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Interventions for Leaving a Violent Relationship
Violent Relationships continuing education MFT CEUs

Section 21
Common Myths about
Violent Relationships

CEU Question 21 | CEU Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Domestic Violence
Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs


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, ourViolent Relationships violent relationship counselor CEU data show no link between unemployment and violent behavior.
o The 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.
o 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.
o The violence always escalated in frequency and severity over time.
o 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.
o Sex 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.
o Battered 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.
o Eight 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.
o Battered 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 on women.
o The trend was that batterers who abuse alcohol were from lower socioeconomic-status homes.
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.
o Battered 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.

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Personal 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 21
Research findings demonstrate what characteristic of both batterers and battered women? Record the letter of the correct answer the CEU Answer Booklet.

 
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