Four Surprising Statistics About Domestic Violence and Faith

11-05-2015 10:02 AM

“He told me if I would pray about it and work harder to submit to my husband, this would stop,” she said.

Unfortunately, countless women get this message when they go to their church for help.

I hear it all the time in my role as Director of Clinical & Professional Services at Genesis Women’s Shelter in Dallas.

You may be surprised at the lack of information about domestic violence within faith communities.

1. 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence at some point in their lifetime. This number does not differentiate between ethnicity, economic status, education level, or faith background. Domestic violence is an epidemic that affects women, regardless of their background.

2. In a recent survey, 6,000 pastors were asked how they would react if a woman in their church asked for help in a domestic violence situation. Here's what they said:

  • 26 percent would counsel to continue to submit to their husband

  • 25 percent told wives the abuse is their fault for not submitting in the first place

  • 50 percent said women should be willing to tolerate some level of violence because it is better than divorce

3. Studies do not indicate a greater prevalence of domestic violence within faith communities. However, religious women are:

  • Less likely to leave the relationship

  • More likely to believe the abusive partner’s promise to change

  • More reluctant to seek community-based resources or shelters

  • More likely to feel guilty that they can't make the abuse stop

  • More likely to feel like they have failed their families and God

4. Children are victims too. Children that grow up in violent homes are 1,500 times more likely to be abused.

So what can you do to help bridge this gap?

Do you belong to a faith community?

Can you ask your pastor about ways they address domestic violence?

Jessica Brazeal, LPC-S, is the Director of Professional and Clinical Services at Genesis Women’s Shelter in Dallas. For more than five years, she has worked with adult, teen and children victims of domestic violence at Genesis. As Clinical Director, she supervises 18 clinicians and 1,500 clients every year. Jessica is also certified to treat trauma through Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Jessica holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Texas A&M University and a master's degree in Biblical Counseling from Dallas Theological Seminary.