Understanding spiritual and religious abuse in the context of intimate partner violence

Content type
Policy and practice paper

March 2024


Mandy Truong, Nafiseh Ghafournia

While spiritual and religious abuse is a lesser known type of violence in the context of intimate partner violence (IPV), it is associated with negative emotional, psychological and trauma-related impacts. This paper provides an overview of the evidence on spiritual and religious abuse in the context of IPV and its impact on victim-survivors. The paper also provides some considerations for practitioners and other professionals working to support individuals experiencing spiritual and religious abuse.

Key messages

  • Spiritual abuse is a type of emotional and psychological abuse where a person uses coercive and controlling behaviours within a religious or spiritual context (e.g. using religious teachings to justify or minimise abusive behaviours).

  • Spiritual and religious abuse may be subtle and difficult for practitioners and service providers to recognise without other forms of abuse (e.g. physical violence) being present.

  • Spirituality/religion can have a dual role in relation to intimate partner violence (IPV). It can serve as an important coping mechanism for women experiencing IPV but can also contribute to the drivers of IPV.

  • Spiritual and religious abuse is not limited or confined to any particular religions/faiths or communities.

  • Spiritual and religious abuse is linked to emotional and psychological distress, social isolation, and negative feelings about one’s faith and identity.

  • Practitioners and services supporting victim-survivors of IPV need greater awareness of the intersection between IPV and religion/spirituality/faith. They may also consider routinely assessing whether victim-survivors have spiritual or religious beliefs and practices that are important to them.



Spirituality, religion and faith play an important role in the lives of many Australians across different cultural and community groups. The 2021 Australian Census (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], 2022) found more than 50% of Australians had a religious affiliation, with Christianity being the most common (43.9%), followed by Islam (3.2%) and Hinduism (2.7%).

Spirituality, religion and faith are distinct yet interconnected concepts often used interchangeably (Bent-Goodley & Fowler, 2006; Victor & Treschuk, 2020). There are no universal definitions of these concepts and some different understandings and interpretations between scholars/researchers and lay people (Schlehofer et al., 2008). According to Victor and Treschuk (2020), spirituality is a broad term describing the quality and meaning of life that may be a connection to God, nature, others and the surrounding environment. Religion refers to a personal set or formal system of religious attitudes, beliefs and practices that are shared among a group of people (Victor & Treschuk, 2020). On the other hand, faith is more personal and subjective and is related to religion, spirituality and connectedness to a higher power (Victor & Treschuk, 2020).

Religion and spirituality can serve as a powerful source of social identity that offers individuals a framework for understanding the world. It provides a lens through which they obtain purpose and meaning in their lives (Ellis et al., 2022). In addition, people’s spiritual and religious values and beliefs may influence their attitudes, beliefs and behaviours in relation to social experiences such as domestic and family violence (Truong et al., 2022). For example, religious leaders and faith communities may promote ideas and behaviours that drive or condone violence (Vaughan et al., 2020) but can also be a potential powerful influence against violence (Boyer et al., 2022).

Data from the Australian Personal Safety Survey (2021–22) indicate that of all Australian adults, 11.3% (2.2 million) had experienced violence from a partner (current or previous cohabiting) and 5.9% (1.1 million) had experienced violence from a boyfriend, girlfriend or date in the past 12 months (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [AIHW], 2023). IPV is associated with a range of mental and physical health issues and negative social outcomes (Stubbs & Szoeke, 2022; World Health Organization, 2013).

There are various forms of IPV, including emotional abuse, physical violence, sexual violence and spiritual/religious abuse. Spiritual and religious abuse is a lesser known and understood type of IPV (Aghtaie et al., 2020; Oakley & Kinmond, 2016). However, existing research has found that spiritual and religious abuse is associated with negative emotional and psychological impacts and trauma (Chowdhury, 2023; Ellis et al., 2022).

How this resource was developed

This paper used evidence and literature gathered from a range of sources. A literature review was conducted on research examining spiritual and religious abuse in the context of intimate partner violence. Several databases were searched for peer-reviewed literature using AIFS Catalogue Plus. Grey literature and online resources from peak bodies (e.g. ANROWS) and other organisations (e.g. InTouch) were obtained from sources including the Australian Policy Observatory and Google.

What is spiritual abuse and religious abuse?

What is spiritual and religious abuse?

