Domestic Violence

From WikiMD

Domestic violence occurs when a family member, partner or ex-partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominate or harm the other. The term "intimate partner violence" (IPV) is often used synonymously, other terms have included "wife beating", "wife battering", "relationship violence", "domestic abuse", "spousal abuse", and "family violence" with some legal jurisdictions having specific definitions.

Recent attention to domestic violence began in the women's movement as concern about wives being beaten by their husbands, and has remained a major focus of modern feminism, particularly in terms of "violence against women".

Estimates are that only about a third of cases of domestic violence are actually reported in the US and UK. In other places where there has been less attention and less support, reported cases would be still lower.

Domestic violence occurs in all cultures, people of all races, ethnicities, and religions can be perpetrators of domestic violence. Domestic violence is perpetrated by, and on, both men and women, and occurs in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships.

Awareness and documentation of domestic violence differs from country to country. According to the Centers for Disease Control domestic violence is a serious, preventable public health problem affecting more than 32 million Americans, that is more than 10% of the U.S. population (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000).

Domestic violence has many forms, including physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, economic deprivation or threats of violence. There are a number of dimensions:

  • mode - physical, psychological, sexual and/or social
  • frequency - one off, occasional, chronic
  • severity – in terms of both psychological or physical harm and the need for treatment – transitory or permanent injury – mild, moderate, severe up to homicide

Popular emphasis has tended to be on women as the victims of domestic violence although with the rise of the men's movement, and particularly men's rights, there is now some advocacy for men as victims, although the statistics concerning the number of male victims given by them are strongly contested by many groups active in research on or working in the field of domestic violence.

The means used to measure domestic violence strongly influence the results found, for example, studies of reported domestic violence and extrapolations of those studies show women preponderantly as victims and men to be more violent, whereas the survey based Conflict Tactics Scale, tends to show men and women equally violent.

The majority of studies investigated male on female domestic violence, thus information on female-on-male (or female-on-female) violence tends to be less available.


Domestic violence is physical, sexual or psychological abuse directed towards one’s spouse, partner, or other family member within the household.

CAFCASS in the United Kingdom in its "Domestic Violence Policy" uses domestic violence to refer to a range of violent and abusive behaviours, defining it as:

Patterns of behaviour characterised by the misuse of power and control by one person over another who are or have been in an intimate relationship. It can occur in mixed gender relationships and same gender relationships and has profound consequences for the lives of children, individuals, families and communities. It may be physical, sexual, emotional and/or psychological. The latter may include intimidation, harassment, damage to property, threats and financial abuse.

The New York State Coalition defines domestic violence as "abusive behavior - emotional, psychological, physical, or sexual - that one person in an intimate relationship uses in order to control the other. It takes many different forms and includes behaviors such as threats, name-calling, preventing contact with family or friends, withholding money, actual or threatened physical harm and sexual assault. Stalking can also be a form of domestic violence."

Domestic violence can be:

  • Physical violence
  • Mental/emotional violence
    • Verbal threats of physical violence to the victim, the self, or others including children, ranging from explicit, detailed and impending to implicit and vague as to both content and time frame
    • Verbal violence, including threats, insults, put-downs, attacks
    • Nonverbal threats, including gestures, facial expressions, body postures
  • Economic/social abuse
    • Controlling victim's money and other economic resources, preventing victim from seeing friends and relatives, actively sabotaging victim's social relationships and isolating victim from social contacts.
  • Spiritual abuse


Johnson (1995) suggests that:

  • Common couple violence (or "mutual battery"), arises out of a mutual argument, and both parties using physical force, it is not connected to a general pattern of control, and it usually occurs infrequently.
  • Intimate terrorism (or "patriarchal terrorism") where one partner uses violence along with emotional and psychological abuse to maintain control over the other.

Related are:

  • Violent resistance is used mostly by women against abusive partners. It may be one clue that a battered person is about to leave an abusive relationship.
  • Mutual violent control is when both partners are violent and controlling and they possibly battle for control in the relationship. As with intimate terrorism, violence is one form of control used by each abuser.

Physical violence

Physical violence is the intentional use of physical force with the potential for causing injury, harm, disability, or death, for example, hitting, shoving, biting, restraint, kicking, or use of a weapon.

