London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Domestic violence analysed from the perspective of women’s tolerance and its harmful effects on children

Author(s) Chistolini, S.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2012  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell (eds.) Creating Communities: Local, National and Global  
Age group -  
This paper examines the relationship between the tolerance of women and the harmful repercussions that domestic violence has upon children. It is part of the comparative European research project ‘VICTIMS’, which investigates the indirect harmful effects of violence: victimising the child and re-victimising the woman-mother through the child’s exposure to the violence perpetrated against her. In Italy, fifty-eight testimonies from women that had suffered violence in front of their children were collected and analysed from Police reports. The content analysis highlighted how women’s tolerance of violence is linked to various factors: emotional, such as the disappointment of a failed relationship; social, the dishonour, for instance, brought upon the entire family; ethics and values, with specific attention to the child’s future; psychological, including self-blame. In all the cases examined the woman’s awareness is present in the form of fear for the child’s life; being in a continual state of alert in order to defend the child and conscious of the psychologically harmful effect of violence upon the child. Age, education, occupation, quality of life, duration of violence, are all variables that define both the degree of tolerance and the level of awareness of the harmful effects, or damage, caused to the child. Although reports faithfully transcribe the woman’s experience they scarcely refer to the indirect harmful effect caused to the child. Research findings permit the construction of a basic typology of awareness, identifying four main types: objective-phenomenological, related to the child’s actions; subjective-hermeneutical, linked to the mother’s assessment; socio-biological, with regard to the effects on the child’s intellectual and social maturity; pedagogical, referring to the child’s school performance. Keywords: domestic violence, women’s tolerance, indirect harmful effect on children, comparative research

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