Faith-Leaders Play a Key Role in Stopping Domestic Violence
Faith leaders have a unique opportunity to promote primary prevention messages throughout their community. Fulfilling the responsibility for the spiritual and emotional wellbeing of members, a faith-leader can:
- Speak out against domestic violence – make it a part of a sermon
- Address behaviors that help condone violence against women and girls
- Promote attitudes that contribute to equality in relationships
Faith communities have a tremendous influence in people’s lives and can use it to engage in prevention strategies:
- Challenge behaviors that lead to domestic violence
- Offer a framework for social justice – a culture free of violence
- Partner with the local domestic violence program to assist with their prevention efforts
- Use holidays and special events to raise awareness of domestic violence and send messages that counter it and promote peace and equality within relationships
The Support of a Faith Leader is Key to the Safety of Victims
When religion or faith is a deeply-held belief, faith leaders can be a resource for victims who are trying to understand what is happening to them and plan for their future safety. A faith leader can:
- Help victims explore ways to escape a partner's violence and abuse.
- Help those who abuse take responsibility for their actions.
Resources (Primarily Intervention-Focused)
It seems that many domestic and sexual violence prevention programs for religious and spiritual settings are focused on Intervention (after the violence has happened), rather then Primary Prevention (before the violence occurs). Such intervention efforts also tend to engage the faith leader rather than the entire faith community. But some organizations are also working toward ending the violence before it starts.
American Jewish World Service – Their Advocacy Work is inspired by the Jewish commitment to justice, and works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world.
Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (IDVAAC) focuses on the unique circumstances and life experiences of African Americans as they seek resources and remedies related to the victimization and perpetration of domestic violence in their communities. IDVAAC recognizes the impact and high correlation of intimate partner violence to child abuse, elder maltreatment, and community violence.
Jewish Women International (JWI) is the leading Jewish organization empowering women and girls – through economic literacy; community training; healthy relationship education; and the proliferation of women’s leadership. Innovative programs, advocacy and philanthropic initiatives protect the fundamental rights of all girls and women to live in safe homes, thrive in healthy relationships, and realize the full potential of their personal strength.
The Faith Trust Institute has an extensive bibliography (search for "primary prevention." It is a resource for congregations, clergy and other religious leaders, secular and faith advocates, counselors, victims and survivors or others seeking understanding of religious issues and sexual and domestic violence. The Institute can also provide faith leaders with guidance on sermon content.
The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women (VAWnet) Special Collection, Religion and Domestic Violence contains numerous resources for use by faith-leaders.
Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence has its Religion and DV: Let's Talk About God resource for use by advocates.
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Resources for Faith Leaders available from PCADV:
Professional Resources for Faith Leaders (General Resources About Domestic Violence)
Helping Rural Battered Women and Their Children: A Guide for Faith Leaders and Religious Communities Information designed for faith leaders in rural communities, but can be used by faith-leaders elsewhere.
Okayama Dopke, C. (2002) Creating Partnerships with Faith Communities to End Sexual Violence Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs
Todhunter, R., Dissertation (2009): The Relationship Between Religious and Spiritual Factor and the Perpetration on IPV
Wasserman Shultz, D. (2013) Chag v’ Chesed: Holiday Dvar Tzedek, Passover 5773, American Jewish World Service