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VIOLENT FAMILIES - COPING RESPONSES OF ABUSED WIVES

NCJ Number
55772
Journal
Child Welfare Volume: 57 Issue: 2 Dated: (FEBRUARY 1978) Pages: 101-111
Author(s)
J H PFOUTS
Date Published
1978
Length
11 pages
Annotation
A THEORETICAL SCHEMA ANALYZES THE RESPONSES OF ABUSED WIVES IN TERMS OF THEIR COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS OF THE MARRIAGE AND ITS ALTERNATIVES. IT IS TESTED WITH 35 CASES FROM A NORTH CAROLINA COUNTY WELFARE DEPARTMENT.
Abstract
THE ANALYSIS IS DIRECTED AT SOCIAL WORKERS AND IS INTENDED TO HELP THEM UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEMS AND EFFECT CHANGE IN THE SITUATION. BECAUSE OF THE SOURCE, THE CASES DISPROPORTIONATELY REPRESENT POORLY EDUCATED AND ECONOMICALLY DEPRIVED WOMEN. HOWEVER, THEY MIRROR RESPONSES DESCRIBED BY OTHERS IN THE LITERATURE. THE SCHEMA CONSISTS OF A DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF FOUR RESPONSES, EACH BASED ON THE WIFE'S PERCEIVED BENEFITS OF MARRIAGE (HIGH OR LOW) AND PERCEIVED ALTERNATIVES. WOMEN IN A MARRIAGE WITH FEW BENEFITS, BUT WHO HAVE FEW ALTERNATIVES ARE SEEN AS RESPONDING IN A SELF-PUNISHING WAY, THE TYPICAL 'VICTIMS' OF THE LITERATURE. THE WELFARE DEPARTMENT HAS BECOME INVOLVED BECAUSE OF CHILD NEGLECT OR ABUSE BY THE FATHER. WOMEN IN HIGH-BENEFIT MARRIAGES BUT WITH FEW ALTERNATIVES ARE SEEN AS RESPONDING AGGRESSIVELY, SOMETIMES WITH VIOLENCE AGAINST THE HUSBAND, BUT MORE OFTEN WITH VIOLENCE AGAINST THE CHILDREN. THESE FAMILIES ARE FREQUENTLY SEEN BY THE POLICE DUE TO THEIR DOMESTIC DISTURBANCES. WIVES IN LOW-BENEFIT MARRIAGES WHO HAVE ALTERNATIVES EITHER LEAVE QUICKLY OR FORCE THE END OF ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR. A WIFE IN A HIGH-BENEFIT MARRIAGE WHO HAS ALTERNATIVES FREQUENTLY DEVOTES MANY YEARS TO 'SAVING' THE MARRIAGE, THEN LEAVES WHEN FINALLY CONVINCED THAT THE ABUSE IS TOO HIGH A PRICE FOR HER AND HER CHILDREN. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN WIFE ABUSE AND CHILD ABUSE IS POINTED OUT FOR EACH SITUATION. SOCIAL WORK RESPONSES FOR EACH COPING MECHANISM ARE DISCUSSED. REFERENCES ARE INCLUDED. (GLR)