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An etiology of domestic violence and non-violence

Gregory, Linda Ellen (2003) An etiology of domestic violence and non-violence. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis research has examined what male social workers believe to be the causes of domestic violence and, more importantly, what they believe causes non-violence between partners. The research was a qualitative study of interviews with men, mostly social workers, who worked with both perpetrators and victims of domestic violence. The aims of the research are to provide some answers as to why, despite the attention given to domestic violence and the provision of DV treatment programs by social workers and counsellors, in both public and private sectors, the problem remains intractable.

Twenty men who worked in the area of domestic violence were interviewed, individually, with a series of twenty five questions. Two leaders of a local men's group were also interviewed. The main discussion topics for all these men were their views on the causes of domestic violence and then, more positively, what they felt were the reasons why most men, including themselves, were physically non-violent.

Investigating what these men feel causes domestic violence and nonviolence may provide an insight into what brings most men in our society to be physically non-violent to their partners. Hopefully, this information can be used to implement factors into families and society to work towards non-violence.

The interviewees' definitions of domestic violence were discussed, and what causes it. What causes non-violence, and scripting was positioned by them as the major factor in both. Within traditional Western male scripting lies males' sense of entitlement to privileged positions in their families and society. A question about violence surfaced. What is the purpose of violence? For the purpose of this research violence is defined as person or persons insisting on getting what they want, as a result of their claim to have the right to have it.

Male entitlement to privileges was identified by five of the men as being problematical and a central cause of domestic violence. The other fifteen interviewees, as well as the two men from the men's groups, accepted but appeared to discount the issue on varying levels. Whilst five men saw the existence of male privilege as a significant problem that needs changing, ten of the others saw the existence of it, but defined it as normal, and therefore by implication, believe it will be maintained, or that it can not be changed.

One of the underpinning dynamics revealed in this research is that the issue of male privilege is apparent to some and invisible to others, in the context of domestic violence this is going to be a problem.

In dealing with domestic violence we have to not simply invest in putting more social workers in the DV area; they need to be properly and adequately trained, and adequately committed to a treatment model which foregrounds male privilege [and does not present men as victims.] We need public investment in DV counselling, training and accreditation. We need to address the issue of male privilege in the whole of society and to focus on creating equality of power in relationships between men and women.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Division of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Thiele, Beverly
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