THE INFLUENCE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ON FAMILY RELATIONSHIP AMONG COUPLES
The study examined the influence of domestic violence on family relationship among couples in Oshodi/Isolo Local Government Area of Lagos State. Descriptive research survey design was used, while a self-designed questionnaire was used as the major instrument. A total of 102 respondents were sampled. Four null hypotheses were formulated and tested using the independent t-test statistical tool at 0.05 level of significance. At the end of the analyses, the result shows that: there is a significant difference between domestic violence and family relationship among new couples and the aged ones. There is a significant difference between domestic violence and family relationship among Christian and Muslim families in Oshodi/Isolo Local Government Area of Lagos State. There is a significant difference between the emotional stability of children of parents who engaged in domestic violence and those who do not. There is no significant difference in the prevalent rate of domestic violence among male and female spouses in the area.
1.1 Background to the Study
Domestic abuse is a problem that is entrenched in many society across the globe and Nigeria is not exception. Research in this area has shown that this type of violence has touched the lives of many Nigerian couples. Although societal awareness and condemnation of the issue has increased in recent years. Domestic violence remain a hidden and persistent problem because of the power and control held by the abuser, the fear, intimidation and humiliation suffered by the victim of this crime. The oldest and most prevalent institution in the world today is the marriage institution. In all culture, there is a particular sanctity attached to this institution, so much that it is particularly considered to be a building block of any society. The pivotal position of marriage has made domestic violence a subject of interest to various disciplines, government, religious sects and professional associations.
American Psychological Association (APA) (1996) defined domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behaviour including a wide range of physical, sexual, and psychological maltreatment used by a person in an intimate relationship against another to gain power unfairly or to maintain that person misuse of power, control and authority. If the abuse between intimate partners in which one person tries to control the other person through violence. Domestic violence is other wise called spousal abuse.
The role of spouse in family relationship is significant, such that some people have acclaimed it to the power of surviving family adjustment. However, this role has its own problems. some spouses have been found to be abused in various forms, ranging from sexual to financial abuse and communicative abuse. All these have implication on family relationship. Domestic violence occurs in traditional heterosexual marriages, as well as in some sexual partnership. The abuse may occur during a relationship, while the couple is breakup, or after the relationship has ended. The key elements of domestic violence are: intimidation, humiliation and physical injury. Going by the definition of domestic violence couples engage in it to control the other partner and keep him/her from departing or quitting the relationship.
A critical look at the definition of domestic violence will reveal that they assume the dimension of portraying women as the victims bearing the brunt, while men are seen perpetrators. This could be as a result of the widely held beliefs that women are the weaker sex while men are by right, the head of the family that must be obeyed. Nigeria as a country has her own fair share of domestic violence, which could be seen in the rate of divorce, separation and marital dishonesty in the country.
According to Ajila (2000) in his study on wife beating in western Nigeria, it was found that 32% of women indicated that they have experienced abuse, 21% believe strongly that wives should be beaten while 72% believe that wives should be beaten once in a while. Bakare (1986) identified marital conflict to exist along a particular continuum which are:
1. Occasional verbal quarrels
2. Frequent verbal quarrels
3. Occasional physiological quarrel
4. Frequent physical quarrel
5. Psychological separation
6. Physical separation
A close look at this shows that a particular couple is expected to go through the whole stages, but it is not necessarily so in all situations. Some couples get to the divorce stage without going through physical quarrels and physical separation, while some resolve the conflict completely before it gets to divorce stage.
Researchers indicated domestic violence, through prevalent in Nigeria is still largely under reported, if reported at all. The causes of domestic violence can be seen in two broad categories. The traditional causes are those factors that are commonly seen and discussed as leading to fighting among couples. They are immediate causes that can be pin pointed as leading to violence in the home. These include, among others, sex role, sexual dissatisfaction and infidelity, ego message, feeling of staying control, income petibility, religion conflict, alcohol consumption, money matters, childlessness, influence of inlaws etc. Secondly contemporary causes of domestic violence are those underlying remote factors that are not easily seen or implicated, yet they influence violence behaviour in marital relationship.
Domestic violence has now become a common phenomenon. It should be noted here that as husbands abuse their wives so also wives abuse their husbands (Steinmetz, 1977). It is only the degree that varies. The question then is how well has domestic violence or abuse has been able to achieve its end going by the high rate of family discord, divorce, separation etc experienced today? Based on the above picture, the study is to determine the influence domestic violence on family relationship among couple in Oshodi Local Government Area of Lagos State.
1.2 Theoretical Framework
Three theoretical models will be used to explain domestic violence and neglect in family relationships:
The resource theory of family violence propounded by Goode (1971) assumes that all social systems (including the family) rest to some degree on force or the threat of force. The more resources – social, personal and economic a person can command, the more force that individual can muster. However, according to Goode (1971), the more resources a person actually has, the less that person will actually use force in an open manner. Thus, a husband who wants to be dominant person in the family, but has little education, has a job, low prestige and income, and lacks interpersonal skills may choose to use violence to maintain the dominant position.
According to Nadin (1998) employed women are less depended on abusive partners and better able to extricate themselves from harmful relationships. Women are not absolved from this social vice of heart breaking. Some women (especially those of superior economic standings to their male counterparts) are tempted to play domineering role in the family such a way that their husbands have to play the second fiddle in a home, where they are supposed to be the head of the family.
