Abuse often begins when men batter their pregnant wives

Male batterers use physical violence to win in disagreements and to exercise power and control in their relationships, according to a violence prevention educator.

“They throw a line out and when he knows that she loves him, it’s about reeling her in,” said Stephen McArthur, also a hotline crisis worker with the Battered Women’s Services and Shelter in Washington County, Vt.

He addressed about 20 local professionals and law enforcement officials Friday at the Frederick County Public Safety Building during a domestic violence training program.

The program, hosted by the Council Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, addressed a variety of topics, including gender-based violence, cultural diversity, and the resources of the Winchester-Frederick County Child Advocacy Center.

McArthur, also a certified facilitator for the Intensive Domestic Abuse Program, a batterer intervention program, served as the keynote speaker.

Mark Haufrect, attorney for the Tahirih Justice Center, and Kelly Bober, executive director of the Winchester-Frederick County Child Advocacy Center, were also speaking to the group.

McArthur’s discussion focused on ways to engage men in ending violence against women, as well as the effects that domestic violence can have on children.

He said women often report that the abuse starts during pregnancy. “There are all kinds of reasons why abuse can begin when a woman gets pregnant.”

The feeling of jealousy a man experiences — knowing he is no longer the center of a woman’s attention — is a major factor in domestic violence, he said.

But McArthur stressed that not all batterers are men.

Although some studies show a 10-1 ratio in the severity of men’s physical violence compared to women’s, he said women can also exercise physical, emotional, sexual, and economic abuse over their partners.

Children exposed to a batterer, whether male or female, can be affected just as much by domestic violence.

“Kids who are under this kind of violence are under stress,” McArthur said.

Even when children are not the direct victims, they can be affected physically, emotionally, and socially, he added.

McArthur and the program participants discussed the numerous side effects domestic violence can have on children.

Potential consequences include depression, bed-wetting, lying, becoming withdrawn, and physical and intellectual developmental delays.

“We know that these kinds of behavior happen because of the stress they’re under,” McArthur said.

Providing a sense of safety can help in the healing process for children who have been exposed to domestic violence, he said.

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Published in: on November 4, 2008 at 4:47 pm  Comments Off on Abuse often begins when men batter their pregnant wives  
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