Woman/Domestic Abuse vs Marital Conflict

From Little Eyes, Little Ears: How Violence Against a Woman Shapes Children As They Grow, p. 32

by Alison Cunningham and Linda Baker, Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System

The need for differential response2

Interventions should ensure safety and respect individual needs and differences

In devising an intervention strategy, service deliverers consider the severity and frequency of violence,  look for power and control tactics, and ask about any other adverse experiences affecting the children.

Woman abuse is different than marital conflict

While woman abuse can occur without physical assaults, relatively minor incidents such as slapping and pushing can occur once or twice in relationships not otherwise characterized by coercive control tactics.19 Continue reading

Some Sobering Abuse Statistics

Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. Source: Commonwealth Fund survey, 1998

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 1998 and 2002:

* Of the almost 3.5 million violent crimes committed against family members, 49% of these were crimes against spouses.
* 84% of spouse abuse victims were females, and 86% of victims of dating partner abuse at were female.
* Males were 83% of spouse murderers and 75% of dating partner murderers
* 50% of offenders in state prison for spousal abuse had killed their victims. Wives were more likely than husbands to be killed by their spouses: wives were about half of all spouses in the population in 2002, but 81% of all persons killed by their spouse.

Matthew R. Durose et al., U.S. Dep’t of Just., NCJ 207846, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Family Violence Statistics: Including Statistics on Strangers and Acquaintances, at 31-32 (2005), available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/fvs.pdf

So it does seem like a much bigger problem than we generally think.

And it’s true that very often, a victim of domestic violence will choose the same type of partner in a subsequent relationship. So it can be a recurring problem.

Domestic Violence and Abuse: Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships

One of the best and most comprehensive descriptions  I’ve seen of the problem of domestic abuse is at HelpGuide.org, and is entitled  Domestic Violence and Abuse: Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships. A couple of excerpts follow, but please read the whole page, as it is full of all kinds of excellent information and links.

Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence..

This statement is one of the main reasons that people in the BDSM world do not recognize abuse when they see it, because this is what we basically do – or at least it’s what it looks like.  It is the reason they don’t think the concept applies to them.

This is untrue, and does very much relate to wiittwd because, as the following paragraph states:

Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under their thumb. Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.

In a healthy D/s or even M/s relationship, the dom or master may want total control, and that may well be reasonable, once the relationship progresses to where both know what they’re getting into, but a mature dominant will definitely play fair, consider your limits, etc.

MsAuthoritarian concludes on Fetlife that, “It is not what we do within our relationships but ‘how we do it’ that creates the distinction between a healthy dynamic and an abusive dynamic no matter if it is within mainstream or what it is we do. If someone is using fear of harm, guilt, shame, intimidation or violence to gain and maintain dominance then it is domestic abuse plain and simple”.

This is extremely succinct and very well put.  A healthy D/s relationship – or any relationship, for that matter – should build the sub up, not tear her down (and ditto for the dom).  It should leave both parties feeling better about themselves overall, regardless of the nature of the relationship, and as if the relationship enhances their lives and brings out the best in them both.

To read more about abuse in the BDSM community, please visit the Abuse vs BDSM – An Uncomfortable Subject thread on Fetlife.