Family Violence Essay
Family violence is not a new phenomenon, as it has essentially existed since the beginning of time. Only in modern times, however have societies begun to recognize violence and family members as a social problem (Barnett, Miller-Perrin & Perrin, 2005). For many years, the social problem of family violence had not only been heavily ignored, but for a number of years, had not been fully understood. For example, family violence takes many forms and has a number of different names. Family violence, also known as domestic violence, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, and intimate partner violence (IPV), is defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, or cohabitation (Barnett et al., 2005). Moreover, family violence includes but is not limited to physical abuse such as kicking and punching, but also includes sexual and emotional abuse. Emotional abuse includes controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (neglect) and economic deprivation and in many cases is more severe than physical abuse.
The changing visibility of family violence is the leading indicator of the necessity of an historical approach to understanding it (Gordon, 2002). Over the past few years, the general public in the US has become familiar with family violence through news coverage of highly publicizes cases, TV programs and movies. At the same time, researchers have made great strides in recognizing the scope of family violence and the context in which it occurs (Barnett et al., 2005). As sociologists know of it today, family violence is politically, historically and socially constructed (Gordon, 2002). In terms of power relations and functionalism, family violence arises out of power struggles in which members of the family are contesting for resources and benefits (Gordon, 2002). Furthermore, these contests arise from both personal aspirations and change social norms and conditions (Gordon, 2002). It is therefore important to know that family violence cannot be understood outside the context of the overall politics of the family. Historical developments that continue to influence family violence include prominent changes in the situation of women and children (Gordon, 2002).
It is imperative therefore for a historical analysis of family violence to include a view of the changing power relations among classes, sexes, and generations (Gordon, 2002). Political attitudes have also affected research “findings” about family violence. Both psychological and sociological interpretations in the debate often ignore the gender politics of family violence issues, and the gender implications of policy recommendations, not only when women or girls were the victims, but also when women were the abusers (Gordon, 2002). Over the past 80 years, four major types of family violence have be studied and examined; child abuse, child neglect, sexual abuse of children and wife beating. In later years, there have been other forms of family violence, which include sibling abuse (which is the most common form of family violence), and elder abuse (Gordon, 2002).
Family violence has had many different faces historically, and has been classified in five different stages with different focuses periodically. The first was the 19th century and child saving era, which was from 1876-1910. During this era, there was anti-cruelty to children movement that was influenced by the temperance movement. Emphasis on the cruelty done to kids was placed on the immigrant poor and never the respectable classes (Gordon, 2002). The progressive era was followed by a child saving era which lasted from 1910 -1930 which lead to an emphasis on child neglect. During this era, there was a decrease emphasis on alcohol and identified other forms of stress such as poverty, unemployment and illness (Gordon, 2002). The depressed followed the progressive era where there was an increased defense for the conventional nuclear family.
During the World War world war 2 era and the 1950’s child neglect was increasingly seen as emotional neglect and the 1960s and 70s was a period of increased medicalization of family violence which, as sociologists have identified can have extremely negative affects (Gordon, 2002). A lot of attention to family violence began to gain increasing importance during the time of the women’s movement in the 1970s as a concern about wives being beaten by their husbands. Interestingly enough, there was a rise in what some call “the men’s movement” as response to the problem of domestic violence against men, which is largely omitted in the feminist theory (Barnett et al., 2005). Some flaws in the feminist approach to family violence (as well as others that will be further discussed in the paper), is that it has reduced domestic violence, especially against men as their likelihood of being killed by a female intimate partner has decreased six-fold (Barnett et al., 2005).
OVERVIEW OF SEMINAR READINGS: WEEK 2
Symbolic interactionism is a perspective which seeks to understand how people interact with others (Ingoldsby, Smith & Miller, 2004a). The theory claims that people interact with one another by interpreting each other’s actions (Ingoldsby et al., 2004a). Their response is based on the meanings that they attach to such actions (Ingoldsby et al., 2004a). Thus, human interaction is largely mediated by the use of symbols (Karp & Yoels, 1993). Authors Karp & Yoels (1993) discuss notions of the generalized other and looking-glass self as examples of symbols with which we interact. In one instance, the self emerges from common expectations that others have about social norms within a particular society (Karp & Yoels, 1993). But in another instance, people will self-evaluate themselves against the perceived judgments of others and act accordingly (Karp & Yoels, 1993). The emphasis on symbols brings attention to the roles people play. Role-playing is a key mechanism that allows people to see another person’s perspective to understand what an action might mean (Ingoldsby et al., 2004a).
