From “Spousal Abuse” to “Domestic Violence”
Dr. Mark S. Latkovic
September 14, 2014
We’ve gone from speaking of “spousal abuse” to the generic term “domestic violence” (Houses fighting each other?). This, it seems, reflects the move away from stable institutions such as marriage and even traditional dating practices (“going steady,” courtship) to being simply “in a relationship,” i.e., living together, or what used to be called, “living in sin.” Although men – suspended NFL star Ray Rice being the poster boy – are the prime perpetrators of domestic violence (but in Rice’s and his then fiancé’s case, the despicable attack occurred in an elevator not a domicile, as it did in the latter with South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius and his girlfriend, who he killed), the way the term “domestic violence” is used today often implies men can never be victims of it themselves. Ironically, of course, the term “wife beater” (rarely was it “husband beater”) made it clear that it was usually the man/husband not the woman/wife doing the hitting. But if, for instance, you watch true crime shows such as Dateline, 48 Hours, and the programs on the Investigation Discovery channel, it’s hard not to realize that women are not only victims of domestic violence but offenders as well – even if not as violent as men. Clear cases all of the continuing, since the fall of Adam and Eve, and one of its tragic consequences, “war of the sexes.” Let’s be clear: Domestic violence or abuse of any sort by any one is an evil. But the flimsy terms we use to describe it, reflect a troubling social reality of marital and family breakdown that may in turn result in making the problem worse.