Categorized | Domestic Violence, Opinion

Socio-cultural factors promoting domestic violence

Posted on 06 January 2011

The first attested use of the expression “domestic violence” in a modern context, meaning “spouse abuse, violence in the home” was in 1977. Violence between spouses has long been considered a serious problem. The United States has a lengthy history of legal precedent condemning spousal abuse.

In 1879, law scholar Nicholas St. John Green wrote, “The cases in the American courts are uniform against the right of the husband to use any chastisement, moderate or otherwise, toward the wife, for any purpose.” Green also cites the 1641 Body of Liberties of the Massachusetts Bay colonists — one of the first legal documents in North American history — as an early de jure condemnation of violence by either spouse.

Popular emphasis has tended to be on women as the victims of domestic violence. Many studies show that women suffer greater rates of injury due to domestic violence, and some studies show that women suffer higher rates of assault. Yet, other studies show that while men tend to inflict injury at higher rates, the majority of domestic violence overall is reciprocal. However, the National Institute of Justice points out that the “studies that find that women abuse men equally or even more than men abuse women are based on data compiled through the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS), a survey tool developed in the 1970s. CTS may not be appropriate for intimate partner violence research because it does not measure control, coercion, or the motives for conflict tactics; it also leaves out sexual assault and violence by ex-spouses or partners and does not determine who initiated the violence.”

Moreover, “national surveys supported by NIJ, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Bureau of Justice Statistics that examine more serious assaults do not support the conclusion of similar rates of male and female spousal assaults. These surveys are conducted within a safety or crime context and clearly find more partner abuse by men against women.” Michael Flood and Michael Kimmel separately argue that the men’s rights movement “tells the lie that domestic violence is gender-equal or gender-neutral – that men and women assault each other at equal rates and with equal effects.”

Modern attention to domestic violence began in the women’s movement of the 1970s, particularly within feminism and women’s rights, as concern about wives being beaten by their husbands gained attention. Only since the late 1970s, and particularly in the masculism and men’s movements of the 1990s, has the problem of domestic violence against men gained any significant attention. Estimates show that 248 of every 1,000 females and 76 of every 1,000 males are victims of physical assault and/or rape committed by their spouses. A 1997 report says significantly more men than women do not disclose the identity of their attacker. There is no evidence however that male victims are more likely to under-report than female victims.

In fact, men tend to over-estimate their partner’s violence and under-estimate their own, while women do the reverse (Kimmel 2001, 10-11). A 2009 study showed that there was greater acceptance for abuse perpetrated by females than by males. Several studies have confirmed that women’s physical violence towards intimate male partners is often in self-defense (DeKeseredy et al. 1997; Hamberger et al. 1994; Swan & Snow 2002, 301; Muelleman & Burgess 1998, 866.

The term “intimate partner violence” (IPV) is often used synonymously with domestic abuse/domestic violence. Family violence is a broader definition, often used to include child abuse, elder abuse, and other violent acts between family members. Wife abuse, wife beating, and battering are descriptive terms that have lost popularity recently for at least two reasons:

* Acknowledgment that many victims are not actually married to the abuser, but rather cohabiting or other arrangement.

* Abuse can take other forms than physical abuse and males are often victims of violence as well. Other forms of abuse may be constantly occurring, while physical abuse happens occasionally.

These other forms of abuse have the potential to lead to mental illness, self-harm, and even attempts at suicide.

Amartya Sen calculated that between 60 million and 107 million women are missing worldwide.

The U. S. Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) defines domestic violence as a “pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner”. The definition adds that domestic violence “can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender”, and that it can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse.

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service in the United Kingdom in its “Domestic Violence Policy” uses domestic violence to refer to a range of violent and abusive behaviours, defining it as:

Patterns of behaviour characterised by the misuse of power and control by one person over another who are or have been in an intimate relationship. It can occur in mixed gender relationships and same gender relationships and has profound consequences for the lives of children, individuals, families and communities. It may be physical, sexual, emotional and/or psychological. The latter may include intimidation, harassment, damage to property, threats and financial abuse.

