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Research paper topic: Domestic Violence: Theory, Effects Interventions - 2884 words
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Domestic Violence: Theory, Effects & Interventions The female is, as it were, a mutilated .. a sort of natural deficiency. It is not appropriate in a female character to be manly or clever. The male is by nature superior and the female inferior. Introduction Domestic violence has been present in our society and an accepted practice of many cultures for hundreds of years. Up until the late 1800's, a man in this country had the right to chastise his wife until the practice was declared illegal in two states (Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence Manual, p.
B-8). Old English Common Law allowed husbands to beat their wives provided that the stick they used was not thicker than his thumb; hence the phrase Rule of Thumb(Heart on a Chain [Video]). Although times have changed in this regard and laws have been enacted in order to protect women from abuse, the fact remains that acts of domestic violence occur every 15 seconds in the United States. Over the past two decades, extensive research has been done on the dynamics of domestic violence. Through this research, many of the aspects of domestic violence are better understood.
Various researchers have theorized the causal mechanism behind domestic violence, have studied the characteristics of both the female victim and the male perpetrator, and have researched the effects on men, women, and the invisible victims of domestic violence: the children. Unfortunately, despite all that has been learned, domestic violence is still prevalent in today's society. The question is why? In an attempt to answer this question, this paper will present and discuss many of the theories of domestic abuse that have transpired as a result of years of research. Additionally, the emotional, psychological, and behavioral impact on the female victim and her children will be presented through the empirical evidence. Third, this paper will also present approaches to intervention strategies used with family members involved in violence. Finally, this paper will hypothesize, based upon the research, why, in today's society, does domestic violence still exist? Definition & Description Domestic violence is defined as the physical or emotional abuse of an adult or child by a family member or friend.
Physical abuse includes pushing, slapping, or grabbing, throwing objects, kicking, biting or punching, beating up, raping or sexually exploiting an adult or child and/or threatening with a weapon. Emotional abuse includes name calling, making jokes that are demeaning, verbally threatening physical abuse, isolating or unreasonably confining an adult or child, and/or the repeated humiliation of an adult or child (Woman Aware [Brochure]). A person of any age or sex may be a victim of domestic violence. However, according to statistics, the majority of victims are women, children, and the dependent elderly (Woman Aware [Brochure]). Additionally, although there are many reported instances and services available to men who are victims and to those in gay, lesbian, and bisexual relationships, this paper will focus on the majority; that is the male perpetrator and the woman victim. Literature Review Etiology of Domestic Violence Due to the complexity of family violence with its many forms, there has been a number of etiological models that have developed over the years (Kashani & Allen, 1998).
The following is a description of some of these frameworks for which the understanding of domestic violence has been based on. Psychoanalytic Theory stems from the belief that individual personality traits which develop early in life, predicts the probability that a person will be a victim of or submit to violence. These characteristics can and have been reported as psychiatric diagnosises. For example, a common abuse scenario could be explained through the diagnosis of dependant/self-defeating personality disorder. That is, a woman who tolerates an abusive relationship may exhibit one or all of the following behaviors: a pattern of self-defeating behavior such as choosing people and situations that ultimately lead to failure. She may reject the help of others and respond in negative ways. The reaction of others will then be a source of hurt for the individual.
Furthermore, the woman may not follow through with actions that are crucial to her ability to obtain her goals. Therefore, with respect to this theory, it would then seem that the woman possesses an inborn personality trait that may predispose her to tolerate an abusive relationship (Harway, 1998). Sociobiological theories focus on the work of Darwin and notion that the physical characteristics and behaviors of species develop over time through the process of natural selection (Rowe, 1994). According to Kashani and Allan (1998), since behaviors that help one's offspring to survive are considered functional, parents are expected to invest more resources in one of their own children than in a non-relative child. Sociobiological theorists would explain that the function of marital violence can be found in the potential purpose of coercive control in marriages which can be viewed as being motivated by the male need to guarantee his paternity by ensuring compliance through power and control (Kashani & Allan, 1998). This could imply that the husband has justification in the scheme of evolution to engage in abusive tactics .. all to insure the continuation of future generations. The theory of Intergenerational Transmission which borrows ideas from Social Learning Theory, involves the relationship between parental violence and subsequent child violence during adulthood. Specifically, it is believed that abused children are more likely to become abusers, victims, or violent offenders (Kashani & Allan, 1998).
