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?Why ask women when they only need to be told? Why ask women when they hope to be taken?feelings, moods, and attitudes rule a woman, not facts, reason or logic?The acquisition of knowledge or responsibility does not lessen women?s need for support, guidance, and control. Quite the contrary.?

This attitude justifies the so-called need for men to correct their wives misbehaviour. It perpetuates the idea that women must need a man who can guide, protect and provide for them. These perceptions have been notable throughout history (Re: the rule of thumb) and it has only been in the last few decades in North America where women have been more given rights and freedoms. Yet, physical abuse still exists. The women stay and the men continue their cycle of violence while society quietly waits for the last tragic blow.

Domestic violence occurs all over the world. Canada is not immune to this social problem that plagues many developing countries. In the past few months there have been numerous cases of domestic violence leading to murder and suicide in Southern Ontario. The media has shone light on this once private matter and revealed that the problem still exists. Violence against women by their spouses is a life-threatening situation that is not treated seriously by the legal system or by society in general. It often takes a tragedy for corrective action to be taken and stricter laws to be made. On July 24, 2000 an article appeared in the Toronto Star entitled, ?Victim of Acid Attack had been Abducted.? A 27-year-old woman was abducted for several hours one week before her boyfriend (and child?s father) splashed her with sulphuric acid in her Scarbourough home and she didn?t report the incident to police. Police said the acid burned the woman’s face and 80 per cent of her body after it ate through her clothes. Nigel Carrington, has been charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, assault, dangerous driving, theft and mischief. In the wake of recent cases of domestic violence that have ended in deaths, McQueen ( a Toronto police officer) made an appeal for the public to be ?vigilant’? in reporting incidents at their early stages. ?This case capped it off for me,? McQueen said. ?Here I am finding out about a kidnapping, previous assaults and other things And when do I find out about it? On the day she almost loses her life.?

Some women do leave their abusive relationships. Battered women are not always passive victims who merely accept the abuse. They want to stop the violence and protect their children. Sometimes battered women deny or minimize the abuse as a coping strategy to reduce the psychological impact of the abuse. The fact that a battered woman may not leave may reflect the fact that our society has not provided sufficient supports for the victims of violence to be able to leave. A woman often stays because she hopes that her partner will change, and that the battering will stop. When the abuse continues she may well try to leave or get help. She may be threatened with even more violence if she leaves and she knows that her partner is capable of carrying out those threats. Many batterers threaten to get a court order for custody of the children if she leaves.

There are many obstacles that a woman faces if she tries to leave. There is a lack of support and practical help (family and friends don?t support her or are afraid to get involved) and a lack of information (she becomes isolated and unaware of her options). There is also limited protection options (the justice system cannot guarantee protection for women, and court protection orders are frequently broken). For many battered women, the choice is to stay with the abuser and try to avoid being battered, or to leave and face a life of poverty and uncertainty for herself and her children. There are other reasons why women choose to stay such as: fear of not being believed, feels as if she has created the problem and that she is the one who should change her behaviour. She is unable to escape her abuser?s control (including finances) and does not have another source of income. She may lack educational qualifications and/or employment skills and has grown up watching her mother being abused. She may also believe that religious faith and doctrine (rules against divorce) prevent her from leaving. She is depressed and constantly under high stress, has lowered self-esteem, and feels powerless and lacking in control over her life. Another reason is that she needs to be loved and feels that if she leaves she won?t be able to find a better man. All of the aforementioned factors contribute to a woman?s decision to say or leave an abusive relationship.

A man who is a batterer must feel dominant in the relationship and in order to gain this dominance he has to exert verbal, physical, emotional, environmental and social abuse to remain in control. There are many theories about the psychological causes of battering, ranging from alcohol abuse, stress, poor anger management, and an abusive childhood. However, social conditions encourage violence against women: such conditions include traditional sex roles that teach men to dominate, and women to submit. Another social condition that promotes battering is our society’s use of hierarchies, with the belief that every group, family or relationship should have one person in charge, and that person has the right to use force to ensure their power and control over others. Abusers usually have the following personality characteristics: they were abused as children, feel insecure, have poor verbal communication, need to dominate, dual personality, lack of assertiveness, adherence to traditional sex-role model, dependency needs, and contradictory traits.

Abuse may be correlated with the following factors but it is not caused by the use of alcohol or other drugs, anger, stress, something the woman said or did, or relationship problems.

The three main reasons why men abuse their wives are because: they choose to, it works and they get away with it. If there are no negative consequences such as police arresting and filing charges, and then the message is that violence is acceptable. Abusers have learned to be abusive by watching others in the family and society; abusers have found that it is an effective way of establishing or regaining control.

Society must help to stop domestic violence. The cycle of violence perpetuates with every generation causing one to believe that domestic abuse has been around since time immemorial. The government must ensure the safety and protection of assaulted women and their children. The community should support women who want to leave abusive relationships. Money should be put into outreach programs, shelters, legal aid, victim advocacy, diversion projects, and counselling to help the victims of domestic violence. However, the real problem lies with how society is raising its boys and girls. Society has to rethink its attitude toward women and teach children what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. Little boys cannot be taught that it is alright for them to hit another person and girls must be taught with confidence to refuse to be treated in that manner. If education is not of paramount importance to society to prevent future domestic violence then hospitals and courtrooms will continue to be inundated with cases of abuse. After all, the rule of thumb was not too long ago the norm.


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