Churches addressing domestic violence : the spaces between discourse & identity
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Religious communities have historically treated domestic violence as a non-issue, or as a private matter best kept within families. However, research shows that rates of domestic violence within religious groups are reported at similar rates to the general public (Cunradi, Caetano, & Schafer, 2002). Religious women who are trying to get help are more apt to turn to their religious leaders for assistance and advice than to secular service providers. Additionally, religious leaders report feeling underprepared to respond to survivors but are hesitant to utilize local service providers due to their affiliations with grassroots feminist organizing and movements (Nason-Clark, 1997). As domestic violence gains more legitimacy as a social issue and as both shelter workers and church leaders become more diverse, what possibilities arise for collaboration and dialogue across changing institutional discourses and identities? I develop this central line of inquiry in a two year grant funded community project and case study that resourced religious communities with domestic and sexual violence education and prevention tools for youth programming.