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Many different forms of violence exist with each having adverse effects on its victims. Almost everyone has been exposed to violence whether it has been through the media, walking down the street, or experiencing it personally. The type of violence that so many are exposed to through society is not that of the private sphere, but the public sphere of violence. Society teaches our children that walking alone at night is not safe and not to talk to strangers. Society also tells women not to go out alone and not to dress too revealing or she may get raped. These are messages that speak of the public dangers that we should be aware of in order to protect ourselves. We learn that home is where you are safe and that family will protect you. This is not always the case. Violence occurs in the family as well. It is a type of violence we have labeled as wife abuse, which is a form a violence that Canadian society has only recently begun to examine. Perhaps a possible explanation for this is that wife abuse may be linked to families and divorce. After all, preserving the nuclear family is something that Canadian society has strived so hard to do.
Many explanations from all areas have emerged about why wife abuse occurs and the costs it has on the family, all of which have contributed to further knowledge of wife abuse. Some explanations have come to conclude that violence is natural or that violence is the husband's right in order to maintain control over his wife. These types of explanations are detrimental and need to be disregarded. A sociological perspective does not hold faith in these types of examinations. Instead, sociology believes that many factors, such as social learning, attitudes, etc., are what contributed to the causes of wife abuse. This paper will examine and discuss several causes and effects of wife abuse from a sociological perspective. The causes to be examined will be social learning, culture, attitudes, values, economic and political realties and patriarchy. The effects to be examined will be divorce, job loss, relationship with peers, schooling, murder and poverty in relationship to women and children who have been exposed to wife abuse. It will be the intent of this paper to demonstrate that there is no one answer to why wife abuse occurs. Instead, this paper will show that many factors contribute to wife abuse.
The first area to be examined is social learning of violence. Much research into violence supports the idea that violence is learned. People can learn violence in the home or in the public sphere of life. It is the people and ideas that individuals are exposed to daily that has a high influence on our behavior. According to the social learning theory, "people form ideas about how to behave and how to solve problems through observing influential people in their lives"(Johnson, 1996: 2). From the day of birth we are exposed to many people, whether it is family, peers, or strangers on television, with each contributing to how we perceive ways to behave. Exposure to many people over a life span usually means exposure to violence. Violence "becomes the way in which problems are solved, if the consequences of using violence are perceived as positive, and if the opportunity to learn more peaceful means are infrequent or unavailable" (Johnson, 1996: 2). Perceiving violence as positive in Canadian society may be the case. Violence is plastered all over the media, games and in books to mention a few. It has been acceptable in Canadian culture for us to spank our children, beat our wives and use violence to express frustration. It is not often that an individual is not exposed to violence. Research has shown that "individuals will copy aggressive behavior they see on television or in movies if it is performed by someone they identify strongly or share common characteristics" with (Johnson, 1996: 2). Children who are continuously exposed to violence through society may become desensitized to violence and view it as natural behavior.
Desensitization of violence can also occur from observing it in the family. Evidence has shown "that men who have been exposed to violence as children, either as witnesses to violence by their fathers or as victims of parental violence, are more likely to be violent toward their wives later in life" (Johnson, 1996: 2). It is apparent through examination of research that violent behavior occurring in the family, is socially learned. In the family is where many people learn most of their morals, values, attitudes, and behavior. Therefore, it can be concluded that witnessing or experiencing violence in the family would largely contribute to people becoming violent themselves.
Being continuously exposed to violence, whether in the home or in society, reinforces husbands to be violent toward their wives. Reinforcement is an important part of the social learning theory. Violence, according to the social learning theory, "will increase in
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McCue, Johnson, Gelles, Straus, Kurtz, Petersen, Trimmer, Conway, Kalmuss,
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Canadian society, Canadian Journal of Sociology., Ontario Federation of Labour, Canadian government, Social Service, Ontario Federation, R.,
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Canada., Ottawa, California, London, H.,
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Sage Publications, ABC-CLIO, Inc,
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