Spousal abuse: a summary of research...

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(Tim) A few years back, David Wegener, Andrew Dionne, Phil Henry, my brother David, and I were running CBMW. My brother, David, designed and maintained our web site up in Toledo; the rest of us were resident here in Bloomington. One of the more pleasant aspects of our work was producing the newsletter. For one issue, David Wegener wrote this summary of Dutton's findings concerning domestic abuse published in Violence and Victims under the title, "Patriarchy and Wife Assault: The Ecological Fallacy." Here Dutton focused on research that specifically addressed matters CBE's tract on abuse studiously avoids. Are hierarchical marriages more likely to have abusive husbands than matriarchal marriages or lesbian non-marriages? What is the incidence of wives abusing husbands?

Our recent post, Wife abuse: evangelical feminists' useful lie, prompted Pastor Wegener to send that summary over the pond (from Ndola, Zambia) for posting, here.

One request: Some of you have free access to scholarly publications online and could update Dutton's summary of the research for us. This would be invaluable work and I'd like to post it here, since it's unlikely to be broadcast anywhere else.

So if you're willing to give a few hours to this, would you please post a comment here letting us know? We'd be very grateful.

Now, on to "Spousal Abuse: A Summary of Research"...

Spousal Abuse: A Summary of Research

by Rev. David Wegener

After carefully analyzing many studies of domestic violence, Donald Dutton has concluded that "no direct relationship exists between patriarchy and wife assault," and that feminists will have to find another explanation of wife abuse. 1

The evidence for this contention can be summarized under five
headings. (1) Lesbian battering is more frequent than heterosexual
battering. (2) There is no direct link between power and violence in
couples. (3) There is no direct relationship between structural
patriarchy and wife assault. (4) Women commit more severe violence
against their male partners than men commit against their female
partners. (5) Some forms of psychopathology may lead some men to adopt
patriarchal ideology to justify and rationalize their own pathology.

1.    Lesbian battering is more frequent than heterosexual
battering. In a survey of 70 homosexual male and female college
students, lesbian relationships were significantly more violent than
gay relationships, 56% to 25%. 2
In a study of 1099 lesbians, 52% report that they had been the victim
of violence by their female partner, 52% said they had used violence
against their female partner, and 30% said they had used violence
against a nonviolent female partner. 3
In a survey of 350 lesbians, the reported rates of verbal, physical and
sexual abuse were all significantly higher in their prior lesbian
relationships than in their prior heterosexual relationships. 4
The most plausible cause of lesbian battering is the tendency of
lesbian couples to withdraw from society. This intimacy generates
dependency, jealousy and anger, which is sometimes expressed violently.5

2.    There is no direct link between power and violence in couples.
Sociopolitical power is not positively correlated with wife assault in
males. Working class males have higher wife assault rates than middle
class males. 6 Black males have higher wife assault rates than white males. 7
90% of men are nonassaultative and 91% are nondominant. The highest
rates of "minor" violence (male to female, female to male) are found in
female-dominant couples. Couples who agree to a gender-dominant
arrangement were less violent than those who disagreed. The main
contributor to marital violence is lack of consensus about power
sharing. 8
Assaultative males are impotent in terms of their emotional resources,
often depending on their female partner to maintain a sense of
identity. 9 They also report feeling powerless in respect to their intimate partners. 10 Only a minority of batterers are misogynistic.11

3.    There is no direct relationship between structural patriarchy
and wife assault. Hispanic culture is much more patriarchal than
American culture, but the rate of wife assault among Mexican-born
Hispanic couples is about half the rate found among non-Hispanic
whites. 12 Some of the highest rates of severe wife assault are found in states where the status of women is highest. 13
If patriarchy is the main factor contributing to wife assault, then the
majority of men raised in patriarchal cultures should exhibit
assaultiveness. But serious assaults do not occur in 90% of marriages;
they occur once in another 7%; and they occur repeatedly in about 3%.
What kind of causal weight can we attribute to patriarchy if 90% of the
men raised under it are nonassaultative?14

4.    Women commit more severe violence against their male partners than men commit against their female partners. 15
Studies have suggested that female violence is often not in response to
male violence nor is it a "preemptive strike" to end an escalating
cycle of abuse. 16
This higher incidence of female violence against men has been found in
a number of different countries, suggesting that it is not simply a
result of cultural conditioning.17

5.    Some forms of psychopathology may lead some men to adopt
patriarchal ideology to justify and rationalize their own pathology. In
studies of assaultative males, 80-90% of both court-referred and
self-referred men exhibited diagnosable psychopathology, usually
personality disorders (compared with 15-20% in the general population).
Men with severe identity problems and intense dependency on women may
seek out aspects of the culture to direct and justify abuse. 18 "Patriarchy does not elicit violence against women in any direct fashion." 19 Some men may adopt it to justify their abuse.

