Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Social Welfare

Content Description

1 online resource (vi, 166 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Bonnie Carlson

Committee Members

Eric Hardiman, Robert Miller, Jeff Hutterer


Beliefs, domestic violence, faith, Jewish, Judaism, religion, Family violence, Religious communities

Subject Categories

Social Work


Purpose and Background: The current study examines the link between beliefs and experiences around domestic violence and religion, seeking to understand more about the ways in which Jews understand and experience domestic violence, while also looking to examine the context of these results in terms of religious comparison. The literature shows a preliminary connection between religion and domestic violence, in that victims have utilized their faith and faith communities as coping resources, but have also reported negative experiences within their religious communities. The literature only alludes to potential connections between beliefs regarding domestic violence and religion. Existing studies use mainly qualitative methodology and very few explore the connections between Judaism and domestic violence. Public opinion surveys have not yet explored the relationship between religion and opinions regarding domestic violence. Methods: The current research is an exploratory, cross-sectional study, beginning to examine the opinions and experiences of Jews and Rabbis regarding domestic violence, as well as comparing these opinions with those of non-Jews. Using a convenience-sampling plan, one hundred and seventy three lay participants were recruited through a local mental health clinic, with a sample of 74 Jewish participants. The researcher had access to this clinic as an employee and also knew of the large Jewish community served by the clinic. Rabbis were recruited through phone book searches as well as snowball sampling methods. Participants completed a 10-page survey, which included several multiple response questions and two open-ended questions for all participants to complete and two vignettes for Rabbis to complete in addition. Survey questions were taken from a previously validated questionnaire and open-ended questions and vignettes were developed in an effort to gain more in depth information regarding participants' beliefs around domestic violence and their involvement in a faith community. Questions assessed participants' personal experiences with domestic violence, their opinions on prevalence rates, the ways in which they define domestic violence, and their opinions regarding causes of domestic violence. Results: Results showed that Jews have different opinions than non-Jews, such that Jews minimize domestic violence within their own communities and define it differently than non-Jews. Response rates for Rabbi participants were very low, but results showed that Rabbis do think about and experience domestic violence differently than non-Rabbis. Rabbis defined domestic violence differently than non-Rabbis, and had different opinions regarding causes of domestic violence as well. Implications regarding future research and policy are offered.

Included in

Social Work Commons