The Hidden Truth: The Role of Religion in Intimate Partner Violence in South Asian Immigrant Communities Open Access

Aqil, Anushka Rushna (2015)

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Background: A hidden reality, intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant problem within the South Asian immigrant communities in the United States with approximately 40% of researched South Asian immigrant women reporting IPV in their current or most recent relationships. There is a dearth of literature understanding the role religion plays in the experiences of survivors of IPV in the South Asian immigrant communities. This study is first of its kind to fill that need and contribute to the understanding of religion's role in IPV.

Aims and Objectives: To document and analyze the role of religion in the experiences of survivors of IPV; to assess the knowledge of survivors and service providers on how religious texts are evoked in relation to IPV; to determine the role of religious leaders in IPV; and to discuss policy, program and research implications for the role of religion in IPV in South Asian immigrant communities.

Methods: Due to exploratory nature of the study, qualitative method was preferred. Six participants identified as service providers, five participants identified as survivors of IPV, and one woman identified as both a service provider and survivor of IPV. Data analysis was conducted with MAXQDA version 11.1.0 using a thematic analysis approach.

Results: The majority of survivors stated that religious leaders played a negative role in their experiences with IPV while service providers asserted that religious leaders could be either helpful or harmful to a survivor's experience. Neither groups could provide any textual references that condemned or condoned IPV. Lastly, both groups noted that gender norms, as influenced by religion or culture, had a more direct impact on survivors' experiences.

Conclusions: This study supports that religion can play either a protective or detrimental role in the experiences of South Asian immigrant survivors of IPV. Furthermore, gender norms are important factors that, influenced by either religion or culture, can affect a survivor's experience. These findings shed light on the importance of religious sensitivity training for service providers as well as the need for further research on the influence of religion on gender roles and their subsequent impact on IPV.

Table of Contents

a. Intimate partner violence vs. Domestic violence 9
b. Gender roles as influenced by religion in South Asia 9
c. Gender roles as influenced by culture in South Asia 14
d. Religion, spirituality, and IPV 14
e. IPV in South Asian immigrant communities 15
i. Forms and methods of perpetrating IPV in South Asian immigrant communities 16
a. Site Selection 18
b. IRB Approval 18
c. Recruitment and sample 19
d. Data analysis 20
a. Survivors' perspectives 22
i. Perceptions of religious leaders' influencing survivors' experiences 22
ii. Knowledge of religious texts and scriptures as related to IPV 24
iii. Perceptions of religion as a support system 26
iv. Perceptions of religion and culture mediating IPV through gender roles 28
b. Service providers' perspectives 35
i. Reflections on religious leaders' influence on survivors' experiences 35
ii. Reflections on religious texts and scriptures as related to IPV 38
iii. Reflections on religion as a support system 39
iv. Reflections on religion's influence on gender roles 41
c. Comparing survivors and services providers perspectives 43
Limitations 49
Program and research implications and recommendations 50
References 52
Appendices 58
Appendix A: Consent form - Survivors 58
Appendix B: Consent form - Service providers 60
Appendix C: Interview guide questions - Survivors 62
Appendix D: Interview guide questions - Service providers 64

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