Many sociologists however believe many other factors are to be taken into consideration when identifying the main causes of domestic violence in the family. The British crime survey of 2007 came up with results that state domestic violence accounts for almost a sixth of all violent crime. Catriona Mirrlees black’s 1999 survey of 16,000 people estimates roughly that there are 6. 6 million domestic assaults each year. Approximately half of which involve physical injury.
These results may be an inaccurate representation of the rates of domestic violence as many women may victims may not have come forward to tell their story for privacy reasons or due to fear of peoples reactions or they may be embarrassed. This means that most likely these results should be higher but because of the intimate issues domestic violence triggers, many victims will not come forth. It is a controversial issue. Another perspective is that domestic violence does not occur randomly but is the result of society’s members following social patterns and the aftermath of these patterns.
One of these patterns is that it is mainly men who are domestically violent towards a woman. Kathryn Coleman et al (2007) established that women were more likely to have experienced violent acts towards them committed by a man than a man to have had violent acts towards them committed by a woman as 99% of all incidents are committed by men. Nearly one in four women has been assaulted by their partner at some point in the relationship and one in eight have had more than one incident happen,. Dissimilarly to men only I in sic men have had incidents committed y women. The Dobash’s (1979) research in Scotland, based on police reports and court records supports Coleman’s claims.
They show examples of women being slapped, pushed about, beaten, raped or killed by their husbands. These reports are not reliable as many women would not have come forward to the police to report such incidents for many reasons such as fear of the consequences from their husband or partner. The Dobash’s found that most of the violent acts in homes are a result of the man’s fear of a woman undermining his authority.
They argue that marriage is a precise setting for a man to confer his power upon a woman and making a woman dependant on the man. Yearnshire (1997) found that on average a woman suffers 35 assaults before making an official report to the police. Domestic violence is one of violent crimes least likely to be reported. Many police or prosecutors may fail to recognise a serious issue going on if the person giving them information is unreliable for whatever reason such as drug dependency or alcoholism.
David Cheal (1991) however believes that this reluctance is due to the fact that many police and other state institutions are not applicable to become involved in the family. He argues that they make three main assumptions in the family life; The family is a private sphere, so access to it by state agencies should be limited, that the family is a good thing and so agencies tend to neglect the ‘darker side’ of family life and that individuals are free agents, so it is assumed that if a woman is experiencing abuse she is free to leave.
However, this is not true. Male violence is often coupled with male economic power: abused women ware often financially dependant on their husbands and are unable to leave. Radical feminist’s ague that research such as the Dobash’s is evidence of patriarchy. Kate Millet (1970) and Shulamith Firestone (1970) argue that all division in society is that of men and women. Men are seen as the enemy and the main oppressors of women. They believe that within the family men dominate women and thus provide them with the perfect setting for domestic violence to occur.
Radical feminists see the patriarchal society as an inevitably preserving the power that all men have over all women. They see the male domination of state institutions helps to explain the reluctance of police and state institutions, predominantly similar to the Dobash’s view. Radical feminists see domestic violence against omen is part of the patriarchal system that maintains men’s power. They give sociological reasoning as opposed to psychological reasoning as to why the social norms of marriage are linked to domestic violence.
A criticism of Radical feminists supported by Faith Roberson Elliot (1996) is that not all men are capable of committing and benefiting from domestic violence. The radical feminists ignore the facts that female violence is relevant to domestic abuse such as child abuse by women and violence towards male partners. Wilkinson (1996) states that the main causes of domestic abuse are a direct result of stress on family members caused by social inequality.
Inequality basically means that some families will have fewer resources than others such as poor housing and low income. Those on low incomes are more likely to suffer from overcrowded living conditions. This therefore reduces the chances of them having a stable caring relationship. It also increases the risk of domestic violence. Wilkinson believes that worries about money, jobs and housing may spill over into domestic conflict as tempers may become frayed. Also lack of money and time restricts people’s social circle and reduces social support for those under stress.
The research developed by Wilkinson and Mirrlees- Black shows that not all people are in danger of suffering domestic violence: those with less power, wealth, status or income are more likely to be at risk. Wilkinson’s perspective and research does support the fact that that social inequality does produce stress and triggers conflict in families. As people in working class often do face more hardship and thus stress, this does help explain the links between class differences and domestic violence.
A criticism to Wilkinson is that unlike the radical feminist Wilkinson does not explain why women rather than men are the main victims in domestic violence cases. The main points taken from all perspectives are that it is the inequality in the male and female relationship that is the root of domestic violence, supported by Wilkinson and to a certain extent radical feminists. Also women are adversely affected by it, as shown by the Dobash’s and radical feminists. Radical feminists do however tend to blame the male race for this as shown from the ideology of ‘sleeping with the enemy’.
They do not recognise the fact that a small number of men are also victimised in domestic violence cases. The evidence taken from police reports and other surveys cannot be fully trusted it can only be used as a sort of guide, as to the actual number we never know the exact amount of people who have suffered domestic abuse, especially men in my opinion as they are more likely to be embarrassed and ashamed as they are deemed to be physically stronger than woman whereas women deal with the ‘emotion work’ in the household.