Sexual violence and incest

Sexual violence and incest are divided into three categories:

1) use of physical force to compel a person to engage in a sexual act against their will, whether or not the act is completed;
2) attempted or completed sex act involving a person who is unable to understand the nature or condition of the act, to decline participation, or to communicate unwillingness to engage in the sexual act, e.g., because of illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or because of intimidation or pressure; and
3) abusive sexual contact.

Sexual vice

Sexual vice is the use of sex as a weapon to commit aggression against a partner, to take a partner's resources, and/or to gain power and control over a partner. As it is covert, politically taboo to acknowledge and almost always overlooked by domestic violence researchers, sexual vice is rarely seen in domestic violence literature. Sexual vice depends on erotic predation and abuse to commit intimate aggression often with ostensibly nice, and overtly non-violent but covertly violent seductions and/or sex acts. It is also often used against children by parents to rape their children'(s) freely offered respect and attention.

Psychological violence

Threats of physical, psychological or sexual, or social violence that use words, gestures, or weapons to communicate the intent to cause death, disability, injury, physical, or psychological harm.

Psychological/emotional violence involves violence to the victim caused by acts, threats of acts, or coercive tactics. Psychological/emotional abuse can include, but is not limited to, humiliating the victim, controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family, and denying the victim access to money or other basic resources. It is considered psychological/emotional violence when there has been prior physical or sexual violence or prior threat of physical or sexual violence.

Relational aggression is a form of psychological/social aggression the uses various forms of falsehood, secrecy and gossip to commit covert violence. Also known (incorrectly) as 'Female Bullying', it is often a spectacularly successful tactic because so few people know how to detect it. Women, and also men, often use it because it is covert, leaves no visible scars and can be done with a smile. It destroys or damages the target's reputation and ruins the target's relationships.

Parental alienation is another form of covert violence where children are used as a weapon of war by one parent to alienate the other parent. This covert form of domestic violence is often used by women, and sometimes men too, in high-conflict marriages. It is often devastating to the alienated spouse/parent and to the alienating/alienated children caught in the middle. In effect, it uses innocent, unwitting children to commit relational aggression by one parent against the other.

Economic abuse

Economic abuse is when the abuser has complete control over the victim's money and other economic resources. Usually, this involves putting the victim on a strict 'allowance', withholding money at will and forcing the victim to beg for the money until the abuser gives them some money. It is common for the victim to receive less money as the abuse continues.

This also includes (but is not limited to) preventing the victim from finishing education or obtaining employment.


In addition, stalking is often included among the types of Intimate Partner Violence. Stalking generally refers to repeated behaviour that causes victims to feel a high level of fear (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). However, psychiatrist William Glasser states that fear and all other emotions are self-caused as evidenced by the wide range of emotions two different subjects might have in response to the same incident.

Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual abuse includes:

1) using the spouse’s or intimate partner’s religious or spiritual beliefs to manipulate them
2) preventing the partner from practicing their religious or spiritual beliefs
3) ridiculing the other person’s religious or spiritual beliefs

Violence against children

When it comes to domestic violence towards children involving physical abuse, research in the UK by the NSPCC indicated that "most violence occurred at home (78 per cent) with mothers being primarily responsible in 49 per cent of cases and fathers in 40 per cent of cases."[1]


There are many different theories as to the cause of domestic violence. As with many phenomena regarding human experience no one approach appears to cover all cases.

Identified and proposed causes include the need for power and control, as a form of bullying and social learning of abuse.

Factors associated with domestic violence also include substance abuse, mental illness, poverty and various psychological characteristics, such as authoritarianism.

Power and control

… power in a relationship is often a matter of perception. A person may perceive themselves to be put-upon when a less involved observer would disagree.

A causalist view of domestic violence is that it is a strategy to gain or maintain power and control over the victim.

An alternative view is that abuse arises from powerlessness and externalizing/projecting this and attempting to exercise control of the victim. It is an attempt to 'gain or maintain power and control over the victim' but even in achieving this it cannot resolve the powerlessness driving it. Such behaviours have addictive aspects leading to a cycle of abuse or violence). Mutual cycles develop when each party attempts to resolve their own powerlessness in attempting to assert control.

Modes of abuse tend to be gendered, females tending to use more psychological and men more physical forms. The visibility of these differs markedly.