For example, a study conducted by Rynerson and Fishel (1993) surveyed parents who were abusive and found that 38.8% of men and 32% of women have had memories of their fathers physically abusing their mothers. However, after further review of the research, the authors believe that retrospective data is sometime unreliable due to the fact that the parents may blame others for their abusive behavior (Kashani & Allan, 1998). Therefore it would seem that although the statistics show a clear correlation, blaming others could be construed as an excuse for abusive behaviors, thus removing responsibility from the abuser. Additionally, with respect to women experiencing violence, Harway (1993) relates the Theory of Learned Helplessness to the Social Learning Theory and how it may explain the passive nature of battered women. Harway (1993) believes that the battered woman perceives the situation as hopeless and eventually loses the ability to believe that anything she does will affect the outcome. Although this particular theory has been criticized by some researchers, it has been altered to the extent that learned helplessness does not result immediately from abuse, but as a reaction over time to battered women's realization their partners' violent behavior cannot be controlled (p.32). This remains as one of the leading explanations of the learned behavior of battered women (harway, 1993).
Social Psychological Theory explains the strong emotional bond that forms between the battered woman and her partner, sometimes referred to a traumatic bonding (Painter & Dutton, 1985). This term is defined as a strong emotional tie that develops between two people when one person harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other. This intermittent behavior between the couple has been identified as the Cycle of Abuse. The cycle of abuse consists of three stages: (a) the tension building phase, (b) the acute battering stage; (c) the loving and contrite phase or honeymoon phase (Painter & Dutton, 1985). Harway (1998) concurs that it is the repetitive nature of the build up, the trauma during the battering, and the reconciliation that follows that helps bond the battered woman to her batterer, traumatically, and causes her to remain in the relationship. Furthermore, Harway (1998) explains that the period immediately following the battering is experienced by the woman as one of extreme aversive arousal, together with feelings of self-blame, depression, and helplessness.
These feelings leave the battered woman vulnerable and dependent for some period of time after the incident. During the loving phase, the batterer's calmness, sensitivity, and behavior serve to relieve the woman's fears, temporarily. This allows her to believe that she is in control and encourages her hopes of change, believing that the violence will not recur. By behaving as the ideal loving husband during this phase, he reduces the aversive arousal he has created and reinforces the likelihood that she will stay in the relationship (Harway, 1998). Family Systems theorists hypothesize that the violence that ensues between a couple is a contribution of both partners and is seen as a result from their need to maintain a pattern of equilibrium, (functional or dysfunctional) in the system.
Men and woman in violent relationships are said by family systems therapists to be experiencing difficulties in separating from their families of origins and are using violence to regulate the closeness/distance theme in the relationship (Hanson, 1993). This theory, however, is criticized by many researchers due to the theory's implication of blame, especially on the woman. There are a number of theories that attempt to explain domestic violence. Regardless of which theory one may prescribe to, one cannot overlook the common link that underlies many of the theories. This common link is the power and control mechanism that exists in a domestic violence situation and is the basis of still another theory.
The Duluth Model is based solely on the power and control mechanism and has become the theory most widely used for understanding domestic violence. In 1980, after a brutal domestic abuse homicide, the Duluth, Minnesota Domestic Violence Intervention Project (DAIP) found a community willing to experiment with new practices to confront the problem of men's violence against women (Pence & Paymar, 1993). In 1984, based on group interviews with women attending educational classes offered by the DAIP, a framework was developed for describing the behavior of men who physically and emotionally abuse their partners. According to Pence and Paymar (1993), many of the women criticized theories that described battering as sporadic, rather than a constant force in their relationship. Additional criticism was given to the theories that attributed the violence to men's inability to cope with stress and those that failed to acknowledge fully the intention of batters to gain control over their partners' actions, thoughts and feelings (Pence & Paymar). As a result of these interviews and educational sessions 200 battered women designed the Power and Control Wheel.
(See Figure 1 and Table 1) The Power and Control Wheel illustrates that domestic violence is part of a pattern of behaviors rather than isolated incidents of abuse or sporadic explosions of pent up anger, frustration, or painful feelings. For example, the stereotyped behavior using male privilege explicitly shows how power is a dominant factor in the male perpetrator's psyche. The behavior of male privilege which includes treating women like servants, making all the decisions, acting like the master of the castle, and being the one who defines men and woman's roles, (Pence & Paymar, 1993). Additionally, the behavior using coercion and threats through various means illustrates the need to have control over another in an abusive relationship. Further, Pence & Paymar (1993) explain that the tactics used by batters reflect the tactics used by many groups or individuals in positions of power.
Each of the tactics described on the Power and Control Wheel are typical of behaviors used by groups of people who dominate others such as those groups which sustain racism, ageism, classism, heterosexism, anti-Semitism, and many other forms of group domination. Individual Characteristics of Men and Women in Violent Relationships The Female Victim. Most studies of battered woman involve those victims who sought refuge in a shelter after a serious incident of violence, which most likely represents a bias toward economic and social disadvantage (Jaffe, Wolfe & Wilson, 1990). However, due to the fact that studies have begun to examine broader community samples, it has been found that victims originate from all socioeconomic backgrounds (Jaffe, Wolfe & Wilson, 1990). Further, Harway (1998) adds that: there is no evidence that the status that a woman occupies, the role she performs, the behavior she engages in, her demographic profile, or her personality characteristics consistently influence her chances of intimate victimization (p.
