What Makes a Person Violent: Literature Review Since the beginning of the human race, domestic violence has been present. However, it was not until recent centuries that people began to look at it as a crime. To many people, in many cultures, domestic violence was seen as not only acceptable, but necessary in some situations. In a study conducted by Hines and Saudino (2002), domestic violence in close, intimate relationships is a country wide problem within the United States. The last nationally conducted survey found that an estimated 16 percent of married Americans experienced domestic violence within the previous year.
That means that approximately 8. 7 million couples have been affected by domestic violence (Hines, Saudino 2002). Information also indicated that out of the couples that experienced domestic violence, 3. 4 million received severe injury. However, this is a problem that reaches far beyond our shores. This is a crisis that has plagued nations all around the world. Among various studies, the majority of research focuses on the social learning theory, physiological factors, and alcohol on a person’s likelihood of becoming an offender of domestic violence.
Social Learning Theory In recent years, studies involving domestic violence have placed the spot light on the power of being socially learned in violent behaviors. Within the criminal justice field, the domestic violence theory suggest that abuse is a behavior that is taught and picked up from learned experiences within the persons family or society in which they were, or are surrounded (Kernsmith 2006). The study of Intergenerational transmission has become one of the most popular theories to domestic violence (Corvo 2006).
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In a study done by Kernsmith (2006), a written survey was given to only English-speaking people, that were patients in prevention programs throughout Los Angelo’s County , California. Amongst the fifteen centers chosen to participate, 52. 6 percent of those who responded were men and 47. 4 percent of those who responded were women. The study considered different variables including whether or not the participant had ever witnessed or been a victim of domestic violence. The results found that about 74 percent f the participants had witnessed some form of domestic violence as a child. Of those, 70 percent said that they witnessed emotional abuse and 61 percent witnessed physical abuse. In addition to witnessing violence, 68 percent of the participants admitted to being victims of child abuse themselves. Of those, 64 percent reported emotional violence and 53 percent reported physical violence. Domestic violence within previous relationships was also prevalent; around 60 percent reported being victimized by a previous partner.
According to the findings in Kernsmith’s (2006) experiment, a high number of the participants that were examined learned their abusive demeanor through previous experience within families of domestic violence. This study also found fewer that 3 percent of the participants admitted to never being exposed to domestic violence, including that of emotional or physical childhood abuse. These same participants said that they had never witnessed any form of sexual violence or domestic violence within their family of origin.
This study found that the impact of assault of any form as a child has a huge impact on an individual as an adult. A journal article by Hines and Saudino (2002) says that within a lifetime, on average, fifty percent of all male and female Americans will be victims of aggression from their intimate partner. They proclaim that the most popular explanation for the conveyance of domestic violence must be awarded to the social learning theory. One of the most accurate theories as to why people choose to be violent in their adult years is due to their exposure to violence as a child (Hines, Saudino 2002).
Hines and Saudino (2002) also mention that in the earliest studies performed to measure violence, children who were punished through the means of physical abuse were significantly more likely to continue that behavior into their own families. Weldon and Gilchrist (2012) interviewed six male perpetrators serving prison sentences in Scotland. They asked the offenders general questions about their thoughts and feelings in regards to violence. They also included questions about each offenders past and childhood experiences.
The most common answer given by the perpetrators was that violence was normal to them (Weldon and Gilchrist 2012). It was something that they were used to and had seen many times. These findings however, did not only apply to intimate relationships, but rather to life in general. They exhibited violent behaviors throughout their life. Overall, studies that focus on the power of the social learning theory, have found that there is a strong correlation between witnessing or being victim to abuse in childhood, and being violent towards your intimate partner in adulthood.
Physiological Factors Research on domestic violence has focused on several areas which are believed to play a role in explaining abusive behavior. The first area discussed is a predisposition to increased heart response to slight agitation. Lavinia et. al. (2010) describes a study that calculated physiology factors on a person’s predisposition to aggression in intimate relationships. The study looked at physiological reactivity, which is defined as changes to a person’s body brought about by a stimulus.
The study found that individuals that are antisocial and violent are more likely to be predisposed to being abusive to their partner. To prove their findings, they found abusive males to interview. The males had to be seriously violent ranging from shoving to weapons. They also must have been abusive six or more times to be included in the study. They also found an equal amount of non-violent partner’s to interview as well. The experiment involved the participation of not only the males, but the participant’s partner as well. They experiment had the couple talk about two things in which typically provoked discourse.
While the conversation was in progress, the researchers measured the both party’s heart rate, pulse transmission to finger, and the amplitude of finger pulse. However, the study did not find any increase in the violent husbands compared to that of non-violent husbands. Nevertheless, the wives of the violent partner exhibited an increase in finger pulse amplitude and finger pulse transit time than that of the non-violent partners. The study suggested that, due to the increase in pulse, wives of abusive husbands experience heightened feelings of rage, sadness, worry and fear (Lavinia et. l. 2010). This study shows that research does not support that abusive partner’s experience heightened cardiovascular response to discourse compared to that of non-violent partner. In a different study, Shorey et al. (2011) discusses how much genetically predisposition to trait anger plays a role in female aggression towards their male partner. In the context of this study, trait anger is defined as the genetic predisposition to respond in anger when placed in situations involving large amounts of stress.
The study found that there was indeed a correlation between women that suffered from trait anger and those that were prone to express violence towards their partner. The individuals were asked to give their information such as age, salary, ethnicity, whether or not they were married, and the length of time that they have been in their current relationship. The same participants were then given a test called State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI) (Shorey et al. 2011). This was used to review the participant’s trait anger.