Questions of power and control are integral to the widely accepted Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project. They developed "Power and Control Wheel" to illustrate this, it has power and control at the center, surrounded by spokes (techniques used), the titles of which include:

  • Coercion and threats
  • Intimidation
  • Emotional abuse
  • Isolation
  • Minimizing, denying and blaming
  • Using children
  • Economic abuse
  • Male privilege

The model attempts to address abuse by one-sidedly challenging the misuse of power by the 'perpetrator'.

Critics of this model suggest that the one-sided focus is problematic as resolution can only be achieved when all participants acknowledge their responsibilities, and identify and respect mutual purpose [2].

Drug Abuse and Alcoholism

Statistics suggest that increasing numbers of domestic violence cases are being fueled by drug and alcohol use by the abusive partner.


Domestic violence comes as a form of bullying, as a means to an end that is easier than other means. The heading on the UK National Website for Bullying in the Family states that 'Those Who Can, Do. Those Who Can't Bully.' It seems reasonable to add that those who won't also prefer violence too.

The cycle of violence

Frequently, domestic violence is used to describe specific violent and overtly abusive incidents, and legal definitions will tend to take this perspective. However, when violent and abusive behaviours happen within a relationship, the effects of those behaviours continue after these overt incidents are over. Advocates and counsellors will refer to domestic violence as a pattern of behaviours, including those listed above.

Lenore Walker presented the model of a Cycle of Violence which consists of three basic phases:

Honeymoon Phase
Characterized by affection, apology, and apparent end of violence.
Tension Building Phase
Characterized by poor communication, tension, fear of causing outbursts,
Acting-out Phase
Characterized by outbursts of violent, abusive incidents.

Although it is easy to see the outbursts of the Acting-out Phase as abuse, even the more pleasant behaviours of the Honeymoon Phase serve to perpetuate the abuse. See also the cycle of abuse article.


Domestic violence is a significant problem. Measures of the incidence of violence in intimate relationships can differ markedly in their findings depending on the measures used. Survey approaches tend to show parity in the use of violence by both men and women against partners than do approaches using data from reports of domestic violence that tends to show women experiencing violence from male partners as the majority of cases (over 80%). Further discussion of this occurs in the next section on gender differences.

Research based on the survey based Conflict Tactics Scale, a measure of intrafamily conflict and violence focusing on the adults in the family developed by Murray Straus (1979) has included national U.S. surveys on the prevalence of family violence in the and other countries. These include the two U.S. National Family Violence Surveys (Straus & Gelles, 1990), the National Violence Against Women Survey (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000), this research has tended to show men and women equally violent.

Research based on reported domestic violence or on police records show men to be responsible for the majority of domestic violence and the high frequency of women as victims.

The problem of under-reporting is believed to be substantial.


A Council of Europe study (1992) found that 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence over their lifetimes and between 6-10% of women suffer domestic violence in a given year.


The British Crime Survey for the year 2001-2 reported, "There were an estimated 12.9 million incidents of domestic violence acts (nonsexual threats or force) against women [84%] and 2.5 million against men [16%] in England and Wales in the year prior to interview." The same report states, "Four per cent of women and two per cent of men were subject to domestic violence (non-sexual domestic threats or force) during the last year."

In the United Kingdom, the police estimate that around 35% of domestic violence against women is actually reported and a 2002 Women's Aid study found that 74% of separated women suffered from post-separation violence.


It is estimated that every year in the United States, approximately 3 million women are assaulted by their partner. One in four women in the U.S will be assaulted by their partner over their lifetimes.

In 1998 in the U.S.,of the approximately 1.5 million violent crimes committed between intimate partners, over 874,000 of the victims were women, and over 832,000 were men. Of the approximately 1,830 murders committed against intimate partners in 1998, 3 out of 4 of the victims were women. In 2001 according to the United States Census Bureau there were 691,710 non-fatal domestic violence acts committed and 1,247 fatal incidents. In homes where domestic violence occurs, children in the home are at a 300% greater risk of being abused.

  • 6-12% of women are abused in a given year
  • 20-30% of women receiving welfare are current victims of Domestic Violence
  • 30-65% of all homicides of women are related to Domestic Violence by their male partners

There are three times as many shelters in the U.S for animals than there are for battered women. There are no shelters for men.

