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Can Domestic Violence Be A Learnt Behaviour Social Work Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Social Work
Wordcount: 1671 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In this chapter the researcher will be researching if Domestic violence is a learnt behaviour. There are many different theories as to why men are more violent than women. These theories include biological theories, which focus on hormonal patterns and aggression; psychological theories, which focus on personality types and disorders; psychoanalysis, which looks at “projection and displacement” and sociological theories, which focus on “concepts grounded in interpersonal, collective, institutional, structural or societal processes” (Hearn 1998: 17).    

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Biological explanation suggests that women are understandably less violent than men. Maccoby and Jacklin (1975) explain how women show anger and their relationship towards men are different to men, which indicate that problems are resolved without any violence behaviour.  Biological theories explain how violence is occurred between male and female, this can be due to their chromosomes, hormones, genetics and territoriality. Following the consideration of biological explanation, into the researcher pathological theory.

This theory explains the abuser is suffering from a pathological condition; this condition can be related on psychiatric illness or issues from temper of one or both partners. (Hague Malos, 1993; Johnson 1995) This theory was accepted in the 1970’s when violence became very popular in families and caused many problems and issues. The United States carried out a study and focused on ‘abused families’ they found that mothers were discrete of their violence from their children. Gayford (1978) cited in Johnson in 1995 researched that women that have been physically abused have a degree of incompetence. The person responsible for being an abuser are said to be weak, pathological jealous men that are lacking in low self esteem and are experiencing anxiety especially about their manliness. Hague Malos (1993) argue that these issues are still current in psychiatry and psychology; these issues have risen from the individual and not have been able to success through in their relationship (Hague Malos 1993).

Finally the researcher explored social learning theory. Johnson 1995 analysed a theory called Social learning theory, this theory explains men being an abuser towards women as a learned behaviour. O’Leary (1989) states that violence is taught violence, family members use this role if the family is stressed, has an aggressive personality style. The key features that trigger violence are martial trouble, alcohol abuse, when these factor emerge violence is likely to take place. Marsden (1997) also looked into this theory and argued O’Leary statement he suggested the men who are violent in the adulthood were often abused whilst being children. The children became psychologically disturbed and observed the fathers behaviour that repeatedly ‘battered’ them. Marsden (1997) also studied that if young girls that were also physically abused in their childhood may also think it is norm behaviour and may find themselves in vulnerable position with their partners. Another alternative theory also suggests that violence can be learned through life, by neighbours, gangs or certain professions for example police force and the army this can be reflected as the ‘sub- culture model’ (Hague and Malos, 1993) In a cross culture study of family violence Hague (1997) found that some cultures had some family values and beliefs that highlight aggression and violence. In some family background wife beating and children beating is considered to be allowed in certain groups.

Abusers often find themselves a part of a cycle, copying behaviour from their own fathers that had abused their mothers in their Muslim environment. As a result children learn this abusive behaviour and start to abuse their own wives, thinking and accepting this behaviour as normal. This is found to be an important aim because the longer the Muslim community allows abuse; the longer it will be observed and rein act from father to son, from generation to generation this will continue in a continuous cycle (Hague Malos 2003)

Anand (2003) research and recognized that mainly women experienced domestic violence in their own homes, and it is due to men being responsible for this behaviour. It has been shown an increasing recognition that living, growing and observing in an environment of violence can lead to effects on children in their development, either to deal with direct abuse, observed violence to their mothers or have had a change in the atmosphere and environment of their home. While there is no consistent reaction to living with domestic violence, Friedberg (2000) highlights those children who have lived in the background of domestic violence may have mild mental health issues, compared to children from a non-violent home. The Department of Health framework working Together to Safeguard Children document (1999) states, “prolonged and/or regular exposure to domestic violence can have a serious impact on a child’s development and emotional well-being” (section 2.21). Domestic violence has showed an influence on a wider prospective for children of behavioural, physical and psychological scale line that could affect young children that have experienced this matter may result domestic violence on a short period of time or a longer term.

Humphreys (2004) stated that different children react to different situations in a different way. Children’s behaviour responds to life experience of domestic violence are difficult and will vary according to a mass of factors that may influence the level of impact on their physical and mental well-being. These factors include: age, gender, race, disability, sexuality, relationship with main carer and siblings and individual children having a coping mechanism and survival strategies. Humphreys (2004) further outlines that “young children between the ages of 3-5years old are more likely to have or show physical symptoms of the anxiety and distress, these children may present these fears by different behaviour and emotionally. When children start to become in their adolescent stage they may try to ignore the memories of past behaviour by turning to drugs for comfort, early marriage or pregnancy, running away, or draw attention by becoming a criminal.

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Boys and girls are shown to deal with experiences in different ways. A gender role can be stereotypical and may influence children to deal differently. According to Lupton and Gillespie (1994) and Hester et al (2000) Muslim children that are born with a disability may influence the impact of domestic violence, a woman who is pregnant and facing domestic violence may contribute the relation to the disability.

Marsden (1978) researched and linked those children that were traumatised and witnessed domestic violence in the home children with show signs of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a type of continuing anxiety disorder following experience of a traumatic event. It is thought that a lack of incorporation from an early of secure attachment relationship can lead to long term cognitive, emotional and social difficulties during later childhood and adult life (Marsden 1978). According to Mernessi (1991), many children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect express insecure attachment patterns. Domestic violence may affect the parents to maintain a consistent relationship with their children and this will lead to further behaviour pattern (Mernessi 1991). Friedberg (2000) does a further study and finds that young children facing day to day life with domestic violence are less likely to have close physical contact with their parents and such parent’s are unaware of their behaviours and start to show negative signals. Domestic violence is also linked with high levels of child neglect and criticism. The type of relationship a mother gives a child may have an affected by additional factors in the situation of domestic violence such as physical injury, depression, drug and alcohol use and separation due to mother leaving or child running away. Violence and abusive father figures have been seen to be more distress, less physically attached, and use more negative control techniques such as physical punishment and verbal abuse, when having the responsibility to being a the primary carer role ( Friedberg 2000).

When a woman is being abused not only is her parenting ability and her relationships with her children likely to be affected; there is also a higher possibility that children may be abused. Clark (2000) researched that domestic violence and child abuse occur together in 45-70% of cases; as a result domestic violence is now alleged to be a vital indicator of risk of harm to children, with the male naturally also the child’s abuser. In some conditions women have used violence themselves but this is usually to prevent harsher action from their partner (Presscott Letko 1997). Research carried out (Shostack 2001) states that children who are abused physically and/or sexually and observe domestic violence are twice as much abused and show huge amount of distress. (Shostack 2001) states that children that witness violence to their mothers can have a more of an impact to their lifestyle rather than their own abuse having an impact to their behaviour.

Not all theories can provide adequate answers, but when several theories are combined to provide a multi explanation, it presents a clearer picture of why Muslim men are more violent than women. These factors can include violence in Muslim community, family relationship, cultural norms and values, growing up in a Muslim society, the personality of the individual who miss-use substances, these factors may all merge to an explanation where violent behaviour is much more likely to happen (Ainsworth 2000).



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