminate domestic violence from the lives of women and children. The ability of each to respond appropriately to the experience of a battered woman of faith can be significantly impaired by a lack of sensitivity and education relative to the dynamics of domestic violence and to her faith and the role it plays in her life. By attempting to fully understand domestic violence and how her faith can be a resource for her, faith-based and secular advocates can begin to develop comprehensive and supportive responses to domestic violence that remain sensitive to the uniqueness of each woman's situation."

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