According to Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting (RADAR) report:

  • Women are just as likely as men to engage in partner aggression (Kelly 2003)
  • Men experience over one-third of DV-related injuries (Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 126, No. 5, pages 651-680)
  • Men are far less likely to report DV incidents than women (Stets and Straus 1990)
  • The myths about domestic violence are numerous (Gelles 1995)
  • Many of these myths are based on DV studies that use biased survey methods (Arriaga and Oskamp 1999)

The county's family judges are retrained to ignore due process in domestic violence petitions. Federal programs like Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) fund this training (Bleemer, New Jersey Law Review, 1995). 85% of these orders are issues against men (Young, Independent Women’s Forum, 2005). Family judges often issue orders of protection or restraining orders without any direct threat of harm (Heleniak, Rutgers Law Review, Spring 2005). Often these orders are widely used as "part of the gamesmanship of divorce." (Kasper, Illinois Bar Journal, June 2005 and Kiernan, New Jersey Law Journal, April 1988)

New research published in the Journal of Family Psychology says that contrary to media and public opinion women commit more acts of violence than men in eleven categories: throw something, push, grab, shove, slap, kick, bite, hit or threaten a partner with a knife or gun. The study, which is based on interviews with 1,615 married or cohabiting couples and extrapolated nationally using census data, found that 21 percent of couples reported domestic violence. The Washington Times confirms study.


Many incidents of domestic violence go unreported to authorities due to the shame and fear associated with domestic violence.

Men's rights activists and others supporting male victims argue that there is a range of socialization related factors that would lead to very high levels of under-reporting by male victims. They also argue that until recently, very few studies asked about female-on-male (or female-on-female) domestic violence; so while these figures are appallingly high, the prevalence of violence against men is typically not included in the figures.


In the U.S., between 3 and 5 billion dollars are spent annually for medical expenses related to domestic violence. Also, approximately 100 million dollars is lost by businesses annually though lost productivity, sick leave and absenteeism due to domestic violence.

Gender differences

Domestic violence tends to be hidden; the visibility of different types of domestic violence varies relating to whether it is more physical or psychological. Easily visible and physical forms domestic violence (so-called 'male') not the less visible, psychological (so-called 'female') forms of domestic violence.

The discussion of domestic violence needs to include a discussion of the role gender. This can overwhelm any other issues, due to the degree of emotion that is evoked by the idea of vulnerable people powerless and hurt at the hands of a partner, spouse or other relative.

Erin Pizzey, the founder of an early women's shelter in Chiswick, London, has expressed her dismay at how the issue has become a gender-political football, and expressed an unpopular view in her book Prone to Violence that some women in the refuge system had a predisposition to seek abusive relationships. She also expressed the view that domestic violence can occur against any vulnerable intimates, regardless of their sex. Given the violence that she herself experienced in the UK for voicing her views, one might be suspicious of some of those who opposed her views, which remain very relevant. In the same book, Erin Pizzey stated that, of the first 100 women to enter the refuge, 62 were as violent, or more violent, than the men they were, allegedly, running away from.

There are women and men who seek to put forward the idea, that abusive men are sexy. This can be shown in the media with the genre of bad boy romance novels. This promotes a culture of supporting abusive men, and of even seeing non abusive men as somehow missing something for not being abusive.

Men or women as violent

There continues to be discussion about whether men are more abusive than women, whether men's abuse of women is worse than women's abuse of men, and whether abused men should be provided resources similar to those available for abused women. What is often missing in such discussions is that, being equal, both genders commit more or less equal aggression, the difference being in the form that aggression takes (See External links).

Some psychologists claim males tend to prefer physical aggression while women tend to prefer psychological aggression.

The statistics cited by Women's Aid and Ahimsa are that violence by women against men is a tiny proportion of all domestic violence is rejected by advocates for male victims of domestic violence. They hold that this finding is based in the situation that many studies report only male-on-female violence because that is all they ask about, those studies that do examine prevalence in both directions overwhelmingly find little difference by gender. This is particularly true when questions are specific: for example, men typically do not report being slapped if they are simply asked about "violence"; women do.

Martin S. Fiebert of the Department of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach, provides an annotated bibliography of 174 scholarly studies that have found significant incidence of female-on-male domestic violence.

