Research Paper: Domestic Violence
Deviance the fact or state of departing from usual or accepted standards, especially in social or sexual behavior. According to Webster dictionary deviant is also something different from what is considered to be normal or morally correct. Beyond the legal definitions of the various forms of domestic violence, there are social definitions of assaultive behavior in the home. Social definitions refer to the meanings and interpretations that individuals attach to their own behavior and to the behaviors of persons with whom they interact. We interpret our own behavior: We act for reasons that make sense to us. Similarly, we interpret the motivations of others, for example, as kind or mean, helpful or harmful, appropriate or inappropriate. Crucial to social understandings of domestic violence are those factors that influence the meanings and interpretations attached to the offender’s behavior. Women may interpret the violent behavior of their husbands or intimate partners as justifiable or excusable “I deserved it” or “He was drinking and didn’t know what he was doing.” Or, they may interpret the violent partner’s behavior as vicious and criminal or the result of a serious mental disorder. Victims of spousal assault construct a “definition of the situation” that takes into account their economic resources and social supports, religious beliefs, and access to legal assistance and protective programs. Women wo are economically dependent, who believe divorce is religiously prohibited, who do not gain emotional support from others, or who do not have access to the police or legal assistance or protective shelters are less likely to see alternatives to their abusive situation. They end to define their situation as hopeless and themselves as helpless to change it.
Theories of the development of domestic violence differ in how they conceive of the relation between domestic violence and “other forms of deviance.” (Such deviancy encompasses behavior other than domestic violence, such as theft, fraud, violence toward nonfamily members, and illicit substance use that is criminal, antisocial, or otherwise in violation of the prevailing community norms.) Some theorists and researchers have speculated that men’s domestic violence is but one expression of a general tendency to engage in deviant behavior (see Simons et al., 1995). Rooted in general theories of crime (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990), this view maintains that domestic violence, like other criminal or antisocial behavior, might best be explained by theories that invoke general explanatory principles such as low self-control or antisocial behavior traits. Such theories suggest that domestic violence and other forms of deviant behavior (though not necessarily any specific form of deviant behavior) should be associated. Such an association would be indicated by a greater prevalence of deviant behavior among men who engage in domestic violence compared with those who do not. Men’s Domestic Violence and Other Forms of Deviant Behavior Men’s physical violence against women in the context of a married or cohabiting relationship (referred to in this paper as domestic violence) is a significant social problem. According to national surveys, approximately 11% to 14% of married women in the U.S. are victims of domestic violence each year (Schafer, Caetano, & Clark, 1998; Straus & Gelles, 1990; Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998), and the prevalence of domestic violence among young couples is approximately double that of the general population (Magdol, Moffitt, Caspi, Newman, Fagan, & Silva, 1997; O’Leary, Barling, Arias, Rosenbaum, Malone, & Tyree, 1989). Most domestic violence is confined to slaps, pushes, gabs and shoves, which may occur several times over the course of a year (Johnson, 1995; Straus & Gelles, 1990). Beatings and the use of weapons are also sometimes reported, but only among a very small...
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