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We learned this month that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged A$10 million in the federal budget for couples counselling and mediation for families impacted by domestic violence.
But the proposed policy runs counter to expert advice and evidence, which indicates that encouraging women to stay in relationships with an abuser exposes them to higher risk of harm. The announcement was swiftly condemned by family and domestic violence (FDV) advocates.
Commentators - Emphasis - Mediation - Maintenance - Relationships
Commentators have noted that an emphasis on mediation and the maintenance of relationships, even if they are abusive, is common within many religious and faith communities. Faith and religion are well recognised as having a powerful influence on attitudes, beliefs and social norms related to FDV, but empirical academic research on the subject remains scarce.
We recently conducted a study with leaders and community members from various faiths to better understand the capacity of faith communities to address and prevent FDV. Our initial findings indicate that while FDV is a common problem in faith communities, it remains poorly understood.
Women - FDV - Barriers - Help - Attitudes
Women experiencing FDV can face barriers to seeking appropriate help. This is often due to attitudes and practices that deny or minimise experiences of FDV, and encourage women to stay in relationships with their abusers.
We conducted interviews and focus groups with Anglican, Evangelical and Christian (including Catholic), Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Jewish leaders and community members. We also spoke with key people who had experience working in FDV with faith leaders and faith communities.
Interviews - Participants - FDV - Taboo - Topic
In our interviews, participants often described FDV as being a taboo topic. It was also considered a private, family issue – we found it was rarely spoken about openly in faith and religious communities. Participants thought this contributed to a generally low awareness of FDV, and led to a limited understanding of the issue.
According to participants, faith communities' understanding of FDV was...
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