Chapter 12 Domestic Violence

Chapter 12 – Trouble in Family
Reading 38 – Domestic Violence: The Intersection of Gender and Control
3 Types of Domestic Partner Violence
1 – Intimate Terrorism
 Is an attempt to take general control over one’s partner
 Heavily gendered pattern with men as the primary perpetrators
2 – Violence Resistance
 Is the use of violence in response to such an attempt
 Gendered in that it is women that typically resist with violence
3 – Situational Couple Violence
 Does not involve an attempt to take general control on the part of either partner
 Rough gender symmetry in situational couple violence
Intimate Terrorism
Violence is one control tactic in an array of tactics that are deployed in an attempt
to take general control over one’s partner
Violence is embedded in a larger pattern of power and control that permeates the
Talked about as a “web” of abuse – diagram 38.1 on p. 530 – web of control –
read description of this web on pages 530-531
Violent Resistance
 At some point, most women do fight back physically
o Sometimes an instant reaction
o Sometimes defending herself
o Sometimes thinking he might stop attacking her if she hits back
o Sometimes it is a form of retaliation or “payback”
o Sometimes premeditated in hopes of escape
Escape from Violence
 Some research finds that within two and a half years 2/3rd of women facing
intimate terrorism are no longer in violent relationships
 Escape takes time because she has no resources – he has cut her off from them
o They must gather resources and hide them away over time until they have
enough to escape
o Women often times leave multiple times, only to return, but each time
garnering information and resources that will eventually allow them to
leave for good.
Application of Gender Theory to Intimate Terrorism
Johnson starts with individual sex differences and works up to the gender structure of the
economy, the family, and the criminal justice system in order to answer the question –
Why is intimate terrorism (and violent resistance to it) so clearly a matter of men abusing
women in heterosexual relationships?
o Average sex differences in size and strength – makes threats of violence credible
when coming from a bigger stature
o Exercise of violence is more likely to be part of boy’s and men’s experiences than
girl’s and women’s – sports, fantasy play, etc.
o Misogyny and gender traditionalism – research shows that individual men’s
attitudes toward women affect the likelihood that they will be involved in intimate
o Cultures of masculinity and femininity – a woman’s slap means something very
different than a man’s slap
 Women’s violence is taken less seriously, is less likely to produce fear,
and is therefore less likely either to be intended as a control tactic or to be
successful as one.
o Patriarchal heterosexual model that validates men’s power – these norms can
entrap women in abusive relationships (individual’s attitudes and/or the attitudes
of their social networks)
o Norms (institutionalized) - The gendering of the broader social context within
which the relationship is embedded affects the resources the partners can draw
upon to shape the relationship and to cope with or escape from the violence
 Wage gap for women and men – creates economic dependency
 Assignment of caregiving responsibilities to women – often creating
expectations that she stay in relationships for the children (other
institutions – church – may interact with her based on this norm)
 Criminal justice system – changing but still involves a culture of
masculinity that is not always sensitive or responsive to women
experiencing intimate terrorism
Situational Couple Violence
Is the most common type of partner violence
o Surveys indicate that 1 out of 8 married couples in the US experiences some form
of situational couple violence each year
Does not involve an attempt on the part of one partner to gain general control over the
Appears to be more gender-symmetric (Johnson argues this symmetry is mythical)
o Johnson argues can use incidence as an indicator of symmetry
o Also argues that sensible measure of the nature of the violence, such as the
specific acts engaged in, the injuries produced, the frequency of the violence, or
the production of fear in one’s partner, would show you that intimate partner
violence (and situational partner violence for that matter) are not gender
The violence is situationally-provoked
The violence may be minor and singular, with one encounter at some point in the
relationship escalating to the level that someone pushes or slaps the other, is immediately
remorseful, apologizes and never does it again
Or the violence could be a chronic problem, with one or both partners frequently
resorting to violence, minor or sever, even homicidal
Policy and Intervention
 p. 536 – “Thus, our understanding of the differences among these types of intimate
partner violence suggests that the best strategy in individual cases is to assume intimate
terrorism and to work closely with victim only (not the couple) until it is absolutely clear
that the violence is situational couple violence.”
How can we as a society work to reduce the incidence of intimate partner violence?
o Send the message that violence against intimate partners will not be tolerated
 Arrest and prosecution would send the message to the general public
o Educational programs about relationship violence – could become a regular part
of school curriculum
 Teaching children about equity and respect in our personal relationships
o Work to increase support for programs in hospitals, shelters, and the courts that
screen for domestic violence and help its victims either to stop the violence or to
escape from it safely.