Broadly speaking, spiritual and religious abuse is when a person uses spiritual or religious beliefs to hurt, scare or control someone (InTouch, 2020). It has also been described by Oakley and colleagues (2018) as a type of emotional and psychological abuse, characterised by a consistent pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour within a religious or spiritual context.

Coercive control is recognised as an underpinning dynamic of IPV and family and domestic violence (Commonwealth of Australia, 2023).

Spiritual and religious abuse in the context of IPV may take several forms, including (Bagwell-Gray et al., 2021; Chowdhury, 2023; InTouch, 2020):

  • ridiculing or making fun of someone’s religious or spiritual beliefs to undermine their identity and sense of self or self-confidence
  • isolating the person from communal worship or limiting religious activities
  • forcing someone to convert to a religion
  • using religious teachings or traditions as a justification for controlling or manipulating a person – for example, in relation to decisions about pregnancy and birth control or telling a person to be more patient and forgiving
  • using religion or religious texts/teachings to minimise, deny or justify acts of abuse and violence
  • using religious teachings to convince individuals to stay in abusive relationships, including refusing or threatening a religious divorce.

Spiritual and religious abuse in the context of IPV may be subtle and difficult to recognise by practitioners and service providers if it is not co-occurring with other forms of abuse (e.g. physical violence, financial abuse, reproductive coercion; Ellis et al., 2022).

The next sections describe the connection between spirituality/religion and IPV and the research evidence about spiritual and religious abuse and its impacts on victim-survivors.

What is the intersection between IPV and spirituality/religion?

What is the intersection between IPV and spirituality/religion?

Knowledge about spiritual abuse has come from both IPV scholarship and the study of religion. Literature indicates that the intersection between IPV and spirituality/religion is complex (Ellis et al., 2022; Istratii & Ali, 2023) and that religion/faith can have a dual role in relation to IPV (Istratii & Ali, 2023; Powell & Pepper, 2021; Truong et al., 2022).

On one hand, religious beliefs can serve as important coping mechanisms for women facing abuse, offering comfort and support through prayer and faith texts (Cares & Cusick, 2012; Ghafournia, 2019; Westenberg, 2017). Spirituality may even function as a buffer against the negative effects of IPV. A study on coping and resilience among a group of Mexican American victim-survivors of IPV found that higher levels of spirituality were associated with fewer types of abuse being reported (de la Rosa et al., 2016).

On the other hand, there are identified elements within religious and faith communities that can contribute to the drivers of IPV. These include an emphasis on patriarchal beliefs, and specific gender roles and norms that legitimise male dominance (Adjei & Mpiani, 2022; Eidhamar, 2018; Westenberg, 2017).

It has been argued that the connection between religion and IPV is particularly pronounced due to the patriarchal elements found in some religious traditions and practices (Aghtaie et al., 2020; Clifton, 2018; Jayasundara et al., 2017; Ross, 2012). Studies have identified experiences whereby male perpetrators of violence against women use patriarchal religious ideologies and interpretations of sacred texts to justify their abusive behaviour (Cares & Cusick, 2012; Le Roux & Bowers-DuToit, 2017; Lock, 2018; Mulvihill et al., 2023; Powell & Pepper, 2021). This may reinforce the subordinate status of women to men in some religious communities and contribute to a power imbalance that renders women more susceptible to spiritual and religious abuse while discouraging them from challenging it (Tomalin, 2023). Note that the issues discussed in this context are relevant to individuals across different faith-based communities.

Evidence about controlling and coercive behaviours can be found in research on IPV within different religions including Christianity (Bent-Goodley & Fowler, 2006; Oakley & Humphreys, 2019; Williams & Jenkins, 2019), Islam (Chowdhury, 2023; Ghafournia, 2017) and Judaism (Kalvari, 2022; Starr, 2017). Some perpetrators may be well-connected and respected individuals in the religious community, including faith leaders themselves (Mulvihill et al., 2023). Perpetrators may also manipulate faith leaders and other community members to use their religious power or influence within the community to encourage victim-survivors to remain in abusive situations and relationships (Adjei & Mpiani, 2022; Eidhamar, 2018; Ellis et al., 2022). Under Orthodox Jewish law, for example, a religious divorce (i.e. ‘get’) is not permitted without the approval of the husband (Arowojolu, 2016). Therefore, in the context of IPV, a perpetrator may misuse the get system by refusing to grant a divorce. This is becoming increasingly recognised by community members and workers in the family and domestic violence sector as a form of religious abuse and IPV (Arowojolu, 2016; Starr, 2017).

