A Serious Social And Public Health Phenomenon Criminology Essay

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During the 17th century in France and England, some cases of wives, who battered and dominated their men were revealed. Battered men had to face not only the violence of partners but also the humiliation of the society (Steinmetz, 1977-78).

Although the domination of men by their wives persisted into the 20th century (Pleck, 1987), in the late 1970s, researchers exposed the phenomenon of domestic violence on the female victims and finally, society started to take into consideration the phenomenon of domestic violence and look for solutions in order to end the violence (Smith, 1989).

However, several studies on IPV found equivalent rates of assault perpetrated by men and women. In the mid 1970s researchers found that women physically assaulted partners in marriage or dating relationships as often and equal as men assaulted their partners (Steinmetz 1978; Straus 1997; Straus, Gelles and Steinmetz 1980). This finding, which was based on the Conflict Tactic Scale (C.T.S.), caused the authors to be called as feminists (Straus 2012). In a study of women arrested for domestic violence, Hamberger (1997) found that about two-thirds of the women were battered and used violence to protect themselves or to retaliate. Although many of the women acknowledged initiating violence, they generally did so in the context of a relationship in which the male partner initiated violence more often and was likely to have initiated the overall pattern of violence. Studies have found that women are more likely to use violence in self-defence or retaliation and are significantly more likely to sustain injuries (Makepeace, 1986). Men, however, are more likely to use violence for intimidation and forced sex and use more severe forms of violence (Bookwala et al., 1992; Makepeace, 1986). Nevertheless domestic violence is not only the result of self defence. Hamberger (1997) found in his study of women arrested for domestic violence that 25% of the women reported starting the violence 100% of the time and that one-third of the sample could not be classified as battered women. Furthermore, Fiebert and Gonzalez (1997) found in their research that the reasons that the aggression of the female perpetrators towards their male partners was a desire to provoke their attention, particularly emotionally.

Despite the criticism levelled at these authors, and their research on battered husbands, violence against men has been reported by other researchers. In 1980, Straus and Gelles presented both their own studies in the United States and mentioned that males and females use equivalent violence towards their partner. Also, family violence from Connecticut in the United States indicates that in 1997, 18% of women were arrested for domestic violence compared with 11% in 1987 (State of Connecticut, 1998). On the other hand, statistics from Lincoln and Lancaster County in Nebraska show a decline between 1996 and 1998 in dual as well as female-only arrests (Family Violence Council, 1998). Newspaper reports (Burroughs, 1999; Young, 1995), books (Cook, 1997; Pearson, 1997; Sikes, 1997), as well as television news and talk shows (e.g., "Battered by their Wives" on 20/20, ABC, 1997; "Wives Who Abuse Their Husbands" on Oprah, ABC, 1999) have capitalized on the issue of women as perpetrators of domestic violence. However, findings from National Family Violence Surveys (Straus & Kaufman-Kantor, 1994) have reported that the rates of severe assaults by men have decreased, while the rates of assaults by women have remained the same. IPV by women was referred also to other studies (Brutz, 1984; Gelles, 1974; Giles-Sims, 1983; Jourilles & O'Leary, 1985; Lane & Gwartney-Gibbs, 1985; Laner & Thompson, 1982; Makepeace, 1983; Sack, Keller & Howard, 1982; Saunders, 1986; Scanzoni, 1978; Steinmetz, 1977, 1977-78; Szinovacz, 1983). Furthermore Stets and Straus (1990) found in their survey in 1985 that women were six times more likely to provoke injuries to their male partners, they concluded that when violence includes acts, women are as violent as men and when violence includes injuries men are more violent. Mc Leod (1984), approved these findings with his own research, which reported (6,200 cases of IPV violence in Detroit) that women were three times as more likely than men to use weapons. Also according to a recent National Violence Against Women survey (Hoff, 1999) men are more likely than women to experience serious assault by being hit with an object from the house, threatened with a knife or being knifed.

Often researchers as well as lay individuals claim that women's advocates minimize or deny the very existence of women's violence toward men in fear of social and political backlash (Dasgupta, 2002). For example, men's rights groups can use the notion of abusive women to undermine gains in domestic violence (Dragiewicz, 2008). There exists a general fear that recognizing men as victims and women's abusive behaviour would "trivialise the problem of women domestic violence" (Shupe, Stacey, & Hazlewood, 1987). Recognizing men as victims also poses the risk of ignoring that IPV disproportionately affects women (Jacobson & Gottman, 1998; Johnson & Ferraro, 2000) and that the kinds of abuse between the genders are qualitatively different that means, that men abuse in order to have more control and also women's violence is often motivated by self-defence or as a retaliatory action (Dasgupta, 1999; Swan & Snow, 2002).

