Faith & Domestic Violence

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.

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. 

How is Faith Used to Justify Power and Control Over Women and Children?

These Power and Control Wheels are adapted from the Domestic Violence Power and Control Wheel developed by the Domestic Abuse Project of Duluth, Minnesota.


Judeo-Christian - Power and Control of Women in Patriarchal Society, and Women Created in God’s Image as Equal to Men Wheels - Domestic Violence:A Focus Guide For Clergy And Religious Leaders - Lincoln-Lancaster County (NE) Health Department

Muslim Wheel of Domestic Violence - Developed by Dr. Sharifa Alkhateeb to convey some of the ways religion can be distorted to justify abuse against women and children in the family context.

Thank You to the Family Violence Prevention Services Program, US DHHS, and NC Council for Women for financial support.

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© 2018 by Wesley Shelter, Inc.