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July 10, 2008 / C H Thompson

Dark-side of the family

Family life has more or less been discussed in these pages as being positive for children.

But are there any negative aspects of family life for children?

The term ‘dark side’ refers to abuse within the family, particularly, but not exclusively, towards women and children. The NSPCC’s website has published a list of abuse data – sexual abuse statistics; physical abuse statistics; neglect abuse statistics.

In essence research conducted by the NSPCC in 2000 found that 10% of children suffered serious abuse or neglect at home caused by their natural parents. While in 2005 the teen magazine Sugar in association with the NSPCC found 15% of teenage girls were hit by their parents.

It is likely that more abuse does go on at home as Childline the confidential helpline for children, as their statistics indicate much more abuse by parents.

Another aspect of the ‘dark-side’ of family life is domestic abuse. The extent of domestic abuse is still evident in 2013 with Essex police saying they receive 80 a day on the issue.

The figures on domestic abuse in the UK are as follows:

  • 23% of all assaults recorded by the police are domestic abuse assaults (British Crime Survey 2000)
  • Many studies have found that 1 woman in 4, at some stage in her life, experiences domestic abuse (the most recent shows a figure of 45% – British Crime Survey 2004)
  • On average, 42% of female murder victims are killed by current or former partners (Criminal Statistics 2001) In the UK, an average of 2 women die per week due to domestic abuse (Home Office)
  • Police reports, of those who call for help, breakdown as follows:
    • 81% female victims attacked by male perpetrators
    • 8% male victims attacked by female perpetrators
    • 7% male victims attacked by male perpetrators
    • 4% female victims attacked by female perpetrators

Rape in marriage is also a form of domestic abuse, though it is sometimes more difficult to measure as women are often reluctant to categorise such incidents at home as abuse or are unlikely to report it to the police because of fear of recriminations, or embarrassment.

What is alarming about abuse is how the Sugar report mentioned earlier found that 16% of teenage girls had been hit by their boyfriend! Worst of all 43% of girls who responded to the survey thought it was alright for a boyfriend to get aggressive and 6% thought it acceptable for a boy to hit a girl!!!

Domestic abuse can also in the form of Economic abuse is when the abuser has complete control over the victim’s money and other economic resources. Usually, this involves putting the victim on a strict “allowance,” withholding money at will and forcing the victim to beg for the money until the abuser gives them some money. The follow video sums most of the above up.

What are the reasons for domestic abuse?

There are many different theories as to the causes of domestic violence. These include psychological theories that consider personality traits and mental characteristics of the offender, as well as social theories which consider external factors in the offender’s environment, such as family structure, stress, social learning. As with many phenomena regarding human experience, no single approach appears to cover all cases.

Nevertheless Radical feminists explain domestic violence as a result of living in a patriarchal society. In such societies men control women and violence is simply another control mechanism at the disposal of men in order to keep them in a state of submission. Marxist feminists would point to the structural in equalities caused by capitalism which keeps certain sections of society suppressed consequently women, as they’re already stratified by capitalism, domestic violence is a manifestation of this oppression and so it tends to be experienced by more vulnerable women in society, such as working class-women.

The following Dark Side of Family powerpoint provides an overview of most key points.


Leave a Comment
  1. DoubleN / Apr 12 2015 8:19 am

    Hello, pls help me with this .

    A study from domestic violence :

    Walker (1979) uses the concept of learned helplessness to explain women’s reluctance or inability to leave a violent home. But having no house, no job, no money and the children to look after further prevents them. Furthermore, leaving home does not always end the violence since men will quite commonly pursue the wife even after she has left home.

    Can I explain this as :

    This shows that it is not only the mans fault but also women have a role to play in the violence against them .as the women do not respond to their assault in ways that would make the man know it isn’t right to hit them . The women make the lack of home, employment , children as their limitations and the least do is cry , shout or maybe scream out some verbal abuses (i donot have a study to support this , can i write this ? This a very normal thing , we can always see this on T.V .can i make statements like this explaining my view on studies like this or shall they also be supported by studies ? ) . Also we can explain this from the interactionist theory , where meanings are interpreted and negotiated . When the man sees the women does not take any strict action he learns that it is fine to hit the wife , as like Cooley’s theory of ‘looking glass self’ we understand ourself by looking at others . (Also this is my explanation , can I write like this ) . So he understands that I can hit my wife as it doesnt matter much to her . As Dobash study also shows that 31% of her respondent wife’s said under some circumstances it is the right of the husband to hit their wives . – A counter argument to Domestic Violence .

    Bascially , I am very confused on how I can explain the studies I use (which is very necessary for me to get marks in exam, right ? ) . If I make statements do they always need to be backed up by evidence ?

    Could u also just give me a little advice on how I should do the paper , it would be extremely appreciated .

    Thank you very much !

    • C H Thompson / Apr 12 2015 8:37 am

      This is tricky to explain as I appreciate you’re teaching the subject yourself. The AS exams (available on AQA website and/or on my revision images) are designed to assess a variety of skills. Therefore the 2, 4, & 6 mark questions test knowledge but also understanding, which is why the questions are ‘simple’ yet sometimes hard to access.

      The two essay questions in SCLY 1 (family) have the instruction of examine (which means tell me what you know about the selected area of the course) while the final question is testing your the extent of your knowledge and understanding to compare and contrast selected ideas from the course.

      Because of the above the question you ask me isn’t an AS question as such, you’re asking a more advanced question which might mean to stray to far from what you need to do. For example you are more likely to be asked to identify two examples (4 marks) of The Dark Side of the Family in order to find out if you understand the term.

      Alternatively you might be asked to examine the Dark Side of the Family (24 marks).

      If I were you I’d look at the question/answers in the revision books as well as on the website, and when you’re on top of these have a go at some past papers and email one to me and I’ll mark it for you

      • DoubleN / Apr 12 2015 8:52 am

        Thank you very much ! I will certainly look over all the qns . I am giving CIE . This was something I was planning to include in my essay type qns . With the command word Assess . Thank you for your help once again .

  2. Ruth / Oct 5 2019 8:29 am

    Your content is clear
    Keep up

    • C H Thompson / Oct 5 2019 6:58 pm

      Thank you 🙂


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