Module 1 Essay
Measurement of Violence Specific to Women
Part 1: The Conflict Tactics Scale was developed as one way to evaluate responses to conflict within relationships. Although the CTS is widely used to evaluate responses to conflict in the family unit, there are some limitations in using this evaluation tool as a measure of violent tactics against women (Kurz, 1998). “Gender-neutral” (Kurz, 1998) terminology obscures the significance of violence specific to women. Kurz suggests that violence identified via the CTS is not specific to females and the issue of violence against women becomes very generalized.
Other weaknesses of the survey include its sole reliance on self-reporting, which is dependent on a person’s memory. It also depends on a person’s individual experiences and any operational definitions of the concepts in the items within the survey (Kurz, 1998). Victims of violence may be conditioned to make excuses for the abuser and not report their abusive behavior. Other weaknesses of the CTS include unclear definitions of violence and abuse. The context in which the violence and abuse occurred is not addressed. There is no clarification as to why the violence occurred or if that could even be determined. The use of the CTS masks the problem of violence against women. Violence against women is often covered up in other research focused on family rather than on women themselves. Kurz (1998) states that research focuses on violence in a multitude of situations such as divorce, family, work, rather than focusing on the violence against women that find themselves in these situations. This article does not minimize the violence of these situations or their impact on families; but recognizes that women are intimately in these situations and are greatly impacted.
According to Kurz (1998), there are also several limitations to the CTS tool itself. This tool is based on the premise that all conflicts have a cause and effect and all conflicts are addressed in ways to attempt to settle those differences whether these methods are acceptable or not. It also implies that the less violent responses to conflict are in some way less abusive. In addition, the CTS does not offer a way to detect patterns of violence beyond a 12-month period. Neither does it not offer a way to identify triggers that may exist in violent situations.
The CTS does not address calculated abuse or intentional cruelty that is not in response to a conflict in a relationship. The CTS does not measure violent responses to violent acts. Few items on the CTS clearly address mental and emotional abuse. In addition, the laws/policies made based on research using data from the CTS may not focus on providing assistance for women who are victims of violence.
Part 2: Vanita was a young lady whose parents arranged her marriage to a man who was currently living in the United States as legal immigrant. Immediately after the marriage, the husband returned to the United States alone in order to apply for a conditional visa for Vanita. When Vanita finally arrived at her new home, multiple restrictions were put on her behavior including how she dressed, her social interactions as well as all other aspects of her life. Her husband said she was supposed to consider him her “God” and was supposed to be completely subservient to him. She suffered sexual battery and assault on a regular basis and she lived in constant fear of him having her deported without her son. Vanita felt the return home would be demeaning in her parent’s eyes. She would be considered a failure and did not want to abandon her son with an abusive man. Later she suspected her husband had not even filed the proper documents for her to be in the United States legally and feared she would be found by the authorities.
Dasgupta (1998) discusses “The Supportive Circles of Social Institutions and Culture” in the assigned reading. In reviewing this circle, violence is the category outlined in the inner circle. Power and control are central to the inner circle. Vanita is most definitely a victim of her husband’s sense of power and control. He used almost all the behaviors outlined in this section including “intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, children, male privilege, economic abuse, coercion and threats” (Dasgupta, 1998).
The second circle of “The Supportive Circles of Social Institutions and Culture” is labeled Institutions (Dasgupta, 1998). The pertinent components in this circle that relate to Vanita’s situation include “police, government, economics, and the threat of courts” (Dasgupta, 1998). Vanita was subjected to the threat of deportation, the legal ramifications of living in America illegally since she suspected her husband had not completed and submitted the appropriate forms for her visa.
The third or outer circle in the assigned reading is labeled Culture. The components of this circle that relate to Vanita’s situation include “values, traditions, and rituals” (Dasgupta, 1998). She lived in fear of her husband. Traditions in her culture kept her from standing up to her husband and dealing effectively with his abuse. The laws of this country also contributed to her abusive situation because her ability to stay in America and be with her child was in the hands of her abuser.
If the CTS was used to measure Vanita’s situation as it relates to abuse, several aspects of her abuse would be overlooked. There is no way to capture the fear his abusive behavior elicits in her. She may see some of his behavior as routine because of their culture. Therefore, she may not be able to accurately report the numbers or frequency of the violent behaviors. There is no way to solicit information about the emotional abuse that results from fear of deportation, the fear of separation from her child, or the countless other methods her husband may have used to have power and control over her.
Dasgupta, S. D. (1998). Women’s realities: Defining violence against women by immigration, race and class, pp 209-219.
Kurz, D. (1998). Old problems and new directions in the study off violence against women, pp 197-208.