within Social work is a methodical and attentive means of gathering evidence to
validate any areas of ambiguity which require further investigation into any
social group (Blaxter et al 1996 cited in Carey 2009) The purpose of such
research Is to affirm, or develop on current knowledge (Bryman 2008). Research
is defined as an orderly way of planning and processing the appropriate
questions to seek answers, (Miles and Huberman 1994).This view, however,
differs slightly by Silverman ( 2001) where he talks of research as being the critical objective
of seeking answers to a specific issue.
(2009) talks about the need for the researcher to have a research plan, to
include proposals of inquiry and ways in which the data will be collated. He
further states that the planning of such data collection should be reflected by
the specific nature of the enquiry.
seek accurate and viable information Strauss (1990), states that research
project should be viewed holistically to include the background and any prior
findings to previous studies.
To adopt an effective research, the correct
method should be employed following a well-constructed and investigative
questioning method, adhering to ethical considerations for both researcher and
participants (Miles and Huberman 1994)
two main methods of research that are utilised mostly, are the Qualitative and
quantitative methods. The chosen method of enquiry will be dependent upon the
specific issue, the client group, and the ethical issues which may need to be
considered. (Bryman 2008). Often research may warrant both descriptive and
numerical data, and this warrants the uses of both methods. This method or line
of enquiry would utilise a mixed method approach.
data is the collection of information, which may involve client participation,
and personal individual experiences captured in natural settings (Silverman
2001). The means of capturing such data may be through observation or
interviews for example. Although this methods authenticity can be described as
accurate, it, however, falls short in repetitiveness, this creates an issue
when the researcher is seeking results to be produced in a similar pattern.
This form of research would require the researcher to become part of the very
context which he/she wishes to study enabling the researcher to view from the
participants point of view (Open University Press 2005)
method of research is often laborious, and prolonged. The researcher would need
to be part of the research group, and be able to gain the participants
authentic views. The information can be said to be sought evidently or
concealed, which could lead to ethical issues of deception. To remain covert
may be an advantage and necessary where there are socially sensitive groups
such as the criminal justice system where the researcher may be offered some
safety in anonymity (Silverman 2001)
research could be said to be subjective and criticised for again for ethical
reasons, due to evidence being tarnished,
and affected by the researcher’s personals beliefs. This method however, has the
means to unearth otherwise impossible to gain information, through
extraction and open-ended questioning methods, this can be said to be almost
impossible to gain using the quantitative method of research. Supporters of
this method would employ this reason to suggest that their findings are unique,
descriptive and detailed. (Weisburd
et al. 2005)
of this method would argue, however, that the Qualitative research method often
lacks representation of the wider population. As mentioned previously, it is
very context specific and as such, any findings can never be used as a general
interpretation. Such research methods, are also argued to be very expensive and
would mean the interpretation of data, observations and time, can all be
the criticisms of the qualitative research method, this method of enquiry could
be said to be adaptable, fluid and not governed by a statistical information
(2009) states that the research process should be a clear process and that the
participant, should always know that they are part of the research. Thorough
research requires a transparent process. He further states that the ethically correct
way to inform of any research should be publicly accounted for. This accountability
should also refer to the paradigm, and methodology of how the data was
who oppose this methodology state that they find this method unethical due to
the variation in the measurement of information, and limitations in validity (Spradeley
is further cited that the reliability and robustness of qualitative methods are
often questionable since the research questioning may be misinterpreted (Spradeley
(2001) however, argues in defence of the qualitative method of research, and
states that this method is not a substandard means of enquiry, but a method
which harnesses the participation of the reader into the suggested findings. Spadeley
(1980) talks of how the biggest challenge for a qualitative researcher is to
avoid any personal curiosity into the study.
research methods are, geared towards achieving results and use a systematic and
logical approach to achieve these, the focus being validity and testing of the
results (Weisburd et al 2005). Quantitative research methods focus on the idea
that behaviours in humans may be measured based on social facts and that these
may be explored using designs that are characterised by the assumption that
human behaviour can be measured, and logical explanations provided as such (Miles
and Huberman 1994)
qualitative Research focuses on textual data, Quantitative research pays
attention to quantifying of the collected data (Bryman 2008).
gathering of information formulated into digestible forms such as graphs or
tables is the way in which one would often present the results of quantitative
research (Silverman 2001). It is further suggested that quantitative research
will often be constructed through methods such as:
previously collected data
(1980) talks of the two key components that must prevail to embark on any
research. The philosophy behind the research and the methodology of obtaining
the data. If any research and findings are to be appreciated, the two elements
should be acknowledged.
