Document Type




People who violence against their intimate partner(s) sometimes use religion as a mechanism of control. However discussion on religious/spiritual (R/S) abuse in the context of intimate partner violence and abuse (IPV/A) has been limited within the academic literature. The attack on one’s spirituality or faith is unique enough to explore separately from typical psychological or emotional abuse. Because many Black women experiencing IPV/A report consistent use of religious faith and/or clergy as key sources of support, qualitative interviews were conducted with Black/African-American clergy (N=13). The purpose of this study was to capture their perspectives on religious or spiritual related IPV/A. Using interpretative content analysis and thematic analysis, findings revealed that clergy viewed R/S abuse as a spiritual problem and characterized the behavior as a mis-interpretation of God’s Word. Participants emphasized the importance of victim-survivors knowing the Word of God for themselves as a resource to counter R/S abuse.. Informants highlighted a need and desire for clergy-specific training, yet data analyses also revealed that fellow clergy members perpetration of R/S abuse was a barrier to addressing the problem. Understanding religious leaders’ perspectives on this specific form of abuse offers expands knowledge on how IPV/A is exerted and potential intervention strategies. [This is a post-print of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, & Trauma on April 10, 2020, available online:]


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work

Publication Date




Available for download on Wednesday, January 01, 3000

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Social Work Commons