weaknesses as battering men and are in a situation where they can physically
abuse their partner. In the 1990s it was known that women are victims of 11
times more reported abuse than men (Ingrassia & Beck, 1994). That may be
changing. But, as mentioned, men may be hesitant to label themselves as
"battered husbands." Spouse abuse occurs in all social classes and with
independent as well as dependent women and men. Society, relatives,
strangers, neighbors, and the police dont know how to deal with family fights
but society pays the bills in the emergency rooms, in marriage counseling,
and in divorce court.
Abuse should not happen but no treatment is a sure cure; in fact we don't
even have a good cure. About half of male batterers will not get treatment
and half of those that do, drop out. Little has been written about treatment
for female batterers. In most cases, it is wise to report male batterers and
their abuse to the police. Most police have had some training in handling
"domestic violence" cases; however, officers in New York, which has a
mandatory-arrest law, arrest only 7% of the cases and only report 30% of the
domestic violence calls (Ingrassia & Beck, 1994). Police are supposed to
provide the victim some protection (of course, this is hard to do and can't be
guaranteed). Recent research confirms the benefits of pressing charges in
abuse cases. If the abuse is not reported to the police, about 40% of the
victims were attacked again within six months. If the abuse is reported by
battered wives, only 15% were assaulted again during the next six months.
So, protect yourself.
Almost no one asks the question should women who batter their husbands be
reported to the police? Well, it seems fair that women batterers should be
reported to police like men are
but women do not kill partners at the same
rate as men do. And there are other buts: what would this reporting do to the
already shaky relationship? And how would Police handle that task? Police
have enough trouble taking male batterers seriously; do we know how they
would deal with female batterers?
Why do women stay?
To the outsider the real question is: Why do they stay together? Why
doesn't she leave? Or, why doesnt he leave? Why should she have to leave
instead of him? If they stay together, there must be varied and complex
dynamics which tie an abusive couple together. We have much speculation;
we need more facts. Clearly, there are likely to be emotional bonds, fears,
shame, guilt, children to care for, money problems, and hope that things will
get better. Many abused women are isolated and feel unable to find love
again. Some women assume abuse is their lot as a woman; this isfor them-
-an expected part of life. A few women even believe a real, emotional,
exciting macho "man" just naturally does violent things and feels superior to
women. Some violent men are contrite later and even charmingly seductive.
Some women believe they are responsible for his mental turmoil and/or are
afraid he will kill himself or them. She may think she deserves the abuse.
Many believe he will beat them more or kill them, if they report the assaults
to the police. Of course, injury and death do occur. The abused woman often
becomes terrorized and exhausted, feeling totally helpless. Walker (1979,
1993) says the learned helplessness (within a cycle of violence and making