What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is physical, psychological, sexual or financial violence which takes place within a relationship in a intimate or family relationship.
A lot of people think that the cause of domestic violence is psychological, but some sociologists challenge this view.
The British Crime Survey found that domestic violence accounts for 1/6 of all violent crimes.
Mirlees-Black found that 1/4 women suffer from domestic violence. He estimated 6.6million domestic assaults in the UK each year.
Coleman found that domestic violence follows social patterns- it's usually man onto woman.
Dobash and Dobash looks and police and court records in Scotland and found examples of wives being slapped, ***** and killed by their husbands. They state: "Marriage legitimises unequal power as the wife becomes dependent" and "Violent incidents could be set off by what a husband sees as a challenge to authority."
Weaknesses of Rearch
Domestic violence is the crime that's least likely to be reported, so we probably don't know the true figures. Yearnshire says that on average, a woman will suffer 35 assaults before making a report to the police.
Police may be afraid to get involved if the crime is reported. Cheal says that the police think that the family is a good thing so the darker side should be ignored and that the family is a private institution so the public sector shouldn't get involved.
Some people say that if women are abused, they can leave. However, they may be financially dependent on their husbands and things like children make them feel like they need to stay.
The Radical Feminist Explanation
Millet says that all societies are founded on patriarchy and that men are the enemy. She says that the marriage is a patriarchal institution due to the norms of marriage- In the vows a woman says she will 'honour and obey' her husband. Millet states that domestic violence is inevitable in a patriarchal society as it keeps men powerful. She also says that the police are reluctant to deal with domestic violence because a great majority of the police force are men.
Weaknesses of the Feminist View
Elliot rejects the claim that all men benefit from domestic violence. Not all men are agressive. Most oppose to domestic violence.
Mirless-Black says that men are also assaulted by women. He found that 1/7 men suffer from domestic violence and 1/20 repeatadly so.
Men are less likely to ring the police because they don't want to appear 'soft'.
Wilkinson sees domestic violence as a result of stress caused by social inequality.
Example: A man comes home from a bad day at work at his low-paid job. He doesn't have enough money to go out anywhere to relax, so he stays at home and the stress builds up because of the children running around his anger spills over into violence on his children and wife.
This explains why domestic violence is more common in working class families because middle class families can go out to relax.
However, it doesn't explain why it's usually man onto woman.
But it could be argued that it's because the man is the 'main worker' and plays the instrumental role in the nuclear family.
Not everyone has the same risk of domestic violence. Those with less than others are at greater risk. So domestic violence can be explained in sociological terms.