What theories relate to
explosions of domestic violence?!
This report will support the idea that loss of control,
social impact and gender inequality leads to an increase in domestic violence within
this day and age. In addition, it will also
argue that the theories of Feminism, Social learning and Self-control do not
sufficiently explain the increase in domestic violence in this modern society.
To conclude the assignment, I will summarise and take an analytic approach by
undertaking independent research and supporting my research through my results
within this report.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence involves the
infliction of ‘continuum verbal, emotional and sexual abuses of power’
(Kelly 1987).The Domestic Violence
Act, 2005 states that any act, conduct, omission or commission that harms or
injures or has the potential to harm or injure will be considered domestic
violence by the law. Even a single act of omission or commission may constitute
Domestic violence is performed by, and on, both men and
women. However, the offenders
of this kind of abuse are commonly men and the victims are usually women. This
is supported by Freud (1925) as
he quoted ‘Anatomy is destiny, crime is a masculine trait’, also similarly Steve Hall commented ‘violent crimes
are overwhelmingly masculine activity.’
It includes all violent incidents involving partners, ex-partners,
household members or other relatives. Domestic violence actions most typically take place largely in
the home, away from prying eyes and out of public view. Until the late 20th century, domestic
violence was socially accpeted in male
dominate cultures, women were also been exected to suffer in silence.
Feminism and Domestic violence
There are Four Waves of Feminism
and scholars have divided the movement’s history into four waves. These
are a range of socio-political movements,
that aims to establish political, economic, cultural. racial, personal, and
social equality of the sexes.
The first wave started in the Late
19th/early 20th Century. At first it focused on
the promotion of equal contract and property rights for women. However, by the
end of the nineteenth century, activism focused primarily on gaining political
power, particularly the right of women’s suffrage.The second wave was in the 1960s and continued into the
90s. It unfolded in the context of the anti-war and civil rights movements and
the growing self-consciousness of a variety of minority groups around the
world. Estelle Freedman compared first
and second-wave feminism saying that the first wave focused on rights such as
suffrage, whereas the second wave was largely concerned with other issues of
equality, such as ending discrimination.The third wave was in the mid-90’s focused on issues of patriarchy. The basic
contention of this movement was that men inherently seek to dominate and
exploit women. where many constructs were
destabilized, including the notions of “universal womanhood,” Lastly,the
up-and-coming fourth wave speak in terms of intersectionality whereby women’s
suppression can only fully be understood in a context of the marginalization of
other groups and gender.
Many researchers ,domestic violence organisations, feminist and most
media suggest the root causes of domestic violence is gender inequality,
meaning the dominance of men and the stereotypes about the role of men and
women. Therefore, using the feminist approach I will be explaining the increase
in domestic violence as it emphasizes the significance of gender inequality
and contends that it is a major factor in this kind of violence. Feminist theory argues that this kind of abuse
is directly connected to the patriarchal society, which is reflected in the
pattern of behaviours and attitudes toward women. Violence and abuse are viewed
as an expression of social power and become used as a way of men to control and
dominate their female partners. There are many broad strands of feminist theory
but the main ones I will be discussing are: liberal feminism, radical feminism
and socialist feminism. These strands of feminism address the oppressed status
of women in society.
presumes that all men have most of the power and control over women in society (D’Unger 2005). According to them, domestic abuse
and sexual assault are signs of male dominance and exploitation. According to
D’Unger 2005, the support for domestic violence has been lead by radical
feminist supporters claiming that such crimes were undisclosed due to unspoken
social approval of such violence within society. The radical feminist implies
that such violence is seen as normal due to the lack of public response to this
category of crime and also states that women themselves begin to see this type
of treatment as typical and acceptable as they accept suffering in silence and
hardly report this kind of abuse. Whereas, liberal feminism
argue for equality between the sexes. According
to Hedges (1996), this type of feminism “argues that women deserve the same
privileges, protections, pay, and opportunities that men do”. They
believe that men and women are gradually becoming more equal over time and that
this trend will continue.
Despite the evidence that women in hetrosexual reltaionships
form the vast majority of victims of domestic violence there are debates about
the extent of male victimisation and violence in same sex relationships. Due to
this, some critics may say domestic violence isn’t gender based crime as it
can happen also in same sex relationships whereas, feminists would debate that violence against women is partly a
result of gender relations that expects men to be superior to women.
critics may criticize feminism theory and state that males also experience
domestic violence which is not shown or publicized in media as the patriarchal
expectancy of the man being the king of his home and doing as he pleases brings
down the male image and lets men down therefore they remain to suffer in
silence. According to a report in the Telegraph newspaper, “men under
report their experiences due to a culture of masculine expectations”. Men have
also been blamed for not being able to ‘keep the wife under control’. To support this, statistics show that the
numbers of women who commit domestic abuse may be on the rise. The number of
women convicted for domestic violence rose by 30% in the year to April
2015, from 3,735 to 4,866.
Moreover, this links to the Sex role Theory
(Gelsthrope, 2004) as it’s about the gendered differences in crime in
terms of the differences in gender socialization, gender roles and gendered identities.
