Second Class Citizens: How the Church Contributes to Domestic Violence

 “One reason that men abuse their wives is because women rebel against their husband's God-given authority.” Bruce Ware, professor of Christian Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY[1]

Whether a husband holds “God given authority” over his spouse is open to question, but the results of spousal abuse and domestic violence are not. Nearly one out of three American families experiences some degree of domestic violence with battery within American homes inflicting more damage on American women than rapes and muggings combined.[2] New figures show that domestic violence is the single major cause of injury to women with almost 4 in 10 ending seeking professional medical treatment.[3] Making matters even worse is that 4 of 10 female victims lived in households with children under age 12 and 70% of the men who batter their wives physically or sexually also abuse their children.[4]

A glance at any police blotter in the country reveals that domestic violence remains a staple for 911 calls and they often are the most dangerous. Police officers often find themselves caught in the middle of murderous violence. In domestic violence cases, women are more than 75% of the victims in more than 2,400 murders attributable to intimate partners. The percentage of female murder victims killed during domestic violence has remained steady at 30 percent since 1993, shows how little its importance.

Religion’s Role

Under the most liberal interpretation, treatment of women in the Bible is at best atrocious and if read word for word, the status of females crashes on the rocks of misogyny. Scattered throughout the Bible are references to treating one’s wife well, but the instances are so few they appear as nothing more than afterthoughts.

Over the years, the Christian Bible kept women from owning property, going to universities, voting and from ordained. Subjugation of women plays a key role in many evangelical excesses. Traditional gender role attitudes based on patriarchy helps explain the intervening variable linking Fundamentalism to spousal violence.[5] “The probability of wife abuse increases with the rigidity of a church's teachings, especially teachings pertaining to gender roles and hierarchy."[6] A large study of the Christian Reformed Church discovered the frequency of physical and sexual abuse in this evangelical denomination was about the same as in the general population.[7]

Mistreating women under religious doctrine caused former President, Jimmy Carter, to speak out against religion inspired mistreatment of women. In a statement denouncing the global mistreatment of women based on religious texts and doctrines, the former president said,

“This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted...ted from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. The male interpretation of religious texts and the way they interact with, and reinforce, traditional practices justify some of the most pervasive, persistent, flagrant and damaging examples of human rights abuses.”

Jocelyn Andersen, author of “Woman Submit! Christians and Domestic Violence,” suffered a severe beating by her assistant pastor husband. She argues that submission teachings do not create abusers, but allows violent men to justify their abuse as biblical. The real danger, though, is in how the teachings impact devout women, who may assume they cannot leave their marriages and remain committed Christians. Many churches “inadvertently become enlisted into the agenda of abusers” by promoting reconciliation between victims and unreformed abusers. The FBI estimates that husbands or boyfriends batter a woman in the United States every 15 seconds.

An issue of “Christianity Today” cites the book “Battered into Submission: The Tragedy of Wife Abuse in the Christian Home” by James and Phyllis Alsdurf, whose research suggests the level fundamentalism has a strong correlation with wife abuse." Fundamentalism often hampers the process of helping battered women,” according to Vicky Whipple in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.[8]

James Dobson argued in his marital therapy book, “Love Must Be Tough,” that abused women should not divorce but separate and try to change their husbands’ behavior. He also warned against women who bait men into abuse to gain the “prize” of bruises to display. In 2007, popular Pentecostal televangelist Juanita Bynum suffered a severe beating by her estranged pastor husband, Bishop Thomas W. Weeks III, during an attempted reconciliation meeting at an Atlanta hotel. Bynum made domestic violence a priority of her ministry after the attack and received condemnation as “an angry, out-of-control woman” by conservative radio preacher Jesse Lee Peterson.

In the United States, women account for almost two-thirds of intimate partner violence victims and about half of that abuse occurs in the  victim's home. The majority (73%) of family violence victims were female. Females were 84% of spouse abuse victims and 86% of victims of abuse at the hands of a boyfriend or girlfriend.[9] Husbands, boyfriends or other intimate partners physically harm more than 4 million women each year in the United States. Sadly, nearly 60% of battered women endured beatings while they were pregnant and many times hit in the stomach.