In sum, no situation is static but rather contextual (Ingoldsby et al., 2004a). Individuals then through their own behavior and interaction with others, construct their individual social realities (Karp & Yoels, 1993; Ingoldsby et al., 2004a). Situating family violence within a framework of symbolic interactionism is important in that it provides a context within which people develop their personal interpretations of events. Therefore to understand family violence requires knowledge of the processes through which such interpretations emerge. Rosen (1996) and Mullaney (2007) illustrate ways in which interpretations of the self are at the core of domestic violence. Their findings are essential for understanding how family violence continues over time. Findings also help to account for the formation and preservation of culture and social roles in society. In one respect, interpretations of the self are mediated through two primary orientations of communication: processes of seduction and processes of entrapment (Rosen, 1996).
This first is characterized by forces that tend to draw women into their relationships (romantic fantasies and romantic fusion) and the second by forces that keep them there: survival tactics, cognitive dissonance, roller coaster relationships, traumatic bonding, Romeo and Juliet effects, and peer-family collusion (Rosen, 1996). For example, within the framework of symbolic interactionism, processes of seduction can be loosely defined as a dependent emotional state (Rosen, 1996). Individuals then, connect with partners because they internalize similar understandings of weakness and dependency to communicate feelings of love (Rosen, 1996). The interplay of such communication patterns facilitates an environment of spousal abuse that is likely to continue so long as interaction is repetitive (Rosen, 1996). Processes of entrapment on the other hand, can be argued to demonstrate the externalization of the communication patterns found in processes of seduction.
Once meanings of dependency and weakness have been internalized as being both legitimate and appropriate within the context of one’s relationship, these women rationalize such behavior as the norm and thus stay. Survival tactics for example illustrate these efforts, by which women actively engage towards relationship management of an abusive relationship, otherwise internalized as an acceptable social norm. In contrast, Mullaney (2007) identifies low self-esteem as a correlate of men’s violent behavior. Domestic violence then, is a reaction to the attacks or perceived attacks on men’s self-concept (Mullaney, 2007). Mullaney (2007) argues that men will most often justify, yet also minimize, excuse, or blame and offer no apology on account for their violence towards women.
These categories serve as scripts through which perceptions of masculinity are restored (Mullaney, 2007). If threatened, masculinity evolves accordingly as men interpret the actions of those around them. For example, women’s irrational spending habits may undermine men’s role as financial provider (Mullaney, 2007). Men would argue that such habits do not align functionally with women’s domestic and social roles (Mullaney, 2007). By doing so, men’s responses are based on the meanings which they attach to such actions and reflect cultural expectations of gender difference. This is problematic because it helps promote and develop stereotypically gendered selves (Mullaney, 2007). Symbolic interactionism then, becomes useful in demonstrating how dominant ideologies of gender are enacted within the interactions of marital relationships, and lend to domestic violence in the process.
The root of feminist theory begins with the inclusion of gender and power. Feminists argue that the distinctions between males and females are not inherent or functional; rather they are socially constructed to create and maintain male power in society and thus the family (Yllo, 1993). This sense of patriarchy reinforces traditional social roles and the relationship between the division of power and gender. The feminist perspective suggests that men use violence to retain their dominance or sense of control within the institution of the family. Thus, the feminist paradigm believes that domestic violence is utilized as another means of the social control of women, and takes roots at a personal, institutional, symbolic and material level. The application of a feminist lens to Rosen’s (1996) article allows for a very different approach to the processes of abduction and entrapment. The feminist perspective would likely explain that the forces drawing women into abusive relationships were largely due to the social expectations of femininity and masculinity. The concept of romantic fantasies can be explored through gender identities.
Here society portrays the male as being a strong, aggressive, independent individual and the female as a weak, docile individual that is largely dependant on their partner. For instance, the fantasy of Cinderella eludes that a man can protect a woman and save her from her problems. Feminists would suggest that women fall victim to these relationships due to the inequalities portrayed by traditional gender norms. Feminist theorists would likely explain the concept of romantic fusion as being due to the extremely controlling nature of husbands within a patriarchal marriage. This type of relationship is defined as Patriarchal Terrorism (Johnson, 1995). Here, the woman in the relationship would be forced to part with her individual characteristics and become completely devoted to her husband (Johnson, 1995). Furthermore, the husband may further restrict the identity of the woman by refusing to allow her to go to work or maintain friends outside of the actual relationship.