However, it is undeniable that women are capable of violence (Bandura, 1973; Frodi, Macaulay & Thome, 1977; White & Kowalski, 1994). Historically, women in many societies have taken part in violent political revolutions, terrorist activities, and aggressive nationalist movements.

Thus a surprising number of studies find rates of male victimisation, the data is not always complete (Malcolm, 1994). However, the question is not whether women have the potential to be abusive but what men think about this abusive behaviour towards them.

A question that arises through these pieces of research is what abused men think about the violence towards them. While cognitive processes have been systematically explored in order to explain the behaviour of the perpetrator and his or her act as excuses (Maruna & Mann, 2006), less has been done to explore the cognition of the victims. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to seek to explore two main themes (1) to what extent can we identify a set of implicit theories (ITs) for males abused by their partners? (2) How do these men react to IPV?

So what is meant by the term "implicit theories"? According to Ward (2000), implicit theories are schemas that offenders have for the world and these schemas support the specific type of offending behaviour. This approach states that perpetrators have developed a number of theories about how the world works. So, according to this cognition they guide their actions and shape later accounts, to themselves and others, as to how and why these events occurred. Ward also notes that implicit theories produce interpretations of evidence about others' behaviours, desires and motivations (2000). Thus, ITs are beliefs which operate at an unconscious level and recruit other cognitive processes such as encoding, storage, search and retrieval as they actively influence explicit thinking and action (Gilchrist, 2009).

More recently, Polaschek and Ward (2002) identified five implicit theories that rapists have for women. These five implicit theories are entitlement, world is dangerous, women as sex objects, male sex drive is uncontrollable and women are dangerous.

In this proposal the focus will be on the implicit theory "women are dangerous". This implicit theory proposes that because of both biology and socialisation, women are inherently different from men and that these differences cannot be understood readily by men. One variant of this theory is that women are unable or unwilling to communicate honestly with men. However, women know that their own desires and needs are incompatible with those of men and so they do not communicate these desires and needs directly, but instead present them in a disguised manner. In this proposal we will try to prove that this implicit theory may also influence the cognition of the male victims of the Intimate Partner Violence and also the perceptions against them. To conclude, the hypothesis of this research is that if the participants who are abused score high in the first three questionnaires, they will score also high in the Implicit Association Task.



The study will employ a quasi experimental design with two conditions. The independent variable, participant group will have two levels, abused and non-abused men. The dependent variable will be, measurement of the implicit theory 'women are dangerous'.


The research anticipates achieving a minimum of 100 male participants to ensure strength of statistical analysis. The participants will be drawn from the general population and the questionnaires will be distributed in Universities and also in Public and Private sectors around the United Kingdom. It is expected though, that the majority of male participants will be White British. Moreover the participants will be recruited via opportunity sampling and they will be told that the aim of the research is to "explore a wide range of perceptions about intimate partner violence".

To be able to have more valid results the participants should have had a relationship with a woman for at least six months during the last twelve months that was more than just casual dating. This criterion will be chosen to ensure that: (a) The study will be generalisable to relatively close romantic relationships, in contrast to dating relationships or intimate friendships; and (b) a reasonable duration of time will be sampled in order to operationalise intimate partner violence towards men.

Apparatus & Stimulus Materials

Participants will read and complete a computer generated study information sheet and consent form. A debrief form will be provided at the end of the study.

Although data will be collected on a wide range of measures (e.g., individual and relationship demographics, self-esteem, adult attachment, interpersonal power and closeness), only those measures that will be used to assess female violence towards their partners, conflict response, conflict outcomes, relationship distress and existence of the implicit theory "women are dangerous" will be described with the below materials.

Abusive Behavior Inventory (ABI). The ABI (Shepard & Campbell, 1992) is a 30-item inventory assessing the occurrence and frequency of aggression towards a partner over the last 12months. A modified version of the index will be used, targeted at men rather than women.

