In more ways than one, relationships can be a bit of a headache at times! That’s what makes them loving, constructive, interesting and intriguing, on the one hand. Unfortunately, on the other hand, they can also be argumentative, distasteful, destructive and deceitful. Too much of the latter, beyond the occasional ‘falling out’ which is a normal part of every meaningful relationship, can also make the relationship abusive. Stretching the ‘headache’ analogy (perhaps a little too far!), an abusive relationship can be like an unexpected migraine, where the solution lies in understanding what has caused it.
Social class, culture, race, ethnicity, creed or age are definitely not causative factors. Domestic abuse is present in all areas of society, as it is in all geographical areas in the country. A recent study shows that domestic abuse is just as prevalent in higher socio-economic groups, as it is in less well-off groups.
Drugs, alcohol and mental health issues (the so-called ‘toxic trio’), obviously play a part, but so too does being a victim of childhood abuse, and (not surprisingly) an inherent propensity for violence.
Oddly, poor anger management is not necessarily a factor, as domestic abuse, is more about exerting control, rather than losing control. In fact coercion and control is a specific criminal offence, and excessive financial control forms part of the Home Office definition of domestic abuse.
Sex and gender are interesting variables when it comes to understanding domestic abuse. It is seen as being predominantly a male perpetrator/female victim phenomenon, but the converse is definitely not unheard of. In fact, several studies place men and women as experiencing domestic abuse in roughly equal proportions. However, it is widely accepted that most victims of domestic abuse are female and most perpetrators are male. Men have to face what has become known in academic circles as ‘the believability hurdle’. Sexuality does not significantly alter this analysis as domestic abuse is present in same-sex relationships in roughly the same proportion.
Recent years have seen the advent of several government initiatives, including legal developments, which are designed to reduce, or alleviate, if not eliminate the pain that victims of domestic abuse suffer.
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