Studies have been carried out to explore these issues, and results have seemed somewhat contradictory. A problem in conducting such studies is the amount of silence, fear and shame that results from abuse within families and relationships. Another is that abusive patterns can tend to seem normal to those who have lived in them for a length of time. Similarly, subtle forms of abuse can be quite transparent even as they set the stage for further abuse seeming normal. Finally, inconsistent definition of what domestic violence is makes definite conclusions difficult to reach when compiling the available studies.

Both men and women have been arrested and convicted of assaulting their partners in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. The bulk of these arrests have been men being arrested for assaulting women, but that has been shifting somewhat over time and clearly arrest records are not the whole story. Actual studies of behaviour show that whilst half of male/female intimate violence is best described as mutual brawling, a quarter is the male attacking the female and the remaining quarter being females attacking their male partner. Determining how many instances of domestic violence actually involve male victims is difficult. Male domestic violence victims may be reluctant to get help for a number of reasons (see this article) (Article checked August 8, 2004.) A man who calls for help may even risk being arrested as the "perpetrator" even though he was the victim.

The general consensus seems to be that male on female domestic violence is more likely to result in serious injury or death, whereas female on male (which, under the definition used by the UK Government if no others, includes preventing the father seeing the children), is more likely to result in male suicide. Men on average have more upper body strength and socialization that predisposes them to resort to violence more than women do, and that can give them a higher average lethality than women. However, women can and do use weapons to equalize whatever deficit in physical power which may be present, and can also use social constraints against men hitting women even in self-defence, to provide them with sufficient lethality to be dangerous in conflict situations. The US National Family Violence Survey has consistently indicated, in repeated surveys over more than 30 years, that women are more than twice as likely as men to initiate domestic assault, and more than twice as likely to use weapons. The oft-repeated claim that all violence by women is self-defence has similarly been proven to be based on circular reasoning. Women also are at least as well equipped to use psychological violence that forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour (to use the Women's Aid definition given above). Women are also equally capable of using a proxy, which would further skew the results (since a proxy murder is not recorded as a case of domestic violence.)

In the United States, the bulk of the decrease in rates of intimate partner homicides is accounted for the dramatic decrease in women's murders of their male intimate partners. Murders of female intimate partners by men have dropped, but not nearly as dramatically. (See, for example, the report Violence by Intimates from the US Bureau of Justice Statistics. Men kill their female intimate partners at about four times the rate that women kill their male intimate partners. Research by Jacquelyn Campbell, PhD RN FAAN has found that at least two thirds of women killed by their intimate partners were battered by those men prior to the murder. She also found that when males are killed by female intimates, the women in those relationships had been abused by their male partner about 75% of the time (see battered person syndrome and battered woman defence).

Some researchers have found a relationship between the availability of domestic violence services, improved laws and enforcement regarding domestic violence and increased access to divorce, and higher earnings for women with declines in intimate partner homicide. (Laura Dugan, Daniel S. Nagin, and Richard Rosenfeld. Explaining the Decline in Intimate Partner Homicide: The Effects of Changing Domesticity, Women's Status, and Domestic Violence Resources in Homicide Studies, Vol. 3, No. 3, 187-214, 1999)

This suggests that, ironically, male abusers have benefited from domestic violence reforms, and are less likely to be killed by their partners since women are no longer faced with murder as their "only option" to escape the violence. At the same time, men continue to kill their female partners at almost the same rate. This suggests that reforms in the civil and criminal system and social services to battered women have not impacted the fundamental causes of domestic violence. Although some presume that this indicates a gendered nature of the problem, the lack of success may itself be a result of overly simplistic gender-assumptions on the nature of violence (see notes on the Duluth model in the 'Response to domestic violence' section).

Gender roles and expectations can and do play a role in abusive situations, and exploring these roles and expectations can be helpful in addressing abusive situations, as do factors like race, class, religion, sexuality and philosophy. None of these factors cause one to abuse or another to be abused.

Domestic violence in same-sex relationships

Domestic violence occurs in 18% of lesbian couples in the US so it appears to be gender independent. In an effort to be more inclusive, many organizations have made an effort to use gender-neutral terms when referring to perpetratorship and victimhood.