D. G. Dutton, "Patriarchy and Wife Assault: The Ecological Fallacy," Violence and Victims 9 (1994): 167-82.

Bologna, C.K. Waterman and L.J. Dawson, "Violence in gay male and
lesbian relationships: Implications for practioners and policy makers."
Paper presented at the Third National Conference of Family Violence
Researchers, Durham, NH.

Lie an S. Gentlewarrior, "Intimate violence in lesbian relationships:
Discussion of survey findings and practice implications," Journal of Social Service Research 15 (1991): 41-59.

Lie, R. Schilit, J. Bush, M. Montague, L. Reyes, "Lesbians in currently
aggressive relationships: How frequently do they report aggressive past
relationships?" Violence and Victims 6 (1991): 121-35.

Renzetti, Violent Betrayal: Partner abuse in lesbian relationships
(Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1992), D. G. Dutton and J.J. Browning, "Power
Struggles and Intimacy Anxiety as Causitive Factors in Wife Assault,"
in Violence in Intimate Relationships, ed. G. Russell (Great Neck, NY: PMA Publishing, 1986), D.G. Dutton, The Domestic Assault of Women: Psychological and Criminal Justice Perspectives
(Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1988), D.G. Dutton, K. Saunders, A.
Starzomski and K. Bartholomew, "Intimacy-anger and insecure attachment
as precursors of abuse in intimate relationships," Journal of Applied Social Psychology 24 (1994): 1367-86.

M.A. Straus, R.J. Gelles, S. Steinmetz, Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family (Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1980).

T.W. Julian and P.C. McKenry, "Mediators of male violence toward female intimates," Journal of Family Violence 8 (1993): 39-56.

D.H. Coleman and M.A. Strauss, "Marital Power, conflict and violence," Violence and Victims 1 (1986): 141-57.

D.G. Dutton, "Behavioral and affective correlates of borderline personality organization in wife assaulters," International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 17 (1994): 265-79.

10 D.G.
Dutton and C.E. Strachan, "Motivational needs for power and dominance
as differentiating variables of assaultative and non-assaultative male
populations," Violence and Victims 2 (1987): 145-56.

11 Dutton and Browning, "Power struggles …"

12 S.B. Sorenson and C.A. Telles, "Self-reports of spousal violence in a Mexican-American and non-Hispanic white population," Violence and Victims 6 (1991): 3-16.

13 K.
Yllo and M. Straus, "Patriarchy and violence against wives: the impact
of structural and normative and normative factors," in Physical Violence in American Families, eds. M. Straus and R. Gelles (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1990).

14 L.W. Kennedy and D.G. Dutton, "The incidence of wife assault in Alberta," Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science
21 (1989): 40-54, M.A. Straus and R.J. Gelles, "Is family violence
increasing? A comparison of 1975 and 1985 national survey rates," Paper
presented at the American Society of Criminiology, San Diego, CA,
November 1985, and Straus, Gelles, Steinmetz, Behind closed doors.

15 E. Grandin and E. Lupri, "Intimate Violence in Canada and the United States: A Cross-National Comparison," Journal of Family Violence 12 (1997): 417-43.

16 R. Bland and H. Orn, "Family Violence and Psychiatric Disorder," Canadian Journal of Psychiatry
31 (1986): 129-37, and J. Stets and M. Straus, "Gender Differences in
reporting marital violence and its medical and psychological
consequences," in Physical Violence in American Families.

17 S. Steinmetz, "A Cross-cultural Comparison of Marital Abuse," Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 8 (1981): 404-14.

18 D.G.
Dutton, "Behavioral and affective correlates …", O. Kernberg, "The
Structural diagnosis of borderline personality organization," in Borderline personality disorders: the concept, the syndrome, the patient, ed. P. Hartocollis (New York: International Universities Press, 1977).

19 Patriarchy …", p.176.