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Marital Rape And Violence In The Family Social Work Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Social Work
Wordcount: 1762 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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These effects have a negative bearing on children and mothers since they affect self-confidence and ability to meet life goals. Separation, substance abuse, mental disorders and divorce are effects which adversely affect children’s development stages (Johnson & Ferraro, 2004). Abused children may replicate abuse as adults, which lengthen the violence cycle. This paper will discuss family violence in Canada including marital rape. Statistics which reveal extent of abuse will be disclosed and various dynamics of abuse discussed, including relevant laws. Since family violence is normalized, processes of normalizing the vice will be evaluated. Brief recommendations on how abuse can be discouraged will be discussed, with a summary given at the end.

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There are more than five hundred shelters for children and women in abusive households in Canada (Gannon, 2006). Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba have among the highest number of shelters. In 2007 over 40,000 cases of domestic violence were reported to law enforcers. This comprised over 11% of the overall crime in Canada, which is a significant proportion. In addition to this, over 80% of victims were female, which shows that wives bear the brunt of violence in households. In most cases, assault was reported in family violence, with stalking, criminal harassment and threats being other forms of abuse committed. In over 80% of abuse cases, people familiar to victims performed abuse. More than 40% of women are also reported to have experienced marital rape.

Law enforcers were also blamed for abuse, with over fifty thousand cases involving youth and children being committed by them (Wallace, 2009). Amongst adults, law enforcers reportedly abused over 1900 people, with this representing a third of abuse cases amongst adults (Gannon, 2006). Generally, these statistics reveal that both law enforcers and the public are responsible for abuse. Children and women suffer the largest proportion of abuse, with this being performed by men they are in relationships with. Domestic abuse comprises over 10% of the overall crime committed which reveals the severity of the issue. It is imperative that abuse is analyzed in further detail and prevention measures developed to stem this rising crime.

Canadian rape laws

Initially, rape was regarded as an offense in common law. Common law is borrowed from England and it initially treated rape as abduction. It was regarded as an offense greater to fathers or husbands than to female victims. Marital rape was unheard of during this period and was not considered criminal. The society then, also marginalized women and their testimony alone could not prove evidence of rape. Their previous sexual conduct was heavily relied on in proving rape. However, this crime was unreported despite its rampancy. In 1983, weaknesses in existing laws led to changes which redefined nature and punishment for rape. There needed to be stricter punishment and higher convictions to encourage women to report rape. Changes included abolishing analysis of previous sexual history of victims, repealing of corroboration laws and redefining of rape to assault. Further legislation changes in 1992 outlined the shield on use of historical sex lives of victims in questioning their credibility.

Reasons for domestic abuse

Power and domination

The quest for power contributes highly to cases of domestic violence. Some people need to dominate others to feel they have power. These people use oppression and abuse as tools to attain power. Physical abuse enables them to make victims powerless over them. Economic abuse ensures that victims are dependent and cannot escape abuse. Mental disorders, low esteem or stress may drive offenders who use violence to attain power. Such abuse may be reversed through medication and therapy with support from family (Babcock et. al., 2004).

Drug abuse

When people use drugs, they may be unaware of consequences of actions. They are unable to reason rationally and may resort to abuse. People who live with drug abusers suffer most from effects of drugs including increasing irritability, delusions, stress and other effects (Dutton, 2006). These may lead to domestic violence and can be treated through medication and therapeutic interventions.

Socialization process

Research reveals that children who undergo abuse when young may replicate the abuse as adults (Kitzmann et. al., 2003). Abused children have higher chances of practicing family violence as adults compared to those not abused. This is explained by the sociological theory where children practice things imparted on them during the sociological process. When they are abused, they may view it as part of socialization and they may commit the same to their families as adults.

