Domestic violence

The above statement and the following report, refer to an article written by Professor Marianne Hester of the University of Bristol's School for Policy Studies on behalf of the Northern Rock Foundation, in August 2009. The article was published to try and examine the gap in literature regarding female perpetrators of domestic violence and the actions behind it. In the following report I will examine the article and the above statement, from a scientific and psychological perspective using numerous studies and theories to support my view. The statement does seem irregular in that more men abuse but women are more likely to be arrested. I will evaluate how this might be true, and since sadly domestic violence is a major worldwide issue, the area is well researched and there are many thoughts and theories around it to assist in my report.

Initially, I will examine and validate the research conducted by Marianne Hester, analysing and evaluating her evidence. The study was conducted using 96 cases, developed from 692 perpetrators, ranging from 2001 to 2007. From these cases, Hester found that only 32 of them were carried out by females. She then took 32 males and a random sample of 32 cases from both men and women, known as dual perpetrator cases. She found from these cases, that men were significantly more likely than women to use physical violence, threats, harassment and to damage the women's property, while the women were more likely to damage their own. She also found that women were more likely to use a weapon. Her method was to utilize and expand on 2 previous data projects, also funded by the Northern Rock Foundation, which are: the research on attrition and domestic violence cases going through the criminal justice system (Hester 2006); and the research on domestic violence perpetrator profiles, identification of their needs and early intervention (Hester et al. 2006). So here we see Hester, using her own previous studies as data and support. This may make her report seem bias, however, she does include secondary data, obtained from the Northumbria Police Domestic Violence Database from 2001 to 2007. This data is seen as reliable and representative as it is taken from a police source and is spread over a large number of years. She then also considers that the police may find it sometimes difficult to record the correct victim and/or perpetrator for each individual incident. In instances where the police decided that the woman was the victim in one incident but her male partner was the victim in another incident, each were recorded as a victim in the relevant incident record and therefore the statistics used are seen as reliable. Hesters report might also be possible to globalise, as she includes and compares statistics from America. Using these sources and findings, it has lead her to the statement that although men are more likely to commit domestic violence, women are more likely to be arrested for it. Her large sample size of 692 supports and validates the statement and although the validity of these findings is hard to refute, a question as to the features and constitution could be contested, I believe it requires stronger and more convincing answer to justify the statement.

As we have seen, woman are more likely to be arrested then men for committing domestic violence, however they do not statistically offend more than their male counterparts and in further research by Hester, she states that "This echoes US findings that male domestic violence perpetrators have more extensive criminal histories than female perpetrator. None the less, women were arrested to a disproportionate degree given the fewer incidents where they were perpetrators. Women were three times more likely to be arrested. Research from (REFERENCE), has a simple explanation for this, stating that women rarely report incidents of domestic violence to the police. It is known as the grey area of crime, as it is understood to be a common threat however statistics relating to it are sketchy. Women holdback reporting such crimes to the police, out of fear of their attacker, or even out of fear of not being believed, therefore women are more likely to suffer in silence and therefore create unreliable statistics. All statistics used in studies, including Hester's, are obtained from the police and the police only record incidents reported to them. Therefore the statistics cannot be said to be a true representation of crime. In further research from Hester (2009) she investigated reasons as to why not all cases of female victims of domestic violence are not on record. She states that cases may "drop out of the system and not progress from arrest through charges to conviction. These include decisions by victims to withdraw, failure by the police to obtain adequate evidence and lack of sensitive approaches by the courts. Also it is apparent in the recent British Crime Survey (www.gov.uk) that there is a clear gender distinction regarding the impacts of domestic violence and abuse. The survey found that men tended not to report partner abuse to the police because they considered the incident "too trivial or not worth reporting. This would also apply to females, who may be ashamed or too scared to report incidents. Gender roles and expectations could also be said to play a role in abusive situations. An example would be a male too embarrassed to report an abuse by a woman, as males are psychological trained to act tough and be strong. From a young age it could be argued that boys are taught to be more aggressive and rough, playing more physical contact sports and fighting. Girls on the other hand are taught to be submissive to males. This is known as the social roles theory could extend further to old fashioned tradition of females being a housewife and looking after males and doing what they are told. Therefore when domestic violence takes place they simply carry on with their life and submit to the male, maybe through love or again through fear. To add more to this thought, it may be an insight into why females are more likely to be arrested, as it is not their stereotypical role to be the dominant or violent role within a couple, therefore if a woman became non-stereotypical (i.e. abusive) the agencies, such as police treat them unequally as if they are unusual or even mentally ill. This gendered role upbringing may also explain why woman are more likely to use weapons in domestic violence. She may be mentally pushed so far she fears for her life and must use self defence or she may become mentally exhausted after years of abuse and turn against her abuser. This thought is supported by Evolutionary psychologists such as Wilson and Daly (1993) who hypothesize that one goal of male-perpetrated domestic violence is control over female sexuality, including the deterrence of infidelity.