In Spain, the 2004 Measures of Integral Protection Measures against Gender Violence defined gender violence as a violence that is directed at women for the very fact of being women. The law acknowledges that aggressions against women have a particular incidence in the reality of Spain and that gender violence stands as the most brutal symbol of the inequality persisting in Spain. According to the law, women are considered by their attackers as lacking the basic rights of freedom, respect, and power of decision.

Spousal abuse refers to a wide spectrum of abuse. This includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological or emotional abuse, economic abuse, verbal abuse and financial abuse. Perpetrators can be either male or female, as can victims, although the overwhelming majority of research data to date conclude that abuse victims are by and large female, with battered males being uncommon. Most of the information today confuses spousal abuse with domestic violence, which is only part of the whole spectrum of abuse.

[citation needed] ‘Domestic violence’ is a specific form of violence in which physical, psychological, or sexual abuse is perpetuated by one spouse upon another, or by both partners upon each other.[citation needed] The term was coined in the late 1970s once such crimes were given wider attention in society. There are separate legalities and punishments applied to such a crime as opposed to random assault or assaults of another nature (see battered woman defence and battered person syndrome).

Women are much more likely to be murdered by an intimate partner, in comparison to men. Among the people killed by an intimate partner, about three quarters are female, and about a quarter are male. In 1999, in the US, 1,218 women and 424 men were killed by an intimate partner, regardless of which partner started the violence and of the gender of the partner. In the US, in 2005, 1181 females and 329 males were killed by their intimate partners.

Dr. Martin Fiebert, from the Department of Psychology of California State University, has compiled an annotated bibliography of research relating to spousal abuse by women on men. This bibliography examines 275 scholarly investigations: 214 empirical studies and 61 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 365,000.

However, in a review of the research Michael Kimmel found that violence is instrumental in maintaining control and that more than 90 percent of “systematic, persistent, and injurious” violence is perpetrated by men. He points out that most of the empirical studies that Fiebert reviewed used the same empirical measure of family conflict, i.e., the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) as the sole measure of domestic violence and that many of the studies noted by Fiebert discussed samples composed entirely of single people younger than 30, and not married couples.

Kimmel argues that among various other flaws, the CTS is particularly vulnerable to reporting bias because it depends on asking people to accurately remember and report what happened during the past year. However, men tend to under-estimate their use of violence, while women tend to over-estimate their use of violence. Simultaneously men tend to over-estimate their partners use of violence while women tend to under-estimate their partners use of violence. Thus, men will likely over-estimate their victimization, while women tend to underestimate theirs.

Similarly, the National Institute of Justice states that the studies that find that women abuse men equally or even more than men abuse women are based on data compiled through the Conflict Tactics Scale, a survey tool developed in the 1970s and which may not be appropriate for intimate partner violence research because it does not measure control, coercion, or the motives for conflict tactics; it also leaves out sexual assault and violence by ex-spouses or partners and does not determine who initiated the violence.

Furthermore, the NIJ contends that national surveys supported by NIJ, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics that examine more serious assaults do not support the conclusion of similar rates of male and female spousal assaults. These surveys are conducted within a safety or crime context and clearly find more partner abuse by men against women.

Straus and Gelles found in couples reporting spousal violence, 27% of the time the man struck the first blow; the woman in 24%. The rest of the time, the violence was mutual, with both partners brawling. The results were the same even when the most severe episodes of violence were analyzed. In order to counteract claims that the reporting data was skewed, female-only surveys were conducted, asking females to self-report, and the data was the same.

The simple tally of violent acts is typically found to be similar in those studies that examine both directions, but some studies show that men’s violence may be more serious. Men’s violence may do more damage than women’s; women are much more likely to be injured and/or hospitalized, wives are much more likely to be killed by their husbands than the reverse (59%-41% Dept of Justice study), and women in general are more likely to be killed by their spouse than by all other types of assailants combined.