Historically domestic violence has been seen as a family issue and little interest has been directed at violence in same-sex relationships. It has not been until recently, as the gay rights movement has brought the issues of gay and lesbian people into public attention, when research has been started to conduct on same-sex relationships. Several studies have indicated that partner abuse among same-sex couples (both female and male) is relatively similar in both prevalence and dynamics to that among opposite-sex couples [1] . Gays and lesbians, however, face special obstacles in dealing with the issues that some researchers have labelled "the double closet": not only do gay and lesbian people often feel that they are discriminated against and dismissed by police and social services, they are also often met with lack of support from their peers who would rather keep quiet about the problem in order not to attract negative attention toward the gay community. Also, the supportive services are mostly designed for the needs of heterosexual women and do not always meet the needs of other groups.

Allegations of domestic violence

Allegations of domestic violence are frequent in post-divorce/separation situations. Such allegations may often be third-party abuse, using third-parties such as courts to carry out untraceable abuse against a falsely-accused 'perpetrator' (see article in Nuance Journal of Family Studies). The consequences of such allegations can be serious for the alleged perpetrator since occupation of the home and custody of the children may be at stake. In Australia, mandated allocation of family resources in court-supervised separation shifts automatically from 50:50 to 80:20 in favour of the alleged victim if there is any allegation of abuse; anecdotal reports and other evidence indicate that such allegations are accepted only from women, and that the allegation itself is required to be taken as its own proof, without any checks or balances. It is sometimes claimed that "less than 2% of reported domestic violence allegations are proved false", but anecdotal and other evidence suggests that this claim, as with many supposed statistics in domestic-violence 'research', is based more on wishful thinking and circular reasoning than on fact.[citation needed]

Response to domestic violence

The response to domestic violence is typically a combined effort between law enforcement agencies, the courts, social service agencies and corrections/probation agencies. The role of each has evolved as domestic violence has been brought more into public view. Historically, law enforcement agencies, the courts and corrections agencies treated domestic violence as a personal matter. For example, police officers were often reluctant to intervene by making an arrest, and often chose instead to simply counsel the couple and/or ask one of the parties to leave the residence for a period of time. The courts were reluctant to impose any significant sanctions on those convicted of domestic violence, largely because it was viewed as a misdemeanour offense. This mindset of treating family violence as a personal problem of minor consequence permeated the system's response, and potentially allowed the perpetrator to continue acting violently.

Activism, initiated by victim advocacy groups and feminist groups, has led to a better understanding of the scope and effect of domestic violence on victims and families, and has brought about changes in the criminal justice system's response.

Several projects have aided in filling the voids in the justice system as it pertains to the protection of victims. One such initiative, The Hope Card Project, makes an attempt to remedy several problems through the issuance of an ID card to victims of abuse. The card is used to identify both parties in a domestic violence protection order and provides additional resources to the victim through a voucher program for services. More about the project can be found at

The Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project

In 1981, the Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project became the first multi-disciplinary program designed to address the issue of domestic violence. This experiment, conducted in Duluth, MN, frequently referred to as the "Duluth Project."

It coordinated agencies dealing with domestic situations, drawing together diverse elements of the system, from police officers on the street, to shelters for battered women and probation officers supervising offenders.

This program has become a model for other jurisdictions seeking to deal more effectively with domestic violence. Corrections/probation agencies in many areas are supervising domestic violence offenders more closely, and are also paying closer attention to the victim's needs and safety issues.

There has been controversy as the Duluth framework depends on a strict "patriarchal violence" model and presumes that all violence in the home and elsewhere has a male perpetrator and female victim. Also evidence of success of the model is limited, with scholarly analysis and critique [3].

Treatment and support

Publicly available resources for dealing with domestic violence have tended to be almost exclusively geared towards supporting women and children who are in relationships with or who are leaving violent men, rather than for survivors of domestic violence per se. This has been due to the purported numeric preponderance of female victims and the perception that domestic violence only affected women. Resources to help men who have been using violence take responsibility for and stop their use of violence, such as Men's Behaviour Change Programs or anger management training, are available, though attendees are ordered to pay for their own course in order that they should remain accountable for their actions.

Men's organisations, such as ManKind in the UK, often see this approach as one-sided; as Report 191 by the British Home Office shows that men and women are equally culpable, they believe that there should be anger management courses for women also. They accuse organisations such as Women's Aid of bias in this respect saying that they spend millions of pounds on helping female victims of domestic violence and yet nothing on female perpetrators. These same men's organisations claim that before such help is given to female perpetrators, Women's Aid would have to admit that women are violent in the home. This they seem reluctant to do.

