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Istratii, Romina (2020) Faith, human psychology and domestic violence: Some ethnographic insights. Partner Violence & Mental Health Network. Available from

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How do religious beliefs, human psychology and domestic violence intersect? Numerous fields offer directions in thinking about this relationship, including the well-established field of spiritual psychotherapy in North America, studies in mental health and spirituality, research that links religious beliefs to attachment models, personality disorders and domestic violence, and studies that look at the role of religious values or Church attendance in marriage, primarily emanating from North America. And yet these three parameters are rarely addressed together in domestic violence interventions. More importantly, their study is disproportionately informed by the contexts and faith traditions of western societies and are not applied to or informed by ethnographic realities in non-western religious communities. There is a need to build the evidence around how religious beliefs combine with personal and interpersonal, psychological parameters to influence human behavior in intimate partnerships and responses to domestic violence in diverse religious communities. This webinar will focus on key insights from a year-long theology-informed ethnographic study of domestic violence with an Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahәdo community in the countryside of Northern Ethiopia which embedded the study of domestic violence realities and attitudes in the local religio-cultural worldview and participants’ lived realities and life stories. The study demonstrated clear associations between individual rationalisations and attitudes towards intimate partner abuse and the participants’ belief systems, as well as the potential of Orthodox theology to counter perceptions of abusiveness conducive to its tolerance by a majority of the population. A closer look at the influence of spiritual parameters on conjugal behaviour suggested that faith was influential in many men’s and women’s married lives, although it was experienced differently and with different implications for each. The study also pointed to interconnections with psychological parameters of violence, suggesting the need for an integrated alleviation approach. The PhD study was completed at SOAS University of London in 2018 and has since evolved in the project “Religion, Conscience and Abusive Behaviour: Understanding the Role of Faith and Spirituality in the Deterrence of Intimate Partner Violence in Rural Ethiopia” funded by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation (Research Grant 2019).

Item Type: Videos
Keywords: domestic violence, intimate partner violence, conjugal abuse, religious traditions, religious beliefs, faith, faithfulness, spirituality, psychology, behaviour, attachment theory, psychological theories of domestic violence, ethnographic study, Ethiopia, Aksum, Eastern Christianities, Orthodoxy
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Development Studies
Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2020 11:31
Related URLs: https://www.eve ... s-123321218083# (Organisation URL)
Funders: Other

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