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‘When She Calls for Help’—Domestic Violence in Christian Families

School of Philosophy and Theology, University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney 2007, Australia
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(3), 71;
Received: 19 May 2017 / Revised: 30 June 2017 / Accepted: 3 July 2017 / Published: 7 July 2017
PDF [196 KB, uploaded 7 July 2017]


Violence in relationships is a common experience for a significant number of women. VicHealth (Australia) has noted that one of the underlying and contributing factors towards violence against women is their environment, citing ‘faith-based institutions’ such as churches as one such environment for many women. Indeed, international research shows that the language of religion is often used by women to explain abuse. Additionally, abused Christian women are more likely to remain in or return to unsafe relationships, citing religious beliefs to support avoidance of ‘family break-ups’ despite abuse. In contrast, however, churches can address domestic violence within a context of care, with emphasis on a theology of biblical equality. This paper examines how domestic violence may be supported by Christian language and belief, and suggests an ‘alternate theology’ concerning religious language in concepts of gender roles, sacrifice, submission, and suffering. It reviews current research on the connection between Christian religious language and domestic violence against women, to highlight the Christian church’s role as a contributing factor to such abuse. Finally, the paper makes some suggestions on how religious language can, in contrast to perpetuating abuse through norms, sever the connections between domestic violence and religious language. View Full-Text
Keywords: domestic violence; religion; families; women; abuse; theology; language domestic violence; religion; families; women; abuse; theology; language
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Westenberg, L. ‘When She Calls for Help’—Domestic Violence in Christian Families. Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 71.

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