Friday, 12 September 2014

The causes and effects of domestic violence (Part 1)

This article is the first part of a two-part series dealing with domestic violence. In Part 1, I am describing what domestic violence really is all about and the role that men play in this terrible crime. In the second part of this series, I will submit to my readers how this kind of abuse has an effect on the lives of women who are victims of domestic violence.                     

Domestic violence and emotional abuse are improper forms of behaviors used by one person in a relationship between two people to control his or her partner in which they may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating. These kinds of abuses have been going on since time immemorial.       

Examples of domestic abuses include:

name-calling or putdowns

keeping a partner from contacting family or friends

withholding money

preventing a partner from getting or keeping a job

actual or threatened physical harm

sexual assault



Domestic violence is criminal if it includes physical assault (hitting, pushing, shoving, etc.), sexual abuse and unwanted or forced sexual activity. Although emotional, psychological and financial abuses are not criminal behaviors, they are still forms of abuse.

These kinds of violence take many forms and can happen all the time or once in a while or even rarely. An important step to help victims or someone you know in preventing or stopping these forms of violence is recognizing the warning signs that are evident such as bruises on the victim’s body or emotional withdrawal. 

Erin Pizzey, the founder of the Chiswick Woman`s Aid, a refuge for battered wives in England described wife beaters as being either (1) alcoholics, (2) psychotics, (3) psychopaths or (4) bullies. They could also have the characteristics of two or more of these failings.

There is no such thing as a stereotyped wife beater. They come in all sizes, shapes, colour and from both sides of the tracks. These men can be of any age, sex, race, culture, religion, education, employment or marital status. Although both men and women can be abusers, most abusers are men. Children in homes where there is domestic violence are more likely to be abused and/or neglected. Most children in these homes know about the violence. Even if a child is not physically harmed, they may have emotional and behavior problems. Some of them later become abusers themselves.  

Children who witness violence in their homes tend to have 20 times the serious emotional and behavioral problem as other children.  They are definitely at risk of becoming batterers themselves.  As much as 70% of young offenders who commit crimes against other people witnessed violence in their own homes.

You could be a victim of domestic abuse, or at risk being such a victim if you are dating someone who:

is very jealous and/or spies on you by stalking you

will not let you break off the relationship

is violent, or brags about hurting other people

puts you down or makes you feel bad

forces you to have sex or makes you afraid to say no to sex

abuses drugs or alcohol; pressures you to use drugs or alcohol

has a history of bad relationships and blames it on others

Here are some myths about domestic violence;

Domestic violence only happens to poor women and women of color.

Domestic violence actually happens in all kinds of families and relationships. Persons who are of any class, culture, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, age, and sex can be victims of or perpetrators of domestic violence. In Arlington, Virginia, Police Officer Hoffman said, “My beat encompasses some low income neighborhoods and some pretty good ones where the people are wealthy. When it comes to wife beating, we go into wealthy homes as often as we go into the poorer ones.” The poor and less educated abusers are not more likely to resort to physical abuse than abusers who are middle or upper class citizens.

Some people deserve to be hit and are asking for trouble.

No one deserves to be physically abused. The only person asking for trouble is the abuser.

Alcohol, drug abuse, stress, and mental illness are the prime factors which causes domestic violence.

Alcohol use, drug use, and stress do to some degree cause domestic violence.  There is no shortage of evidence that alcohol and drugs, particularly alcohol have a lot to do with domestic violence. Dr. Gelles of the University of Rhode Island in a study he conducted determined that 47% of the cases he studied included the ingestion of alcohol by the abuser. In 60% of the cases, alcohol consumption by the assailant was always in his system at the time of the attacks. Drugs, especially amphetamines were sometimes used prior to the beatings. Of course stress does play a considerable part with respect to spousal abuse. A husband who is unemployed will suffer from stress and that will bring about a violent physical response if his spouse says something that triggers a physical response from her husband.

Spousal violence is rarely caused by mental illness.  Abusers often use these excuses for their violence to escape the consequences that follow. There is no doubt however that a certain percentage of domestic abusers are suffering from various mental disorders. Some are even suffering from some form of psychosis.

However, a great majority of wife beaters simply have difficulty in putting into words what they are really thinking so they choose to use their fists to get their messages across to their partners. Most of them are obsessional man whose frustrations trigger their assaults.  Inadequate men who are unsure of themselves are more likely to abuse women.

Domestic violence is really a personal problem between a husband and a wife only.

Domestic violence is a problem for everyone. Approximately 1 in 3 women have been physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. Relatives and friends also suffer to some degree when they learn of these abuses.

Dr. Geller found that the most frequent age for the male abusers are in the 41 to 50-year age followed by those who are between 19 and 30.

Even famous men are abusers of women. The former Japanese Prime Minister, Sato and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize beat his wife. The late Humphry Bogart, a famous actor beat his third wife. Norman Mailer stabbed Adele, one of his many wives which cause some problems for him but she lived and he continued with his career. Pablo Picasso was a “wife-beater”. John Lennon beat most of his wives. Chris Brown, singer was never married to Rihanna which was his girlfriend when he hit her. These violent men also include Roman Polanski, Sean Penn, Mel Gibson, Gary Oldman, Sean Connery, actors, Albert Einstein, the scientist and Tyson, the boxer.   And now we have seen the video of Ray Rice, the NFL footballer punching his former girlfriend and now his wife unconscious and dragging her out of an elevator like a bag of potatoes. Fabian, the pop singer not only beat his wife, he also beat his wife`s mother.