The U.S. Department of Justice found that women are far more likely victims of violent crimes committed by intimate partners than men, especially involving a weapon. Women are much more likely to fall victim at home than in any other place.[10] More than 4 in every 10 incidents of intimate partner violence involve nonmarried people.[11] One in five or 20% of dating couples report some violence in their relationship. One of five college females will experience some form of dating violence. A survey of 500 young women, ages 15 to 24, found 60% involved in a continuing abusive relationship and all participants had experienced violence while dating.[12]

Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, not only hurts the women abused but also affects their overall health, their ability to earn a living, as well as their children.[13] Each year, more than 2 million children are the target of beatings by a family member.[14]

It Gets Worse

In domestic violence cases, women are more than 75% of the victims in more than 2,400 murders attributable to intimate partners. Yet, the percentage of female murder victims killed during domestic violence stays steady at 30% since 1993.

 In 1995, 7% of all murder victims were young women killed by their boyfriends. In 2007, there were 1,865 females murdered by males in single victim or single offender incidents filed with the FBI for its Supplementary Homicide Findings from the report, dispel many of the myths about the nature of lethal violence against women. For instance, with identification of the relation of victim to the offender, 91% of female victims (1,587 out of 1,743) died at the hands of someone they knew.

The murder rated showed that 10 times as many females killed by a male they knew (1,587 victims) than killed by male strangers (156 victims). Of those victims that knew their offenders, wives or intimate acquaintances made up 62% (990) of female homicide victims.[15] Young women ages 16 to 24 are at the greatest risk for injury and death at the hands of intimate partners compared with women in all other age groups.[16] The FBI estimates that husbands or boyfriends batter a woman in the United States every 15 seconds.

Younger and Younger

The recent attempt by the Republican Party to insert “forcible” into the exceptions for federally funded abortions reflects the deep-seated devaluing of women as people and considering the Evangelical Right’s connection with the GOP, even though the word is no longer a part of the bill, their influence is clear.

More than 4 in every 10 incidents of domestic violence involves nonmarried people according to a Bureau of Justice Special Report: “Intimate Partner Violence” in May of 2000. About one in three high school students report involvement in an abusive relationship. Forty percent of teenage girls aged 14 to 17 say they know someone their age whose boyfriend hit or beat them. In one study, from 30 to 50% of female high school students reported experiencing teen dating violence. Teen dating violence most often takes place in the home of one of the partners.

One in five or 20% of dating couples report some violence in their relationship. One of five college females will experience some form of dating violence. A survey of 500 young women, ages 15 to 24, found 60% currently involved in a continuing abusive relationship and all participants experienced violence in a dating relationship at some time.

Girls experience violence on the streets, in their schools, and at home. The statistics are staggering. More than half of all rapes of women occur before age 18.[17] One study found that 38% of date rape victims were young women from 14 to 17 years old. A survey of adolescent and college students revealed date rape accounted for 67% of sexual assaults. More than half of young women raped (68 percent) knew their rapist either as a boyfriend, friend or casual acquaintance. Six out of 10 rapes of young women occur in their own home or a friend or relative's home, not in a dark alley.

Domestic violence does not only happen to adults. Forty percent of girls age 14 to 17 report knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend, and approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.—Dianne Feinstein



[1] Southern Baptist Scholar Links Spouse Abuse to Wives' Refusal to Submit to Their Husbands, Bob Allen, EthicsDaily.com, June 27, 2008, http://ethicsdaily.com/print_popup.cfm?AID=10675

[2] Battered Women's Shelter, Peace Begins at Home, Battered Women's Statistics for the United States, http://www.rfcram.com/bwsstatistics.htm

[3] Intimate Partner Violence, Callie Marie Rennison and Sarah Welchans, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of JusticeStatistics, July 14, 2000

[4] Southern Baptist Scholar Links Spouse Abuse to Wives' Refusal to Submit to Their Husbands, Bob Allen, EthicsDaily.com, June 27, 2008, http://ethicsdaily.com/print_popup.cfm?AID=10675

