Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What causes family violence?

In today's Herald Sun it's reported that:

More than four out of five family violence cases also involve mental illness, financial hardship, alcohol abuse or housing difficulties.

The information comes from a Journeys to Safety report released by Anglicare Victoria.

Why is the information significant? Because it contradicts the claims of patriarchy theory. According to this theory, men use family violence to enforce the oppression of women. In other words, domestic violence exists to maintain the dominance of the powerful in society.

If you believe in patriarchy theory, you're likely to insist that the numbers of women affected by family violence is high and that male culture is accepting of domestic violence. You are also likely to focus on cases of domestic violence involving wealthier white men, as these men are supposed to represent power in society.

The Anglicare report, though, shatters much of this framework. A large majority of cases of domestic violence are linked to very specific, predictable factors rather than to a generalised male culture or to systems of power.

So it isn't marriage in itself, as a "patriarchal institution", that women have to fear, but certain forms of breakdown of social norms, involving mental health, drug abuse or homelessness.


  1. The research also indicates that domestic violence perpetrated by females happens as often as male DV. This also contrdicts patriarchy theory.

  2. Leon, quite right. Another problem for the theory is that women are at far less risk of physical violence if they are living with a man in a married or de facto relationship rather than living alone.