Coramae Richey Mann, a researcher at the Department of Criminal Justice, Indiana University/Bloomington, found that only 59% of women jailed for spousal murder claimed self-defense and that 30% had previously been arrested for violent crimes.

Women are far more likely to use weapons in their domestic violence, whether throwing a plate or firing a gun. Women are also much more likely than men to enlist help if they wish to kill their spouse; but such multiple-offender homicides are not counted toward domestic-violence statistics.

In their study of severely violent couples, Neil Jacobson and John Gottman conclude that the frequency of violent acts is not as crucial as the impact of the violence and its function, when trying to understand spousal abuse; specifically, they state that the purpose of battering of whatever direction is to control and intimidate, rather than just to injure.

All forms of domestic abuse have one purpose: to gain and maintain total control over the victim. Abusers use many tactics to exert power over their spouse or partner: dominance, humiliation, isolation, threats, intimidation, denial and blame.

The form and characteristics of domestic violence and abuse may vary in other ways. Michael P. Johnson argues for three major types of intimate partner violence. The typology is supported by subsequent research and evaluation by Johnson and his colleagues, as well as independent researchers.

Distinctions need to be made regarding types of violence, motives of perpetrators, and the social and cultural context. Violence by a person against their intimate partner is often done as a way for controlling “their partner”, even if this kind of violence is not the most frequent. Other types of intimate partner violence also occur, including violence between gay and lesbian couples and by women against their male partners.

Distinctions are not based on single incidents, but rather on patterns across numerous incidents and motives of the perpetrator. Types of violence identified by Johnson:

* Common couple violence (CCV) is not connected to general control behavior, but arises in a single argument where one or both partners physically lash out at the other. Intimate terrorism is one element in a general pattern of control by one partner over the other. Intimate terrorism is more common than common couple violence, more likely to escalate over time, not as likely to be mutual, and more likely to involve serious injury.

* Intimate terrorism (IT) may also involve emotional and psychological abuse.

* Violent resistance (VR), sometimes thought of as “self-defense”, is violence perpetrated by victims against their abusive partners.

* Mutual violent control (MVC) is rare type of intimate partner violence occurs when both partners act in a violent manner, battling for control.

Another type is situational couple violence, which arises out of conflicts that escalate to arguments and then to violence.

It is not connected to a general pattern of control. Although it occurs less frequently in relationships and is less serious than intimate terrorism, in some cases it can be frequent and/or quite serious, even life-threatening. This is probably the most common type of intimate partner violence and dominates general surveys, student samples, and even marriage counseling samples.

Types of male batterers identified by Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994) include “family-only”, which primarily fall into the CCV type, who are generally less violent and less likely to perpetrate psychological and sexual abuse. IT batterers include two types: “Generally-violent-antisocial” and “dysphoric-borderline”. The first type includes men with general psychopathic and violent tendencies. The second type are men who are emotionally dependent on the relationship. Support for this typology has been found in subsequent evaluations.

Others, such as the US Centers for Disease Control, divide domestic violence into two types: reciprocal violence, in which both partners are violent, and non-reciprocal violence, in which one partner is violent.

Physical abuse is abuse involving contact intended to cause feelings of intimidation, pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm.

Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, punching, choking, pushing, and other types of contact that result in physical injury to the victim. Physical abuse can also include behaviors such as denying the victim of medical care when needed, depriving the victim of sleep or other functions necessary to live, or forcing the victim to engage in drug/alcohol use against his/her will. It can also include inflicting physical injury onto other targets, such as children or pets, in order to cause psychological harm to the victim.

Sexual abuse is common in abusive relationships. Any situation in which force is used to obtain participation in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity constitutes sexual abuse. Forced sex, even by a spouse or intimate partner with whom consensual sex has occurred, is an act of aggression and violence. Furthermore, women whose partners abuse them physically and sexually are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed.

