Domestic violence is a complex issue

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It’s always easier to solve a problem that can be identified, analyzed or isolated when we can say “This is what causes the problem, this is where it happens, and why.”

Unfortunately, domestic violence does not easily lend itself to scientific analysis. Victims and abusers come from all races, religions, classes, ethnic groups, socioeconomic levels, occupations and backgrounds.

Also, appearances of the home to the outside world may be deceiving. Even women who appear to be strong, financially secure and privileged may suffer from isolation, a history of abuse, low self-esteem or other factors not apparent beyond the confines of the home.

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As domestic violence has at last come to be viewed as a crime and a social problem, scientists in various fields, including psychology, sociology, law enforcement and medicine, have begun to study violent homes and the people who live there.

Those in violent relationships may also fight about the same “flashpoint” topics as nonviolent couples — money, housekeeping, parenting — but do not draw the boundaries that healthy couples do.

Domestic violence happens in “ideal” families, in which all members have education, money and professional success. Plenty of large, blue collar, financially strapped homes remain peaceful and loving.

Eleven risk factors have been identified for future abuse in the home. The highest risk factor is previous involvement with domestic violence.

Other factors include:

4 The man is unemployed

4 The man uses illegal drugs at least once a year

4 The man and woman are from different religious backgrounds

4 The man saw his father hit his mother

4 The couple cohabits but is not married

4 The man has a blue-collar occupation, if employed

4 The man did not graduate from high school

4 The man is between the ages of 18 and 30

4 Either person uses severe violence toward children in the home

4 Income is below the poverty level

Much also depends on the individuals in the home and their own unique way of relating to one another. The relationship between a man and a woman caught in an abusive relationship is very complex.

Carolene Britt is a counselor at Southwest Mississippi Mental Health Complex. She can be reached at 601-446-6635.