hidden half of domestic violence
to have eternal life
The Face Of Battering
© Equal Justice Foundation, 2001
Battering in a
relationship involves beating or verbally abusing an intimate partner over a
long period of time (Levy,
1984, p. 23). Battering in a relationship may continue for years and is
aimed at controlling one's partner or children through the use of terror,
confusion, and disabling the target's ability to think and reason for
themselves. People Erin Pizzey calls "emotional terrorists"
also fall within the category of batterers.
However one defines it,
battering is ugly. Whether committed by men or women against their
intimate partners, it is of justifiable concern to society.
Battering does not refer
to a single argument, nor does it mean the occasional conflicts that many
couples have that may grow to yelling at each other with possibly some pushing
or shoving. As such the term "battering" is grossly
overworked by the domestic violence industry. The only good thing one can say
about battering is that it appears to be the least common pattern of intimate
There seems to be little
confirmation of the "battered wife syndrome." First, because
at least two-thirds of the incidents referred to as domestic violence amount
to no more than arguing, pushing, and shoving. The great majority of the
remaining cases involve drug or alcohol abuse, and any violence is incidental
to those problems, rather than systematic. That isn't to say alcoholics and
drug abusers can't be batterers as well but most don't appear to be. And in
the great majority of these cases the couples are not legally married.
Further, men are clearly battered as frequently as women.
Accusations of domestic
violence or abuse are now used to gain advantage in about one-third of the
divorces in Colorado and few of those cases involve battering.
About 50% of intimate
partner violence follows a pattern of mutual violence. It does not seem
possible to routinely classify couples who engage in mutual combat as
batterers so these cases should be excluded.
It is thus very difficult
to get an accurate picture of how common battering, as defined above, really
is. Probably it is only a few percent of current domestic violence cases and
no more than 5% at the most. Battered men, and women, also appear the least
likely to report their problems to authorities or to seek help.
But battering does exist
and women are as apt to commit it as men. Battered men and women have
responded to the domestic violence against men Web site in about equal
Men who have contacted us
always feel betrayed by the justice system. Wives who batter also appear
to commonly commit adultery, and in a number of cases have used the current
domestic violence laws to both hide their behavior and gain advantage in the
divorce. Virtually always when it is the woman who batters, it is the man who
ends up getting arrested. And shelters or support for battered men seeking to
flee the relationship are virtually non-existent.
From the reports that
reach us, the justice system and shelters often don't work any better for
battered women. In one case in New Jersey a battered woman got arrested when
she tried to report the abuse and, when last heard from, had still not been
able to escape.
Some battering victims,
whether men or women, describe a recognizable cycle of violence in which (a)
tension with their partner perceptibly builds, (b) their partner then
violently explodes both physically and verbally, (c) followed by a period of
loving reconciliation in which the abusive partner is extremely attentive,
loving, and kind. Such cycles may be repeated many times with a discernible
periodicity and apparently exist in both heterosexual and homosexual couples.
John describes just such behavior in the attached story.
A kindly Dr. Jekyll to a
terrifying Mr(s). Hyde personality transformation may also become evident to a
partner unfortunate enough to be involved with a batterer.
Other factors in
dangerous violence by males and females are physical or mental illness. (Dutton,
1995, p. 140-155, Gelles, 1997, p. 80) find that borderline personality
disorder (BPD), which is marked by a
proclivity for intense relationships, fear of abandonment, and proneness to
rage, to be strongly associated with male battering of women. While we know of
no studies making such an association with violent women, 75% of the diagnosed
cases of BPD are females, and it is
estimated that 2% of the population suffer from BPD.
Those who escape life
with a batterer commonly suffer some form of post-traumatic stress such as
alcoholism, eating disorders, irresponsible sex as a form of escape, or other
The face of battering,
the methods, and the characteristics are independent of sex. Attached is the
story of Dianne battering John because we deal with domestic violence against
men. But stories from battered women show the same features of domination and
control. Thus, this story differs only in that it is rare for a man to tell
his story, and it took great courage for John to do so.
John has indicated a
willingness to talk with anyone faced with these issues. You may contact him
by replying to this e-mail.
Charles E. Corry, Ph.D.,
President, Equal Justice Foundation
455 Bear Creek Road
Colorado Springs, CO 80906-5820
Telephone: (719) 520-1089
Facsimile: (509) 472-5275
Instant Messenger: drcecorry
Curriculum Vitae: http://www.pcisys.net/~ccorry/CorryBook-82.htm
Domestic Violence Against Men: http://www.dvmen.org
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