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Domestic Violence Practitioners


Project dldl/ድልድል emanates from the understanding that more effort needs to be made for building religio-cultural sensitivity and literacy into domestic violence victim support-systems and perpetrator treatment programmes. In parallel, it seeks to integrate psychological and religious parameters in a common framework of analysis for understanding better domestic violence in tradition-oriented societies.

While numerous faith-oriented initiatives exist around the world, this important work with faith communities and the efforts made to bridge secular and religious sectors have not succeeded in decentring the highly secularised domestic violence sector that prevails internationally. In the UK, the language of domestic violence service provision suggests that providers are keen to consider culture-specific forms of violence (e.g. honour crimes, etc.), but no sustained effort has been made to build religio-cultural sensitivity and literacy within the sector. Ongoing projects concerning domestic violence and migration in the UK affirm that members of migrant communities are disproportionately affected by domestic violence but that victims may fail to access or utilise referral services due to linguistic barriers, or because they may feel that their religio-cultural heritage is not understood, or having different ways of dealing with crisis that are informed also by religious worldviews.

On the other hand, much research and practice in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), including Ethiopia, has pre-occupied with ‘cultural’ aetiologies and sociological theories of gender inequality to explain and to address domestic violence, neglecting psychological, intergenerational, situational and other intersubjective parameters that have been more fully integrated in domestic violence studies and practice in industrialised societies. Some of this existing evidence has importantly linked faith-based values and spirituality to behaviour in romantic relationships, drawing from attachment and trauma theory, the implications of which still remain to be fully considered.

This section aims to make available resources for domestic violence practitioners working internationally to help them in developing more understanding of the role of religio-cultural parameters in experiences of domestic violence and in formulating responses to the problem, as well as identify ways in which religious and psychological parameters contributing to domestic violence deterrence or continuation can be integrated in a common framework for better understanding and addressing the problem.

Our Resources

Policy Brief: 'Leveraging the potential of religious teachings and grassroots religious teachers and clerics to combat intimate partner violence in international development contexts'

5 December 2023

The current policy brief highlights the significant potential that religious teachings and religious teachers and clerics can have in combating intimate partner violence (IPV) and how this could be leveraged by means of a case study and select published literature. It draws from findings from long-term anthropological research with communities in Ethiopia and evidence collected from a recent programme implemented by project dldl/ድልድል that engaged Christian clergy to build their preparedness to respond to domestic violence in Ethiopia. The findings from the case study suggest that theology-informed IPV trainings could enable religious teachers to become more active in IPV responses, provided that a) theological responses are embedded in the religious tradition that faith communities consider authoritative, and b) trainers are fully versed in the cultural context, theological tradition and IPV realities that the religious teachers they train are faced with in their everyday life.

Faith in gender based violence (GBV) response: exploring relationships and implications for humanitarian practice

3 June 2021

The GBV AoR (Gender Based Violence Area of Responsibility) Community of Practice with the Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) at the University of Birmingham, JLI/SVRI Faith & GBV Hub and EQUISTY Gender Lab delivered a webinar to explore and exchange information with GBV practitioners on how to better understand how religion, faith, and spirituality can shape GBV survivors’ resilience, recovery, wellbeing and vulnerability. Dr Romina Istratii was one of the main speakers and gave a presentation titled “Understanding the colonial legacies that underpin engagements with religious parameters in humanitarian response and public health.” Dr Istratii noted that practitioners should recognise the epistemological legacies informing theories and practices in the respective sectors in order to understand the limitations of how these sectors currently respond to/work with religious parameters and how to achieve more substantive and nuanced engagement approaches.

War and domestic violence: A rapid scoping of the literature to understand the relationship and to inform responses in the Tigray humanitarian crisis

10 April 2021

Unexpectedly, on 4 November 2020 (four days after the official start date of project dldl/ድልድል), a conflict erupted in Tigray region. The eruption of the war raised an urgent need to pay attention to violence experienced in political conflict and to war trauma and to understand the implications for domestic life and family relations in the conflict-affected communities, as well as identify linkages with religio-cultural parameters where these have been identified. The working paper has the two-fold aim to deepen the analysis of domestic violence in conflict-ridden Tigray as part of the ongoing work that we do as project dldl/ድልድል and to inform current humanitarian responses in the region so that they account for context-specific needs and the religio-cultural conditions of the people. The paper is relevant to other emergency contexts within and beyond Ethiopia, as well as migrant and refugee communities.

Discussion group dedicated to promoting integrated approaches to domestic violence in faith communities 

10 January 2021

If you work in the domestic violence sector, such as social work, counselling, GBV interventions internationally or other, you may wish to join the project’s dedicated mail list DV-Gender-Faith on JISCMAIL. This is  intended for domestic violence practitioners, researchers and religious stakeholders to share new research, training materials and experiences in order to build beneficial practices together and to promote better-integrated approaches to addressing domestic violence in religious communities. Subscription is open to all and discussions are public.

Webinar on addressing domestic violence in religious communities in the era of decolonising knowledge 

25 November 2020

A webinar was held in November that  brought together researchers and practitioners from around the world to examine current approaches to domestic violence in religious communities and to identify positive directions for the future. It examined past and current approaches with reflexivity to the limitation of western understandings of ‘religion’, and with the aim of contributing to a diversification of domestic violence understandings and approaches by promoting more Southern-Northern knowledge exchange.

Faith, human psychology and domestic violence: Some ethnographic insights

15 October 2020

Courtesy of Partner Violence & Mental Health Network

Dr Romina Istratii presented  key insights from her year-long theology-informed ethnographic study of domestic violence with the Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahәdo community in the countryside of Northern Ethiopia. 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. The study also pointed to interconnections with psychological parameters of violence, suggesting the need for an integrated alleviation approach.