I chose this particular topic because I have a friend that was in an abusive relationship. I didn't really understand why she stayed with him for so long. I first started suspecting that she was being abused was when I was on the phone with her and heard him screaming at her in the background. She yelled back and played it off like nothing was wrong. She said usually he was a good guy, but merely had a bad day. I kept asking her why she stayed with him and she always replied that she loved him.
Fortunately, they aren't together anymore. She finally got tired of all the abuse and called my uncle who is a police officer. He came over, made him pack all of his stuff, and informed him that if he ever came back there would be more trouble than he could handle. Oddly enough, she still says that she misses him.
I can only imagine how much more complicated it would be for a woman with children. In the literature, I expect to find that there are many more women being abused than people really realize. I also expect to find that most women stay because they are financially dependent, or they don't want their children to grow up without a father. Also, I'm assuming most women are scared for their lives if they attempt to leave. To research my predictions I chose to read articles from Analyzing Social Problems, The Journal of Marriage and Family, and The Journal of Interpersonal Violence. When people refer to the word violence, they usually don't think of domestic violence.
However, domestic violence is a very serious form of abuse. According to the article "Severity of Violence Against Women by Intimate Partners and Associate Abuse of Alcohol and / or Illicit Drugs by the Perpetrator, a current or former intimate partner physically and / or sexually assaults eight out of every 1,000 women' (Wilson 2000: 996). The National Crime Victimization Survey reveals that more than 1.8 million incidents of violence against a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend occur in America each year, and about 85% of these victims are women (Greenfield et al. 1998).
While people have heard that most assaults occur to women by their mates each year, few know that men are also assaulted at home. Many of these assaults go unreported. The relationship of alcohol to intimate partner violence remains significant in studies. Men's drinking patterns, especially binge drinking, are directly associated with marital violence across all ethnic groups and social classes. The latest studies show that 1,800 murders were committed by an intimate partner in 1996, with three out of four victims being women (Wilson, 2000: 997). Violence is a learned trait that can by brought on by the affects of alcohol.
As I researched further, I learned about the Social Learning Theory in the article, "Harsh Physical Discipline in Childhood and Violence in Later Romantic Involvement; the Mediating Role of Problem Behaviors'. The Social Learning Theory suggests that those who are subjected to harsh discipline learn that violence can be an effective way to change behaviors of others. Harsh physical punishment in childhood is directly related to greater perpetration of violence against an intimate partner late in life ( Swinford 2000: 508). Children treated with such physical aggression learn that it is permissible within the context of intimate relationships and that violence is justified when someone is guilty of wrong doing. Research suggests that wives are more likely to be victims of spousal abuse if they were subjected to severe physical discipline as a child (Swinford, 2000: 510). A family is considered the fundamental building block of society.
Whether or not that family has a negative or positive impact on society depends on their actions. As described in the article, "Domestic violence: Hitting us Where We Live', the family has also been described as a cradle of violence and the marriage license as a hitting license (Rouse 1997: 17). Many frustrating events occur within the family and outside frustrations can be carried over into and expressed within the family. After a bad day at the office, family members become handy scapegoats for their anger.
It gives the abuser release and a certain power over their victim. One reason women and children are targets for violence in the home is that misconduct towards them is not sufficiently costly to the perpetrator and they are actually rewarded when the victim complies (Rouse 2000: 19). Often, women are afraid to leave their abuser. They fear for their lives, and often they become dependent, either financially or physically. There is an intense involvement when a family is created. By leaving, the victim feels a sense of failure and a sense of vulnerability.
There are many more women being abused than most people believe. What surprised me was that many men are being abused as well. It's not often talked about, but it should be looked at equally because in either case people are being abused. Victims stay with their abusers because they are mentally dependent, and afraid for their lives. Also, if children are involved, they don't want them to be without a father. Furthermore, learning about the Social Learning Theory, we need to stop the violence before it becomes a pattern in the family.
If this behavior continues, an on-going cycle of violence could easily carry on for generations to come.