A mixture of qualitative methods and quantitative
methods is where the term mixed methods stem from. Creswell (2009) states that
this form of methodology may provide the best outcome. It gives the opportunity
to utilise both descriptive evidence as well as numerical data. Although some
authorities may feel that numerical data is of more merit for their agencies,
such as the police and commissioning services. Some critiques state that such
data lacks the soundness, validity and depth in reaching reliable evidence,
often resulting in gaps for future credible service provision. What is also
lacking in such information is the means, by which data was gathered, the
internal and external factors that may have impacted on the results, and the
generalisation of such research (Strauss 1990). He further states that often
the transference of numerical data to any form of descriptive explanation may
lose credibility, reliability and become far too generalised. The argument for
using such methods are that numerical data which supports any findings are more
and powerful than descriptive findings for some readers due to the visual numerical
presentation of such.
and Huberman (1994) state that qualitative research often lacks the
decision-making process and it falls short of descriptive analysis, this may
lead to the unreliability of the study findings.
approach pays attention to women and their rights. This approach considers
women’s views, ideas and experiences and any struggles which come with being a
woman. This method concentrates on a female representation as opposed to male
participation (Bryman 2008). When research is a holistic representation of
society, and viewed through a social work lens, it is apparent that this
methodology falls short in a true representation of all. Social work is
concerned with fairness and equality for all, and as such this method would not
be constructive or indeed objective. Although this method may be warranted to
ascertain a female perspective in some research proposals, it however falls
short in offering a male perspective in the findings. The sole use of this
method in any research without any other method would not be justified in
social work, although could support and be utilised in part.
of Domestic Violence
is almost an impossible task to find one generalised description of the term
domestic abuse (Gibson 1996). It appears that services would seek to define the
term based on their own service agendas.
Chez (1994, cited in Gibson-Howell, 1996), states that a service
focussing on the sole support for female victims, will often describe domestic
abuse as subjecting a female to physical or emotional behaviours, and talks of
repeated patterns of forceful coercive relationships. Some of the more commonly
found themes that are often found when services talk of domestic abuse
sometimes vary, but all speak of some type of control to include: power,
persuasion and control (Smith 1994).
appears that The UK government (2005) have employed a more comprehensive account
of domestic abuse and one that encompasses all the depictions of domestic
abuse, stating any psychological, sexual, physical, or emotional abuse all
constitute domestic abuse. They make further reference to gender or sexuality
having no bearing on the narrative of abuse. The government website makes
further reference to the statistics of abuse which portray that it is mostly
women who are the victims of abuse
abuse is a complex phenomenon and one that needs to incorporate and be
individualistic in some respect, paying heed to cultural and sexual
diversities. This in turn would further add complications to the intervention
methods that may be employed in dealing with each case based on its own merits.
This literature review will explore some aspects associated with domestic abuse
and hope to surmise that there are many accountability factors when we talk
about this subject and that it must be approached with an open mind. It will be
researched through a social work lens as well as a historical lens to ascertain
the perceived acceptance of domestic abuse in contemporary society.
abuse against women dating back to the nineteenth century was a discussion of
much debate (Danis 2003). The first laws that pertained to marriage were, in fact, supportive of hitting
ones’ wife. The laws further spoke of the absolute right of the husband over
his wife, and the legislation was structured accordingly. This superiority
spoke of obedience to the husband and deviance from this came with a
retribution. (Tuerkheimer 2004) The turn into the new century, allowed for some
improvements in such laws being softened to discourage violence against ones’
wife. The victims may not have had any relief in knowing so, as no victim
support or punishment was imposed. What had emerged instead was the trend that
paved the way for private family life matters (Turekheimer 2004)
was later in the 1960s that the feminist movement gave rise to the interest in women’s
welfare and paved the way for more equal rights. and condemned the violence
against women. With little funds, women’s refuge’s and support centres were
born. They further fought for the chastisement of offenders, and education for
professionals. (Danis 2003).
forty years on, the public interest in domestic abuse and the impact this
imparts on the whole family has grown immensely. Government funding and
continuous professional training in this topic are ever emerging. Today,
society recognises that domestic abuse is not only in the form of physical
abuse, but also emotional, sexual, and financial. This further includes
partners of the same sex and additionally is not gender specific. Cruz (2003)
speaks of the fact that husbands are equally considered victims.
Abuse affecting females.
limitations in support for male victims across the UK and Scotland, would be
indicative of the fact that most victims of domestic abuse are women, as
supported by Simmerman (2002). Wha-soon (1994) further supports this when he
states that women suffering domestic abuse suffer long standing psychological
It has been suggested that to seek respite
from this trauma, women very often chose to live under financially demanding
conditions such as hostels or refuge’s to be free of the perpetrator (Brown and
(2001), suggests that women who are responsible for the parenting of their
children are often affected in providing good enough care to their children,
due to the strains of trying to compose their own, mental and physical
wellbeing. Further reference is made to the correlation between women abused
and maltreatment of their own children by themselves Isaac (1997).
pitiful realisation of the impact of domestic abuse on children becomes
apparent where it is suggested that over ninety percent of children in such
homes are affected. Hewitt (2002). This Leads to low self-esteem, isolation
amongst peers, and confidence. Although Children may become covert within their
childhood, it may be, in later life,
they too become abusers. Wha-soon (1994) further supports this theory when he
states that witnessing violence, results in a pattern of the same.
