“He always apologized, and sometimes he would even cry because of the bruises he’d made on her arms or legs or her back. He would say that he hated what he’d done, but in the next breath tell her she’d deserved it. That if she’d been more careful, it wouldn’t have happened. That if she’d paid more attention or hadn’t been so stupid, he wouldn’t have lost his temper.”
— Nicholas Sparks, Safe Haven
And, then again, some bruises are left on the inside!
The central thesis of this article is domestic violence or domestic abuse and the intentional acts of violence propagated from uncontrolled, ‘vented’ anger on the part of the man toward the woman. This issue, the violence against women by male partners, is not just a personal and interpersonal issue; it’s a social and cultural issue, extending into the farthest reaches of our society.
One Broken Pattern Within Global Society
Would many people disagree, even against the backdrop of recent feminist and gender equality advances, that the male agenda of gender-privilege continues to dominate global society?
This most-human and inherently broken phenomenon of male privilege disadvantages both genders.
In a general sense, women are naturally disadvantaged—for instance, in the home (if they don’t have a godly husband) and in the workplace (if they don’t have a respectful boss/management/co-workers). Much discrimination and harassment is propagated because of gender reasons against females.
But males don’t have it all their own way. It’s a psychological phenomenon that those brought up in privileged ways—males, as our global culture has it, being ‘privileged’ over females—come to expect equality. When they perceive inequality, whether things are actually fair or not, resentment may mount, which produces anger. It’s interesting that much bullying takes place because the bully feels hard done by—their expectations haven’t been met.
Hopefully we can begin to understand the socio-cultural factors that precipitate violence from men against women. Hopefully we can see that both women and men are set up to fail.
But what we need to do, especially the men, is appreciate that responses of violence come from chosen actions.
When Violence Is the Chosen Response
Notwithstanding the instinctive part of our brains—the flight and fight response—we all have minds capable of thinking through relational problems, even in the heat of the moment.
This is one way we can test this point. If a man brings home stresses from work, and, in the midst of an argument with his partner, decides to become violent, we can know there is intention by the fact that he doesn’t usually take his anger out on his boss physically or psychologically. He only takes his anger out on a ‘weaker’ party. He only does it when he knows he can get away with it.
One key in bringing an end to domestic abuse or domestic violence is for the perpetrator to accept full responsibility for their actions—their chosen actions. Whenever a perpetrator cannot accept that they chose their actions, that somehow “she made me do it,” he is still a long way from recovery. Whenever a perpetrator talks the way that is represented in the quote atop his abused partner should feel assured that the abuse will continue.
Perpetrators of violence and abuse must understand that their actions are intentional. Their only chance at recovery is in the full acceptance of responsibility for their actions. There is life after violence and abuse, but the shame must first be met head-on. Recovery can only commence when inclinations toward violence are owned.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.