Dec 29

Interesting figures have recently been published by the British Home Office: statistics show that young men suffer just as much as women from ‘abuse’ by their partners – at least if forms of emotional violence like harassment or bullying are considered as forms of abuse as well.

Probably because men are usually feeling less self-confident at the beginning of a relationship, especially in the younger age group of 20-24 years a surplus of female violence (6.4% versus 5.4% male) can be found, while in higher age groups, both ratios are increasingly aligning. For 2007/2008, 2.2% of interviewed women of all ages reported about experiences of mild or severe physical violence by their partners, but for men, the value wasn’t much lower with 2.0%. However, the study also found that women are more commonly abused and have to experience more severe and repeated physical abuse. Looking at the quality of the data available to researchers, a report on violence against men of the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs from 2004 and a study by the Criminology Research Institute of Niedersachsen (Germany) conducted similar results for Germany with both reporting that the available data on violence is hardly sufficient to allow reliable conclusions about gender-based violence since domestic violence perpetrated by female partners is still considered a taboo by women, but also men – and social workers.

'Smitten - Engaged - Battered'
Controversial poster that depicted fathers as potential perpetrators of violence, funded by the Austrian Ministry of Women in 2008

In general, there seems to be a growing awareness process regarding the issue of female violence (including domestic violence). In England, for instance, male-specific charities have already been criticizing for some years that while in England and Wales there are a total of nearly 500 women’s shelters to escape from domestic problems and to obtain advice, but only 7 comparable facilities for men. Organisations and research dealing with women’s specific concerns are equipped with significant financial and media resources, while the ones dealing with men’s issues often have to fight for their financial survival every year. The shame of many men to get help for domestic violence underscores the public image (but also the statistics of many counseling services, which are often managed by women) that the perpetrators are usually men, while women are the victims of psychological and physical violence.

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(Blog entry first posted in German language (‘Weibliche Gewalt – Ein Tabuthema’) in 02/2009; last update: 12/2011)

Oct 31

Have you recently experienced someone acting completely out of line or losing control over themselves?

In Psychiatry, patterns of repetitive behavior during childhood and adolescence where the social norms or boundaries of others are violated are called ‘conduct disorder‘. I am not a particular fan of this term as it reminds me a bit of authoritarian teachers and governments. But what it actually describes if being used by psychiatrists and therapists, is a symptom range of over-aggressive behavior, bullying, lying, cruel behavior toward people and pets, destructive behavior, vandalism and stealing, that should give you an idea of what it actually means.

Often, affected children come from a difficult family background with abusive, aggressive or addicted parents. If the underlying problems aren’t resolved, these children might develop more serious personality disorders as adults: particularly antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorders or psychopathy . All of these increase the risk to cause or experience physical injuries, to suffer from depression, addiction, incarceration or even homicide and suicide, as they often intimidate others or initiate physical fights.

Antisocial persons don’t feel much of an inhibition to use weapons, and they have a tendency to deceit, con, steal or destroy property. While their behavior might seem confident and decisive at the outside, they can in fact feel very alone, anxious and hopeless, which often leads to alcohol abuse, depression or other problems.

One cause of the aggressive behavior of antisocial persons can be that they developed a ‘proactive’ but in fact mostly inappropriate, extreme form of self protection or need it as a valve to get rid of the emotional tensions they feel, not only inside themselves but also towards others. Unfortunately, in the case of psychopathic personality traits, this particular kind of relief is often combined with a lack of empathy and sympathetic concern for others, which reduces the hurdles to impose emotional or physical force on others. Thus, it is usually a good idea to avoid any open conflict with such aggressors. They would be unable to empathize with their victim or keep the conflict on a verbal level, let alone resolve it in a constructive manner. The best approach is usually to let them cool off and give them space and to give it another try at another day.

(This short article is part of a weekly series dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues and was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2011; picture credit:www.corrupt.org)

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06.01.16