WORKING WITH BATTERED WOMEN: A Handbook for Health Care Professionals

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Why do Men Abuse?

One side of the dynamics is that men abuse. Why? Because abuse is:

  • Sanctioned: many traditional laws and religions, until recently, permitted or encouraged men to beat their wives (the reverse has not been true);

  • Socialized behaviour: men learn to be violent toward women from their families and their fathers, and other male role models, especially those on television, in the movies, and in magazines;

  • Systems failure: men often keep abusing because no oneónot their families, not their friends, not the neighbours, not the police, not the media, the workplace, the church or the courtsóno one effectively intervenes;

  • Strategic: batterers inflict the greatest violence and the greatest damage when women try to leave. The strategy of abuse is to keep the woman from escaping;

  • Successful: the man gets away with it, and gets his way;

  • blamed on Substance abuse: men often say, "I was drunk and out of control. I didn't know what I was doing." Abuse of alcohol or drugs does not interfere with men's control. Drinkers rarely beat up their drinking buddies or the police, but they often beat their wives. (See also Violence and Substance Abuse.)


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