Time for intervention
violence, protecting victims, and seeking justice for the victims, are the
three intervention methods employed when it comes to domestic abuse (Press wire
1998). The prevention of abuse may usually take the form of educational
resources and as such informs both victim and potential perpetrators of how to
avoid this. Protection would seek to provide respite services for example or
support services for the victim, and Justice would suggest that the perpetrator
is punished. The measuring of such intervention, however, seems arduous to
(2004) talks of the fact that this could further be enhanced if the
consideration of the wider family was to be addressed, looking at all
components and aspects, such as relationship dynamics and support networks. It
is anticipated that considering these factors could lead to a more
comprehensive justice system for the victim and that the protective factors are
increased due to the deeper knowledge of the family systems.
are gaps in the research in domestic abuse however and it seems that, a
solution for one cultural background, may in fact be a cause for concern in
another. An example of which could be extended family members. This will be
discussed in the preceding section.
appears that the research on domestic abuse is vast however falls short in any
research based on domestic abuse within the South Asian communities. Intervention
methods talk of the consideration of the extended family which are vastly
apparent within these communities, however, it does not make any mention of the
cultural, and language barriers that may prevail, and the silent victims that
fall into this category as a result. Extended families so far as the Asian
communities are concerned, are often the reasons that abuse may occur. This
stems from expectations that the extended members of the family must also be
looked after, and if there are any shortcomings in this, then the wife is
usually to blame (Zara 2012). An exchange method of information sharing, using
open ended questions with women of this background would have undoubtedly
benefitted the research into domestic abuse. A Qualitative approach would have
best served this approach as due to the uniqueness of this server group, the
true essence of their culture would need to be captured (Asian pages 1998). It
seems that Ethical factors are a reason that policy makers and practitioners
have avoided this sensitive area of research, however, the impact of domestic
abuse within south Asian families on women and children is immense (Asian pages
1998). Religious factors, community conformity, and cultural beliefs all impact
on the delivery of intervention methods, but also impact the partnership
working between such communities and authorities where authorities may fear
that they are crossing ethical boundaries as well as a breakdown of community
cohesion, by interfering. Women of such backgrounds, view their partners as
their honour and as such, view their own position within the community as being
connected to their marital status (Thiara and Gill 2010). The views and ideas
that these women hold often stem from their own mothers and the cross-boarder
marriages, which bring these women into the UK, often lead infiltration of such
beliefs into their own parenting. An excerpt from an interviewee young bride
aged 18, in Pakistan is an example of the expectations:
“My mother is very obedient; she never
says no to my father. She leaves home for work at 8 am and only returns at
midnight. Even if she is tired, she does everything to make him happy; she runs
our home and cooks whatever he wishes. All the men in our village beat their
wives, it is a norm” (Zara 2012).
Ethnic minority communities impart many other
issues when it comes to domestic abuse. Dasgupta (2000) and Choudry (1996)
state that as honour and respect and self-worth play a huge part in the south
Asian community, many perpetrators use these tactics as a method of control.
Often perpetrators will not only seek to demand care for themselves, but also
the consideration of their families also needs to take place. This undoubtedly
influences the children and the ability to cater for them (Dasgupta and Warrier
(1996) talks about the fact that South Asian women face rejection and hostility
from the wider communities as result of leaving such relationships. A Scottish
study in the Asian community concluded that interference from wider agencies
into private family matters was not appreciated and any disputes would be
resolved internally (McNeil et al 2004)
there has been some legal reform over the years when it comes to domestic
abuse, it is still argued that the male dominance within south Asian
communities still prevails when it comes to justification of abuse (Siegel 1996).
The pressures of maintaining the family honour and children together lies with
the women of the family (Hewitt 2002). This phenomenon as reported by Zara
(2012), seems to be prevailing from the cultural expectations from some of
these communities historically, and may be difficult to overcome without
causing alarm and overcoming many barriers in the process.
there appears to be much accessible literature on domestic abuse, there is
however, very limited literature on ethnic minority communities and the added
issues that need to be considered when addressing abuse. As mentioned
previously, Qualitative research accessing women’s perspectives of their own
perceptions of abuse, and the way in which they survived would go a long way in
serving the knowledge to add to the intervention methods employed. The data of
the qualitative research should be employed and adapted to add to new policies
and laws which woulkd need to be reformed to address and implement these
findings maintaining the dignity, privacy and safety of any willing
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