CA: FAITHS TAKE NEW APPROACH TO DOMESTIC ABUSE
Gloria Sandoval sought the help of her pastor when she was a young mother and her then-husband frequently slapped, kicked and punched her.
"I was given the response that I should go home and be a better wife," she recalled on Friday. The beatings didn't stop, and Sandoval finally left for good.
Her experience mirrors that of many domestic abuse victims.
A benchmark study in 2001 showed battered women in a majority of cases turn first to their clergy for help.
One in three received assistance from religious leaders, and one in 10 batterers received counseling, according to a study reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The spiritual counselors' efforts were perceived as ineffective, the journal reported.
For their part, clergy said they felt inadequately trained for the mission.
STAND! Against Domestic Violence, based in Concord, has been sowing the seeds of change in the religious community during the past eight years, and has just published a handbook, "God Is Not Abusive."
It gives the faithful tools for recognizing and interrupting domestic violence, and guides both victims and perpetrators to faith-based and other agencies that can help.
Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders teamed up to produce the handbook, which discusses how isolated portions of sacred texts have been taken out of context to justify domestic violence in the past.
Abusers don't see women as their equals -- which the Islamic Quran does not support, said co-author Farid Younos. He founded and heads Afghan Domestic Violence Prevention, part of the Afghan Coalition of Fremont. Younos hosts a talk show on satellite television that draws calls from Muslims living in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.
"There is not one single atom of difference between men and women; they are created in equality by almighty God," said Younos, the author of "Gender Equality in Islam," written when the invading Taliban imposed a harsh Sharia law on his homeland.
To receive "God Is Not Abusive," call 925-603-0197 To get help, call the domestic violence crisis line 888-215-5555
Stand! Against Domestic Violence www.standagainstdv.org Shalom Bayit: Bay Area Jewish Women Working to End Domestic Violence: www.shalom-bayit.org Faith Trust Institute: www.faithtrustinstitute.org