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July 1994


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Rod Carveth <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 6 Jul 1994 10:28:00 EDT
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It's too bad that the current discussion on spousal abuse contains so
many ad hominem attacks.  I'm afraid that such a strategy prevents us
from listening to one another (not unlike what goes on in abusive
The fact is that female to male spousal abuse is one of the most
undercovered issues in the media.  It is true that more than 90% of
domestic violence reports to the police come from women.  On the other
hand, there are at least a dozen studies, including two by Murray Strauss
and his associates at the Family Violence Research Center, which suggests
that women hit men more frequently and more often with weapons than men
hit women.  In addition, women were more likely to initiate the cycle
of violence.
This raises a couple of issues.  First, why the disparity in domestic
violence reports?  The research suggests a) that men hitting women did
more physcial damage than the reverse; and b) society reinforces the
notion that men should be able to "take" the abuse from women -- thus,
"men don't tell."
Second, why are 52% of the spousal murder victims men?  Because the pain
inflicted by men on women (no matter who initiates the violence) results
in women engaging in more extreme methods to protect themselves (the
case of Lorena Bobbitt should only be surprising in that it doesn't happen
more often).
The key is that domestic violence is a 2-way street.  Unless we devise
better ways of developing skills to deal with feelings of frustration and
powerlessness in relationships, this tragic problem in our culture will
Rod Carveth
University of Bridgeport
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