Women and children can be in great danger in the place where they should be the safest, within their families. For many, home is a place where terror exists and violence is coerced upon loved ones at the hands of somebody whom they should be able to trust. Those who are victimized experience physical and psychological consequences. With the ever-present threat of violence looming, victims are rendered unable to make decisions, voice opinions, or protect their children. Their basic rights are denied, and thus they are robbed from their own existence.
Etiology of domestic violence
Many terms are used to define domestic violence, including domestic abuse, spousal abuse, courtship violence, battering, marital rape, and date rape. The United Nations (1996) Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women defined violence against women as:
“Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
According to the American Psychiatric Association there are many psychiatric disorders associated with domestic violence:
- Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar depression.
- Anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Personality disorders, such as avoidant personality disorder or dependent personality disorder.
- Sexual dysfunction disorders, such as sexual aversion disorder and hypo-active sexual desire disorder.
- Substance abuse disorders. Ehrensaft, Moffitt, and Caspi (2006) also found that women but not men who were involved in abusive relationships had an increased risk of adult psychiatric morbidity.
Conventionally, abusers tend to take out frustration on those who are the closest to them, the people they see everyday. Into the bargain, if abusers marry, the union seems indissoluble when other life adversities are added to the unresolved anger, such as financial problems, and difficulties in raising the children. Another major element involved in the assault is the degree to which there was chaos in the abuser’s early life, and lack of exposure to any collaborative living between his parents.
According to Lionel J.R’s study Evaluation and Management of the Violent Patient there are different personality types that define the wife batterers. The “passive aggressive” male in which the tendency to feel vulnerable and helpless is dominant. Nevertheless, these self-concepts grow and are drawn out of social interactions; they might trigger feelings of anger and rage, which result in irrational aggressive actions. The “obsessive compulsive” man is not likely to assault, unless added threat pushes him to the limit, it may result in an explosion which has external effects and may result in an attack. Moreover, the man living with concealed rage is usually paranoid and most likely to assault his wife or any person that is close to him. The sadistic man uses an assault as an ongoing attack on the person with whom he lives in greatest intimacy, because basically the sadist is close to no one, so he uses the assault as a refuge. His assaults might be physical, but they are calculated and only a part of what defines his relationship: the everlasting destruction of another person. Such assaults involve a punishment in a cold process and are not aggressive (Lionel,1972).
There are many factors that affect the personality of the aggressor. The use of brutal force indicates his overburdened frustration that is pushed to the limit. Moreover, it also indicates a refusal to compromise; it is the insistence on power as a means of resolving differences. In fact, the inability to tolerate frustration is an indication of infantility, resulting in low impulse control.
Jealousy is another factor that affects assaulters, when it is more than a very rare or occasional emotion, it creates a situation of danger for his wife. Effectively, it connotes very low self-esteem and high self-hate it is an unconscious emotion that causes irrational behaviors. The individual might feel undeserving of his spouse, he sees other men as potential threats (Symonds, 1975).
Dupont and Grunebaum have written an empirical study entitled “Willing Victims: the Husbands of Paranoid Women”, according to them the beater’s wife is inevitably part of her own assault; this is not a way to say that she is to blame for the assault. Nevertheless, in some marriages, the wife may have distorted self-concepts, such as that her social role as a ‘mother’ and or ‘wife’ and responsibilities that come with it lead her to believe that she must remain in the relationship. People tend to choose their partner unconsciously based on their own unrecognized emotional needs. Relationships in which beating occurs can be characterized either by one partner being overly submissive; and the other being attacking, overly demanding, and sadistic. More importantly, there is a kind of sex role division, with the woman being the submissive partner, although this is not always the case.
In the past decades, we have seen changes that have increased the acceptance of women in society. We now even see women working in public places such as in malls and supermarkets etc. The changes have been occurring in different domains, the mass media, business and advertisements, and lead to affecting attitudes and beliefs, lowering traditional social roles, and encouraging an “accept yourself as you are” philosophy.