Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family

By Murray A. Straus; Richard J. Gelles et al. | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

The eight years since we first started to do research on physical violence in families has seen a radical shift in concern with this aspect of the family. At the beginning of this period almost the only aspect of family violence which commanded attention from either the general public or the scientific community was child abuse. Even in respect to child abuse, there were only two or three books. There was nothing in book form on physical violence between spouses.

The situation today is almost the opposite. There are many books, and even more articles. Just as an example, one of us personally owns twenty-nine different books on child abuse, nine on spouse abuse, and three which cover both child abuse and spouse abuse. It is unfortunate that the latter category is least well represented because we believe that neither child abuse nor spouse abuse can be adequately understood outside of the entire context of violence in the family. Therefore, one of the distinctive contributions of this book is that it focuses on violence in the family as a whole.

What do we mean by "violence in the family as a whole"? It is more than just including materials on both child abuse and spouse abuse between the same covers.To start with, it means carefully considering the relationship between the two. But even that does not truly address the issue of violence in the family as a whole. It leaves out, for example, violence between the children in a family, and violence by children against their parents. It also leaves out what some people call "verbal vio

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