What Happen When Women Become The Perpetrators? (1)

In spite of the modernisation of life, the basic patriarchal dynamic continues to express and replicate itself through violence in the private sphere [1]. The privilege granted to males by most religious and secular segments of the society is one major contributing factor that leads to men’s predominant role as abuser in domestic violence [2]. In the case of religion, the place of the male is invented as superior— macho, ruler and independent. In that case, the male upholds the position of authority to execute his intentions while as for the female; she must maintain the subordinated role. Vivid stories of this were described in ‘Exodus’ preaching of Moses coupled with the epistles of Apostle Paul forbade women holding the post of power within the Christian community, or exhibiting her bodily appearances under personal freewill. The question of what has the society has cut out for the fate of the woman, as a completed entity, cannot be clearly expatiated. For Walker noted that, “the fundamental issue of equality is not whether one is the same or different; it is not the gender difference; it is the difference that gender makes.”

Men and women are fundamentally different. We are conditioned on this difference not solely based on biological sex but likewise on our capacity. When looking at a woman, the general notion is the language of a softer figure, fragile and incapable of accomplishing definite duties. Mentality of this kind pushes the fate of the female into the lower sphere where she does not have opportunities to display her potentialities.

In the past, efforts were dedicated to tackling and understanding male perpetrators of IPV. That attention has been shifted. Gradually though, that view is evolutionary as we are being presented with more tales of women being classified as users of violence.

How can one define women’s use of violence? Referring to violence against women and girls, there is a widespread opinion that men are the principal perpetrators and users of violence. According to Hines and Douglas [3], the use of “Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) by women against men is a phenomenon that has little attention, both within the scholarly literature and the popular media.” Not in a wider perspective anyone would imagine that a woman would reach that point of being the abuser: she being the one assaulting the man/woman physically, emotionally, psychologically, and in whatever ways. The long-established notion that women are harmless plus what Straus [4] asserts as, “most cultures define women as “the gentle sex,” making it difficult to perceive violence by women as being prevalent in any sphere of life”, cause hindrance on illuminating the reality that the female is capable of assaulting her partner. Contending the unconfined argument that women used violence because they are ‘pushed’ to the wall seems to be justifiable on one angle and unjustifiable on the other side of the spectrum. Universally and being human, we all are sometimes propelled to what I describe as ‘heating point’; in the moment when an anger succeeded in overpowering the sense of logical reasoning, where missing even a tiny bit of self-control.

Notwithstanding, it might be worth noting the complications of the research on why women are more and more becoming perpetrators of abuse; most in particular within the household community. Nevertheless, emphasis need not be transposed about the general view that men abuse. Capelon [1] pointed out that while in heterosexual relationships women sometimes fight back and in exceptional cases men are injured or killed, severe, repeated domestic violence is overwhelmingly initiated by men and inflicted on women. Attacks by men cause more injury (both physical and psychological), more deaths, and more fear [4]. Not all men are the perpetrators. Not all women are abusers.

But what happen when women become the principal perpetrators or the instigators of the violence? On several occasion, I’d sit down with men, engaging in a lengthy discussion about the causes of violence against women. Most of the responses I got from them were associated with the fact that many women ‘provoke’ the abuse either by endless nagging or direct assault. Irrespective of whatsoever; that does not warrant the beginning of an uninterrupted act of aggression against women. In order word— because a woman ‘provokes’ the man into a state of exasperation that he could think he is entitled to abuse her. Vice versa, it is not within my attention to defend women that are perpetrators of violence against their partners. For this research, women’s use of violence in IPV relates to both married and unmarried couples. It is worth noting that violence by women is not always restricted to their partners. It can be also directed at children, or elderly parents [5].

The next post will highlight the forms and causes of women’s use of violence in intimate relationship and why men do not report.

Works Cited 

1 Capelon, Rhonda. Intimate Terror: Understanding Domestic Violence as Torture. In Cook, Rebecca J., ed., Human Rights of Women: National and International Perspectives. University of Pennysylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1994.
2 Miles, Al. Facing Reality: Rationalization of Violent Behaviour. In Domestic Violence: What Every Pastor Needs To Know. Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2011.
3 Hines, Denise A. and Douglas, Emily M. Women’s Use of Intimate Partner Violence against Men: Prevalence, Implications, and Consequences. In Conradi, Lisa M. and Geffner, Robert, eds., Female Offenders of Intimate Partner Violence: Current Controversies, Research and Treatment Approaches. Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group, New York, 2012.
4 Straus, Murray A. Why the Overwhelming Evidence on Partner Physical Violence by Women Has Not Been Perceived and Is Often Denied Is. Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group, New York, 2012.
5 Mignon, Sylvia I. Domestic Violence by Women. In Jackson, Nicky Ali, ed., Encyclopedia od Domestic Violence. Routledge, New York, 2007.
6 McColgan, Aileen. Women as Subjects of Criminal Law. In Women Under the Law: The False Promise of Human Rights. Pearson Education Limited, Essex, 2000.
7 Watterson, Kathryn. Facing Facts: Who Gets Punished. What Are Their Crimes?. In Women in Prison: Inside the Concrete Womb. Northeastern University Press, Michigan, 1996.
8 Walker, Lenore. The Battered Woman Syndrome. Springer Publishing Company, New York, 2009.
9 Bryant-Davis, Thema. How Does Trauma Affect Safety? In Thriving In The Wake Of Trauma: A Multicultural Guide. AltaMira Press, Plymouth, 2008.
10 Turner, Jonathan H. and Stets, Jan E. Symbolic Interactionist Theorizing on Emotions. In The Sociolgy of Emotions. Cambridge University Press, New York, 2005.
11 Gavey, Nicola. Turning The Tables? Xomen Raping Men. In Just Sex? The Cultural Scaffolding of Rape. Routledge, New York, 2005.
12 Straus, Murray A. Women’s Violence Towards Men Is A Serious Social Problem. In Loseke, Donileen R. et al., eds., Current Controversies on Family Violence. Sage Publications Inc, Thousand Oaks, 2005.

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Feminist Church

Princess Ayelotan is a writer/poet, feminist and independent researcher. Her scholarly interest ranges widely, from — Creative Writing related to Gender issues; — Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), — Rape as a weapon of war, — Violence against disabled women, — Child Sexual Exploitation : e.g. child prostitution and trafficking, — Female economic empowerment — Activism.

2 thoughts on “What Happen When Women Become The Perpetrators? (1)”

  1. Very interesting read and I look forward to reading your next post. While, as you explained, women perpetrators aren’t near as common as the male abusers, it does happen. Perhaps a little more frequently than any of us care to admit. Do to the fact that men are reluctant to report the attacks. You have hinted at one key reason men don’t report the abuse. The public embarrassment and humiliation of calling for police protection because they are getting beat up by their lady, would be worse for them than taking another beating in private. This attitude is a result of the traditional view of men are strong and tough while women are soft and weak. From very young childhood men are thought to not cry, tough it out, walk it off. If a boy did cry or complain too much we ridiculed each other with “don’t be a baby” and “awe he’s going to cry like a little girl”. The shame of needing to be rescued from getting beat up by a, girl is just more than their already bruised and demoralized ego and psyche can tale. It may sound strange but a physical beating might seem preferable to a lot of guy in that situation. Anyway, look forward to you next post. And sorry, I didn’t mean to leave such a long comment. I will try to be briefer and more concise in the future.
    Michael Reiter

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