Intimate partner violence is a growing epidemic in the U.S. More specifically, during the years 1998-2002, there was 11% of unreported violence between intimate partners. This translated to approximately 1.75 million acts of violence per year. In addition, minority women report higher rates of IPV. 20% of minority women and poor women reported an incident that occurred in the past year. Moreover, the definition of intimate partner violence, refers to the physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse that takes place between both intimate partners. The focus of this book is limited to the discussion of violence amongst heterosexual partners. The authors don’t use the term “domestic violence” because they are not referring to violence that happens between other members of the domestic household, such as the abuse of children by parents. This is because the word domestic often implies a shared residence. However, many of the causalities of IPV do not live together, and often when the couple does live together, the violence begins before they moved in together or got married. Therefore, the authors chose to use the term intimate partner instead of domestic to highlight the nature of the relationship. IPV is present in marital and cohabiting relationships.
IPV affects mothers, sisters, partners, and friends. Sadly, there are 1,5000 women who are killed each year due to IPV and millions who are sent to the emergency room for medical treatment. Prior to IPV getting attention, domestic violence was essentially legal. This meant men were allowed to beat their wives as long as they didn’t kill them or the violence got out of hand. However, it wasn’t until the late 1970s and early 1980s, that due to the second-wave feminists began to draw attention to the epidemic of domestic violence and its victims. These writings were important because they brought this common experience of IPV to the attention of the larger American population. Unfortunately, even though the awareness of IPV has grown significantly, discussions of it have remained focused on defining IPV as a “women’s problem. While studying using the family violence approach, which was a paradigm developed by researchers Murray Stratus and Richard Gelles; their methods consisted of conducting telephone interviews with randomly selected men and women in the U.S. In addition, family violence scholars studied these various forms of violence that occurred within families and among their family members and identified patterns. They noted that the most common factor across all of the various form of violence is the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. More specifically, the perpetrator always had more power than the victim.
The term mutual combat was coined by Gelles and Strauss, it refers to situational couple violence or how some women beat their male partners too. Although the majority of batterers are men, and the vast majority of victims are women, this isn’t always the case. Furthermore, the outcomes of IPV for women and men are different. Gelles and Strauss both note that male violence against women does more damage than female violence against men; women are more likely to be injured than men. In addition, IPV is a direct outcome of a social system dominated by patriarchy, one of the challenges is to explain mutual combat or situational couple violence; which refers to the times that women initiate the violence or hit back. As stated by the authors, when examining IPV, some other issues, or variables they chose to weave together included, poverty, employment, HIV/AIDS, and incarceration. Since IPV is a gendered phenomenon, and all of its causes and outcomes, they must be located within a larger system of patriarchy. Patriarchy results in there being a restricted constructions of motherhood and fatherhood and constrains women’s reproductive lives.
In addition, IPV is not only structured by a system of patriarchy, it is also structured by a system of racial superiority and by the intersections of these two systems. It is also structured by interactions of systems of domination, such as racism, sexism, classism, etc. This is often seen when men feel that their masculinity is threatened, so they try to reassert their masculinity through violence. More specifically, one of the outcomes of patriarchy is the requirement that men should be the breadwinner in the household. Whereas, one of the outcomes of racial superiority is that this is a difficult, if not impossible, task for a large number of African American men. Furthermore, one key issue that is involved with IPV in all families is women’s economic dependency on men. One of the strongest compulsions for women marrying or cohabiting is the fact that their economic standing is almost always enhanced by the economic contributions of their male partners. The dependency on men as the breadwinners creates what appears to be a glue that prevents women from leaving their abusive relationships. Moreover, one mechanism, by which inter-generational IPV transmission may occur is due to the lack of positive role models for a romantic, intimate relationship. This finding reinforces an important finding in the literature that shows how a lack of positive relationship models leaves women unprepared to recognize the warning signs of a violent relationship.
Men who are victims of physical abuse are also twice as likely to batter in adulthood, but the strongest predictor of becoming a batterer for men is growing up in a household in which there is IPV. More specifically, this could mean your father or stepfather beating your mother. These men are extremely well socialized into masculine roles and are overly insecure and sensitive to threats to their masculinity. There is no description of a batterer. Men who batter are all races/ethnicities, all ages, all levels of education, occupations, and live in all different regions of the country. However, they are distinguished by two things: men who batter are well-socialized into hypermasculinity, and triggers to battering can better understood primarily as threats to the batterer’s masculinity. In addition, the “Cool Pose” is the most cited attempt at understanding African American male masculinity and the issues surrounding it comes from Majors and Bilson. It is the attempt to make the African American male visible’ it is a ritualized form of masculinity that entails behaviors, scripts, physical posturing, impression management, and carefully crafted performances that deliver a single, critical message: pride, strength, control. Being cool is seen as an ego booster for black males, compared to the kind that white males find through attending good schools, landing high ranked jobs, and bringing home decent wages. Lastly, the two B’s are breadwinning and the bedroom. Breadwinning has long been defined by both popular discourse and sociological theory as one of the key roles that men in our society should abide by. These two B’s are the organizing principles of intimate partner relations, will be powerful, and would leave me feeling particularly vulnerable. Breadwinning is difficult for African American men due to poor health and incarceration. While on the other hand, the other B is the bedroom. This encompasses several issues, from men’s ability to satisfy their partners to men’s success in the proverbial bedroom, which is often defined as the number of sex partners he is able to have over his lifetime.