Toward an effective theory of batterer re-education: a study of socialization, self construct, perception, intent and habit in men arrested for domestic violence
Kern, Gregory Oliver
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The modem problem of domestic violence has a historical reach into antiquity and is a part of every known culture. Domestic violence relates to the origins of aggression in men including areas as diverse as violence, gender roles, relationships, and even cultural and religious ritual. The radical feminist movement ofthe 1950's pushed child physical and sexual abuse, and later domestic violence, out from the shadows of being regarded as a family's "dirty laundry" into the spotlight of public opinion. With public awareness came outrage at the plight of the women and their children who suffered at the hands of the batterer and an exponential increase in efforts by researchers to understand and describe the problem, by legislators, police and courts to create laws, arrest procedures to and contain the batterer and finally by clinicians to devise programs and methods to treat the man once he had been arrested, separated from his family and sent to a batterers' program in lieu of jail. In spite of the recognition of the importance of the problem, progress in working to change batterers has been hampered by a fundamental split between two factions as to the cause of the problem. One side claims that all men raised in a patriarchy are "batterers" to some degree due to masculine privilege. The others claim that there is an essential difference between men who batter and those that do not. This study addresses that question. This study was conducted in two phases. In phase I, the author administered an MMPI-2 protocol to thirty men who had been arrested for domestic violence and sent to batterers' intervention classes. In phase II, ten of these were selected for videotaped interviews, structured with questions based on Loevinger' s ego development work. Themes that emerged from the data suggested that these men, as a group, had difficulties in their ability to identify and communicate their feeling states, to effectively understand and manage relational conflict, and further that as a group these men showed evidence of internally experienced shame which they did not experience consciously. The author found support for the Shame A voidance Model of domestic violence, which asserts that batterers have several conditions which comprise the "essential difference" sought by the field. It states that cognitive, emotional and gender deficits, when combined with the presence of unacknowledged shame, will result in a man who will batter or abusively control his intimate partner in order to avoid experiencing his own shame during the course of natural relational conflicts. This is held to be counter to the feminist faction that holds that he batters to maintain masculine privileges over his partner.
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