Nine times out of ten, when a famous man commits a crime against women, the public will jump to the man's defence, such as in the current case of Rice. In fact in Rice’s case, hundreds of female fans of his attended a football game wearing his jersey even after they had seen the video of him punching his girlfriend in the hotel elevator.  

The study of Men who Assault Their Wives prepared by M. Faulk, categorized husbands into five types. They are; (1) dependent-passive, (2) dependent and suspicious, (3) violent and bullying, (4) domineering, or (5) stable and affectionate. It is the categories 3 and 4 where the wife beaters stem from. However, I would be remiss if I didn`t mention that there are instances where stable husbands have resorted to violence against their partners when they have suffered from severe stress.

Men who are domestic abusers general fall into four groups of people who are in conflict with their wives or girlfriends. They are; (attackers who scream.  (2) attackers who are silent, (3) those who make threats of violence, and (4) those who are primarily pacifists. The screamers use a great deal of physical and verbal aggression. The silent ones don`t say much during the event but they are prone to using violence to settle a conflict. Those that threaten apply a high level of verbal abuse but seldom assault their partner. The pacifists rarely verbally or physically abuse their partners.

Battering husbands and boyfriends have been described as being angry, resentful, suspicious, competitive, moody and tense. Many times they appear to have the Jekyll and Hyde characteristics. Part of the time they are model husbands or boyfriends who are gentle, loving, and considerate and other times they are snarling, brutish, mean and bullies. These are characteristics that women who are wooing their boyfriends should be on the lookout for. And when they learn that their boyfriends have any of these negative characteristics, they should gently ease out of the relationship. Remember Ladies.  Men are like streetcars. If you don’t want to catch the first one, there will be another one following soon after.  Wives don’t have that option but if these characteristics I have described to you involve physical altercation, then you want to seriously think of moving away from your abuser. I know that isn’t always easy to do. I will explain how it can be done in the next article (Part 2).

Here is a case of violence that will shock you. Randy Iles might as well have been wearing a sign around his neck with text that said; “Warning. Contents under pressure may explode.” His growing rage cause by distress of not being able to manage the tangled love triangle he had created for himself was too much for him to bear. Subsequently, on March 8, 1996, he was under so much pressure, he exploded.  He shot his girlfriend, Arlene May to death with a shotgun and then he shot himself, leaving his wife and her four kids and his former girlfriend’s five kids to suffer from the loss of their loved ones.  

A central Pennsylvania man was convicted for beating his wife when she didn't address him as “sir” in front of their kids. In a broadcast of the Robertson's television show The 700 Club, he answered a question from a viewer named Michael about how to repair his marriage to a woman who "has no respect for me as the head of the house." His response was, “Well, you could become a Muslim and then you could beat her." Then to make his statement really bizarre, he said, “I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days but something has got to be done to make her behave.”  He also called the woman a “rebellious child” who doesn't want to submit to any authority. However, since the Christian Scriptures doesn't allow for divorce, Robertson urged the husband to move to Saudi Arabia, where, ostensibly, beating the woman would be permissible.

Islam permits husbands to beat their wives but only if they don’t do what they asks them to do. So if a husband wants sex with his wife and she doesn’t want to have sex with him, he can beat her until she complies. If Muslim husbands do that in Westernized countries, the next bed they will sleeping be on is one of the beds in the local jail.

Male Muslims believe that they have the God-given right to beat their wives. They quote from the Qur’an and specifically from 4:34 which says;

“Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a (another) way against them.” unquote

The Qur’an was written centuries ago and certainly isn`t applicable in modern-day thinking any more than killing someone who works on the Sabbath according to the Old Testament. Unfortunately, some Islamic countries choose to ignore the modernization of society and subsequently still permit husbands to beat their wives and their children as a means of correction. Of course, the Qur’an doesn’t say they can beat them to death. There was a time in England, Canada and the United States when a husband could legally beat his wife if she digressed in her behavior towards her husband. Over the course of time, civilization moved towards abolishing that practice. In those countries and no doubt in other Westernized countries, it is now against the law to strike anyone as a means of correction. Unfortunately, many of these Muslim women who move to Canada and the United States and other Westernized countries with their families are facing problems such as language barriers, social stigma and unfamiliarity with the laws and customs of the countries they move to. It certainly doesn’t help that they have been brought up to believe that the man of the house is the lord and master of their homes and their lives and as such, they have been programmed to accept their fate  and take whatever is doled out to them, no matter how severe it may be.

A wife living with a bully who blocks her from going out of the house to visit friends of other family members and who lives with a husband who harangues, belittles, threatens, shoves and beats her, even in front of her children, is a desperate woman who wants to leave but discovers to her horror that even if she does, her husband will find her and drag her back into the cesspool of fear she tried to escape from.   

I once worked for a lawyer who was a bully. He bullied his wife and children. He even tried to bully me. I had enough of the creep and left him telling him that he wasn’t to contact me again. He tried a couple of times and I hung up the phone each time as soon as I heard his voice. Unfortunately, his wife and kids didn’t have that same option I had.

I would be less than honest if I didn’t mention that men are not the only people who beat their partners. A study at the University of New Hampshire of a group of college students discovered that some women are just as violent as men.  A study conducted by the Family Research Laboratory suggested that when only one partner is violent, it is twice as likely to be the woman. However, most instances of spousal abuse are perpetrated by men.

Each year in Canada, tens of thousands of men are charged with assault of an intimate partner.  I imagine that since the United States has ten times the population of Canada, their figures are ten times the number of battering men.

In Canada, forty-two percent of Canadian men who had no reported history of domestic violence; killed their partners. Of course, this might be because their suffering partners never called the police.

Part 2 of this series will deal more with the women who are victims of domestic violence. It will be published in my blog on Monday, September 15, 2014. 

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