One of the challenges for lay observers, victims, perpetrators and treatment providers is demonstrated by the tendency to describe perpetrator treatment as men's "anger management" groups.

Comprehensive and accountable behaviour change programs are seen as far more appropriate and effective interventions in male violence in the home than anger management groups.

Inherent in anger management only approaches is the assumption that the violence is a result of a loss of control over one's anger. While there is little doubt that some domestic violence is about the loss of control, the choice of the target of that violence may be of greater significance. Anger management might be appropriate for the individual who lashes out indiscriminately when angry towards co-workers, supervisors or family. In most cases, however, the domestic violence perpetrator lashes out only at their intimate partner or relatively defenseless child, which suggests an element of choice or selection that, in turn, suggests a different or additional motivation beyond simple anger. Most experienced treatment providers have probably observed that for various reasons, many of which may be cultural, the perpetrator has a sense of entitlement, sometimes conscious, sometimes not, that leads directly to their choice of target.

Men's behaviour change programs, although differing throughout the world, tend to focus on the prevention of further violence within the family and the safety of women and children. Often they abide by various standards of practise that includes 'partner contact' where the participants female partner is contacted by the program and informed about the course, checked about her level of safety and support and offered support services for herself if she requires them. Many of these programs have both a male and female facilitator and follow a program designed to highlight the impact of his behaviour, examine the attitudes, values and behaviours that lead to his choice to use violence and aim to support and challenge the man to take responsibility for his use of violence.

Work with men who use violence and abuse toward family members can be seen in Victoria, Australia where a unique combination of voluntary and mandated (court or police referred) programs exist as well as a statewide telephone counselling, information and referral service for men exists. See: No To Violence (NTV) the Male Family Violence Prevention Association. [4] However, there are no equivalent services in Victoria for women who use violence or abuse, nor any support services at all for abused men. The absence of such services leads to circular claims that no such services are required, and to similarly circular claims that the available services represent proof that violence is exclusively 'male'.


From the perspective of the police, who are often the first to investigate domestic violence incidents, one of the problems is that the definitions of domestic violence include acts that are not themselves crimes. The London Metropolitan Police has nevertheless compiled a list of the crimes [5] which typically can occur when domestic violence occurs. They are:

The UK Crown Prosecution Service publishes guidance for prosecution in cases of alleged domestic violence. [6]

Bias against men in service provision

In the UK there are 440 refuges for women to run to and to take their children with them, and only two such refuges for men. Advocates of increased services for male victims argue that this is indicative of the "success" of women's groups, with some suggesting a conspiracy to deny domestic violence against men.

Domestic violence in popular culture

Abusive men in the news media

The news media finds it difficult to maintain neutrality in reporting or editorialising on violence. Indeed, since many are "for profit" organizations, the selection of material to report and the prominence accorded to the coverage frames the readership's response and is intended to increase sales or advertising revenues rather than perform an altruistic social education function (see Scheufele: 1999 and 2000). The central organizing idea or narrative of story lines provides meaning to the events described and clusters ideas that guide the individuals as they process the information. Murnen (2002) points to the patriarchal structure of the management of commercial publishing, both fiction and non-fiction, television and cinema production, and the music, games, and advertising industries, all of which are reinforced by the continuing male dominance of political, economic, and legal resources. Men control the content and masculine ideology infuses the communication process, pandering to the relevant market niches and their prejudices to maximise sales revenues. Thus, themes of violent behavior are often portrayed in an uncritical style which reinforces stereotypes and may appear to condone the use of violence in certain specific situations. Sexual relationships are characteristically depicted in terms of the power disparities arising from physical strength: disparities that contribute to women's vulnerability to male authority (Dixon-Mueller: 1993). Social scientists now argue that aggression in the real world is socially learned behavior and results from cultural influences. For example, Reiss (1986) found that in rape-prone societies there was more endorsement of a "macho personality" (e.g. acceptance of physical aggression and of high risk-taking, casual attitudes toward sex) and more agreement with belief in the inferiority of females. Gerbner and Gross (1976) hypothesize that heavy viewers of media will begin to perceive the world as reflective of the worlds they view on television and in the media. Cultivation theory (see Gerbner et al: 1973) examines "the continual, dynamic, ongoing process of interaction among messages and contexts" and identifies the most recurrent, stable, and overarching patterns in media content. In repetitively viewing these recurrent patterns and images, the reader/viewer begins to accept the images as reality. Thus, media coverage frames the debate about the social acceptability of domestic violence in general and of the behavior of some individuals in particular, and may directly influence the real-world behavior in "ordinary" relationships.