Categories of sexual abuse include:

1. Use of physical force to compel a person to engage in a sexual act against his or her will, whether or not the act is completed;

2. Attempted or completed sex act involving a person who is unable to understand the nature or condition of the act, unable to decline participation, or unable to communicate unwillingness to engage in the sexual act, e.g., because of underage immaturity, illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or because of intimidation or pressure; and Emotional abuse (also called psychological abuse or mental abuse) can include humiliating the victim privately or publicly, controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family, implicitly blackmailing the victim by harming others when the victim expresses independence or happiness, or denying the victim access to money or other basic resources and necessities.

Emotional/verbal abuse is defined as any behavior that threatens, intimidates, undermines the victim’s self-worth or self-esteem, or controls the victim’s freedom. This can include threatening the victim with injury or harm, telling the victim that they will be killed if they ever leave the relationship, and public humiliation. Constant criticism, name-calling, and making statements that damage the victim’s self-esteem are also common forms of emotional abuse.

Often perpetrators will use children to engage in emotional abuse by teaching them to harshly criticize the victim as well. Emotional abuse includes conflicting actions or statements which are designed to confuse and create insecurity in the victim. These behaviors also lead the victim to question themselves, causing them to believe that they are making up the abuse or that the abuse is their fault.

Emotional abuse includes forceful efforts to isolate the victim, keeping them from contacting friends or family. This is intended to eliminate those who might try to help the victim leave the relationship and to create a lack of resources for them to rely on if they were to leave. Isolation results in damaging the victim’s sense of internal strength, leaving them feeling helpless and unable to escape from the situation. Male privilege is often used to control victims and to maintain the perpetrator’s power in the relationship (such as the concept of a man being “head” of a household or defining a woman’s role as submissive).

People who are being emotionally abused often feel as if they do not own themselves; rather, they may feel that their significant other has nearly total control over them. Women or men undergoing emotional abuse often suffer from depression, which puts them at increased risk for suicide, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse.

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Verbal abuse is a form of abusive behavior involving the use of language. It is a form of profanity that can occur with or without the use of expletives.

Abusers may ignore, ridicule, disrespect, and criticize others consistently; manipulate words; purposefully humiliate; falsely accuse; manipulate people to submit to undesirable behavior; make others feel unwanted and unloved; threaten economically; place the blame and cause of the abuse on others; isolate victims from support systems; harass; demonstrate Jekyll and Hyde behaviors, either in terms of sudden rages or behavioral changes, or where there is a very different “face” shown to the outside world vs. with victim. While oral communication is the most common form of verbal abuse, it includes abusive words in written form.

This section needs additional citations for verification.

Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Economic abuse is when the abuser has control over the victim’s money and other economic resources. In its extreme (and usual) form, this involves putting the victim on a strict “allowance”, withholding money at will and forcing the victim to beg for the money until the abuser gives them some money.

It is common for the victim to receive less money as the abuse continues.

This also includes (but is not limited to) preventing the victim from finishing education or obtaining employment, or intentionally squandering or misusing communal resources.

Lenore Walker presented the model of a Cycle of abuse which consists of three basic phases:

Tension Building Phase

Characterized by poor communication, tension, fear of causing outbursts. During this stage the victims try to calm the abuser down, to avoid any major violent confrontations.

Violent Episode

Characterized by outbursts of violent, abusive incidents. During this stage the abuser attempts to dominate his/her partner(victim), with the use of domestic violence.

Honeymoon Phase

Characterized by affection, apology, and apparent end of violence. During this stage the abuser feels overwhelming feelings of remorse and sadness. Some abusers walk away from the situation, while others shower their victims with love and affection.

Although it is easy to see the outbursts of the Acting-out Phase as abuse, even the more pleasant behaviours of the Honeymoon Phase serve to perpetuate the abuse.

