Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 67, Issue 4, pp 429–442 | Cite as

A Phenomenological Study: Black Clergy Leaders’ Response to Violence against Women

  • Milicia A. TedderEmail author
  • Delores E. Smith


Violence against women and religious participation are two phenomena that are pervasive across many African American communities. African American women experience intimate partner violence at a rate higher than the majority of racial groups in the United States. Although many African American women highly depend on their faith and church to navigate their experiences with intimate partner violence, scant attention has been given to the role that Black clergy leaders have in responding to intimate partner violence against women. The current study utilized phenomenological methodology to understand better Black American clergy leaders’ responses to intimate partner violence against women. Findings from clergy leaders’ narratives suggested that they serve primarily four roles when responding to intimate partner violence against women: spiritual advisor, pastoral care/counselor, compassionate leaders, and uninformed responders. Overall, these themes indicate that although African American clergy acknowledge the prevalence of intimate partner violence within their communities, and are trained in pastoral counseling, they lack knowledge and training to respond to intimate partner violence. Discussion centers on the need for clergy to be trained in the area of intimate partner violence response given their position within the church. The results in this study can help clergy leaders understand the basics of intimate partner violence and identify gaps in their practices with abused women.


African Americans Black Americans Intimate partner violence Pastoral counseling Black Church Phenomenology 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNorth Carolina Central UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Child and Family StudiesUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

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