Research Proposal : Does Alcohol Abuse cause Domestic Violence
Domestic violence or more specifically the violence by adult intimate partners can be defined as aggressive or controlling behavior that ranges from mild to severe, spanning physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Research over the past 20 years has confirmed that substance abuse is a significant correlate of domestic physical violence. To date, the majority of studies, that have been cross-sectional in nature, have focused on husbands’ habitual use of alcohol. Previous reviews show substantial overlap, particularly within subgroups in which domestic violence or substance abuse and dependence has been identified (Murphy & O’Farrell, 1996; Tolman & Bennet, 1990). For example 20 percent to 93 percent of battered women consider their partners to be problem drinkers or alcoholic (Leonard, 1993). Among male alcoholics presenting for behavioral marital therapy, husband-to-wife violence described approximately two thirds of these men’s current relationships (O’Farrell, et al, 1999).
The link between alcohol and aggression has been a topic of numerous researches. In terms of domestic violence per se, alcohol use has been associated with 25 percent to 85 percent of cases (Kantor & Straus, 1987). There are two explanations offered for this (Pernanen, 1991). The first is a pharmacological approach which asserts that post-drinking violence results from alcohol acting as a catalyst for physiological changes that lead to uninhibited behavior. The second, a socio-cultural approach, focuses on learned and shared beliefs from the cultural milieu that allow drinkers to place the responsibility for violent behavior on alcohol.
There are also some data that have attempted to link testosterone levels to alcohol in the etiology of spouse abuse. Data indicate that men with high levels of testosterone are more apt to suffer from alcohol abuse (Dabbs & Morris, 1990). There is also a research conducted by Udry (1989) which concluded that among adolescent males the higher the testosterone level of a youth male, the higher the susceptibility to alcohol. Hormone levels interact with social variables in predicting a variety of problem behaviors. Another research done on the relationship of alcohol and violence focuses on the cognitive disruption that alcohol use may endanger for social information processing. According to this perspective, alcohol increases the risk of marital violence by exerting an influence on the perception and interpretation of information, response generation and decision making, and the subsequent behaviors based upon these processes (Holtzworth-Munroe, 1991). A further hypothesis holds that much of the supposed association between domestic violence and substance abuse may be unfounded. From this purview, certain individual, interpersonal and social situations in the absence of any direct causal linkage are posited to underlie both excessive substance use and violence in general (Gondolf, 1988).
The aim of the research is to ascertain whether alcohol abuse and domestic violence is connected. Specifically, the researcher seeks to answer the following questions:
1. Is there a causal relationship between alcohol abuse and domestic violence?
2. What is the possibility of alcohol abuse (or consumption) occurring together with domestic violence?
3. What is the common profile of abusive husbands?
4. What types of violence do abused women report that are perpetrated by alcoholic husbands?
The objective of the research is to find out whether there is a link between alcohol abuse and domestic violence. Additionally, the paper also aims to:
1. Ascertain whether there is a causal relationship between alcohol abuse and domestic violence.
2. Determine whether there is a possibility of alcohol abuse and domestic violence occurring together.
3. Determine the common profile of abusive husbands.
4. Identify the types of violence abused women report that are perpetrated by alcoholic husbands.
This research will make use of both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. According to Newman and Benz (1998), a qualitative research involves an interpretative, naturalistic approach of the subject matter. Qualitative research is about studying things in their natural settings. A researcher conducting qualitative research attempts to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meaning people bring to them. Qualitative research involves different methods of gathering and collecting of empirical materials such as case study personal experience, introspective, life story, interview, observational, historical, interactions, and visual texts. This method of data collection is about exploring issues, understanding phenomena and answering questions. The quantitative paradigm is based on positivism which takes scientific explanation to be nomethetic (i.e. based on universal laws). Its main aims are to measure the social world, to test hypotheses and to predict and control human behavior (Newman and Benz 1998). Quantitative research is based on the assumption that the world can be investigated using scientific method and that there is an independent reality. Quantitative research is based on the belief that measurable influences (independent variables) affect measurable outcomes (dependent variables) in a cause-effect manner. Quantitative studies are studies in which the data can be analyzed using conventional statistical methods (Peat 2001). As its name implies, quantitative research is concerned with quantities – how to measure phenomena and how to express those measurement. A researcher who takes a quantitative approach to investigating a topic aims to learn more about it. Taking a quantitative approach to research implies asking questions about the phenomena that can be counted. Researchers who take a quantitative approach often work within positivism, as this paradigm frames the world as a collection of apparently independent phenomena to be counted, measured and otherwise catalogued as the prelude to deducing the rules or laws underlying them and giving them coherence (MacNaughton et al 2001). This is a method of data collection, that usually emphasizes on words rather than numeric in the collection of data and analysis whereby questionnaires, surveys and experiments are carried out (Bryman and Bell, 2003).
Dabbs, J M Jr. & Morris, R 1990, Testosterone, social class, and antisocial behavior in a sample of 4,462 men, Psychological Science, vol. 1, pp. 209-211.
Kantor, G K & Strauss, M A 1987, “The “drunken bum” theory of wife beating”, Social Problems, vol. 43, pp. 213-230.
O’Farrell, T J & Murphy, C M 1995, “Marital violence before and after alcoholism treatment” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, vol. 63, pp. 256-262.
Udry, J R 1989, Biosocial models of adolescent behavior problems, University of North Carolina.
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