In contrast, it has been suggested by Corry, Fiebert and Pizzey that people hit and abuse family members "because they can. They seek to blame the influence of the media, stating that "In today's society, as reflected in TV, movies, law enforcement, courts, and feminist propaganda, women are openly given permission to hit men. Furthermore there study shows that women consistently use weapons more often in assaults than do men (80% for women and 25% for men). They also found that women are more likely to slap, bite or through an object. There study also argues that there is no support that proves women only use violence in self defence. Gelles (1997) also suggests that TV and movies are changing the way we think, saying that it is quite common to see a woman slap a man on TV or in a film, suggesting that they are "given permission to do so. He states that a woman slapping a man is not seen as domestic violence, but if it were the other way round would be. From an evolutionary psychology perspective, Buss and Shackelford (1997) state that, "If aggression is defined as inflicting costs on someone else, women's aggression can be quite potent. However, more contemporarily and from a socially, Steinmetz (1980) stated that "As women gain access to areas traditionally reserved for men, we may expect a wider range of criminal behaviour to be exhibited. This would suggest because women are successfully gaining equality to men, then they are beginning to act more like them. The transformation of society in accepting females equally to males is still an issue we face today, as some women are still not receiving equal pay to men and some are discriminated against if they become pregnant. However the huge gap that once existed in gender inequality is becoming less and less, which may be encouraging females to act equally to males, as well as having the same freedom and rights as them. This is known as the masculinisation hypothesis and suggests that women will become more aggressive as they take on more traditionally male roles. Further support for the statement, comes from feminist psychologists, who.........MORE. More evidence which would support the thought that woman are more likely to be arrested for committing domestic violence is that of Basile, 2004. He states that since women have less upper body strength than men, they may be more likely to use their legs than their arms during an altercation. However from a psychological view, cultural beliefs could be blamed. The general picture of domestic violence that I believe emerges from the empirical literature, is that male victimization is not taken seriously, in part, because of a cultural belief that men should be able to defend themselves or a disbelief in female violence.

This finding leads to another view on the statement that woman are more likely to be arrested for domestic violence than men. The data shows that men tend not to report partner abuse because they consider it too trivial or not worth reporting, therefore when an incident of abuse is reported, it may be taken as extremely serious and out of the blue as the crime is rarely reported. It is not widely seen as a common crime for woman to commit, so when they are reported, the police and media may victimise the woman as it is not expected. However in research by Miller (2005) she states that the women who are arrested are not viewed nor treated equally to men, stating that when interviewed court professionals and the police "did not see women as primary aggressors, and no one felt that women were able to achieve the power and control over their male partners that are typically in place in relationships where the male batters the female. She also believes that what is most telling is how many respondents from both the police and criminal justice professionals mentioned that they do not encounter male 'victims' who are 'bloody, bruised, and broken' the way they find female victims. Some further evidence which would support the thought that woman are more likely to be arrested for committing domestic violence is that of Basile, 2004. He states that since women have less upper body strength than men, they may be more likely to use their legs than their arms during an altercation. However from a psychological view, cultural beliefs could be blamed. The general picture of domestic violence that I believe emerges from the empirical literature, is that male victimization is not taken seriously, in part, because of a cultural belief that men should be able to defend themselves or a disbelief in female violence.

Overall it would seem that female domestic violence offenders have traditionally been overlooked in research and theory, despite the fact that females also have high rates of domestic violence perpetration. However, the type of domestic violence they commit does some less violent in most cases so the statement that they are more likely to be arrested for committing the crime does seem irregular. However as we have seen there are many thoughts as to why this might be the case. Hester's surmises the statement herself saying, "Both men and women can be violent, but there are significant differences in the way men and women use violence and abuse against their partners and also the impact of such behaviour. This needs to be taken this into account if we want to ensure greater safety for individuals. This suggests that gender differences are still apparent and women are reprimanded unfairly for their actions. As women are generally less violent but however punished to the same extent as a violent male, inequality seems to remain. Also as we have seen, women seem to be labelled with a stereotype of how they should act, and once they break this stereotype are branded. I believe that this is due to the unspoken gender stereotypes we have in society today and women who do commit these crimes are seen as a psychopath.

Recognition that domestic violence is a global issue and not a gendered one.

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