Woman Abuse Essay, Research Paper
Male domination and patriarchy have been under challenge by feminists and the women’s movement in recent decades. The economic, social and political subjection of women around the world, the violence brought against them and their confinement to the domestic sphere have been analyzed and denounced in academic studies. Most people want to build a new society where gender is not the central factor discriminating between individuals, who should be free to choose the life styles that suit them.
Men have, in general, been socialized to hide their innermost thoughts and feelings. As young boys they are socialized to believe that if they are open about their feelings they would be considered weak and/or not manly by their peers. ?Being strong? and ?being a man? meant creating a tough exterior, and not allowing anyone to penetrate that hard shell. Men who batter women have never learned how to cope successfully with angry feelings. Life is full of events that cause us immense stress and frustration, but the abusive male does not have the communication skills necessary for resolving the conflict passively.
What is violence against women? For some people, the answer to this question is simple ? an intentional physical act such as a kick, punch, push, choke, or bite, that results in a physical injury. Many people accept this definition of woman abuse inasmuch as they believe that if you don?t need stitches, you?re not hurt. Most researchers have limited their attention to non-lethal, non-sexual assaults. Unfortunately, this focus on physical assaults does not reflect the brutal reality of many women?s lives. We are inclined to agree with the feminist point of view that any definition of woman abuse must incorporate a much broader range of behaviours. Feminists argue that woman abuse refers to anything a male has done or not done to his partner that is perceived as psychologically, socially, economically, or physically harmful.
It would be nice if we could simply point out the factors that cause this violence against women. Unfortunately, this is all but impossible due to the ?human factor?. That is to say ? there is considerable variation among human beings. Violence against women varies according to income, education, age, marital status, employment status, religion, occupational status, and race/ethnicity. However, many correlates that increase the probability of violence have been identified. Men who believe in a set of familial patriarchal attitudes and beliefs that support male power and control over women are more likely to abuse females. The existence of an influential male peer support group. Men who are verbally encouraged by their friends to abuse women are much more likely to do so. Another correlate is alcohol consumption, most studies of violence against women note that alcohol often seems to be a related factor. Some researchers suggest that men use alcohol as an excuse ? I?m sorry but I?m drunk.
Power Versus Feminist Theories of Wife Abuse
To what extent does the patriarchal system or power affect or influence women abuse?
While examining ?Power versus feminist theories,? it is important to acknowledge what is known about our research question. Feminist theories have focused much of their attention on structured gender inequality on a societal level. This automatically disadvantages women in terms of their economic status, educational level, and legal representativeness. Men who witness abuse while growing up as a child, who have been unemployed, who are married in a common law relationship, and those who have a low family income are more likely to adapt a patriarchal ideology which in turn is more likely to lead to an abusive male partner.
Researchers have attempted to answer the many questions associated with wife abuse and have been successful in some areas yet neglect important issues. Power theories focus on the strains of everyday interaction in a relationship that generate conflict that leads to abuse. The family system responds to broad social-structural conditions that produce stress and conflict. This reveals that low-income families, and families where one or more adults are unemployed, or when the husband has a low-status job all experience high levels of stress. It is situations like these where violence against women is used as a coping method for men.
The feminist response to power theories believe that the power theory evaluate the family with isolation from the patriarchal system of which it is largely a part of. Through historical case studies feminists argue that male dominance is a key factor in wife abuse. The primary source of wife abuse is believed to be due to the wife?s failure to live up to her husbands? expectations of being a good wife. This theory emphasizes how men learn abusive behavior through a male culture that encourages violence through a patriarchal system. Although these findings are important and relative to our analysis, it is important to be aware that violence against women is poorly theorized and deserves a broader focus in order to answer why it occurs, to whom it happens, and who is most likely to abuse their spouse.