Many domestic violence advocates believe that the cycle of abuse theory is limited and does not reflect the realities of many men and women experiencing domestic violence.

There are many different theories as to the causes of domestic violence. These include psychological theories that consider personality traits and mental characteristics of the perpetrator, as well as social theories which consider external factors in the perpetrator’s environment, such as family structure, stress, social learning. As with many phenomena regarding human experience, no single approach appears to cover all cases.

In general, about 80% of both court-referred and self-referred men in these domestic violence studies exhibited diagnosable psychopathology, typically personality disorders. The estimate of personality disorders in the general population would be more in the 15-20% range [...] As violence becomes more severe and chronic in the relationship, the likelihood of psychopathology in these men approaches 100%.”

Psychological theories focus on personality traits and mental characteristics of the offender. Personality traits include sudden bursts of anger, poor impulse control, and poor self-esteem. Various theories suggest that psychopathology and other personality disorders are factors, and that abuse experienced as a child leads some people to be more violent as adults. Studies have found high incidence of psychopathy among abusers.

Dutton has suggested a psychological profile of men who abuse their wives, arguing that they have borderline personalities that are developed early in life. Gelles suggests that psychological theories are limited, and points out that other researchers have found that only 10% (or less) fit this psychological profile. He argues that social factors are important, while personality traits, mental illness, or psychopathy are lesser factors.

Behavioral theories draw on the work of behavior analysts. Applied behavior analysis uses the basic principles of learning theory to change behavior. Behavioral theories of domestic violence focus on the use of functional assessment with the goal of reducing episodes of violence to zero rates. This program leads to behavior therapy. Often by identifying the antecedents and consequences of violent action, the abusers can be taught self control. Recently more focus has been placed on prevention and a behavioral prevention theory.

Looks at external factors in the offender’s environment, such as family structure, stress, social learning, and includes rational choice theories.

Resource theory was suggested by William Goode (1971). Women who are most dependent on the spouse for economic well being (e.g. homemakers/housewives, women with handicaps, the unemployed), and are the primary caregiver to their children, fear the increased financial burden if they leave their marriage. Dependency means that they have fewer options and few resources to help them cope with or change their spouse’s behavior.

Couples that share power equally experience lower incidence of conflict, and when conflict does arise, are less likely to resort to violence. If one spouse desires control and power in the relationship, the spouse may resort to abuse.[89] This may include coercion and threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, economic abuse, isolation, making light of the situation and blaming the spouse, using children (threatening to take them away), and behaving as “master of the castle”.

Stress may be increased when a person is living in a family situation, with increased pressures. Social stresses, due to inadequate finances or other such problems in a family may further increase tensions. Violence is not always caused by stress, but may be one way that some people respond to stress. Families and couples in poverty may be more likely to experience domestic violence, due to increased stress and conflicts about finances and other aspects. Some speculate that poverty may hinder a man’s ability to live up to his idea of “successful manhood”, thus he fears losing honor and respect. Theory suggests that when he is unable to economically support his wife, and maintain control, he may turn to misogyny, substance abuse, and crime as ways to express masculinity.

Social learning theory suggests that people learn from observing and modeling after others’ behavior. With positive reinforcement, the behavior continues. If one observes violent behavior, one is more likely to imitate it. If there are no negative consequences (e. g. victim accepts the violence, with submission), then the behavior will likely continue. Often, violence is transmitted from generation to generation in a cyclical manner.

In some relationships, violence is posited to arise out of a perceived need for power and control, a form of bullying and social learning of abuse.

Abusers’ efforts to dominate their partners have been attributed to low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy, unresolved childhood conflicts, the stress of poverty, hostility and resentment toward women (misogyny), hostility and resentment toward men (misandry), personality disorders, genetic tendencies and sociocultural influences, among other possible causative factors. Most authorities seem to agree that abusive personalities result from a combination of several factors, to varying degrees.

