We Are Our Sister’s Keeper: The Experience of Black Female Clergy Responding to Intimate Partner Violence

Ashley R. Shaw, Maithe Enriquez, Tina Bloom, Jannette Berkley-Patton, Eric D. Vidoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intimate partner violence (IPV) affects all populations, regardless of race, education, or socioeconomic status, but Black women experience higher rates of IPV (43.7%) in comparison with White women (34.6%). Although evidence indicates that faith-based organizations and clergy play key roles in preventing and responding to IPV among Black women, limited research has been conducted in this area, and existing studies have focused on Black male clergy leaders’ response to IPV. Using transcendental phenomenology, we interviewed 12 Black female clergy regarding their role as responders to IPV among Black women in their congregation. Each clergy leader participated in a face-to-face interview. Data analysis followed the modified Van Kaam seven-step process. One overarching theme emerged—We Are Our Sister’s Keeper, as well as three primary themes: Support Advocate, Spiritual Advisor, and Roadblocked Leader. The themes indicated that Black female clergy respond to the emotional and spiritual needs of Black women despite barriers (e.g., few outside resources, limited support from the Black church). The themes also suggested that clergy lack knowledge and training for responding to IPV. However, Black female clergy are passionate about providing holistic, culturally centered care by bridging the gap between the church and the community to better serve Black women who have experienced IPV. Findings support the importance of incorporating spiritual and emotional healing among this population when providing care and services. Further research is needed to develop interventions, such as a faith-based toolkit that incorporates community resources and guidance to better support Black female clergy leaders’ ability to respond to IPV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)NP968-NP990
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Black church
  • clergy and counseling
  • domestic violence
  • intimate partner violence
  • qualitative research
  • spirituality
  • victim support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'We Are Our Sister’s Keeper: The Experience of Black Female Clergy Responding to Intimate Partner Violence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this