A general summary of some of the findings as they relate
to some previous common myths are as follows:
o Less than
15% of the batterers were reported as unemployed during the battering relationship.
Thus, our data show no link between unemployment and violent behavior.
trend for those women who reported on both violent and nonviolent relationships
was in the direction of violent pairs being less equal on those demographic
variables sociologists suggest are important in establishing stable marriages.
Battered women interviewed were less likely to go into another relationship and,
when they did, it was rarely another violent one. However, the batterers did seem
to go into another intimate relationship, although it was not generally known
by the women if there was a repetition of the violence.
o Three-quarters of our sample of battered women were employed during the battering relationship.
The violence always escalated in frequency and severity over time.
Battered women held attitudes toward women's roles that were more liberal
than most of the population. They reported that batterers were very traditional
in their attitudes toward women.
o Battering was present in two-thirds of the battered women's childhood homes, four-fifths of batterer's homes,
and one-quarter of non-batterer's homes. Violence in childhood seems to
beget more violence as adults.
o One-half of the battered women reported being sexually molested or abused as children. These acts were mostly repeated
over time by male members of their families.
o There was a high rate of
arrest and convictions for the batterers for offenses other than family violence.
Almost three-quarters of the men were reported as having been arrested and about
one-half of them were convicted on those charges.
o The women were more likely
to be married to their batterers.
o The battered women reported early romantic
and sexual involvement with the batterers that resulted in pregnancy and
subsequent marriage in one-third of the cases.
o Women were at a high risk
to be battered during pregnancy.
o Battered women in general had small
families with an average of 1.5 children with the batterer.
was used as a power weapon to dominate the women in the same manner that they
used physical violence. Marital rape was commonly reported.
o The batterer's unreasonable jealousy was almost always reported by the women. It was usually
sexual in nature. The man accused the woman of sexual relations with other men
and women. Oftentimes the jealousy extended to family and friends.
women believed that the batterer could kill them. Even though they perceive
the danger, they also believe they can help the batterer change. Approximately
one-third of the women reported threatening suicide themselves, and in one-half
of the cases the batterers threatened suicide. The line between suicide and homicide
seemed to be fluid.
o Children in the battering-relationship homes were
at high risk for physical child abuse and almost all were psychologically abused
by living in the violent atmosphere. The typical child abuse professional's condemnation
of the mother for not protecting her children from abuse may be unfair in that
it does not take into account that she may be without the ability to control the
violence against herself or her children.
o Battered women report experiencing more anger when living with a batterer than with a non-batterer. While
they do not always show this anger directly, three times as many women in a violent
relationship were likely to show their anger by using physical violence toward
their partner than when they were in a non-battering relationship. Still the percentage
was small with 15% of those in a violent relationship and 5% of those in a non-battering
relationship reporting the use of violence. These data refute the "mutual
combat" or "battered man" problem as being a large one.
times as many women report using physical discipline on their children while
with their batterers than they used when living alone or in a non-battering relationship.
Again, the theory that violence begets more violence is obvious here.
women are more socially and financially isolated when living with a batterer.
o Violent acts are most likely to occur on the weekend, during the warm,
summer months, from 6:00 P.M. to midnight. Most battering incidents start and
end in the home, usually in the bedroom and living room.
o Violence escalates
over time. The need for medical attention increases, although only two-thirds of the women who need such medical care actually seek it.
o Use of weapons during battering incidents increases over time.
o The probability that the
woman will seek help increases over time, from 14% to 50% at the final
incident reported. This still leaves 50% who do not seek help no matter how severe
the violence. The women are two times more likely to discuss the last incident
with a relative or friend than the first incident.
o Battered women are
most likely to leave the relationship when the rewards from the loving kindness
phase 3, decrease. The divergence between the tension building phase 1 of the
cycle and the loving-contrition phase 3 widens, so that the cost benefit ratio
changes and the woman receives less reinforcement for staying in the relationship.
Sometimes when she tries to escape, one of them dies. If she kills him, our data
indicate it is usually in self-defense, against his escalating violence toward
her as an attempt to get her to stay.
o There is more alcohol abuse reported
than drug abuse in battering relationships. It was reported that 67% of the batterers
frequently abused alcohol. However, only about one-fifth of them abused alcohol
during all four battering incidents on which we collected data.
o If a battered
woman reported abusing alcohol, she was most likely to be battered by a man
who also abused alcohol.
o Violent men who abused alcohol were more
likely to be older than men who did not.
o The trend was to support clinical
observations that batterers who abuse alcohol inflict more serious injuries
o The trend was that batterers who abuse alcohol were from lower
o Battered women rated themselves high
on a self-esteem measure, indicating that they do not perceive themselves
as having low self-esteem, as professionals in this area tend to think.
women reported themselves as high on depression indices although they do
not report feeling that depressed. Women out of the battering relationship for
the longest time seem to have a higher risk of depression than those women still
in the relationship.
o Inequality between men and women impacts on the
perceptions of violent behavior for the women so that they are unable to develop
adequate skills to escape from the relationship. Such sexism also pervades society's
institutions, so that women feel that they are unable to receive any assistance
to help them or their batterers.
Finally, these research findings
demonstrate the heterogeneity of both batterers and battered women. Every
day, ordinary people get caught up in the domestic violence cycle causing untold
physical and psychological harm to themselves, their children, their families,
their co-workers, and their friends. Domestic violence cannot be considered a
private family matter. Its painful repercussions extend into the general community.
The human and economic cost to help its victims heal is staggering. However, violence
is learned behavior that can be unlearned so that the negative psychological effects
reported here can be prevented.
- Walker, Lenore E., The Battered Woman
Syndrome, Springer Publishing Company: New York, 2000.
Reflection Exercise #7
The preceding section contained information
about common myths about violent relationships. Write three case study examples
regarding how you might use the content of this section in your practice.
Online Continuing Education QUESTION
Research findings demonstrate what characteristic of both batterers
and battered women? Record the letter of the correct answer the .