What does the evidence tell us about spiritual and religious abuse and its impacts?

What does the evidence tell us about spiritual and religious abuse and its impacts?

Overall, there is a lack of research focused on spiritual and religious abuse compared with other forms of IPV. The existing literature mostly consists of qualitative studies (e.g. interviews with religious leaders or victim-survivors) or discussions of religious/spiritual teachings and beliefs and how they may be linked to IPV (Ellis et al., 2022). There are few studies that quantitively measure (e.g. using surveys) how common spiritual and religious abuse is and what it looks like.

Furthermore, how researchers have defined and studied spirituality, religiosity and faith and how they are connected to IPV varies (Istratii & Ali, 2023). This is partly due to differences across communities and countries in relation to gender roles (e.g. traditional roles where men are expected to work and women are expected to be at home), social structures (e.g. in some countries there is no welfare support for divorced women and single mothers), legal systems (e.g. differences in rights to divorce and laws around children’s custody) and levels of gender and social inequality in each country/setting. This has affected our current understanding of the extent of spiritual and religious abuse and its impacts on individuals, families and communities.

How common is spiritual and religious abuse in the context of IPV?

At present, the prevalence of spiritual and religious abuse or prevalence of IPV among faith/religious communities in Australia is unknown (Priest, 2018). A recent multi-country study that included Australia found that rates of IPV among religious couples in heterosexual relationships were similar to those among secular couples or less/mixed religious couples (Institute for Family Studies & Wheatley Institution, 2019). A research project undertaken between 2019 and 2021 surveying over 2,000 adults found that the prevalence of IPV among Anglicans was the same as, or higher than, the wider Australian community (Powell & Pepper, 2021).

Just as IPV perpetrators are not confined to specific social groups, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that spiritual abuse is restricted to, or higher in, any particular religious/faith communities (Oakley & Kinmond, 2016).

What are the impacts of spiritual and religious abuse on victim-survivors?

A systematic review concluded that spiritual abuse is significantly associated with negative emotional and psychological impacts and trauma but there is still limited research on this topic (Ellis et al., 2022).

Several UK studies have explored spiritual and religious abuse in the context of IPV and found a range of negative impacts. A study of churchgoers in North-West England found that among those that had experienced IPV (including spiritual abuse), the impacts of IPV included: diminishing self-esteem, becoming depressed, withdrawing from family and friends, feelings of anxiety and fear, stopping attending church, and feelings that their faith had been negatively affected (Barnes & Aune, 2021). A UK study of victim-survivor experiences of intimate partner spiritual abuse and religious coercion reported that long-term impacts of abuse included: anxiety and depression, feelings of guilt and sadness, disruption to family relationships, exclusion from leading activities or being silenced within their faith community, and negative impacts on spiritual/religious identity (Mulvihill et al., 2023).

Victims-survivors of IPV may respond to abuse in diverse ways, using a range of formal and informal help-seeking mechanisms (Ghafournia & Easteal, 2019). For example, victim-survivors of religious or spiritual abuse may seek help from religious leaders. However, research across different religious groups has identified that religious leaders are often inadequately equipped to respond effectively to IPV and their responses can have negative impacts on victim-survivors’ help-seeking experiences (Gezinski et al., 2019; Ghafournia, 2017; Hulley et al., 2023; Istratii & Ali 2023; Kulwicki et al., 2010; Vaughan et al., 2020). Also, there may be a culture of denial and defensiveness among religious leaders and communities about the existence of IPV as a problem that needs to be addressed (Truong et al., 2022; Vaughan et al., 2020). This may act as a barrier to identifying spiritual and religious abuse in the first place as well as a barrier for victim-survivors to find support within their communities.

Moreover, studies have documented that faith leaders may use religious texts and teachings to minimise and ignore abuse and prevent victim-survivors from seeking help (Hulley et al., 2023; Mulvihill et al., 2023). A US study examining help-seeking experiences found that religious leaders’ support to victim-survivors tended to focus on regular prayer and church attendance rather than survivor safety (Gezinksi et al., 2019). A review of international research also found that leaders often prioritised the church or community above women’s safety and often encouraged women to remain in their abusive relationships (Hulley et al., 2023). These types of responses can become a pivotal moment for some women, prompting them to seek formal assistance outside their faith/religious community (Ghafournia, 2017).

