Domestic violence can be defined as, ‘any violence between current and former partners in an intimate relationship wherever and whenever the violence occurs. The violence may include physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse’ (Home Office 2003: 6). Domestic violence is not a new phenomenon. Experienced still by women today, domestic violence can be dated back to even the 17th and 18th century. We shall explore the different outlooks of domestic violence including psychological, sociological and the feminist perspective. In conjunction, two more concepts seem to deliver a clarification for the progression and endurance of abusive relationships; they are the attachment theory (Dutton, Saunders, Starzomski, & Bartholomew, 1994; Stoney, 1995) and the “metaperspective.” (Goldner, 1998; Goldner, Penn, Sheinberg, & Walker, 1990) Psychological Perspective
The psychological outlook on domestic violence describes both the abuser and the victim to have an array of psychopathologies. Abusive men are believed to experience low self-esteem and lack of impulse control (Hamberger & Hastings, 1988), antisocial tendencies (Hotaling, Straus, & Lincoln, 1989), and the effects of substance abuse (Kantor & Straus, 1987). A study by Rosenbaum et al. (1994) affirmed that head injury is a prominent forecast of spousal abuse. On the other hand, women who were abused were thought to have, masochism (Pleck, 1987), learned helplessness (Gondolf & Fisher, 1988; Walker, 1979), “psychic numbing,” and hyper exaggerated startle responses (Douglas, 1987; Herman, 1992). Ferraro and Johnson (1983) presented a list of reasons, given by abused women, as to why they remain in abusive relationships and some of the reasons clearly reflected the psychological mind frame of the victim. Four typical rationalizations were identified across the board. They include, denial of injury and of being hurt, attributing the abusers’ behaviour to external factors beyond the abusers control, denial of available practical and emotional options and denial of victimisation and blaming one’s self. Follingstad et al. (1988) attributed the decision to stay in an abusive relationship as an obligation to the “salvation ethic,” in addition to the responsibility to help the abuser secure the sanctity of their marriage. The family systems model (O’Leary, 1993) believes that family systems that are very rigid and seek to maintain a balance are those that the spouses fail to terminate abusive relationships. Sociological Perspectives
Male dominance over women has been acceptable for many years; it was how society was structured. Men were the head of the family, they were expected to work and provide for the family while women on the other hand were to stay home and care for the children. Women, therefore, were inevitably put in a subordinate position of total economic dependence. Gelles and Loseke (1993) argued that, “the structure of the modern family as a social institution has a strong overarching influence on the occurrence of family violence” (p. 31). Therefore, unemployment coupled with lack of education may explain why women stay in abusive relationships as they fear living in poverty. Religious beliefs held by woman have been used to explain why women persist in abusive relationships. Religion promotes the sanctity of marriage and this entails staying faithful and committed to your spouse. Women, who subscribe to this belief, are lead to believe that it is there social responsibility to help the abuser. Another sociological view looks at the role independent stressors play in fostering domestic violence. Independent stressors include drugs, alcohol, poverty and unemployment. As Chornesky (2000) explains, “Poverty and unemployment are viewed as engendering rage in abusive men, and drugs and alcohol serve as disinhibitors that increase the probability that this rage will be acted out in aggressive behaviour toward women”. However, it is important to note that...
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