The Violence Against Women Survey held in 1993 focused upon four central variables in order to reveal weaknesses that lie in previous studies. This allows for a focused analysis of the impact that stress related factors associated with class and patriarchal ideologies have on wife abuse. The VAWS looked at income, education, current occupational status, and employment history. This survey asked respondents five questions with reference to the patriarchal family. Women were asked whether or not their husbands: 1. were jealous and did not want them to talk to other men; 2. tried to limit their contact with family and friends; 3. insisted on knowing who they were with and where they were at all times; 4. called them names to degrade them or make them feel bad; and 5. prevented them from knowing about or having access to family income, even if they asked. The VAWS focused upon two measures of child socialization. First it looked at whether the respondent?s father was abusive towards her mother and then whether or not the husband?s father ever used violence against his wife. It was important for Statistics Canada to ensure that the definitions of assault and sexual assault were found in the Criminal Code so that the results would be recognized as in need of the criminal justice system?s intervention. A Conflict Tactic Scale (CTS) was implemented in the VAWS since it continues to be the most widely used instrument for research on intra-family violence. The VAWS recognized shortcomings attached to a CTS and were cautious in working around these. The VAWS avoids the problem of situating abuse only in the context of settling disputes in conflict situations by asking respondents straight out whether or not they have experienced any violence in their home and by acknowledging the existence in many different types of families. The CTS has been known to be somewhat unethical since it avoids making clear to the respondents that the questions being asked are used to measure violence they experienced. The VAWS addressed this ethical dilemma by making the purpose of questions known to the respondents. This study offered improvements in previous studies by separating severe and minor abuse which allows for more specific results. We appreciate the way the VAWS acknowledged that even with all of these efforts to allow for realistic statistics, there always remains under-estimates in survey based measures of violence.
Some shortcomings have been found in the VAWS which allows for a more critical analysis in the future. Better questions could have been asked about gender inequality within the family and it would have also been useful to know the husband?s sole income. The power model incorporated other factors such as stress, social isolation, and marital conflict, which could have been useful in the VAWS in offering more precise statistics. In further studies more attention should be focused on issues such as self-defense, intentions, motivating factors. This would allow for a more meaningful interpretation of the causal associations involved. Researchers should interview both men and women about their experiences as both victims and perpetrators to look at all angles while offering a more complete analysis. More work is needed to establish the causal sequence leading to re-victimization since it is unknown how childhood experiences of violence gets translated into adult aggression.
Women?s Non-Spousal Multiple Victimization: A Test of the Routine Activities Theory
Theories such as ?routine activities? focus attention on the way that people?s lifestyles, or behavioral patterns increase their vulnerability to become victimized by increasing contact with potential offenders and decreasing time spent with potential guardians. Previous studies on violence have focused on explaining stranger violence – crimes that occur on the street or in public places. They have found that the risk of victimization varies with lifestyle indicators such as age, income, main activity, and marital status. Routine Activity theorists believe that adolescents and young adults are at a higher risk of becoming victimized due to the large amount of time spent in peer group activities rather than time spent at home. Victimization surveys have been useful in identifying women?s experiences of victimization and therefore one of the main purposes of the VAWS is to learn the reality of violence committed against women versus the incorrect police statistics and to develop programs that will work towards prevention.
The methods used to uncover the finding found in the VAWS involved three age groups of 18 to 24, 25 to 44, and 45 and over. Marital status measures grouped widows, married and common-law women together. ?Very worried? and ?somewhat worried? were grouped together with reference to walking home alone in the dark and also those who fear waiting for public transportation at night. Exposure variables were categorized to distinguish those who walk or use public transportation more than once a week versus those who do this less than once a week. Measures of self-protection were measured as whether or not a woman does take precautions at all, compared with those who never do. The main activities that women were involved in were grouped into three categories describing the amount of paid work done in the past year such as 0 weeks, 1 to 24 weeks, and 25+ weeks. The dependent variable involved in the study was whether or not a victimized respondent has been multiply victimized. Personal victimization at all, personal victimization by a person the woman knows, and personal victimization by a stranger were all examined.
The findings from the VAWS revealed that the odds of multiple victimization among women 18 to 24 years compared with women over 45 diminished considerably. The rate of multiple victimization are highest for women aged between 18 and 24 who are single and who work up to 25 weeks per year. High levels of nighttime activity are associated with higher rates of women?s non-spousal multiple victimization. The odds of multiple victimization for all income categories decreased. The odds of multiple victimization for divorced/separated women changed from being unconditionally lower than for single people to being higher, when age and income are controlled. Only the frequency of walking home alone after dark had a significant impact on multiple victimization rates after controlling age, marital status, and income. Using measures of fear as proximity to crime levels in cases of women?s victimization may inaccurately represent possible threatening or dangerous areas and therefore appears to be a shortcoming of these findings. Odds of victimization were found to be higher for those who have taken a self-defense class or take personal precaution by carrying some type of weapon. An explanation for this may be that these were the precaution measures taken after a woman had been abused. Women are more likely to become victimized by someone they know whereas men are most often victimized by a stranger.