Considerations for practitioners and services

Considerations for practitioners and services

Spirituality, religion and faith play an important role in many people’s lives. However, practitioners in mainstream or secular organisations may overlook the religious and spiritual dimensions of a client’s life because of a lack of awareness of the importance of religion/spirituality/faith and its intersection with IPV.

While there is currently limited evidence on what works to prevent and respond to violence against women in religious/faith settings (Vaughan et al., 2020), both secular/mainstream and faith-based IPV services and other health and social services have an important role to play in supporting victim-survivors of spiritual and religious abuse and reducing its harmful effects. Based on our review of the existing literature, we provide some practice considerations below (Ellis et al., 2022; InTouch, 2020; Jayasundara et al., 2017; Truong et al., 2020, 2022; Vaughan et al., 2020):

  • Increase your awareness and knowledge of spiritual and religious abuse and the intersection between IPV and religion/spirituality. Be mindful that IPV rarely consists of one event or type of violence and that spiritual and religious abuse may occur with other forms of IPV. Also, many victim-survivors may experience multiple forms of abuse at different stages throughout their lives (Costello & Backhouse, 2019). For example, there might be an association between reproductive coercion (e.g. forced abortion, forced pregnancy) and spiritual and religious abuse (Bagwell-Gray et al., 2021).
  • Reflect on your own religious/spiritual beliefs and attitudes (including attitudes towards religion if you are atheist or agnostic) and how this may affect how you provide support to individuals with religious beliefs and identities.
  • Consider assessing victim-survivors who have experienced IPV for spiritual abuse and trauma. Practitioners can support clients by helping them recognise the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships – for example, by creating space for individuals to identify negative psychological or spiritual effects they may be experiencing.

  • When working with individuals and families impacted by IPV, it is important to acknowledge and understand the role of religion and spirituality in their lives and how it may affect help-seeking behaviour or engagement with support services. There is diversity in each religion. People may hold spiritual, religious or faith-based beliefs without belonging to organised groups. For some, religion and spirituality are beliefs without them practising religious rituals.
  • Use positive and strengths-based language about safe, healthy, positive and respectful relationships; this is more engaging than using negative language or labelling, which can stigmatise individuals and lead to disengagement from support services.
  • Avoid stereotyping individuals based on their religious affiliation and avoid making judgements and blaming religions/faiths for abusive behaviour that can lead to clients feeling alienated and negatively judged. Be open-minded and respectful and aim to provide client-centred and culturally sensitive care that considers each individual’s experiences and needs.
  • Ask victim-survivors of IPV whether they have spiritual or religious practices that are important to them. Explore their religious/spiritual identity and evaluate how their religious/spiritual practices or beliefs impact them within the context of their experiences of IPV. This may increase their level of engagement with support services and the knowledge may help address barriers to service delivery.
  • Provide clients with faith-based resources as well as secular ones. Ask the client which type they prefer (see Further resources and organisation below).

  • Greater engagement by secular/mainstream IPV service providers with faith/religious leaders and faith/religious communities is needed to support them to prevent and respond to IPV. This may include co-designing resources and training.
  • Build the capacity of secular/mainstream IPV providers to provide religiously and culturally sensitive services to people with faith backgrounds seeking their help.
Further resources and organisations

Further resources and organisations

This section presents a summary of resources and readings on spiritual and religious abuse in the context of IPV. It also lists key organisations across Australia that provide resources and support services to people experiencing spiritual and religious abuse and information to faith leaders and community members supporting victim-survivors. This list is not exhaustive.

Readings and resources


  • Common Grace is a Christian organisation that has produced an online resource to help churches understand, identify, and respond to domestic and family violence.
  • The Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights provides support services to women in family violence situations and have produced a Guide for Muslim women who have experienced family violence (also available in languages other than English, i.e. Arabic, Somali, Urdu, Farsi (Persian)).
  • The Jewish Alliance Against Family Violence provides information to the Jewish community in relation to domestic and family violence, including referrals to support services, education and training to service providers.
  • The Bangle Foundation is a domestic abuse support service primarily for women of South Asian heritage and is located in Queensland.
  • Catholic Social Services Victoria has a resource kit for parishes to help them better respond to domestic and family violence.
  • InTouch is a family violence service provider that supports refugee and migrant women.


Adjei, S. B., & Mpiani, A. (2022) ‘I have since repented’: Discursive analysis of the role of religion in husband-to-wife abuse in Ghana. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 37(5–6), NP3528–NP3551.

