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In Sickness and in Health - Analysis of a Battered Women Population

NCJ Number
S F Browne
Date Published
64 pages
Seventy-three women in a Denver, Colo., safehouse for battered women completed a self-administered questionnaire in a study that explored some leading theoretical assumptions about battered women.
The women completing the survey composed 65 percent of the total clients admitted to the project. A deviant case analysis was conducted to determine the response bias introduced by the missing questionnaires. The study showed more battered women younger than 23 years of age and more battering men older than 42 years of age. The battered women had more college and graduate degrees than the men; the batterers were more likely to have been vocationally trained and employed. The victimized women were more likely to be white than either black or Spanish American. Approximately 85 percent of the women were married and 27 percent of the marriages were common law. More than half the women depended on their mates for support. A large proportion had at least one child, and 70 percent reported physical or psychological abuse or both during childhood. All but a few of the women had two or more beatings before entering the Safehouse. A conceptualization of considerable interest was learned helplessness. Responses to questions regarding submissive attitudes acquired in childhood generally supported the concept. A dependency theory was also tested--a woman stays in the relationship because she is economically unable to leave, does not avail herself of services, must support her children, etc. Data analysis indicated that the population was found to be characterized by a commitment to the marriage and to the men despite the abuses inflicted by these men. Since most batterings were not life-threatening, the women felt that the relationships could be saved. In addition, the battered women population was willing to seek support from outside sources. It is suggested that maintenance of the relationship should perhaps be considered from a control perspective explaining the commitment, belief, involvement, and attachment dimensions as promulgated by delinquency theory. The data given in this study did not permit such an analysis. Appendixes include stepwise regression variables used in the study, the questionnaire, and a bibliography of 37 citations. Tabular data are given.