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Based on empirical research in a women’s shelter in São Paulo, Brazil, this article examines how ‘secular’ professionals and service users negotiate conservative Christian faith, gender roles and domestic violence. The article demonstrates how staff use theological arguments with feminist interpretations of religion, in order to better communicate with abused women of faith. A key finding is that both the religious service users and the ‘secular’ professionals discover it is not religion per se which allows for situations of violence, but rather the patriarchal way in which conservative Christianity is taught in some churches, ultimately functioning as a method of controlling women. Moreover, through feminist consciousness-raising and attention to women’s rights, some abused women of faith find ways of negotiating the violence they experience, leading to an understanding of it as both personal and political.

Open Access
In: Religion and Gender