TUESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Prayer can help victims of
domestic violence deal with their situation and emotions by using
coping methods such as venting, a small new study suggests.
It included dozens of people in abusive relationships who were
interviewed by Shane Sharp, a sociology graduate student at the
University of Wisconsin, Madison. The racially diverse participants
came from different regions of the United States, were mostly from
Christian backgrounds and had varying levels of education.
One finding was that prayer offers "a readily available
listening ear" to people who were boiling with anger.
"If they vented their anger to their abuse partner, the result was likely to be more violence. But they could be angry at God while praying without fear of reprisal," Sharp said in a university news release.
Prayer also offers domestic abuse victims an opportunity to see
themselves as God views them.
"During prayer, victims came to see themselves as they believed God saw them. Since these perceptions were mostly positive, it helped raise their senses of self-worth that counteracted their abuser's hurtful words," Sharp said.
For some, folding their hands and focusing on what to say while
praying provides a reprieve from the anxiety of their situation.
The experience is similar to having a conversation with a close
friend or a parent.
But prayer isn't always beneficial.
"For some, through prayer they told me they learned to forgive their abusive partners, to let go of their anger and resentment," Sharp said. "But that's a double-edged sword. It's good for those who are out of that violent relationship to let go of it to a certain extent. But if they're still in their violent relationship, it may postpone their decision to leave, and that can be bad."
Many of the participants said they believe in God but don't
belong to a specific church.
The study appears in the current issue of the journal
Social Psychology Quarterly.
The American Psychiatric Association has more about