Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

15858 Determinants of Clergy Behaviors Promoting Safety of Battered Korean Immigrant Women

Thursday, January 12, 2012: 1:30 PM
Constitution E (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Y. Joon Choi, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Background and Purpose: Korean immigrants greatly underutilize existing services and rely heavily on their respective churches for assistance with various issues, including domestic violence (Boodman, 2007; Kim, 1997). Korean churches and clergy have the potential to be active partners in providing intervention services and to serve as a major force for preventing domestic violence. The objective of this study was to examine Korean clergy's responses to domestic violence in their congregations and how their patriarchal, religious, and cultural values affect their responses. It was hypothesized that younger clergy, clergy with more years in the U.S., clergy with more pastoral counseling education, clergy with less religious fundamentalist beliefs, clergy with more egalitarian gender role attitudes, and clergy with less adherence to Korean cultural values will indicate more behaviors that promote safety of Korean battered women.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey design utilizing mixed methods was used in this study with data collection through mail and online surveys. The sample was drawn from a Korean Business Directory that includes mailing addresses and phone numbers of 388 Korean churches in two Mid-Atlantic States. Participant eligibility criteria were: 18 years or older; ordained minister; and self-identified as Korean or Korean American. Gender role attitudes and Korean cultural values were measured using standardized scales with good validity and reliability: Sex-Role Traditionalism Scale (Peplau, Hill, & Rubin, 1993) and Asian Values Scale-Revised (Kim & Hong, 2004), respectively. A total of 152 Korean ministers participated in this study, representing a 40.5% response rate. Data analyses included factor analysis and item analysis for SRTS and AVS-R; correlation matrix for six IVs and the DV; OLS regression; and content analysis of the qualitative data.

Results: Results indicated that many Korean clergy are torn between safety of battered women and sacredness of marriage in responding to domestic violence cases in their church. They first try to work toward reconciliation of couples through couples counseling and marriage enrichment seminars, and when this effort is not successful, then they refer to other resources such as domestic violence programs and therapists. A clergy's level of adherence to Korean cultural values, age, and length of residence in the U.S. were found to influence clergy behaviors promoting safety of battered women. Gender role attitudes, clergy pastoral counseling education, and religious fundamentalist beliefs were not found to be related to a clergy response to domestic violence.

Conclusions: Future research should involve developing training curricula for Korean clergy and evaluating its effectiveness on changing their knowledge, attitudes, skills, confidence, and behaviors related to their responses to domestic violence in their congregations. Training curricula for Korean clergy should address their dilemma between preserving the sacredness of marriage and their concern for battered women, as well as focusing on how their Korean cultural values, such as the importance of family harmony, the priority of family interests over individual interests, and women's enduring hardship to preserve the family, may influence their responses to domestic violence in congregations in a way that could jeopardize the safety of battered women and their children.

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