It is important to keep in mind that a statistical relationship between the levels of a factor and the rate of multiple victimization does not prove a causal relationship and a relationship found from a cross-sectional study such as the VAWS may not hold longitudinally.
Although this study has offered us important and useful information it is important to realize that we are still left with unanswered questions of to what extent must a woman change her lifestyle in order to avoid victimization? And how can a woman avoid non-stranger violence?
Drunken Bums or Happy Drunks: Contrasting Views of the Role of Alcohol in Wife Assault
To what extent can alcohol abuse be said to contribute directly to the risk of wife assault?
The purpose of this study was to investigate the importance of alcohol abuse as a predictive factor of wife abuse, relative to other socio-demographic and attitudinal factors, using a nationally representative survey on violence against women conducted in Canada in 1993.
There are many different views concerning whether or not alcohol consumption causes a man to beat his wife. Some women look to explain why their husbands beat them and in turn offer an excuse for their husbands behavior by blaming it on him being drunk, and that he would not normally not be abusive. Others believe that their husband is only abusive when he is hung over and recovering from the binge and also offer excuses for their husbands? violent behavior. It is reasons like these that offer men an excuse to act, not like themselves, and once they have sobered up regret their actions and promise for this to never happen again.
Women who reported being assaulted by their spouse were asked whether the man had been drinking at the time of the incident, and one-half replied that he had. These studies also provided us with a correlate between alcohol abusers having higher rates of abuse on their wives, and also commit more serious physical injury. It is also important to note that even those husbands who rarely ever drink were by their wives as usually drinking at the time of the assault. We appreciate the ethical considerations given during this survey since consumption of alcohol on the part of the victim was left out in order to avoid victim blaming.
The methods involved in this analysis involved an independent variable of alcohol abuse that was divided between a man who has had 5 or more drinks at one time at least once per month, or drinks moderately, or does not drink at all. Within the socio-demographics of this survey there were six factors examined. Age, education, household income, employment activity, marital status, duration. There were six attitudes about violence measured including witnessing violence in childhood, name-calling and put-downs, sexual jealousy, attempts to limit her contact with other people, insists on knowing her whereabouts, prevents access to income.
This study offered us findings that reveal how men?s attitudes and beliefs in the rightness of control over female partners made a more important statistical contribution to predictions about violence than alcohol, age, and type of relationship, or class variables. Name-calling and put-downs were found to be the most important predictors of violence. These results suggest that the link between alcohol and violence may be a spurious once in which masculinity is acted out through heavy drinking and attacks and degradation of their female spouse. Unemployment remained an important predictor of violence against women even once the effects of age and attitudes were removed.
The results of this study reveal that men, most often, do not abuse their wives simply because they are drunk. Rather than alleviating responsibility due to their intoxication we should focus on programs that will alter the narrow approach that some men have as they attempt to maintain the old fashion and extremely sexist patriarchal society we are slowly yet progressively changing.
Victimization and fear: Assessing the role of offender and offence
Carl Keane?s paper considers women?s fears and apprehensions regarding crime, violence and a wide range of physical and sexual abuse. Keane shows that women?s fear varies directly with a number of socio-economic factors, the types of intimidation, harassment, and crime they have experienced and the nature of their relationships with the men who perpetrated the victimization. Keane?s paper reveals a number of strong patterns and shows how the Violence Against Women Survey (Statistics Canada, 1993) has extended existing knowledge regarding women?s apprehensions and fears.
Keane shows that young, single women living in urban areas are more likely than other women to express fear of walking alone at night. Past experiences that correlate with fear include being followed by a stranger, receiving obscene phone calls and unwanted attention from strangers. Forced sex, being touched sexually, and having one?s job threatened are also correlated with increased rates of fear among women. Prior research has failed to identify a whole range of violence and intimidation experienced by women, victim surveys have but recently begun to explore respondents experiences with crime and violence as potential correlates of fear.
While confirming earlier findings that elevated rates of fear are associated with urban areas and lower socio-economic status, the main findings emerging from this paper contradict earlier results on fear of crime among women. Challenging earlier studies, the results presented in this paper point to a flaw in the methodology of past research. Any future research that does not consider women?s life experiences of sexual and physical harassment, intimidation, and violence will be judged incomplete in assessing women?s fears and apprehensions regarding crime, violence and physical and sexual intimidation.
