Why Does He Abuse? Why Does She Stay?

Social and Cultural Roots of Domestic Abuse
  • Cathryn GoodchildEmail author


Cathryn Goodchild domestic abuse as affecting females of all races, social classes, religions, cultural backgrounds and sexual orientations. Whilst males are also victims of domestic abuse, official statistics and patterns for physical and sexual violence confirm domestic abuse as a gendered crime. The vast majority of victims of repeated incidents are women, the majority of perpetrators men (Refuge c2016). Figures also reveal that a woman is hit on average 35 times before seeking help. Goodchild asks: Why? What leads a male to abuse his wife or girlfriend repeatedly and what prevents women from seeking assistance sooner or leaving their abuser altogether? Crucially, why is domestic abuse so rife? In answering these questions, for Goodchild it is important to recognise that perpetrators of domestic abuse are made, not born (Bancroft, Why does he do that: 2003), as are victims/survivors. Core attitudes affecting their personal choices and modes of conduct are planted, and shaped, by childhood upbringings, as well as by signals received from their wider society, including damaging examples set by law, religion and popular culture. Goodchild explores the pervasive social and cultural messages encouraging men to abuse women physically, sexually and emotionally, and that simultaneously push women to stay with their abusive partners. Referring to her own experience of an abusive long-term relationship, she examines the practical social barriers and psychological obstacles keeping women trapped and shows how patriarchal society emotionally abuses and coercively controls females from girlhood, priming them for abusive intimate relationships with males. Concluding, she draws comparisons between domestic abuse and broader forms of oppression, and asks how we can achieve the large-scale and long-term social and cultural change necessary to achieve true gender equality and prevent males from routinely abusing females in the future.


Physical Violence Emotional Abuse Popular Culture Abusive Relationship Domestic Abuse 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Freelance WriterHampshireUK

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