[5] Patriarchy and Punitiveness: Spouse abuse and Protestant Fundamentalism, Rhonda Marie Fisher, January 1, 1998, http://proquest.umi.com/pqdlink?did=733056861&Fmt=7&clientId =79356&RQT=309&VName=PQD

[6] Battered Women's Shelter, Peace Begins at Home, Battered Women's Statistics for the United States, http://www.rfcram.com/bwsstatistics.htm

[7] The Evangelical Scandal, Stan Guthrie, Christianity Today Magazine, 4/13/2005

[8] Biblical Battered Wife Syndrome: Christian Women and Domestic Violence, Kathryn Joyce, Religion Dispatches, February 2, 2009, http://www.alternet.org/story/124174/

[9] Matthew R. Durose et al, Family Violence Statistics, Including Statistics on Strangers and Acquaintances, Bureau of Justice Statistics, June 2005

[10] Females Murdered by Males in Single Victim/Single Offender Incidents, 2007 Homicide Data, September 2009, Pg. 1

[11] Religion In The News, Church, Lies, and Polling Data, Andrew Walsh, Fall 1998, Vol. 1, No. 2, http://www.trincoll.edu/depts/csrpl/RIN percent20Vol.1No.2/Church_lies_polling.htm

[12] Intimate Partner Violence, Callie Marie Rennison and Sarah Welchans, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, July 14, 2000

[13] Janet M. Torpy, Intimate Partner Violence, JAMA Patient Page, The Journal of the American Medical Association, August 13, 2008—Vol 300, No. 6, http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/300/6/754

[14] Battered Women's Shelter, Peace Begins at Home, Battered Women's Statistics for the United States, http://www.rfcram.com/bwsstatistics.htm

[15] Females Murdered by Males in Single Victim/Single Offender Incidents, 2007 Homicide Data, September 2009, Pg. 3

[16] Rennison, C., & Welchans, S. (2000). Intimate partner violence. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics

[17] Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (2000). Full report of the prevalence, incidence, and consequences of violence against women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice

Views: 94

Comment

You need to be a member of Atheist Nexus to add comments!

Join Atheist Nexus

Comment by Thomas Murray on July 29, 2017 at 10:30am

Don,

Thank you for bringing this to me.

These are NOT men who abuse and beat their wife and girlfriend. They are still little boys in diapers who have been misplaced in an adult male body. If there is a God, he is a wife beater too or he really fucked up on this one.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on July 29, 2017 at 9:57am

I've s it and wondered why these women stayed. I've even talked to them and told them to get out but they stayed anyway. I still don't understand even though I've heard psychiatrists explain it my thought has always been I would be long gone or there would be a dead MF up in that house. I saw a movie with Jennifer Lopez where she learned to fight. I mean street fight and box. She ended up kicking her husband's ass and him begging her to stop. I know it was a fantasy but I wish it could happen. I've tried to break up these fights between couples I knew and ended up being turned on by the two.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on July 29, 2017 at 9:45am

Kathy--you summed it up perfectly. Asshole. Dickhead. Ass wipe. Turd pipe. Butt cheese and more.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on July 29, 2017 at 9:44am

Joan--Dobson has never proved his elevator made it past the second floor in a 90 story building. He is such an ass. Plus, his stupid teaching is actually bought in to by thousands of people. How he could make such a statement I don't know. Wait. Let me take that back. He is an ignorant asshole.

Comment by Joan Denoo on July 29, 2017 at 12:55am

Kathy, I agree, "James Dobson is a stupid asshole." In addition to being stupid, he is evil to the core. 

Comment by kathy: ky on July 29, 2017 at 12:12am
James Dobson is a stupid asshole.
Comment by Joan Denoo on July 28, 2017 at 9:46pm

Thank you, Donald, for this thorough and clear statement of the problem. None of these references go back as far as my run from abuse in 1974. In those days, the FBI nor the local police departments kept records of such crimes. I thought I was the only woman running from abuse and discovered we were just the tip in the iceburg.  

line

Update Your Membership :

Membership

line

line

Nexus on Social Media:

line

© 2017   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service