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Domestic abuse is often hidden in church contexts. Despite a body of North American research, it has rarely been researched in the UK. This article offers new empirical findings on the nature and extent of, and attitudes to, domestic abuse among churchgoers. The data are drawn from a cross-denominational survey of 438 churchgoers in rural north-west England. The majority of the survey respondents were female and aged over 60, providing important evidence of domestic abuse victimisation among this seldom-heard group. Using a broad measure of domestic abuse encompassing physical, emotional, sexual, financial and spiritual dimensions, the results revealed that one in four had experienced at least one abusive behaviour in their current intimate relationship. While headline figures for prevalence are similar for women and men, analysis revealed gender differences in four areas: number of abusive behaviours experienced, types of abuse, frequency of victimisation and impacts of abuse, with women experiencing the most frequent and high-impact abuse. Churchgoers’ comments on the church’s response to abuse reveals silence as a key theme, and the article attributes the church’s silence to gendered power relations in the wider church.
Bibliographical noteThis is a post-peer-review, pre-copy edited version of an article published in Journal of Gender Based Violence. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Barnes, R & Aune, K 2021, 'Gender and domestic abuse victimisation among churchgoers in north west England: breaking the church’s gendered silence', Journal of Gender Based Violence, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 271-288 is available online at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1332/239868021X16137365557039
Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.
FunderThis work was supported by grants from the Allen Lane Foundation, the Andrews Charitable Trust, the Matthew 25:35 Trust and an anonymous charity.
- Domestic abuse
- Domestic violence
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Gender Studies
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Assessing the nature and extent of domestic abuse in UK churches in order to equip them to respond effectively
1/11/16 → 31/12/17