The feminist lens would offer a slightly different interpretation of the processes that restrict women from escaping abusive relationships. Though women may still use coping mechanisms and adhere to other social forces, outlined by symbolic interactionaists, feminist theory suggests two main reasons why they stay in violent relationships. The first reason women stay in abusive relationships is fro the sake of their children (Emery, 2009). In cases such as these women will stay with the intent of maintaining some stability for their kids by trying keeping the family in tact. The other reasons women may stay are due to the normalization of gender norms in society. Feminist theory sees the root causes of intimate partner violence as a causation of living in a society that excuses aggressive male behaviours (Yllo, 1993). In other words, because these behaviours are so normative, some women may excuse the behavior and treat it as the norm. What is perceived as the norm also varies across culture. Even today, many cultures adhere to traditional hegemonic norms and strongly believe women should be completely subservient to their husbands. In cases such as this, abuse may be next to impossible to escape.
The application of the feminist perspective to Mullaney’s (2007) article would allow for a similar analysis of the attitudes of men and their reasons for rationalizing their abusive behaviours. Mullaney (2007) suggests that men will often become violent due to low self-esteem and a perceived attack on their self-concept. The feminist lens would suggest that men become violent due to the inequalities in society that allow men an advantage position and with that gendered norms. Traditional hegemonic masculine norms suggest that men should be leaders that are strong, in control and tough. This is what the men in the study were trying to demonstrate. Whenever, they felt that their sense of masculinity was being challenged they would lash out in an attempt to regain control. The Control Model of Domestic Violence further provides a precise framework in displaying the interconnectedness between violence and other forms of coercive control. Simply put, the feminist theory suggests that men use violence as a tactic of controlling their abused wives from participating in actions they have not sanctioned.
Family Systems Theory
The Family Systems theory provides a very unique, holistic perspective on the topic of violence in the family. This perspective describes the family as a unit of interacting personalities. Sociologist Ernest Burgess, best summarized this perspective when he stated that the family is more then just a definition; it is a living, super personality that has its essence in the interaction of its members (Ingoldsby, Smith & Miller, 2004b). Each member of the family plays a very important role in the overall functioning of the unit. When applied to the topic of violence in the institution of the family, this paradigm focuses on the family dynamics that contribute to domestic abuse. Subsequently less attention is focused on the individual perpetrating the violence and more attention is paid to the environment surrounding the violence and the role each character in the family plays. The Family Systems perspective offers a diverse interpretation of Rosen’s (1996) article on the processes of abduction and entrapment.
Family Systems Theorists differ with respect to how they feel that women are drawn into abusive relationships. This perspective identifies the connection between family goals, rules and control, and how together one can fully understand the development and causation of domestic abuse (Ingoldsby et al., 2004b). For example in the article by Rosen (1996), it can be seen that by using family systems theory and studying familial interactions that certain females may be predisposed to the Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast paradigms. By looking at how their families’ function, one may be able to see the recycling effect due to unresolved or violent backgrounds these victimized individuals may come from. They may fall into a similar pattern from what they know at home, thereby examining the origins of this behavior and viewing the interconnectedness of how one internalizes family rules and ideas of control.
Family System’s Theory offers a unique interpretation as to the role women play in becoming stuck in abusive relationships. In the stages preceding marriage, women will often date their partner, while simultaneously leading separate lives which consist of separate relations. As the commitment in a relationship increases, a couple begins to modify their individual social lives. In these types of situations, both men and women will often make more time for one another. This allows for the woman to feel appreciated and loved. As the relationship continues to progress, incidents of sexual jealously among men will often become a major source of conflict. This sense of possessiveness will ultimately cause the female to begin severing ties with male friends, and become increasingly committed to her future husband (Dobash & Dobash, 1993). Once married, dramatic changes occur and the extreme constriction of the wives social life takes place. With the introduction of children, comes the solidification of traditional gendered norms. Wives become extremely restricted and are left responsible for domestic work, such as the operation of the home (Dobash & Dobash, 1993).
This may cause women to become increasingly dependant on their husbands. Subsequently, when sources of conflict occur, such as sexual jealousy, disputes over domestic duties or the expenditure of money, women may feel that they have no mobility and are stick in their current situation. Lastly, Family Systems Theory offers a holistic approach to the factors found in Mullaney’s (2007) article that cause men abuse their partners. Like Feminists, Family Systems theorists also believe that a very important aspect of traditional hegemonic masculinity is the element of control. However, unlike the feminist theory this approach attempts to understand what causes men to lose control.
