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  • Writer's pictureElaine Kelly

What lowers your Risk of Intimate Partner Violence? Women Abuse Prevention Month

Updated: Mar 29

November is Woman Abuse Prevention Month and my question is does religion foster equality or conflict? It turns out religion can be a force for both. The differentiation is not religion: it is patriarchy. So a better question is: does your religion foster patriarchy?

"When it comes to domestic violence, being religious did not protect couples from Intimate Partner Violence. In fact, roughly 20% of couples experienced physical, sexual, emotional abuse or controlling behaviours - whether the couple was highly religious, secular, or mixed.

Where there is a spike in Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is where couples are patriarchal or believe in patriarchy. The images here are from a study by the Institute for Family Studies.

Christians who believe in headship - male power hierarchy - have levels of Intimate Partner Violence at about the same level as non-religious couples who believe in patriarchy.

The concept of male headship, with a husband having the final authority and power and the wife encouraged to be submissive in all things, correlates to domestic violence. The study shows that gender-based hierarchy correlates to domestic violence. When there is a power imbalance, the vulnerable are at risk. I might go as far as saying headship is patriarchal and that promoting male headship in the family puts women at risk.

In addition, Christian women tend to stay longer in abusive relationships because of theology or pastoral counselling that tells them not to leave an abusive husband. One study found that abuse continued for religious victims for an average of 2 years longer than for non-Christians. Scripture has been used to tell women that it is honourable to suffer. The message needs to be loud and clear that God does not want his beloved children to suffer, that God cares for the oppressed and defenceless and does not ask us to stay in abusive relationships.

Being Christian doesn't lower your chances of Intimate Partner Violence. Being egalitarian is what has a lower risk of domestic violence.

I have written another blog about Jesus as our gatekeeper (John 10:9) He is the only one who is authorized to prevent us from acting, and he chose to permit us freedom. Having freedoms limited has the potential to lead to power abuses.

In my #HistoricalFiction Forgotten Followers from Broken to Bold, Mara works to overcome her religious, emotional, and sexual trauma.

Note: This post reports on studies of domestic violence but I am not an expert in domestic violence and I recommend you speak to others on that topic. If you are wondering if you are in an abusive relationship, check out these resources:

Natalie Hoffman offers the first chapter free of her book Is it Me? Making Sense of your Confusing Marriage

Domestic Violence Resources from The Recovery Village:

Explore the connection between addictions and demestic violence here:

The government of Canada provides these resources for family violence:

#WomanAbusePreventionMonth #wapm #abuseawareness #abuserecovery #traumarecovery #abuse #genderequality #endpatriarchy #biblicalequality #LoveOneAnother #serveoneanother #equalityforall

#spiritualabuse #financialabuse #religiousabuse