Monday, June 24, 2013


I don't write about domestic violence, because I don't feel I know enough about it.  I know, I know, that doesn't seem to stop most 'experts' in any field... but, flippancy aside, understanding violence is important.  Misinformed people get hurt.  Passing bad information, even if it makes you feel good, victimizes the people who listen.  (My beef with current bullying programs is that by refusing to acknowledge what works and trying to come up with a palatable solution, the programs not only create victims but an environment designed to enable bullying.)

And an aside.  Criminals are exceptionally manipulative.  One of the things that every Corrections Officer must learn is how to determine the real intent of even a simple conversation.  "What does this guy want?"  When  someone is trying to make you afraid, e.g. "Bullying is rampant and the scars will affect you for the rest of your life." And simultaneously says, "You must not respond physically." You have to ask yourself, why does this person want me to be both afraid and passive?  What does this person gain by trying to make me more of a victim?

That's an aside.  DV has come up a couple of times lately, asking where it fits into the Social/Asocial model.

The answer is "many places."

A taxonomy is a classification or naming system.  The same things, like plants, might have many different taxonomies.  The Linnaeus' taxonomy, what most people think of as the latin names, was originally based on details of morphology though much of it has been confirmed by DNA research.

But that's not the only taxonomy for plants.  You can also divide them by ornamental or edible and the ornamentals can be subdivided by tree/shrub or low growing; low growing by annual or perennial; late or early bloomers; and then by color.  This taxonomy may be more useful for someone designing a yard than Linnaeus'.  And an herbalist will have a different division of plants- calmative, purgative...etc.

By my model, DV isn't just one thing.  Like many crimes, you can get to the same actual crime from different motivations.

So, scenario one:
Husband was raised that a wife is the same as a child and beating is an appropriate way to punish. He will indulge in wife beating and they will follow the pattern of a social EBD.  (An extra dimension with this is culture and time.  There are many places and eras where this was a common world view and it wasn't considered abuse.)

Scenario two:
Husband is extremely insecure and acts out when he feels his status is questioned.  Very common primate behavior.  Combines elements of MD with EBD.  If feeling threatened with an audience present will likely escalate.

Scenario #3:
Social going toxic.  Someone unskilled at other types of interaction or who doesn't recognize submission signals may go to violence.

Scenario #4:
Asocial disguised as social:  A sexual predator has chosen a mate for her submissiveness and trained her to be his toy.  I've even known predators who married and had children for the sole purpose of molesting the child without a parent to risk complaints.  Grooming victims, especially as achildren is a really dark thing.

Scenario #5:
The relationship dimension.  The victim was trained as a child that real love involves beating ("Daddy shows he loves me with his belt") and will not be satisfied that a relationship is loving unless there is an element of violence to it.  This is one form of codependency. And a common effect of the grooming process.  Maybe the goal.

All of these scenarios can look very much the same, but they can't be treated the same.  The relationship dimension (and you can add culture as another dimension) can run through all of the scenarios.

Caveat though-- this is only what I've see,  I'm far from an expert on DV issues.  It's derived mostly from listening to men arrested for domestic violence explaining about why their actions weren't wrong. Sometimes it was self-serving, but in a few cases they were just raised to think that this was normal.

Cultural elements are a huge dimension.  Maybe more on that later.


Anonymous said...

That also goes a long way to explaining why the victims of DV can suddenly turn on someone trying to help. They think what is happening to them is normal through "breeding", culture or both and the outside force trying to step in (socially, legally or physically) can be viewed as an unwarranted or unjustified attack on their family.

purplepangolin said...

As a parent, I'm interested in your opinion of what strategies do work when addressing bullying. Thankfully, I do not have a situation to address as yet but I would like to be prepared. My children have already picked up the idea that "all bullies are cowards" and I am concerned that this will not prepare them for confronting a real bullying situation.

Flinthart said...

I know even less about DV than you claim to know. But your point about bullying is well taken. I'm a small-town, rural MA instructor, and I often work with kids. As you'd guess, a few of them are there because they've been on the wrong end of the bullying.

It drives me crazy having to dance around the edge of the accepted behaviours laid down by the schools, particularly when I know damned well that they don't work, and actually make things worse. I hadn't considered the school's own vested interest in creating frightened, passive victims before, though. That's an interesting idea.

Rory said...

The first couple of par's here:

Wayne said...

Victims of DV can turn on those attempting to help for a variety of reasons. And sometimes when a victim of DV seeks help those they turn to can turn on them. A tough area to work within when trying to help.