5.4 Critique of presented approaches

The individual approach cannot explain why so many men batter. Individualizing domestic violence encourages looking at individual dispositions that lead to aggressive acts, e.g. history, psychological disorders, trauma, etc. Having a look at just intra-psychic dispositions thus deprives domestic violence of its societal context. Moreover, the individual approach has an aggravated risk of de-sexualizing domestic violence, making the use of violence available to any individual. Police crime statistics reveal violence as a predominantly male phenomenon. In Western Europe, about 20% of crime suspects are women (e.g. safety report of German Home Office 2002: 21.6%) and about 5%-7% of prisoners are female. Even though there might be an increase in female adolescent violence and women who are recognizably violent, violence still is a male domain. Another critique of an individual perspective is that in focussing on intra-psychic dispositions and describing the perpetrators of domestic violence as “ill”, other circumstances that boost violent dynamics , such as societal context and interaction are lost from sight. Finally, the perception of illness encourages the perpetrator not to take responsibility.

In the second approach described above, domestic violence is analysed within the context of gender bias, disclosing the hierarchal order of gender: men use violence, force and control to maintain and perpetuate dominance and power over women. Since research shows that the vast majority of perpetrators of domestic violence are male while most victims are female, the categories of perpetrator and victim hence became gender-marked: working with women meant supporting victims while addressing men meant concentrating on perpetrators.

Nevertheless, gender bias cannot sufficiently explain, why not all men batter. Moreover, the possibility of male victims and female perpetrators has been largely excluded. Possible interests of women in maintaining the hierarchal order (including their status as victims) and their possible active participation are rarely discussed. Debates about domestic violence rarely – if ever – emphasise a complementary structure of partnership that is the aggressive manner of men and the acquiescing behaviour of women. Meanwhile existence of a variety of masculinities and femininities have been acknowledged (Connell 2005; Dinges 2005) in debates about gender bias. A certain type of masculinity, especially a very traditional, patriarchal perception of it, has been attributed to male perpetrators (e.g. Gräßel 2003). It also is assumed, that female victims who stay in battering partnerships also cling to a very traditional idea of partnership. Further, in their victimization they may experience care through the victim support system. This might also give them a sort of self-fulfilment.
Still, gender bias cannot sufficiently explain, why not all men sharing a traditional idea of masculinity become violent.

First of all, it has to be acknowledged that the exertion of violence has multi-factoral causes of which gender is one aspect. Nevertheless neither psychodynamic nor gender-biased approaches offer sufficient explanations for domestic violence.

An intersectional approach involves the chance of concluding multi-factoral causes and describing their reciprocity. First of all, a couple can be described as a “small system”, thus looking at intra-personal aspects and inter-personal dynamics. Since this small system is part of a bigger system other factors such as shared values from a social class, circle of friends etc. can be added till finally the social system “society” can be can be examined in the analysis of domestic violence.

Influental factors promoting domestic violence can be found on the individual, societal and subcultural level. It has to be acknowledged that the exertion of violence has multi-factoral causes of which gender is one aspect. Neither psychodynamic nor gender-biased approaches offer sufficient explanations for domestic violence in same-sex partnerships.

An intersectionalist approach involves the chance of concluding multi-factoral causes and describing their reciprocity: A couple can be described as a “small system”, thus looking at intra-personal aspects and inter-personal dynamics. Since this small system is part of a bigger system other factors such as shared values from a social class, circle of friends or subculture etc. can be added till finally the social system “society” can be can be examined in the analysis of domestic violence.

The primacy of gender needs to be questioned to explain domestic violence in same-sex couples.

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