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Summary: This teaching is taken from my book “Beaten, Battered, Bruised & Blessed” (Christians Recognizing and Responding to Domestic Violence) more information can be found at www.c21c.org My prayer is it will help you in Pastoral ministry.

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This teaching is taken from my book “Beaten, Battered, Bruised & Blessed” (Christians Recognizing and Responding to Domestic Violence) more information can be found at www.c21c.org My prayer is it will help you in Pastoral ministry.

Causes of Domestic Violence

“A woman, a dog, and a walnut tree... the more ye beat them, the better they be...!”

Let me at the outset of this chapter point out there is no clear cut and dry explanation as to the cause of domestic violence, the psychologist and sociologist will of course argue the causes of domestic violence from their perspective but never agree on the root motivating factors behind domestic violence.

Without doubt, domestic violence is sin and a demonstration of the evil root and motivation behind this abuse.

The following I hope will bring some understanding of the suggested explanations as why some men abuse women.

Pathological, this argument is based upon an evolutionary model which suggests that men are basically brute beasts and aggression is an instinct built into their nature. So basically, according to this argument, ‘men can’t help themselves and women will eventually ask for it and so should learn to live with it’. A ‘Freudian’ argument even goes as far as to suggest that women are the cause of domestic violence because their basic instinct is masochistic, therefore, women are ‘asking for it’.

Psychological, this argument suggests that men who are violent towards their wives are basically getting their own back on their mothers who dominated them in childhood. A summary of the proposition suggests ‘the uncontrollable anger of a violent man often emanates from unresolved conflicts with his parents, resulting in a displacement of anger and aggression onto the most convenient targets in his life –his wife and girl friends. Such men are described as frightened victimized bullies who experience mood swings, pain and anger. Unmet needs are created in childhood and express themselves as violence in later life.’

Private Problems, this argument claims domestic violence is a result of the dysfunctional family. A volatile relationship is because the couple are basically incompatible; poor socialization and bad communication skills mean the couple simply rub each other up the wrong way, therefore, violence is inevitable.

Despite the belief that the family is an idealistic haven which provides a safe environment from the perils of the rest of the world many women find themselves locked into a “family hell.”

"The family is the most violent group in society with the exception of the police and the military. You are more likely to get killed, injured or physically attacked in your home by someone you are related to than in any other social context. In fact, if violence were a communicable disease, the government would consider it an epidemic." (Roesch, 1984, p.75)

Patriarchal, this is predominantly a feminist argument that suggests the reason for domestic violence is not the result of one man’s aggression towards another individual woman but is a manifestation of a historically and culturally male dominated society.

"Wife beating... is a form of behaviour which has existed for centuries as an acceptable and a desirable part of a patriarchal family system within a patriarchal society..." (Dobash & Dobash, 1978, p.426)

"The long patriarchal tradition... was explicitly established in the institutional practices of both the church and the state and supported by some of the most prominent political, legal, religious, philosophical, and literary figures in Western society... They believed that men had the right to dominate and control women and that women were by their very nature subservient to men. This relationship was deemed natural, sacred and unproblematic and such beliefs resulted in long periods of disregard and/or denial of the husband’s abuses of his economic, political and physical power." (Dobash & Dobash, 1980, p.7)

Perpetrators, like those who intervene to help them, such as health worker, teachers and pastors have been wrapped up in a culture that condones an abuse of patriarchal biblical teaching, which allows the very domination which the Bible condemns. A cultural acceptance of dominance is entrenched in the notion, based on differences; some people have the legitimate right to control others. American Southern whites once proclaimed segregation to be God’s plan carried out in the interest of "less developed" Southern blacks, an abused patriarchal systems carries the claim men have the right to dominate women.

Of course the biblical teaching of the patriarchal system does not condone any form of violence.

Sociological, this simply means that people are influence negatively or positively by socially interactive experience. Socialisation includes learning values and beliefs, as adult family members provide children with examples of conduct, children potentially adopt this learned behaviour in later life.

“Critical dimensions of the child’s self concept (such as attitudes, interests, goals, and prejudices) are all acquired depending on the positive or negative sanctions placed on gender appropriate conduct and action.” (Connell, 1987)

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