Source: Intro Music by Mark Hannan; Public Domain
Hello, welcome to Sociological Studies. Thank you for joining me.
I want to start this lesson on family violence with this provocative quote on the board from sociologist Gelles, given to us in 1984. Gelles said, "The family is the most violent group in society except the military and the police." What do you make of that? It certainly is provocative. It makes very strong claims about violence in society and about an institution that is supposed to be loving, nurturing, caring.
Well, family violence happens in many ways, and it doesn't always have to happen physically. It can happen emotionally, sexually. Family violence is defined then as really when one family member enacts physical, emotional, or sexual violence against another member of the family.
Violence is often against significant others, and it can also be against children. So men can be violent towards women. Women can be violent towards men. Both can be violent towards children.
Historically and contemporary, so both then and now, women are much more likely than men to be victims of family violence. And regrettably then, family violence often goes unreported. It goes unreported because it is difficult to track. Women don't readily come forward and bring charges against their husband or their partner, and children certainly don't readily come forward.
These signs have to be recognized by trained professionals in children because children don't often come forward with these charges of family violence, and often they don't really know any different. They think this is just how family and life is. So family violence is very difficult to track and get accurate statistics on.
Also, historically, the family, the household, has been seen as a bastion of privacy, of the private sphere. So historically then, if abuse is going on within a family, if two spouses are fighting and a physical altercation breaks out, well then society has typically said, well, that's a private family matter. They'll sort it out. Except obviously in cases of extreme violence, like murder, extreme, extreme abuse, et cetera. But for the most part, society said, OK, this is a private matter.
And historically, women have been regarded as the property of men such that there were no marital rape laws in the past, but now there are. And women can even now bring a restraining order against her husband, whereas in the past, this was impossible. So we moved from this history now, and society is now recognizing the need to recognize and stop family violence. So there are much more caution and laws than there were in the past, and it's seen less as a private domestic matter and more of a broader social issue than it ever was before.
In addition to spousal or partner family violence, family violence also happens to children. Children can be physically beaten or they could be harshly punished. They could be locked away for six hours in a dark room.
But it's not just physical violence. Children can be emotionally neglected, and his can often have massive effects on personality development later on in life. Both physical and emotional violence can affect personality development.
And studies have shown that family violence is a learned behavior, meaning that family violence begets more family violence. Abusing children makes them that much more likely that they will abuse their children later on in life. So family violence to children is extremely damaging, and children will look at even violence between their parents and then later, more likely to reproduce that in their own intimate relationships.
Well, thank you for joining me in this discussion of family violence. Have a great rest of your day.
Physical, emotional, or sexual violence enacted by one family member against another.