Normalization of family violence

The widespread nature of family violence has created a perception of normalization, where violence against women is “acceptable” by society. Normalization of violence is seen in low reporting rates of violence at home. In Canada, over 50% of cases of violence in family settings are unreported, according to research. Since family violence is widespread, there are emerging trends where batterers are offered sympathy at the expense of victims. This trend began in the 1980s in US where intervention and support programs for batterers were created. These programs rationalize domestic violence and perceive batters as victims. The society is thus sympathetic to abusers and they become tolerable to certain degrees.

In some cases, victims view themselves as having provoked abusers, hence rationalizing the crime. Since batterers are close family members, victims may also avoid reporting battery due to consequences on family units, especially if they are dependent on the batterer (Ellsberg et. al., 2001). Others fear societal perception of the abuse especially if it leads to divorce. They see it as shame and allow violence to be perpetuated against them. This gives the abuser leeway to commit abuse and normalization of abuse occurs as a result. Victims view it as normal and learn to live with violence.

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Weak laws governing violence also normalize violence since victims will not report abuse if there are few and light convictions. In addition to this, barriers to reporting, investigating and prosecuting abusers may lead to normalization of abuse. The laws governing rape in Canada in 1980s can illustrate this phenomenon. As was discussed, the society marginalized women, and their testimony alone could not prove evidence of rape. Their previous sexual conduct was also heavily relied on in proving rape. In addition to this, marital rape was unheard of. Weaknesses in such laws discouraged reporting of rape, and this normalized the crime. When changes were realized in 1983, reporting rates increased and rape cases decreased.

Weaknesses and strengths of research sources

There are different research used and these have diverse weaknesses and strengths. Most works used are journals and books which are scholarly in nature. Scholarly works are credible information sources since they are written by professionals in diverse fields. These works are sourced from the Internet, which is readily available and cheap, which is a strength of these sources. They also cover diverse topics and give various dimensions on topics discussed, which makes them accurate and credible. However, weaknesses include inability to corroborate information gathered due to difficulty in tracing the authors. This may create ambiguity or inaccuracy in research done. Duplication of error is another weakness which arises from use of inaccurate scholarly works. If works used are inaccurate, the research findings will be erroneous. Finally, these works may be outdated which makes research inaccurate.


Various aspects of family violence and marital rape have been evaluated. Marital rape and domestic violence is rampant, with 40,000 cases of domestic violence being reported to law Canadian enforcers in 2007. This comprised over 11% of the overall crime in Canada. Various reasons for violence including socialization process, power and domination and drug abuse have been advanced as reasons for abuse. However, there is no rational reason for commission of violence. Recent trends have also revealed normalization of violence in the current society. Weak laws, fear by victims and societal perceptions are to blame for normalization of abuse. This is dangerous for society as it encourages commission of crime. The statistical evidence also shows that law enforcers also practice abuse, and this is intolerable in society. This paper used scholarly works and books, and these are valid sources. The evidence provided is therefore accurate and several measures which discourage abuse should be taken. Some of these will be discussed in recommendations provided below;

Recommendations on reducing family violence


Legislation plays a crucial role in acting as deterrent to crime. Many people cannot commit crime due to fear of repercussions. In tackling domestic abuse, a similar approach is effective since harsh repercussions will deter offenders. The Canadian parliament should develop harsher legislation to deal with marital rape and domestic abuse since it is a significant societal problem. This will reduce instances of abuse through long sentences to abusers.


Although Canada has over five hundred rehabilitation shelters for abuse victims, this figure is still inadequate (Taylor-Butts, 2007). More shelters for abuse victims should be constructed and stocked with necessary facilities and staff to help victims. This will enable victims to achieve their life potential through pursuance of individual dreams and goals.

Public education

According to Hamel and Nicholls (2007), education is very effective in reducing abuse. The public should be educated at individual, society and family levels on domestic abuse. Abuse signs and cooperation with law enforcers will help eradicate this vice. In addition, shelters for victims should be publicized to ensure victims seek justice. Education on abuse will prevent the normalization of abuse in families.


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