Aghtaie, N., Mulvihill, N., Abrahams, H., & Hester, M. (2020). Defining and enabling ‘justice’ for victims/survivors of domestic violence and abuse: The views of practitioners working within Muslim, Jewish and Catholic Faiths. Religion and Gender, 10(2), 155–181.

Arowojolu, A. (2016). How Jewish get law can be used as a tool of spiritual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community. University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender & Class, 16, 66–91.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2022). Religious affiliation in Australia. Canberra: ABS. Retrieved from www.abs.gov.au/articles/religious-affiliation-australia

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). (2023). Family, domestic and sexual violence. Canberra: AIHW. Retrieved from www.aihw.gov.au/reports/domestic-violence/family-domestic-and-sexual-violence

Bagwell-Gray, M. E., Thaller, J., Messing, J. T., & Durfee, A. (2021). Women’s reproductive coercion and pregnancy avoidance: Associations with homicide risk, sexual violence, and religious abuse. Violence Against Women, 27(12–13), 2294–2312.

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, 5(2), 271–288.

Bent-Goodley, T. B., & Fowler, D. N. (2006). Spiritual and religious abuse: Expanding what is known about domestic violence. Journal of Women and Social Work, 21(3), 282–295.

Boyer, C., Levy Paluck, E., Annan, J., Nevatia, T., Cooper, J., Namubiru, J. et al. (2022). Religious leaders can motivate men to cede power and reduce intimate partner violence: Experimental evidence from Uganda. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(31), e2200262119.

Cares, A. C., & Cusick, G. R. (2012). Risks and opportunities of faith and culture: The case of abused Jewish women. Journal of Family Violence, 27, 427–435.

Chowdhury, R. (2023). The role of religion in domestic violence and abuse in UK Muslim communities. Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, rwad008.

Clifton, S. (2018). Spirit, submission, power, and abuse: A response to teaching on female submission and the scourge of domestic violence. St Mark’s Review, 243, 72–86.

Commonwealth of Australia, Attorney-General’s Department, National Principles to Address Coercive Control in Family and Domestic Violence (2023). Retrieved from: https://www.ag.gov.au/families-and-marriage/publications/national-principles-address-coercive-control-family-and-domestic-violence

Costello, M., & Backhouse, C. (2019). Avoiding the 3 ‘M’s: Accurate use of violence, abuse and neglect statistics and research to avoid myths, mistakes and misinformation. A resource for NSW health workers. NSW: Education Centre Against Violence.

de la Rosa, I. A., Barnett-Queen, T., Messick, M., & Gurrola, M. (2016) Spirituality and resilience among Mexican American IPV survivors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 31(20), 3332–3351.

Eidhamar, L. G. (2018) ‘My husband is my key to paradise’: Attitudes of Muslims in Indonesia and Norway to spousal roles and wife-beating. Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, 29(2), 241–264.

Ellis, H. M., Hook, J. N., Zuniga, S., Hodge, A. S., Ford, K. M., Davis, D. E. et al. (2022). Religious/spiritual abuse and trauma: A systematic review of the empirical literature. Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 9(4), 213–231.

Gezinski, L. B., Gonzalez-Pons, K. M., & Rogers, M. M. (2019). ‘Praying does not stop his fist from hitting my face’: Religion and intimate partner violence from the perspective of survivors and service providers. Journal of Family Issues, 44(9), 2504–2524.

Ghafournia, N. (2017). Muslim women and domestic violence: Developing a framework for social work practice. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought, 36(1–2), 146–163.

Ghafournia, N. (2019). Faith in freedom: Muslim immigrant women’s experiences of domestic violence. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

Ghafournia, N., & Easteal, P. (2019). Help-seeking experiences of immigrant domestic violence survivors in Australia: A snapshot of Muslim survivors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36(19–20), 9008–9034.

Hulley, J., Bailey, L., Kirkman, G., Gibbs, G. R., Gomersall, T., Latif, A. et al. (2023). Intimate partner violence and barriers to help-seeking among Black, Asian, minority ethnic and immigrant women: A qualitative metasynthesis of global research. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 24(2), 1001–1015.

Institute for Family Studies, & Wheatley Institution. (2019). Mapping family change and child well-being outcomes (Word Family Map 2019). Retrieved from ifstudies.org/ifsadmin/resources/reports/worldfamilymap-2019-051819.pdf

InTouch. (2020). Empowering faith and community leaders to prevent violence against women: Lessons from the Empowering Communities Initiative, Victoria. Retrieved from EmpoweringCommunitiesInitiativeResource_Online.pdf (archive.org.au)

Istratii, R., & Ali, P. (2023). A scoping review on the role of religion in the experience of ipv and faith-based responses in community and counseling settings. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 51(2), 141–173.

