Faith and Religion
- “None of us as helpers should ever put a battered woman in the position of having to choose between her safety and the support of her religious community. She needs both... and it’s up to us to provide that.”
Religion and faith are deeply held beliefs for many people. They can play a major role in how victims deal with domestic violence. Victims may look to faith leaders for help. Or they may turn to people with similar religious beliefs. Often victims use these supports before, or instead of, traditional domestic violence services. Having knowledge about the impact of domestic violence and the help available can aid faith communities in offering the proper support to victims.
If people believe that their faith community will blame victims instead of abusers, or ask victims to return to dangerous situations, they may steer them away from this as a source of help.
Any helper not trained to support victims with ties to faith may, without realizing it, add to the victims’ feelings of rejection, loneliness and guilt. Fortunately, faith leaders and domestic violence program staff have been working together more closely to provide the best help possible for victims.
What Abusers May Do
Abusers may cite some religious teachings to excuse abusive behavior. Religion also may be used to justify their ideas about who should have the power within a relationship. They may try to make the victim feel guilty for not following those teachings.
Abusers may keep their victims from going to church, temple, mosque or other houses of worship in order to prevent them from asking for help from others. Or they may beat them so the victim is too embarrassed to go and have others see the bruises.
Responding to violence between people can be difficult, especially when it involves a family that everybody seems to like. Sometimes the victim will lie about what is happening if someone asks about the abuse. There are many reasons why this may happen. The safety of the victim and her children may depend on whether the abuser knows if she is attempting to get help. If the abuser finds out and punishes the victim, it makes it harder to reach out again.
PCADV Works to Support Families and Communities
- PCADV’s member programs work in every county to provide emergency shelter, housing options and other services to help domestic violence victims and their families obtain safety and justice.
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If you fear for your immediate safety, call 9-1-1 or your local police.
Contact the domestic violence program in your area for free and confidential help.
Other victim programs are available to help you and your family.
Any attorney helping a domestic violence victim may contact the PCADV legal department at 888-235-3425 for information on law and legal procedures. (This is not a helpline for victims.)
The information provided on this website is intended for informational purposes only. The information provided under this topic is not legal advice, does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is not a substitute for contacting an experienced attorney. Read our full legal disclaimer.
- The FaithTrust Institute provides information and training for congregations, denominations, seminaries, or other organization on the intersection of religion and domestic violence.
- Religion and Domestic Violence, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence Packet, 2007
- DAYENU! Initiative New York Board of Rabbis