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CHAPTER SIX: Violence in families of various cultural backgrounds

Martine Groen Karnac Books ePub

Martine Groen

Introduction

The Dutch philosopher, poet, penal and international law expert, Afshin Ellian, wrote in the daily paper de Volkskrant,

It is utter nonsense to weigh cultural background as a factor in determining appropriate legal sanctions. If [you] do, you imply that minorities are exotic pets. That is rather patronizing. Does a Kurdish man who kills his unfaithful spouse have a right to milder punishment? No, because we do not condone it when people take the law into their own hands in the Netherlands. [17 February, 2001]

There are about 3.1 million immigrants and migrants in the Netherlands, comprising almost one fifth of the Dutch population. Half of these are of non-Western descent. The criteria used for determining one's immigrant status are either one's place of birth, or the place of birth of either parent. According to these criteria, children who have been born here are no longer considered immigrants (former minister Van Boxtel).

The four largest groups of non-Western immigrants in the Netherlands are Moroccans, Turks, Surinamese, and Antilleans. Another substantial, but smaller, group consists of Chinese immigrants. The latter group has been living in the Netherlands for a longer period of time. Motives to immigrate to the Netherlands have varied. Most Turks and Moroccans initially moved here on the explicit request of the Dutch government and manufacturing industries, in order to work here. The Surinamese moved here in large numbers just before Surinam gained its independence from the Netherlands, as they were able then to retain Dutch citizenship. Antilleans are still considered overseas citizens (members of empire, or, in Dutch, rijksgenoten). As such, they are legally entitled to various degrees of citizenship rights. However, the situation is complex and differs per island. According to a report by the Dutch Bureau of Statistics (CBS) printed in the Dutch newspaper NRC on 9 January 2007, it appears that the bureau expects the number of immigrants to rise by an additional 1.6 million. The expected growth can be partially accounted for by the number of immigrants from other EU countries, and by future children of immigrants already residing in the Netherlands. The highest numbers of new inhabitants are expected to be of Chinese, Afghan, Iraqi, and Iranian descent.

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CHAPTER FIVE: Escalation and de-escalation

Martine Groen Karnac Books ePub

Justine van Lawick

Introduction

In Chapters Three and Four, we discussed violent escalations which can take place between partners. We can always link these escalations to certain frustrations within human relationships, which are the same all over the world. In this chapter, we explore where these frustrations come from and how they can lead to escalations. We find that clients profit from a schematic description of this process. In this chapter, we also address escalating and de-escalating language and behaviour.

Frustration as an instigator of violence

When asked what kind of frustration can provoke violent behaviour, all over the world four clusters of “instigators” of violence emerge. Cluster A relates to iniquity: injustice, betrayal (such as cheating), or a vulnerable person (child) or animal being maltreated. Cluster B concerns disrespect: violent behaviour, attacks, name-calling, bullying, humiliation, disqualifying, unwanted physical contact, and, in traffic, tailgating, being cut up by other drivers. Cluster C relates to neglect: not getting attention, being misjudged, ignored, not being seen, heard, understood; being abandoned. Cluster D concerns powerlessness: resistance, opposition, not being able to do what you want to do, being wrongly accused, bureaucracy, victim behaviour, authoritarian behaviour.

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CHAPTER EIGHT: Rituals of revenge

Martine Groen Karnac Books ePub

Martine Groen

In partner relationships where conflicts are being resolved in a violent manner, there is often a vast amount of resentment about the humiliation endured by the one who has been beaten, once the violence has ceased and the fear of violence has lessened. There is a substantial need for vengeance. Taking revenge precedes forgiveness and reconciliation. To take revenge in a ritualized manner where the therapist bears witness and gives acknowledgement, can stem the destructive flow without the couple returning to the downward spiral of violence.

Family history

Which factors increase the chances of violence within partner relationships? Studies show (as seen in Chapter Five) that violent behaviour seen and experienced in the family home increases the chances that such behaviour might happen in a first partner relationship: 60–80% of men who hit originate from families where violence was used as a way to solve conflicts. Thirty-five per cent of those men have seen their mother being beaten at home (Straus,

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CHAPTER ELEVEN: The therapist as a person

Martine Groen Karnac Books ePub

Martine Groen

Processes of transference and countertransference

At the beginning of the 1980s I worked in an all woman team. We all worked with clients who had suffered the serious consequences of violence. At the time, we did not truly grasp the impact this had on our team, but, in hindsight, certain patterns emerged. Each and every one of us got stuck in repetitions of unaccepted events in our own lives.

We argued, could not say “no”, became overstressed in turn, repeated patterns of torment, chased each other in anger or, on the contrary, with powerlessness or victimized behaviour which belonged somewhere else but which was now projected on to colleagues. The dynamics which come with working in a team came under great pressure. The powerless anger enhanced the border-crossing behaviour of team members, which, in turn, was fed by the high demands of the subsidiary. The concept of co-traumatization has been the subject of discussion before, but only briefly. More often than not, the extreme stress was dealt with on an individual basis; it was not regarded as a structural theme which was recurring. Furthermore, we did not recognize that contamination had taken place within the team and that it was possible to drag each other into a powerless downward spiral.

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CHAPTER TWO: Together you will progress

Martine Groen Karnac Books ePub

Justine van Lawick

Most issues on violence within partner relationships only come to light when a woman seeks help within the framework of individual care, from either the GP, A & E departments, social services, the police force, lawyers, Victim Aid, Child Care, primary health care psychologists, addiction care, psychotherapy, or psychiatry. In this chapter, we will discuss the possibility of engaging partners in therapy in order to enhance its effectiveness and speed. In most cases, the woman, categorized as victim, is the one who starts talking, either willingly or because a therapist asks the right questions. Sharing the secret of abuse with a therapist offers relief, but it often comes with the client's injunction not to mention the abuse to others, including the abusive partner. The help given will focus mainly on survival strategies for the woman and ways to leave the abusive partner. Shelters for abused women and their children can be a temporary refuge.

This individual approach can create a stand-off, and sometimes even take a turn for the worse. If the spouse grows more confident and shows more resistance, either on her own or through a group for abused women, this could prove threatening for the husband and, in turn, increase the violence. This could lead to even more control over the spouse and to increased isolation, thus leading to the cancellation of appointments. When the spouse threatens divorce, the situation can escalate even more, because the husband's violence will increase when his fear of abandonment grows. In some cases, an abused spouse will receive help from social services over a long period of time without any noticeable change in her situation. Whenever the social worker insists on a joint interview with the husband, the request will be repudiated for whatever reason, while, during the course of every interview, the spouse will mention the unbearable situation at home. Thus, the social worker gets sucked into the victim's helplessness and contributes to the status quo. The one most likely to need to change, the partner, remains scot-free of having to take any responsibility, and therefore does not receive any support in any process of change. The spouse is in a position where she takes responsibility by asking for help, but, more often than not, she is incapable of changing the situation at home.

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