In film

Across cultures and religions


Christians view all inter-relational conflict and abuse as sin. After the model of Jesus, Christians are called to "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mk 12:31). Particularly in the marital relationship, christians are to model the love of God (Eph 5:25, 5:29, 5:33); "For no man ever hates his own flesh, but he loves and cherishes it", and "let the wife respect her husband". Abuse by either gender is condemned by the christian scriptures. Relational offenses are to be resolved by the scriptural guidelines given in Mt 18:15-17,1Cor6:1-7 by confronting the person individually first then by the church. The church has a responsibility to protect those who are victims of violence. Christians who persist in abuse and fail to demonstrate love in their relationships risk censure by the community of faith (Mt 18:17).



Sheikh Muhammad Kamal Mustafa, imam of the mosque of the city of Fuengirola, Costa del Sol, Spain, in his book The Woman in Islam writes, of the status of violence against wives on the part of husbands in Islamic Sharia law, stating that it is permissible in some instances.

The wife-beating must never be in exaggerated, blind anger, in order to avoid serious harm [to the woman]." He adds, "It is forbidden to beat her on the sensitive parts of her body, such as the face, breast, abdomen, and head. Instead, she should be beaten on the arms and legs," using a "rod that must not be stiff, but slim and lightweight so that no wounds, scars, or bruises are caused." Similarly, "[the blows] must not be hard." [7]

Mustafa noted in his book that the aim of the beating was to cause the woman to feel some emotional pain, without humiliating her or harming her physically. According to him, physical blows must be the last resort to which a husband turns in punishing his wife, and is, according to the Qur'an (Chapter 4, Verse 34), the husband's third step when the wife is rebellious: First, he must reprimand her, without anger. Next, he must distance her from the conjugal bed. Only if these two methods fail should the husband turn to beating.

Sheikh Yousef Qaradhawi, head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, has advocated "non-painful" beating of wives: "it is permissible for [the husband] to beat her lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive parts. In no case should he resort to using a stick or any other instrument that might cause pain and injury."

Dr. Muhammad Al-Hajj, lecturer on Islamic faith at the University of Jordan (Amman) states:

Hard beatings are those that leave marks on the body or on the face. Thus, beating on the face is prohibited, because the face is a combination of the features of beauty, as it is said. It is forbidden to beat the face, it is forbidden to administer blows that leave fractures or wounds; this is what our sages have said in their books.

While some Muslims interpret the Qur'an to allow the beating of wives, many other Muslims interpret the scripture to say "leave" the wife, not beat her. [8]

Accepted behavior

In many rural areas in developing countries, beating is considered accepted behavior for a man, in order to "teach" his wife to be obedient. Men who suspect their wives of adultery have often "executed" their wives by decapitation. An example of such a region is Iran, in which it is perfectly legal for a man to kill his wife if he finds her cheating.

See also

External links




References and further reading

  • Prevalence of DV in Same-Sex Couples comparable to Heterosexual Couples (circa 1998)
  • W8MD weight loss logo

    Ad. Tired of being overweight?. W8MD's insurance Weight loss program can HELP*

    Quick links: Medicine Portal | Encyclopedia‏‎‏‎ | Gray's Anatomy‏‎ | Topics‏‎ |‏‎ Diseases‏‎ | Drugs | Wellness | Obesity‏‎ | Metabolic syndrome | Weight loss*
    Disclaimer: The entire contents of WIKIMD.ORG are for informational purposes only and do not render medical advice or professional services. If you have a medical emergency, you should CALL 911 immediately! Given the nature of the wiki, the information provided may not be accurate, misleading and or incorrect. Use the information on this wiki at your own risk! See full Disclaimer.
    Link to this page: <a href="">Domestic Violence</a>

    • Individual results may vary for weight loss from our sponsors.