“Domestic Violence: Men Speak Out”
In September 2016, ABAAD launched the qualitative study “Domestic Violence: Men Speak Out”. The research was led by Dr. Azza Charara Baydoun and lawyer Danielle Hoyek.
The study was conducted as a preliminary examination of the cases of men who are violent to their wives. For this purpose, interviews were held with eleven men among whom nine had already received their sentence under Law 293/2014, on the Protection of Women and other Family Members from Domestic Violence. The remaining two men sought the help of psychotherapists, in an attempt to stop acting violently with their wives.
Each man was interviewed twice. The main themes/ideas were extracted from their narratives to describe and explain their relational, familial and psychological state, including the experiences they had in court, due to the lawsuits filed against them by their wives. Those themes/ideas were then examined from a gender perspective to assess the psychosocial factors that drive men to use violence, so that we deduce the impact of psychological support/rehabilitation on those men and those related to the implementation of law 293/2014.
The findings of this study indicate that husbands using violence against their wives are going through a gender identity crisis. The reason behind this crisis is that they feel unable to “dominate” their wives and force them to fulfill their social roles according to traditional norms. As they feel unable to adapt to the social changes affecting society, they resort to harmful practices in reaction to the erosion of their traditional gender role built on hegemonic masculinity. It appears as an attempt to restore an authority that provides certain privileges they deem necessary to any man.
The narratives also revealed that they “forgot” the occurrence of violence or that they mitigated its effects. Sometimes, they did not realize the violence entailed in former situations and perceived it as a “normal element” in any relationship between a husband and his wife. The rehabilitation/therapy sessions to which those men are subject need to encourage them “remember” this violence by talking about it so that they realize through their narratives the background knowledge that supports these gender preconceptions.
Furthermore, this study revealed the husbands’ opinions regarding the intervention of the State in family life through law 293/2014. Some of them stated that they approved of the intervention but expressed some reservations, and even disdain and resentment towards people, organizations, and institutions involved in the implementation of this law.