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The main sources of conflict are:

  1. Husband's expectations regarding a woman's domestic work.
  2. Possessiveness and sexual jealousy.
  3. Allocation of family resources (money).

As Abbott and Wallace (1990) note, the main trigger for violence is the male perception that a partner is failing in her duties. The Dobash study found that these duties tend to be about sex, money and home making. The perception by the male that the woman is somehow failing is often compounded by the women themselves believing that they deserved to be beaten. This belief in female provocation is a strong aspect of our culture. In the Dobash study, 31% of the wives said there were circumstances when the man has the right to hit his wife; for neglecting the children; sleeping around and for failing to care for her husband.

Men use diverse and often severe forms of physical force although the usual method of attack is slapping, punching and kicking.

1. In the Dobash study, the majority of women experienced at least two attacks a week. For 25% the violence lasted between 45 minutes and five hours. The violence was most likely to occur between 10pm and 12am. 80% of attacks were usually on a Friday and Saturday night.

The majority of the women were assaulted in the home.

2. In the Pahl study (1985), 62% of women subjected to violence for three or more years. The injuries ranged from cuts and bruises to broken bones, stab wounds and fractured skull and ruptured spleen. These finding were confirmed in a larger study by Binney (1981) where 30% of the women in the study had suffered life threatening attacks or had been hospitalised.

50% of Binney's sample had been beaten for more than six years.

Violence tends to begin early in these relationships. The Dobash study found that 41% who had used refuges had been attacked within six months of the wedding.

It is difficult for women to avoid violence since the usual methods, withdrawal, or agreeing with the accuser, are either not available to women or may increase the violence.

70% of the women in the Dobash study said that arguments with their husbands nearly always ended in an attack.

Women seldom respond to attack with violence themselves. The Dobash study put the figure at 24%.

After the attack most women must remain in the home since there are few real alternatives.

Walker (1979) uses the concept of learned helplessness to explain women?s reluctance or inability to leave a violent home. But having no house, no job, no money and the children to look after further prevents them. Furthermore, leaving home does not always end the violence since men will quite commonly pursue the wife even after she has left home.

Men commonly fail to react to the consequences of their actions; they ignore the beating and act as if nothing had happened (80% in the Dobash study), and/or they blame the wives ('she made me do it'). Regrets, even if expressed, become less likely as the attacks continue. Remorse, if expressed often took the form of 'helping with the dishes'. While the presence of others may inhibit violence its effect is limited and in some cases the presence of others may even increase the level of violence.