Religion and faith form deeply held belief systems for adult and child victims in faith communities, and play a significant role in their experiences. Both male & female victims may prefer to seek for help from their faith leaders, as sources of spiritual nurturing and guidance, before or in substitution of traditional Domestic Violence & Abuse (DVA) services. Supportive, trained and equipped faith communities can be the unique practical resource victims need.
Marital counselling / couple’s counselling is not the appropriate intervention where DVA occurs in a marriage. The DVA pandemic is not a marital problem, but causes marital problems. Greater focus must be placed on the radical change of the perpetrator, without compelling the victim to be responsible for holding their marriage together.
Some faith leaders see a conflict between the teachings of their faith on marriage and forgiveness, and education on the correct tackling of DVA. Hence they would preach for perpetrators to be forgiven, welcomed into the community, and for marriages to be saved, rather than for adult and child victims to be freed from DVA.
Teachings on forgiveness, however, should not be used as substitutes for a perpetrator’s accountability. Any work with victims needs to acknowledge perpetrators’ accountability; while focusing on the safety and ultimate restoration of victims in the long term.
Though religious texts and traditions are misinterpreted and manipulated to validate abusive behaviours, when they are used in their purity, they are fundamental tenets for justice, healing, renewed hope, freedom, restoration, & reparation.
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