Improving religious organizations' effectiveness with battered women: advice from victim advocates

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Virginia Tech


Religious organizations are in a unique position to assist battered women. The purpose of this study was to survey counselor/advocates who work at battered women's shelters to determine what advice they have to give to religious organizations to improve their effectiveness in helping battered women.

The sample for this study consisted of 91 counselor/advocates from 20 battered women's shelters in Virginia. A questionnaire was designed to determine the counselor/advocates' opinions about their clients' interactions with religious organizations as to how helpful, or not helpful, these organizations have been. The participants identified a number of ways that religious organizations could better meet the needs of battered women. First, religious leaders can become better informed about the dynamics of wife battering so that their attempts to help will not further endanger victims. Second, leaders can be more supportive of battered women by taking a more public stand against wife battering and by creating a more accepting, healing environment within their faith community. Next, those who are not trained to counsel individuals involved in wife battering need to learn to refer them to community agencies that are better prepared to help victims and their batterers. Finally, for battered women both inside and outside their faith communities, leaders can work with shelters to provide financial and other resources to assist these women as they search for ways to live in a violence free home environment.