In the incidence of domestic violence on family relationship, the causal few in most cases include infidelity, sex role, sexual dissatisfaction, feeling of stay in control, influence of inlaws, economic handship, lack of education among others. For instance, women that are not allowed to work tend to stay in an abusive relationship because, their husbands sometimes gain economic and psychological control over them. According to Nadin (1998) employed women are less dependent on violent partners and better able to extricate themselves from violence relationships.
The Patriarchy Theory
The patriarchy theory according to Dobash and Dobash (1979) is that economic and social process operate directly and indirectly to support patriarchal (male dominated) social order and family structure). The central theoretical argument is that patriarchy leads to subordination and oppression of women and causes the historical pattern of systematic violence directed against wives. The patriarchy theory finds the source of domestic violence in society at large and how it is organized as opposed to within individual families or communities.
Globally, and in every culture, men have been seen and celebrated as superior to their female counterparts. Traditionally, the arrival of male child into a family is seen as a special blessing to such home. It is not uncommon, most especially among Africans to pry and earnestly expect a male child irrespective of the number of the female children in the families. The central belief is that male children are by all standard superior to their female counterparts and should be treated as such.
This situation is buttressed also by the social order and family structure. Almost in every social strata, male men are mostly favoured for significant posts. The affair of family living is also conferred superiority on the men. This has helped shape the behaviour and perception of men as superior to the female counterparts and has largely contributed to their violent behaviour against wives in family relationships. In most cases, wives also tries to prove that they are never inferior, when this happen the consequence is domestic violence with its many evil effects on family relationship.
General System Theory
General System Theory, a social system approach was developed and applied by Straus (1973) and Jean (1983) to explain family violence. Here violence is viewed as a system product rather than the result of individual pathology. The family system operation can maintain, escalate or reduce levels of violence in families. The theory describes the processes that characterize the use of violence in family interaction and explains the way in which violence is managed and stabilized. Straus argues that a general system theory of family violence must include at least three basic elements:
1. Alternative causes of action or causal flow.
2. The feedback mechanism that enable the system to make adjustments and
3. System goals.
1.3 Statement of the Problem
It has been found that various forms of domestic violence exist in some family relationship and has degenerated into various marital problems among which are child negligence, communication gaps, destruction of property, divorce, separation and ultimately death. Based on the above picture, this study is therefore meant to determine the influence of domestic violence on family relationship among couples in Oshodi Local Government Area of Lagos State.
1.4 Purpose of the Study
The primary purpose of this study are to:
(1) Determine the difference between domestic violence and family relationship among new and aged wedded couples in Oshodi Local Government Area of Lagos State.
(2) Find out the difference between domestic violence and family relationship among Christian and Muslim couples in the area.
(3) Investigate the emotional stability of children of parents who engaged in domestic violence and those who do not.
(4) Examine the prevalent rate of domestic violence among male and female spouses in the area.
1.5 Research Questions
This study provides answer to the following questions:
(1) What is the difference between domestic violence and family relationship among new and aged wedded couples in Oshodi Local Government Area of Lagos State?
(2) What is the difference between domestic violence and family relationship among Christian and Muslim couples in the area?
(3) Is there any difference between the emotional stability of children of parent who engage in domestic violence and those who do not?
(4) What is the prevalent rate of violence among male and female spouses in the area?
1.6 Research Hypotheses
The hypotheses that guide the study are as follows:
(1) There will be no significant difference between domestic violence and family relationship among new and aged wedded couples in Oshodi Local Government Area of Lagos State.
(2) There will be no significant difference between domestic violence and family relationship among Christian and Muslim couples in Oshodi Local Government Area of Lagos State.
(3) There will be no significant difference between the emotional stability of children of parents who engaged in domestic violence and those who do not.
(4) There will be no significant difference in the prevalent rate of domestic violence among male and female spouses in the area.
1.7 Significance of the Study
The outcome of this study will be of great benefit to the married couples, marriage counsellors, children of violent couples and the society at large. With reference to the married couples, the finding of this study will help them identify some of this evil effects of violence not only on them as perpetrators but also on everyone who maintains intimate relationship with them such as their children and extended family members or friends. Thus, be able to control their anger. Also, marriage counsellors will be able to identify the various forms of violence among couples and be able to provide adequate counselling assistance whenever the need arises.
On the other way, children of violent couples will be exposed to the right attitude to violent behaviour of their parents so as not to grow up as perpetrators of domestic violence. These children will also be educated on the need to always develop healthy emotional life inspite of the violent circumstance prevailing among them. The society at large will be made to the damning effects of domestic violence on family relationship. It will also assist the society to see and accept marriage as a loving relationship that should be devoid of humiliation, intimidation, threat and physical injury.
1.8 Scope of the Study
This study basically covered married couples in Oshodi Local Government Area of Lagos. Oshodi Local Government Area of Lagos is predominantly the commercial nerve centre of the state with all its inhabitants from all social classes of the Nigerian economy.
1.9 Definition of Terms
Domestic Violence: Domestic violence which is otherwise refer to as spousal abuse is described as when adults in a relationship misuse power to control another whereas such establishment of control in the relationship is through violence and other form of abuse. It is also defined as a pattern of abusive behaviour including a wide range of physical sexual and psychological maltreatment used by one person in an intimate relationship against another to gain power unfairly or to maintain the person misuse of power, control and authority.
Family Relationship: This is defined as the relationship of trust, love and care existing between couples who have agreed to co-exist as husband and wife. It is the foundation or bedrock of all other societal relationship. Family relationship is expected to last till death do couples part.