The Making of a Batterer (Socialization and Reinforcement) By: Benedict Brizanprint page

     Today another woman died and not on a foreign field,  and not with a rifle strapped to her back, and not with a large defense of tanks rumbling and rolling behind her.


    She died without CNN covering her war; she died without talk of intelligent bombs and strategic targets.


    The target was simply her face, her back her pregnant belly. The target was her precious flesh that was once composed like music in her mother’s body and sung in the anthem of birth.

     The target was this life that had lived its own wildness,  had been loved and not loved, had danced and not danced.


    A life like yours or mine that had stumbled up from a beginning and had learned to walk and had learned to read and had learned to sing.  


Another woman died today. Not far from where you live; just there, next door where the tall light falls across the pavement.  


Just there, a few steps away where you’ve often heard shouting.

Another woman died today. She was the same girl her mother used to kiss; the same child you dreamed beside in school; the same baby her parents walked in the night with and listened and listened and listened for her cries even while they slept. 


   And someone had confused his rage with this woman’s only life.

---Carol Geneya Kaplan

Not only does this poem represent the a deep expression of the limited attention given to Domestic violence but the commonality, and closeness of the problem and the lack of understanding of its seriousness, especially by perpetrators of the violence.

As Carol Geneya Kaplan stated in the last line of her poem, “someone has confused his rage with this woman’s only life.”

Where did such rage come from? How could anyone inflict serious wounds on someone they claim to love, live with and at the same time feel ok with such behavior. There is no single answer, however, most researchers believe that such behavior is as a result of deeply entrenched cultural beliefs and socialization.

Bill Ibelle, Standard New York Times writer, in his article “Why Batterers do what they do,” wrote about an incidence where a 35 year old male jammed a pork chop into his wife’s face as he sneered “you disgust me.”

Two days later his wife called the police. The cut on her face from the pork chop was still visible. It was a minor incident in comparison to past abuse. The young man was given a six months suspended sentence with conditions that he attend Batterer’s Treatment Program. He entered the system convinced that he was the victim of an overzealous criminal justice system and an overwrought wife.

In spite of the years of abuse, that young man did not consider himself a Batterer. In fact, he thought of Batterers as the scum of the earth.

This case is typical of most batterers. This view is mainly as a result of socialization and cultural beliefs. Most societies, even in ours, still maintain some level of patriarchy, where male control and dominance is legitimized.

 Deep within most men is the belief that they should be in control of their women. In fact in some societies some women also believe that they should be controlled by their men. Such beliefs were not created by the individual but by the society in which they live. So, the pro-feminist would say domestic abuse is the product of a sexist society, that accepts male dominance over women. Men have been taught to view women as sex objects, that a women is a man’s property and that it is both the right and duty of the man to dominate.

 Mr. David Adams of Emerge in Boston stated “What is at the core of the problem is that men don’t respect women. What needs to change is the sense of entitlement- that it is their right to control the lives of their partner. Battering is not a sickness, it is learned behavior.”

In essence pro-feminist believes that batterers are control freaks who consciously manipulate their partners to ensure that they get their way. It seems clear to me that before one takes on the role batterer, he has to view the victim a certain way. Batterers did not adapt their behavior from no-where. In most cases, they came form the home or community, where problems were solved by using violence or force. It is a way of asserting control.

It is clearly a distorted view and lack of problems solving skills that lead to such behavior.
Batterers need to be oriented to new ways of looking at themselves, their partners, their roles and the way they problem solve. This can take place both in individual and group therapy, designed specifically for the batterer.

In spite of the fact that I focused mainly on the male as the dominant perpetrator, it should be noted that the number of men reporting as victims is increasing.

There are other perspectives related to the cause of battering which the focus and length of this article would not facilitate.

Regardless of the origin of the problem I believe that in dealing with the problem the focus should be:

1) Safety of the victim.

2) Re-education of the victim regarding detection of early warning signs, reporting procedure and help resources.

3) Re-education of men and women on their roles.

4) Education of children related to valuing and respecting each other. 5. Raising the awareness of communities related to the seriousness of the problem.

Domestic Violence Hand Book:

Abused Men: The Hidden side of Domestic Violence by Phillip W. Cook
Attitudes Towards Domestic Violence: Race and Gender Issues, in sex roles: A journal of research by Lisa M. Locke and Charles L. Richman

Abused and Battered: Social and Legal Responses to Family Violence by Dean D. Knudsen and JoAnn L. Miller

The Batterer: A Psychological profile by Donald G Dutton, Susan K. Golant 


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