Faiths Take New Approach to Domestic Abuse

February 20, 2007

Author: Rebecca Rosen Lum

Source: Contra Costa Times

Gloria Sandoval sought the help of her pastor when she was a young mother and her then-husband frequently slapped, kicked and punched her.

"I was given the response that I should go home and be a better wife," she recalled on Friday. The beatings didn't stop, and Sandoval finally left for good.

Her experience mirrors that of many domestic abuse victims.

A benchmark study in 2001 showed battered women in a majority of cases turn first to their clergy for help.

One in three received assistance from religious leaders, and one in 10 batterers received counseling, according to a study reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The spiritual counselors' efforts were perceived as ineffective, the journal reported.

For their part, clergy said they felt inadequately trained for the mission.