The effect of victim-offender relationship on reporting crimes of violence against women
Gartner and Macmillan offer various reasons why previous research has not provided adequate answers to whether the relationship between the victim and the offender affects the likelihood that the victimization will come to the attention of the police. Victimization surveys have provided little help in resolving this question because measurement error, lack of sensitivity to the nature of intimate violence, and focus on crime that doesn?t encourage respondents to think about violence between intimates as relevant to such a survey.
Gartner and Macmillan believe the Violence Against Women Survey (Statistics Canada, 1993) has several features that overcome some of the problems of previous research, which makes it better suited to examine the effect of the relationship between victim and offender upon the willingness to report a violent incident to police. They state that the Violence Against Women Survey was designed to gather information about a full range of violence experienced by women in all types of relationships. Violent incidents were reported in terms of characteristics of the incident, effects upon the woman, and subsequent actions taken.
Gartner and Macmillan?s period specific analysis shows that at Time 1 (pre-1984) ??each of the three known-offender victimizations is significantly less likely than stranger victimizations to come to police attention?? By Time 3 (after 1988) ??victimization by dates or boyfriends and by co-workers and other known men come to police attention significantly less often than victimizations by strangers?? Gartner and Macmillan conclude, ?we again see evidence that victimizations by known offenders were under-reported (relative to stranger victimizations) throughout the years covered by the survey. We also see evidence that this under-reporting is strongest for more intimate victimizations and may be diminishing somewhat for less intimate victimizations.?
This analysis highlights the extent to which violence against women continues to exist outside police knowledge or intervention. The authors offer one limitation of their study – their analysis does not link the patterns of under-reporting of violence (to the police) to the process by which decisions are made.
Lethal and nonlethal violence against wives
Wilson, Johnson, and Daly seek to compare lethal and nonlethal assaults. This paper is based on the premise that there should be a relationship between uxoricides (killing of wives) and assaults on wives/intimate partners. These authors propose that the sole or primary motivation for men who kill or assault their wives is male sexual proprietariness (a sense of rightful ownership). They argue that men attempt to control and restrict women?s autonomy and male violence is thus viewed as functional. It is important to note that this conception of male violence contrasts other accounts that locate violence solely within a field of emotions, such as stress, frustration, anxiety, and anger.
Using the Canadian Homicide Survey and the Violence Against Women Survey, Wilson, Johnson, and Daly explore the possible correlation between these two types of violence by considering the circumstances of homicide and assaults, and the impact of a range of demographic and social variables. On the basis of the data presented it seems that uxoricide and non-fatal assaults are linked in intimate relationships. The evidence indicates that an important risk marker for assaultive and homicidal acts is marital separation. Men may seek to force their partner to return and then punish them for leaving. Another important marker is the status of the relationship – the uxoricide rate is approximately eight times higher in common-law relations than in state-registered relations (marriages) and the rate of assaultive violence is about four times higher. The results also suggest that age and age disparity are associated with violence against wives.
?Evidence from more intensive in-depth studies of men who have assaulted and/or killed women suggests that there may be distinct differences in motivations, intentions, and contexts between homicides and assaults against women.? In view of conflicting evidence, it should be asked ? Can it be that the motivations and intentions of men who behave in a non-utilitarian manner by killing their partner (or ex-partner), parallel the motivations and intentions of men who appear to behave in a functional way, using violence to control, punish, and obtain domestic or sexual service?
1. Desmond Ellis and Walter DeKeseredy, The Wrong Stuff: An Introduction to the Sociological Study of Deviance Second Edition (Scarborough: Allyn & Bacon Canada, 1996)
2. Rosemary Cairns-Way and Renate Mohr, Dimensions of Criminal Law (Toronto: Emond Montgomery Publications, 1996)
· Bruce Shapiro, ?Anatomy of an Assault: A Victim of Random Violence Ponders Our Culture of Crime? (1995), Dimensions of Criminal Law, 35-40
· Stephen L. Carter, ?When Victims Happen To Be Black? (1988), Dimensions of Criminal Law, 758?764
3. U.S Department of Justice, Young Black Male Victims: National Crime Victimization Survey (1994), http://www.soci.nui.edu/~critcrim/victims/young.txt