The Domestic Assault of Women: Psychological and Criminal Justice Perspectives

By Donald G. Dutton | Go to book overview

Preface

Since the first edition of this book was published in 1988, there has been an explosion of research interest in family violence. Researchers 'discovered' family violence in the sense that Columbus 'discovered' America, although the discovery was no news to those who already lived there. However, the fact that wife assault is more common than was believed twenty years ago, that police now routinely respond to wife assault calls, that shelter houses are more abundant than before, and that court-mandated treatment groups are now commonplace all testify to the productivity of a social response to family violence generated largely by the women's movement. There is now a dawning recognition that family violence and wife assault are not 'family problems' but problems for all society. Children who grow up in abusive homes are more at risk for committing violence themselves, both within and outside their own families.

Arrest and treatment combinations still seem the best bet to reduce recidivism, but the success of these depends on conditions in the broader social fabric: the victim's willingness to report the abuse, the willingness of the police to make arrests, and the man's willingness to complete group treatment and to stop his violence. In the absence of these factors, a criminal justice system solution will not succeed.

The explosion of research made the process of updating The Domestic Assault of Women a challenge. What I tried to do was to add the methodologically most strong research on the major questions posed in the first edition. Do men become violent out of power or powerlessness? Is intimate violence inherited? Is there a personality type associated with intimate violence? Why do battered women stay with their oppressor? Does arrest reduce repeat violence? Do treatment groups work? What does the future hold? Although the conclusions do not differ strongly from the first edition, the evidence presented is much firmer.

Chapter 1 of the present edition contains an expanded history of social

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