The women were asked questions about themselves in order to see if they usually feel angry. The questions were answered on a scale from one to four in (one being not at all, and four being very often). The test was proven to be accurate. When examining the results, the researchers found that 58 percent of the women struggle with trait anger. This proves that Shorey’s et al. (2011) prediction about the direct correlation with inherited trait anger to physical and psychological abuse was accurate. This study (Shorey 2011) serves to prove that our genetics and physiological response are involved in how we act.
Some people are more prone to violence due to inherited anger. This makes it much more difficult for them to control their inclination to be violent towards the ones they love. This does not make committing crimes by any means acceptable, however it does give law enforcement something to consider when dealing with cases involving domestic violence. Each of these two studies considering the physiological ramifications on behavior have shown that there is more to the criminal than just deviance. For some, it is a part of their born instinct. Alcohol
In the criminal justice field, it is universally known that alcohol tends to be a factor in most of the crimes that people commit. McKinney et al. (2012) mentions that there has been a consistent link between the alcohol outlet and domestic violence. One of the largest reasons for intimate partner violence is the abundance of alcohol consumption (McKinney et al. 2012). Testa and colleagues (2011) say that men who drink heavily are at a much higher risk factor to be abusive towards their intimate partner. They say that just one partner using alcohol can significantly increase the likelihood of domestic violence.
In a study (Livingston 2010) preformed in Australia, researchers found that 25 percent to 50 percent of all domestic violence cases involved the use of alcohol. This study that suggests that limiting the availability of alcohol would then reduce the amount of domestic violence. This particular experiment incorporates a longitudinal relationship among domestic violence and the amount of alcohol that is available within specific neighborhoods. The study used 186 different postal codes from around Melbourne, Australia. This sample represented around 85 percent of all of the Melbourne population.
They examined the alcohol sales from each of those postal codes to see if there was a positive correlation between increased sale of alcohol and an increase in domestic violence. Livingston (2010) collected the data involving domestic violence from the Victorian Police Services. The raw data was taken from the Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP). All of the data is in regards to family incidents between the years 1996-2005. One factor that must remain under the spotlight is that not all cases of domestic violence were reported or responded to by the police.
They performed a cross-sectional longitudinal study. The results found that there was a small, yet highly significant positive correlation between the increased sale of alcohol and an increase in domestic violence. Waller and her colleagues (2012) preformed a study that focused on effects of alcohol sales and the rate of domestic violence within a large demographic areas. This study included people involved in an intimate relationship, but not necessarily married. They hypothesized that alcohol use would be directly and indirectly correlated with domestic violence within intimate relationships.
The study (Waller et al. 2012) took students from Wave III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health which was preformed originally in 2001 to 2002. The sample consisted on 52 middle schools and 80 high schools. They used ordered sampling methods for selection. The study tried to get responses from all students that were originally in Wave III, however the response rate was only around 77. 4 percent. They were administered questions via laptops. The study included questions about how often they felt threatened, hit, injured, etc. n the past year by their partner. Once that information was obtained from the participants, the researchers collected the data of alcohol outlets in those individual’s neighborhoods. They also measured the participant’s consumption of alcohol within that previous year. However, after collecting the data, the researchers found no bivariate relationship between the use of alcohol and the likelihood of domestic violence. Although there are many statistics that claim that alcohol affects the like hood of intimate partner violence, we have seen that may not always be the case.
Over all, research shows that alcohol consumption increases one’s risk of domestic violence, but as seen in the study conducted by Waller and her colleagues, not all studies come up with that same conclusion. References Corvo, K. (2006). Violence, separation, and loss in the families of origin of domestically violent men. Journal of Family Violence, 21(2), 117-125. doi: 10. 1007/s10896-005-9011-1 Hines, D. , & Saudino, K. (2002). Intergenerational transmission of intimate partner violence: A behavioral genetic perspective. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 3, 210-225. doi: 10. 177/15248380020033004 Kernsmith, P. (2006). Gender differences in the impact of family of origin violence on perpetrators of domestic violence. Journal of Family Violence, 21(2), 163-171. doi: 10. 1007/s10896-005-9014-y Lavinia, P. , Sullivan, E. , Rosenbaum, A. , Wyyngarden, N. , Umhau, J. , Miller, M. , & Taft, C. (2010). Biological correlates of intimate partner violence perpetration. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 15(5), 387-398. Livingston, M. (2011). A longitudinal analysis of alcohol outlet density and domestic violence. Addiction Research Report, 106, 919-925. oi: 10. 1111/j. 1360-0443. 2010. 03333. x McKinney, C. , Chartier, K. , Caetano, R. , & Harris, T. (2012). Alcohol availability and neighborhood poverty and their relationship to binge drinking and related problems among drinkers in committed relationships. Journal on Interpersonal Violence, 27(13), 2703-2727. doi: 10. 1177/0886260512436396 Shorey, R. , Brasfield, H. , Jeniimarie, F. & Stuart, G. (2011). The association between impulsivity, trait anger, and the perpetration of intimate partner and general violence among women arrested for domestic violence.
Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 26(13), 2681-2697. doi: : 10. 1177/0886260510388289 Waller, M. , Iritani, B. , Christ, S. , Clark, H. , Moracco, K. , Halpern, C. , & Flewelling, R. (2011). Relationships among alcohol outlet density, alcohol use, and intimate partner violence victimization among young women in the united states. Journal of Interpersoanl Violence, 27(10), 2062-2086. doi: 10. 1177/0886260511431435 Weldon, S. , & Gilchrist, E. (2012). Implicit theories on intimate partner violence offenders. J Fam Viol, published online. doi: 10. 1007/s10896-005-9014-y
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