One explanation is that violent men often feel as if they may lose control, if they express their emotions, and thus hold it in. This in turn, causes violent men to generally be less emotionally reactive to stress on a day-to-day basis, then non-violent men (Umberson, Anderson, Williams, & Chen, 2003). Though in the short term, repression may be a successful coping strategy for reducing stress and anxiety, it causes the individual increased predicaments in the long run. Repression turns a violent man into a ticking-time bomb, one that is ready to explode in a violent manner.
As a result, unlike feminist theories or social interactionism, family systems theory attempts to understand violence in the family by examining every interdependent part of the family. This includes the part both the victims and the offenders play, as well as the role everyday stresses and ones immediate environment have in contributing to family violence.
The methodological approach of Social Constructionism somewhat contrasts the assumptions of other theoretical perspectives that explore the issue of family violence. This paradigm suggests that the emergence of social problems is heavily due to how society, or more specifically institutions within society such as the mainstream media, portrays the issue at hand. Furthermore, social constructionists are often referred to as claims-makers, in that they present a claim that attempts to define the problem at hand. These claims can be heavily influenced by the agenda of the claims-maker, and will clearly identify the roles of the characters within the construct of the event. For instance, social constructionist’s will identify the perpetrator of the violence as the villain and the abused partner as the victim. The analysis of Rosen’s article surrounding the processes involved with seduction and entrapment, using a constructionist lens, provides a different interpretation to the ways women become bound to abusive relations.
This perspective focuses on the subjective definitions that cause social problems and look to frame the phenomena of family violence as a social problem (Loseke, 2005). For instance, symbolic interactionism maintains that some abused women are bound to relationships by the process of cognitive dissonance. In cases such as this, women create discrepancies between what they believe the violence in the relationship signifies and what is actually happening. Constructionists on the other hand will focus very little time into how women construct the violent situations. Instead this perspective theorizes that these women have fallen victims to the violent, controlling nature of their abusive, villainous male partners (Loseke, 2005). The media or other primary claims-makers would further emphasis on violent verbal claims, visual images and specific behaviours. The reason of this is to evoke the emotions of society in order to persuade society that a troubled condition exists.
The application of a constructions lens to Mullaney’s article on the reasons and types of rationalizations men provide for spousal abuse would allow theorists a better understanding of the ways victims and villains perceive family violence. The social constructionist lens suggests that men create their own social reality. This reality allows men to rationalize their behaviours. For example, in Mullaney’s (2007) article men would often minimize, justify or even deny abusive behaviours. These men will often excuse their behaviours by blaming social or external factors, such as alcohol abuse and the structural problems associated with poverty. These claims are sometimes able to persuade audiences and have allowed for some villains to be rehabilitated through the medicalization of their deviance.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
Symbolic Interactionism is a key tool to examine domestic violence and its various intricacies. In essence, SI theory attempts to look at domestic violence from the viewpoint of individuals and their interactions with other people. This theory explains that individuals are engulfed in a symbolized environment, where the meanings for these symbols are altered within the course of interaction with other people (Karp & Yoels, 1993). For example, in the article “The ties that bind women to violent premarital relationships: Processes of seduction and entrapment”, SI is exemplified in the notion of cognitive dissonance. If a man were to slap his wife, while she may see this as an expression or symbol of love, many other people would see this as abuse. Therefore, the difference and meanings of symbols is very fluid, changing and subjective.
Furthermore, SI theory is extremely effective in allowing researchers to understand and describe the individuals and their behaviors. It allows an understanding of how conflicts and complex behavioral patterns may arise in relationships, and how the interpretations of symbols may play a role in domestic disputes. This theory is quite effective in predicting future behavior (SI theory is advantageous to use as it grows and adapts to changes within society) and the roles they may play in the relationship either as a perpetrator or a victim, and the context in which these roles are played (Karp & Yoels, 1993). Rosen (1996) explains and clumps together several types of entrapment processes, such as placation or isolation, which predicts why and how females are coerced to remain in that sort of relationship.
In addition, this theory does lack certain key elements in understanding domestic violence in its entirety. Due to the quite narrow scope of analysis, it is not very useful in understanding more macro levels of interactions such as groups or family systems. Another disadvantage is that it is quite difficult to apply the theory to other cultures, as its findings and hypotheses are based on a singular cultural atmosphere. Since monotony across cultures does not exist, a grand, overarching theory of domestic violence cannot be established, thereby making international or cross-cultural comparisons quite trying.