Communication Patterns Questionnaire (CPQ). The CPQ questionnaire ( CPQ; Christensen,1988; Christensen & Sullaway,1984) is a 35-item, self report measure that assesses partners' perception of dyadic communication patterns during the different stages of conflict. The CPQ is a self-report alternative to observational coding systems and has been used in several studies (Christensen, 1987, 1988; Christensen & Heavey, 1990, 1993; Christensen & Shenk, 1991; Noller & White, 1990).

Marital Opinion Questionnaire (MOQ). The MOQ questionnaire (MOQ; Huston & Vangelisti, 1991) is a self-report measure of marital/relationship satisfaction. The MOQ is an 11-item with a 7-point Likert scale response measure from completely dissatisfied to completely satisfied. Respondents will be asked to consider the last month of their relationship when making their evaluations.

Implicit Association Task (IAT). A computerised implicit association task based on Greenwald's (1998) will be used to measure the difference in the proposed 'women are dangerous' implicit association between abused and non-abused men. Two categories (women and non-women) will be associated with two attributes (dangerous and non-dangerous).


Participants will be tested individually or in small groups and they will be asked to complete the tasks. Each participant generated their own unique identifying number and letters (i.e., last two digits of mother's maiden name and first two digits of date of birth) so that their responses could be matched up at both time points while also maintaining anonymity. Participants will be asked to read an information sheet about the study and sign an informed consent form. Participants will be asked their age. For the purpose of the study participants will be informed that the aim of the research is to "explore a wide range of perceptions about intimate partner violence".

Following a set of instructions by the researcher, participants will be able to complete the first three questionnaires about the intimate partner violence. After the completion of these questionnaires, the Implicit Association Task will be presented to the participants. The IAT involves both the classification of pictures as either women or non-women and the classification of words as either dangerous or non-dangerous. Thus, the participants will be recruited from the general population and when they will complete the first three questions; they will form two different groups: Abused and non-abused men. In that case, these two groups will have to complete the Implicit Association Task in order to see if there is significant difference between the findings of the questionnaires and the findings from the IAT. At the end of the study, the researcher will thank the participants for their cooperation and a debrief form will be provided.

Ethical Considerations

The research is examining previous abuse in terms of occurrence and frequency of partner aggression and this could be distressing for participants who have suffered abuse. In order to avoid this stressful situation the participants will be informed about this type of questions and they will be aware that they are free to leave the study at any time with no reason. Questionnaires are anonymous and confidential, and individual results will not be published. Questions will also only focus on the frequency and occurrence of the abuse, rather than personal details about the abuse itself. Moreover, data will be stored securely and no-one will have access to it except the researcher. The data will be stored for as long as is required by the Data Protection Act and then it will be destroyed securely.


It is possible that a lot of the participants will present Social desirability in order to give another impression about their selves. More specifically they may present the stereotype of men as strong, dominant and independent. This intention, may influence whether they admit to be abused or not. Furthermore, those who have been abused may not want to take part in this study. consequently, if the sample of the study is too small, it will be difficult to find significant relationships from the data, as statistical analyses normally require a larger sample size to ensure a representative distribution of the population and to be considered representative of groups of people to whom results will be generalized or transferred. This study will also be conducted only in the United Kingdom so it might not be representative of other cultures.

Analyses and Expected Results

Raw data from the first three questionnaires and the IAT will be entered into SPSS for Windows (version 20). Descriptive statistics will be obtained. Both between and within participants statistical analyses will be conducted.

Between subjects analysis will be conducted by four independent samples t-tests, using a significance level of alpha .05 where the independent variable will be the participant group (abused or non-abused men) and the dependent variable will be the measurement of the implicit theories-' women are dangerous'. If the participants who are abused score high in the first three questionnaires, we hypothesize that they will score also high in IAT. Thus, this would provide excellent evidence of the findings. However, if there is no significant difference, through the t-tests, we will have to reject the hypothesis.

Theoretical Implications of Findings

According to Maruna and Mann, 2006, while cognitive processes have been systematically explored in order to explain the behaviour of the perpetrator and his or her act as excuses, less has been done to explore the cognition of the victims. The current research study may have serious implications in understanding how male victims of intimate partner violence think about this type violence towards them. Furthermore, many researchers have identified implicit theories in the cognition of offenders but no in the cognition of victims. Thus, this study may prove that victims have implicit theories and this is the reason why they react with a specific way to the violence. To summarise, if the hypothesis of this research is proved, we will have the opportunity to modify and treat the cognition of the victims by developing appropriate interventions.