The Missing Link: Domestic Violence and Accountable Communities

Cristina LH Traina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Feminist approaches to social problems typically consult women’s experience on macroscopic and microscopic scales to describe the consequences of women’s oppression and to diagnose its causes. Domestic violence statistics reveal that although social scale changes like legal and cultural equality seem to abate violence somewhat, same-gender relationships are as violent as heterosexual marriages. Other factors must be examined. First, equality and flexibility do not eradicate concupiscence from intimate relationships; rather, it appears in both patriarchal and egalitarian couples as the desire for complete control and for eradication of uncertainty, both of which can spawn violence. Second, the article hypothesizes that the overwhelming desire for control may stem from the great vulnerability of marriages at the intermediate scale, a level of personal social membership larger than the intimate but smaller than society or the state. The essay suggests that to counter the control, secrecy, and isolation that besets partnerships affected by domestic violence we need robust, functional, human-scale communities of mutual respect and care where domestic violence is openly discussed, survivors and potential victims are empowered, and perpetrators are held accountable. Although models for communities that practice this sort of transformative justice are much more common outside the churches than within them, it is suggested that the secular models are in a profound sense communal and even ecclesial, calling the churches to fulfill their own identities as communities of fraternal correction and support.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-137
Number of pages9
JournalJournal for the Study of Marriage and Spirituality
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2011


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