Domestic violence as viewed through the feminist perspective focuses on the relationship between gender and the division of power in the familial framework (Yllo, 1993). This framework allows domestic abuse to be viewed in a way that is quite distinct from other theories. Feminist theory reveals that the social expectations regarding masculinity and femininity give relationships their shape, which may result in violent and abusive familial relations (Yllo, 1993). Feminist theory allows for the recognition of the effects of patriarchy in an abusive relationship, which is normally neglected in other theories. For instance, the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) looks at the violence in families, however it neglects several other aspects that could contribute to violence. CTS assumes that males and females are both equally violent in domestic relationships however, feminists note that CTS fails to account for the social expectations (Yllo, 1993).
The social expectations of the division of power between a male and female within a relationship can give rise to the abuse and therefore, it cannot be assumed that males and females are equally violent and there are statistical measures that portray a gendered view. For example in the reading, “Patriarchal terrorism and common couple violence: two forms of violence against women” it can be seen that feminism denotes a difference in the types of violence that occur in domestic partnerships and further differentiates between common couple violence and patriarchal terrorism. This article notes that while CTS looks only at a limited number of control tactics, feminism can shed light to several other controlling methods. While, one can see that feminist theory brings up key defining points that are commonly overlooked, it does remain flawed in many respects.
Feminist theory is difficult to apply to forms of domestic violence except for spousal abuse; specifically it only examines the abuse directed towards women. It automatically victimizes the female, and thereby situates the male in role of the villain. Another disadvantage of using solely feminist theory is that same-sex relationships are also not taken into account in their analyses, since it is assumed in feminist analysis that males are the perpetrators and use violence in the relationship to control women.
For instance in the article, “The ties that bind women to violent premarital relationships: Processes of seduction and entrapment”, the analyses are based on the observation of heterosexual relationships. It did not look at how and if these processes of entrapment are applicable to homosexual relationships, for instance, do the Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast paradigm still adequately explain why homosexuals remain in violent relationships. It can be seen that there is a victim/perpetrator structure of the violent relationship, however it cannot be concluded that the processes that entrap victims in violent relationship are similar for same-sex couples.
Family Systems Theory
Family systems theory is a more holistic approach to understanding abuse within the family and further looks into how everyone within this framework is interconnected. Therefore, it explains how the individual affects the family system and vice versa. Through this analysis, one key contribution of this theory is that it paves the way of identifying the connection between family goals, rules and control, and how together one can fully understand the development and causation of domestic abuse (Ingoldsby et al., 2004b). For example in the article by Rosen (1996), it can be seen that by using family systems theory and studying familial interactions, certain females may be predisposed to the Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast paradigms. By looking at how their families’ function, one may be able to see the recycling effect due to unresolved or violent backgrounds these victimized individuals may come from.
They may fall into a similar pattern from what they know at home, thereby examining the origins of this behavior and viewing the interconnectedness of how one internalizes family rules and ideas of control. In the article, “Stay for the Children? Husband Violence, Marital Stability, and Children’s Behavior Problems” it clearly articulates that the violent behavior is internalized or externalized by children by prolonged exposure of violent behavior. The cyclical pattern of violence is foreseeable in these sorts of family arrangements, thereby being consistent with the idea that the system of family and the individuals within it are affected by each other on a constant basis. Family Systems theory also helps identify the different sorts of family structures in terms of their communicational boundaries and also allows the recognition of the various outcomes for a particular situation (Ingoldsby et al., 2004b).
Understanding that there are multiple outcomes for a given situation sets a more encompassing investigation and limits the likelihood of leaving something out or missing a key-contributing factor. It also allows a point of differentiation, and assumes that not all people react the same when the situation arises. This is important as it further provides the researcher with a defining and narrowing point as to which sort of family has a higher likelihood for domestic violence to occur and persist. Some of the downfalls of using family systems theory are that it is often criticized that it is too general and therefore, its application remains vague. The vagueness stretches from the assumption that systems theory is not a true theory rather it is a model that is more methodological than theoretical.
Social constructionist theory is a popular theory used to examine the roles played in an abusive relationship. An advantage of constructionist theory is that it clearly identifies the victim and the villain within the construct of the particular event (Loseke, 2005). Claims-makers are portrayed as practical actors constructing successful claims that reflect existing culture, and producing new culture of various social problems, specifically family violence. Social constructionism also allows domestic violence issues to be raised to the forefront and become more public, through the media. Through its application and explanations, this theory can be used to show how knowledge is socially constructed and how that knowledge reflects power and politics in family violence situations. Furthermore, it can give shape to other forms of domestic violence through counter claims making, such as husband abuse. Unlike other theories, constructionism is quite useful in examining other types of abuse and not singularly looking at wife abuse like feminism (Loseke, 2005). Constructionism allows for the understanding of child or elder abuse in the household.
