Domestic Violence and Pakistani Women

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This research investigated the psychosocial impact of domestic violence on Pakistani women. A 15-item scale was devised to measure the frequency of the occurrence of different types of domestic violence in an average month. The sample consisted of ten adult married women from high socio-economic group, presently, under treatment as out-patients after being exposed to spousal violence during the past 5 years. All the subjects reported being exposed to verbal threats of violence, abusive language, throwing things around, a “little slap”, pushing, shoving, kicking, punching and injury with a household object three to four times a month. In addition, 20% admitted experiences of forced sex, biting and choking on an average of once or twice a month. The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Cornell Index (CI) showed significantly above-average scores (X = 21) and X = 13, respectively) obtained by the victims of domestic violence. Personal History Questionnaire, Mental Status Examination and House-Tree-Person (HTP) drawings suggested serious intrapsychic and interpersonal conflicts with significant features of clinical depression; fear of males, episodic regressive behaviour and a chronic state of post-traumatic syndrome. These findings further suggest association between “Spousal Violence” and “Parental Violence” which may be attributed to the fact that in all cases spouses were chosen by their fathers who might have chosen their sons-in-law very similar to themselves. However, a comparative sample much larger in size (both males and females) is needed to support such a “Displacement Hypothesis”. Statement of Problem

This research investigated the psychosocial impact of domestic violence on Pakistani women. Domestic violence was operationally defined by a 15-item scale that measured the frequency of the occurrence of the following types of violence in an average month: 1. Verbal threats of violence

2. Abusive language towards the spouse/partner
3. Throwing things around
4. A “Little Slap”
5. Pushing
6. Shoving
7. Kicking
8. Punching
9. Biting
10. Choking
11. Burning
12. Injury with a household object
13. Injury with a weapon
14. Throwing acid on face/body
15. Forcing a partner to engage in sexual activities against her will Though domestic violence can be further classified into three categories (parental violence, sibling violence and partner/spouse violence), the present research was limited to “partner/spouse violence”, exclusively. Responses of the subjects to the 15-item scale were scored as follows: A score of zero (0) if none occurred.

A score of one (1) if it occurred once or twice
A score of two (2) if it occurred three or four times
A score of three (3) if it happened for five or more times
Ironically enough, we tend to think that violence occurs either on streets or behind the bars; whereas it can also occur within the four walls of a safe place we call “HOME”. Traditionally, three facets of any family transaction are: (1) parent-child interaction; (2) spouse-spouse interaction; and (3) child-child interaction. There is sufficient clinical evidence that suggests that if family conflicts, triangulations, enmeshments and/or family schism are not handled cautiously, they may set the stage 4

for violent outbursts of primitive impulses – both sexual and aggressive in nature. Gradually, the home turns into a battlefield where psychic casualties and life-threatening injuries may take place in the heat of aggressive outbursts or escalating power struggle. Brown (1991) reports that more than two million American women a year are physically attacked by their spouses or male partners. Browne and Brown (1991) further added that “…. during the first half of the 1980s, the death of nearly 17,000 people resulted from one partner killing another; with women twice as likely to be victims of such fatal partner violence as men” (Browne and Brown, 1991: pp. 1-2). Unfortunately, the situation in...
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