The impact of childhood abuse and conservative church culture on the re-victimisation of women


  • Wendy Hayes


The impact of domestic violence on Australian society is widespread. Research has told us that women who have been abused in childhood are three times more likely to experience domestic violence or sexual assault in their adult life. The research presented in this article involves a focus group of Christian women who have experienced some form of domestic violence, either in childhood or as an adult. The study reveals that conservative church culture has the potential to render Christian women more vulnerable to abusive relationships and domestic violence. This is particularly true of women who have experienced childhood abuse. When there is particular emphasis on certain doctrines, such as male headship, submission and forgiveness, abuse victims may be further disempowered and lack the ability to recognise and respond appropriately to abusive relationships. The findings of this research highlight the need for change within certain church communities in order to protect women and children against family violence.


Domestic violence, conservative church, abuse, submit, re-victimisation

Author Biography

Wendy Hayes

Wendy Hayes resides in Melbourne with her husband Ray. She is a professional Christian Counsellor with a Master of Community Counselling and over a decade of private practice. She has been involved in Church leadership for over 25 years. She has a passion for seeing Christian women stop out of shame and fear and to live in the freedom that Christ intended.