The norms and values associated with traditional femininity are not conducive
to crime, while the norms and values associated with traditional masculinity
are more likely to lead to crime. This suggests that it’s not
normal or encouraging for a female to commit a crime due to gender identities
and roles in society and if women do commit crime it would be crimes such as, theft, shoplifting, and less violent crimes. In addition
to this, if a man reports his wife for domestic abuse he can expect to be
ridiculed, and there will likely be little or no action taken in his defence. However the liberation thesis (Adler, 1975) would
argue against this and say as women become liberated from patriarchy,
their crimes will become as frequent and serious as men’s.
Self-control and domestic violence
other hand, the self-control theory contrasts the feminists approach to
domestic violence, due to the belief of self-control being the controlling
factor to domestic abuse. The theory supports the idea that an individual controls
their own behaviour and females and males can both have their own self-control
influences that justify to their actions. It occurs when the
individual lacks, inhibits, or restricts a sense of self control. The
concept of self-control has come from Gottfredson and Hirschi’s (1990) where it is suggested that self control is formed in early childhood and
remains stable throughout life. Self-control is discovered between the upbringing and later
criminality, so for example bad upbringing in early childhood causes bad
self-control, which causes crime because the individual then find it harder to
resist temptation. So linking this to the increase in domestic violence suggests
that the accused may have had a poor childhood which they did not learn how to
control their behaviour as self control can be achieved. However, critics may say
Gottfredson and Hirschi’s (1990) self control theory of crime is appealing but
very simple. Feminists would critic this theory
by stating that it goes against the fact about gender inequality and that Gottfredson
and Hirschi’s lack of concentration to gendered power differences and
inequalities results in a theory of crime that does not challenge social relations,
they would argue as it creates a false gender-neutrality. Unlike the feminist
approach which describes that male’s are dominantly the abusers.
Social learning theory and domestic violence
social learning theory can also come into play here, as it supports the theory
of self-control that a person implements actions of their own decisions.
However, the social theory recognises the factors of social interaction having
an influence on an individual’s actions. Factors such as prior abuse and
witness of abuse can encourage individuals to repeat this form of actions due
to their previous experience of domestic abuse. The Social learning theory
explains the increase in domestic violence due to social media, the influence
of social interaction and their family life, in today’s society. This is
supported by Siegel (2005, pp. 114-115), as he identifies three main sources in
which offenders learn violent behaviour:
interactions: Studies of family life show that aggressive children have parents
who use similar tactics when dealing with others. For example, the children of
wife beaters are more likely to use aggressive tactics themselves than children
in the general population, especially if the victims (their mothers) suffer
psychological distress from the abuse.
Environmental experiences: People who reside in areas where violence occurs
daily are more likely to act violently than those who dwell in low-crime areas
whose norms stress conventional behaviour.
media: Films and television shows commonly depict violence graphically.
Moreover, violence is often portrayed as acceptable, especially for the heroes
who never have to face legal consequences for their actions.
Social Learning theory has been recognized that children learn abusive language
and anger issues from their families. At an early age a child can adapt abusive
behaviour that is likely to have an impact in their future relationships and
marital relationships. This links to the increase in domestic violence as when
a child grows up in a family where domestic violence is an ongoing issue, they
witness such behaviour and are therefore more likely to imitate those actions
as they grow older. Witnessing domestic violence, especially when young,
influences children on their behaviour and actions as well as increases their
tolerance for violence. This causes the children to adapt to these behaviours
and feel that it is normal, so once they grow older they display the same behaviours
toward their partner. This is supported by (Mihalic & Elliott, 1997) who
quoted “If the family of origin handled stresses and frustrations with anger
and aggression, the child who has grown up in such environment is at greater
risk for exhibiting those same behaviours, witnessed or experienced, as an
National Coalition against Domestic Violence (2007) reports childhood exposure
to domestic violence as the strongest risk factor for the transmission of
violent behaviour to the next generation, and boys who witness domestic
violence are twice as likely to be beaters as adults.
critical side to this is similar to self-control. Some critics may say that
media also displays domestic violence as wrong and promote TV ads and articles
to prevent it. They would also say there is a link with the social learning
theory and domestic violence however; the individual when older would be mature
enough to know what’s right and wrong and could prevent themselves from taking
out the anger on their loved ones. There are many counselling and therapy
sessions available in today’s society which should be made use of for those who
have anger issues so with the critical view childhood shouldn’t really be
blamed for an individual actions as with this modern society people have
chances and opportunities to help them prevent it and control, also with the
modern law they are aware of consequences and what is right and wrong.
conclude, domestic violence happens in all types of relationship and to both
genders, using the self-control and social learning theory it is reported that
domestic abuse is a crime against an individual and is not a crime against a
gender. However, feminists would argue women should be free of sex-based crimes and aberrant behaviors that
provide men with the ability to exploit women. Crimes such as rape and domestic
abuse are viewed as form of specific control and therefore exploit women.
However, all three theories mentioned share the need for victims to have some
feelings of control before they are able to leave an abusive relationship
permanently and reduce their risk of future victimization. Domestic violence is a crime in
which the offender targets those closest to them and it is a crime in which the
victim is oftentimes unwilling to report to law enforcement. Domestic violence
offenders differ from other violent offenders in that they target those persons
most close with them and are labeled as “repeat customers” (Hanser, 2007). In
many cases, the domestic violence abuser may act normal by all public appearances,
but within their own residence, they seek to physically and psychologically
terrorize and control others. To add up, this report involved the history of
domestic violence and a number of theories relating to domestic violence, these
were discussed and critically analyzed with their point for and against while
related to modern society.
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