35). For example, Harway (1998) cites an example of research conducted on 403 battered women, ages 17-59 years. The results indicated that the women were of middle class status, well educated and employed. Therefore, this would seem to indicate that becoming a victim of domestic violence could and does happen to anyone. The Male Perpetrator. According to the research, there are two distinct variables that have been correlated to be characteristic of the male perpetrator. These variables include the male's childhood experiences and use of alcohol. The characteristics of male perpetrators are consistent with respect to the issue of childhood experiences.
In most cases, a batterer usually has had instances of childhood abuse or witnessed abuse between parents (Pence & Paymar, 1990, Kashani & Allan, 1998). For example, Pence and Paymar (1990) explain that the history of a man who batters is often a history of childhood abuse, exposure to male role models who have shown hostile attitudes toward women and exposure to women hating environments (Pence & Paymar, 1990). Alcohol abuse tends to be a factor in those men who batter. Alcohol has been found to be present in almost half of all reported incidents of wife assaults. However, most researchers indicate a correlational relationship rather than a causal (Jaffe, Wolfe & Wilson, 1990).
Nevertheless, as Pence and Paymar (1190) have found in their work with these men that although their pain and scars must be taken into consideration, the fact remains that this not only explains the reasoning behind the violence, but also provides an excuse for its continuation. In other words, it is not unlikely that an abuser will attribute a battering incident to his use of alcohol. The woman then believes that if the alcohol abuse ceases, so will the abuse. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. Although the use of alcohol does intensify the battering incident, it does not cause the abuser to abuse (Pence & Paymar, 1990) The Children of Domestic Violence The research on domestic violence and children has, for the most part, focused on children who are direct victims of physical abuse. It has only been in the last decade that researchers have addressed the issue of the indirect victims of family violence (Fantauzzo, Boruch, Beriama, Atkins, & Marcus, 1997). The literature overwhelmingly concludes that there is a multitude of detrimental effects on the children who are exposed to domestic violence.
The effects on children witnessing domestic violence include Attention Deficit Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, somatic complaints, externalizing behaviors such as aggression, anger, non-compliance, and internalizing problems such as anxiety, depression, low self esteem, social behavioral and academic problems (Holden, 1998). In a general sense, it is believed that a child witnessing domestic violence is equated to psychological abuse of a child. By definition, psychological abuse is a direct attack by an adult on a child's development of self and social competence (Peled & Davis, 1995). The psychological maltreatment of child witnesses can take three forms: terrorizing, living in a dangerous environment, and exposure to limiting and negative role models. The child is terrorized when the adult perpetrator of violence verbally assaults the child, creates a climate of fear, bullies and frightens the child, and makes believe that the world is a hostile place to live. Therefore, it is suggested that the perpetrator is not only abusing the woman but also the children who witness the violence (Peled & Davis, 1995). The following is a discussion of some of the possible detrimental effects on children cause by domestic violence.
Attachment Affects Attachment Theory suggests that a young child normally works back and forth between exploration of the environment and checking in with an attachment figure. In times of stress, exploration is reduced and contact with a secure base is enhanced. Therefore, infants who are exposed to domestic violence may suffer serious consequences with respect to attachment (Holden, Geffner & Jouriles, 1998). Their basic needs for attachment may be disrupted by un-normal routines. The mother, who is under stress due to the violence, may not adequately meet the demands of a small infant. The infant may then recognize this distance and a lack of availability which will in turn affect the natural bond that forms between mother and child (Jaffe, Wolfe & Wilson, 1990).
Further, since these children do not experience the warmth, affection, and caring from parents that is associated with healthy parent-child relations, the trust between a child and a violent parent may be severely strained (Kashani, Shekim, Burk, & Beck 1997). For example, females witnessing abuse as children report that their relationships with their parents were characteristic of the insecure attachment style. This insecure attachment style associated with familial violence may then lead to developmental problems or psychopathology (Kashani, et al., 1997). Internalizing Effects Although a strong correlation has not been documented between family violence and a subsequent diagnosis of major depression, researchers have found that children may exhibit many symptoms of depression (Kashani, et al., 1997). For example Kashani, Shekim, Burk & Beck (1997) found that there is a significant relationship between children's self reported fear of future violence and a diagnosis of depression. Additionally, documentation has shown that children who witness abuse may manifest symptoms of depression, such as the sad affect, social withdrawal, and low self-esteem (Kashani, et al., 1997).
The child may also begin to blame himself when the mother shows aggression in order to protect the child but not in protecting herself. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence explains that while men use violent acts for power and control, women use them in self defense in order to stay alive or to protect themselves from serious injury (PCADV Manual, 1998). These maternal tendencies might also prevent their children fro ...
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