A causalist view of domestic violence is that it is a strategy to gain or maintain power and control over the victim. This view is in alignment with Bancroft’s “cost-benefit” theory that abuse rewards the perpetrator in ways other than, or in addition to, simply exercising power over his or her target(s). He cites evidence in support of his argument that, in most cases, abusers are quite capable of exercising control over themselves, but choose not to do so for various reasons.

An alternative view is that abuse arises from powerlessness and externalizing/projecting this and attempting to exercise control of the victim. It is an attempt to ‘gain or maintain power and control over the victim’ but even in achieving this it cannot resolve the powerlessness driving it. Such behaviours have addictive aspects leading to a cycle of abuse or violence. Mutual cycles develop when each party attempts to resolve their own powerlessness in attempting to assert control.

Questions of power and control are integral to the widely utilized Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project. They developed “Power and Control Wheel” to illustrate this: it has power and control at the center, surrounded by spokes (techniques used), the titles of which include:Coercion and threats, Intimidation, Emotional abuse, Isolation, Minimizing, denying and blaming, Using children, Economic abuse, Male privilege.

The model attempts to address abuse by one-sidedly challenging the misuse of power by the ‘perpetrator’.

The power wheel model is not intended to assign personal responsibility, enhance respect for mutual purpose or assist victims and perpetrators in resolving their differences. It is an informational tool designed to help individuals understand the dynamics of power operating in abusive situations and identify various methods of abuse.

Critics of this model suggest that the one-sided focus, which presumes men are to blame for all domestic violence, is problematic.

Psychiatric disorders are sometimes associated with domestic violence, like Borderline personality disorder, Antisocial personality disorder, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Drug abuse and Alcoholism.[citation needed] In past medical knowledge, untreated Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and Conduct disorders in childhood was associated with domestic violence in adulthood.

The role of gender is a controversial topic related to the discussion of domestic violence.

Among the persons killed by an intimate partner, about three quarters are female, and about a quarter are male: in 1999, in the US, 1,218 women and 424 men were killed by an intimate partner, regardless of which partner started the violence and of the gender of the partner. In the US, in 2005, 1181 females and 329 males were killed by their intimate partners.

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) states that “violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which has led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.”

Erin Pizzey, the founder of an early women’s shelter in Chiswick, London, has expressed her dismay at how domestic abuse has become a gender-political football, and expressed an unpopular view in her book Prone to Violence that roughly two-thirds of women in the refuge system had a predisposition to seek abusive relationships, and to inflict violence. Pizzey also expressed the view that domestic violence can occur against any vulnerable intimates, regardless of their gender.

A Freudian concept, repetition compulsion, has been cited as a possible cause of a woman who was abused in childhood seeking an abusive man (or vice versa), theoretically as a misguided way to “master” their traumatic experience.

There continues to be discussion about whether men or women are more abusive, whether women’s abuse of men, or men’s abuse of women is typically more severe, and the question of whether abused men should be provided the same resources and shelters that exist for women victims.

A problem in conducting studies that seek to describe violence in terms of gender is the amount of silence, fear and shame that results from abuse within families and relationships. Another is that abusive patterns can tend to seem normal to those who have lived in them for a length of time. Similarly, subtle forms of abuse can be quite transparent even as they set the stage for further abuse seeming normal. Finally, inconsistent definition of what domestic violence is makes definite conclusions difficult to reach when compiling the available studies.

Martin S. Fiebert of the Department of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach, provides an annotated bibliography of over two hundred scholarly works which demonstrate that women and men often exhibit comparable levels of IPV violence.[108] In a Los Angeles Times article about male victims of domestic violence, Fiebert suggests that “…consensus in the field is that women are as likely as men to strike their partner but that-as expected-women are more likely to be injured than men.”

However, he noted, men are seriously injured in 38% of the cases in which “extreme aggression” is used. Fiebert additionally noted that his work was not meant to minimize the serious effects of men who abuse women.

Source: thenewnationbd.com

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