This theory also helps understand how people construct realities that keep them in abusive relationships, and how the relationship may be viewed differently to other people. In the article by Mullaney (2007), the construction of the men’s reality of the situation may differ from what abuse has occurred to the wife. The husband may reframe the abuse as “non-violent” or suggest that in that instance of abuse that it was not the “real him” that was carrying out the abuse. The disadvantages of using social constructionist theory are that due to the fact that individual events are a crucial component to the analysis, its subjectivity allows much room for debate. This makes it difficult to develop a theory that can encompass all the social realities and have it apply to all domestic violence cases cross-culturally.
While looking at the article “Creating clients: Social problems work in a shelter for battered women,” it can be seen that shelters create an ideal client that one must fit in order to be allowed to be in the shelter. Creating this sort of criteria leaves out many other people who typically do not fit the stereotype or do not meet the conditions set out by the providers even though they are in need of assistance. Using this theory, it seems as though society has constructed an “ideal” victim and those who do not appear to fit this idealistic view of a victim are often rejected despite their need for immediate attention.
Social constructionism therefore does not grant that everyone experiencing violence will be offered assistance, as this is based on the shelter’s perception of what a victim should look like. Family violence is a very serious social problem, and while social critics focus on how to achieve social change in this regard, social constructionists work to achieve new knowledge. Thus, social constructionism does not only pose a potentially dangerous approach to understanding and treatment of family violence, but it also does not examine objective conditions in their own right and seek to solve this social problem; essentially there are “no real truths” due to the subjectivity of the theory.
Although much research and knowledge has been gathered in the field of family violence, there are ways in which this research must progress. Theoretically, family systems theory, symbolic interactionism, social constructionism, and feminist perspectives each have advantages in their application. As previously discussed, they each additionally have faults that hinder the study of family violence. We propose that a new theoretical framework be considered which essentially combines different aspects of each. For example, the notions of cause and effect associated with family systems, with an understanding of roles, salience and identity associated with symbolic interactionism. These theories can additionally be used to critically examine the core concepts of each. For example, how is the process of the looking-glass self influenced by the double-bind. Theoretical application in these ways may lead to new ways of perceiving family violence.
The study of family violence also should attempt to increase its scope. Studies of family violence must adjust due to emerging and increasingly common alternative family forms; same-sex parent families and polygamous relationships are such examples. Methodologically, the study of family violence should attempt to attain a more culturally diverse sample. Many of the readings focused on this semester relied on a predominantly Caucasian sample, and studies focusing on different ethnicities would be beneficial. If researchers are to examine alternative family forms they must also establish a methodology that is sensitive to the stigma surrounding different identities, for example the emasculation associated with husband abuse, or the intersection of a homosexual identity within a context of family violence. Researchers should also establish a methodology that accounts for those patterns of violence considered “less severe” than others such as verbal abuse, as studies pertaining solely to physical violence are not enough. Practically, we suggest that researchers focus on early intervention through education.
Researchers should aim for the implementation of programs directed to informing children and teenagers about this social issue. With increased awareness may come increased action towards ending the problem. These programs may assist a young person who is dealing with family violence, giving them an opportunity to speak to someone about it. Making the issue visible, giving it a platform to be discussed and early intervention is requisite to decreasing the frequency of family violence. The application of different aspects of the theories discussed this semester will be beneficial to the study of family violence as a whole. The fallacies of one theory may be redeemed through the usage of another. When evaluating such troubling social issues such as family violence, it is important to always think critically.
In the cases of physical violence, we know that though symbolic interactionism, family members react to a situation based on their ability interpret the situation. So, it is important to understand the symbols the family uses to understand their interactions and behaviors. If a family is exposed to continuous physical abuse, in what ways do the family members interpret and internalize it? Why is it that many of the abused women came from families where no abuse was present and moreover continue the cycle of abuse? Where has the self worth gone or was it ever there in the first place? We now know some of the reasons why family violence is not reported and a lot of it has to do with the social stigma that is attributed both by those receiving the abuse and those who are the abusers. By building on – rather than challenging – the theories we can expand our knowledge and practically implement programs to assist those dealing with family violence.
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