Jayasundara, D. S., Nedegaard, R. C., Flanagan, K., Phillips, A., & Weeks, A. (2017). Leveraging faith to help end domestic violence: Perspectives from five traditions. Social Work & Christianity, 44(4), 39–66.

Kalvari, L. (2022). Domestic violence in the Orthodox Jewish community through a postmodern lens. Studies in Judaism, Humanities, and the Social Sciences, 4(1), 361–368.

Kulwicki, A., Aswad, B., Carmona, T., & Ballout, S. (2010). Barriers in the utilization of domestic violence services among Arab immigrant women: Perceptions of professionals, service providers & community leaders. Journal of Family Violence, 25, 727–735.

Le Roux, E., & Bowers-Du Toit, N. (2017) Men and women in partnership: Mobilizing faith communities to address gender-based violence. Diaconia, 8(1), 23–37.

Lock, N. (2018) The church facing its shame over domestic violence in its midst: a pastoral counsellor’s response. St Mark’s Review, 243, 57–71.

Mulvihill, N., Aghtaie, N., Matolcsi, A., & Hester, M. (2023). UK victim-survivor experiences of intimate partner spiritual abuse and religious coercive control and implications for practice. Families in Society, 23(5), 773–790.

Oakley, L., & Humphreys, J. (2019). Escaping the maze of spiritual abuse: Creating healthy Christian cultures. London: SPCK Publishing.

Oakley, L., & Kinmond, K. (2016). The relationship between spiritual abuse and domestic violence and abuse in faith-based communities. In S. Hilder & V. Bettinson (Eds), Domestic Violence. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Oakley, L. R., Kinmond, K. S., & Humphreys, J. (2018). Spiritual abuse in Christian faith settings: Definition, policy and practice guidance. Journal of Adult Protection, 20(3/4), 144–154.

Powell, R. & Pepper, M. (2021). National Anglican family violence research report: Top line results. NCLS Research Report. Macquarie Park, NSW: NCLS Research.

Priest, N. (2018). A health and social science view of domestic violence and churches. St Mark’s Review, (243), 25–42.

Ross, L. E. (2012). Religion and intimate partner violence: A double-edge sword. Catalyst: A social justice forum, 2(3), 3–12.

Schlehofer, M. M., Omoto, A. M., & Adelman, J. R. (2008). How do ‘religion’ and ‘spirituality’ differ? Lay definitions among older adults. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 47(3), 411–425.

Starr, K. (2017). Scars of the soul: Get refusal and spiritual abuse in orthodox communities. Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies & Gender Issues, 31(5777–5778), 37–60.

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Tomalin, E. (2023). Spiritual abuse and gender-based violence. In Gender-Based Violence: A Comprehensive Guide (pp. 323–334). Springer.

Truong, M., Sharif, M., Olsen, A., Pasalich, D., Calabria, B., & Priest, N. (2022). Attitudes and beliefs about family and domestic violence in faith-based communities: An exploratory qualitative study. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 57(4), 880–897.

Truong, M., Sharif, M., Pasalich, D., Olsen, A., Calabria, B., & Priest, N. (2020). Faith-based communities’ responses to family and domestic violence. (CSRM Working Paper No. 1/2020). Canberra: ANU Centre for Social Research & Methods.

Vaughan, C., Sullivan, C., Chen, J., & Vaid Sandhu, M. (2020). What works to address violence against women and family violence within faith settings: An evidence guide. Parkville: University of Melbourne.

Victor, C. G. P., & Treschuk, J. V. (2020). Critical literature review on the definition clarity of the concept of faith, religion, and spirituality. Journal of Holisitc Nursing, 38(1), 107–113. doi: 10.1177/0898010119895368

Williams, O., & Jenkins, E. (2019). A survey of Black Churches’ responses to domestic violence. Social Work and Christianity, 46(4), 21–38.

Westenberg, L. (2017). ‘When she calls for help’: Domestic violence in Christian families. Social Sciences, 6(3), 71.

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This paper was written by Dr Mandy Truong, Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies and Dr Nafiseh Ghafournia, University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health.

Featured image: © gettyimages/Tinnakorn_Jorruang