Issues about Culture and Spousal Maltreatment

Spousal maltreatment

In this hub, I will discuss about spousal maltreatment and cultural issues surrounding it. Spousal maltreatment can be viewed as a pattern of abusive behavior by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, friends or cohabitation. Culture on the other hand is the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes a group of people.

According to recent estimates, there are more women who are suffering in this kind of abuse, but others would argue that the actual data estimates is the same for men and women, and that both men and women are perpetrators of the abuse, only the women are more often the one who are physically maltreated.

Faces of domestic maltreatment:

Domestic maltreatment has its many faces, it can be physical, emotional, controlling, intimidation or economic deprivation. It is a form of maltreatment which is not given enough attention not only because it is difficult to prove and sometimes there is no specific laws for it and may not even constitute a crime depending on the severity of the action itself. Usually the battered person is scared of the perpetrator of the bad behavior.

Spousal maltreatment

We all know that a person who maltreats his/her partner wants to gain control and dominate over the other one through intimidation, threats and humiliation at times. Worst is the direct physical maltreatment which could be physical contact and other forms. Sometimes a partner becomes so aggressive that they will throw anything at you, destruction of things around them or even harming the children or using them against the partner. It can be in the form of emotional maltreatment where the perpetrator use verbal threats, insults and degrading the other person. It becomes more difficult when the couple have children and they become expose to this kind of behavior.

Culture Issues and Spousal Maltreatment :

There is a debate going on whether there is any right at all for other people to impose their idea of spousal maltreatment to other people. Like for example in the Philippines, some women in the Mountain province are expected to work manually in the mountains or in the fields even though they are about to give birth, but when you ask them why do they still work, they will just say that they like doing that and nothing is wrong with it, even though we know already that it is risky for them to work because of the stage in their pregnancy. Also to their contention, if the husband want lovemaking, even if they don't feel like doing it with them, they just perform the act even though at times they feel that they are being forced to do it. For them, forced lovemaking is not wrong at all because it is their duty to satisfy their husbands wishes.

For a woman raised in another culture, this may seem not right at all, and this for them is a form of spousal maltreatment. What if the woman doesn’t complain or accept "maltreatment" as a way of life and it doesn’t bother them and for them, this is a form of duty to their husband and that is the way it should be. Their father had done these things to their mother and they never complained at all, why should they complain now. If there is no complainant, is there sexual maltreatment? Are we supposed to educate these women that it is not right at all to be forced into something we don't want, even though we know that people accept these things as a way of living? That’s why in some culture, domestic maltreatment is not an issue at all.

In my own opinion, treating other person as unequal, is a form of maltreatment, because how can you respect and love somebody if you treat them as trash and hurt them physically and emotionally? How can other people love you if you don't love and respect yourself?

Lack of evidence:

In some culture, it is difficult to meddle in a couples life. Unless a woman is severely maltreated, that’s the only time that it is reported to the police. And oftentimes the cases are dismissed because of lack of evidence and witness/es. Physical evidence is easier to establish than emotional maltreatment because it takes time to know the consequences of emotional maltreatment whereas for physical maltreatment, you can immediately see the consequences.

Spousal maltreatment is high in a patriarchal society:

While other women in some culture accept that the men would subdue them and it is alright if they will hurt them physically if they will not follow what the husband say, most people from other culture will perceive this as a form of spousal maltreatment. Where do we really draw the line in these cases? It is a gray area because it is not just right to impose to people ones idea if they think that there is nothing wrong at all even if their spouses is maltreating them. This is prevalent in a patriarchal society where most women are dependent economically to men and they think that they can’t do anything except to accept what their partners are doing to them. Usually women are the victims because they are expected to maintain the household and not to work at all. They become totally dependent economically to their husbands.

Spousal maltreatment is prevalent in a society where the women are not empowered

In these societies, women have low self esteem, low education and they accept the dominance of their spouse as a sign of love for them, that the men are just trying to protect them. Worst scenario is that in some societies, men think that women are their property and they can do whatever they need to do with them to put order in the house. Usually in these societies, there is son preference also, and that parents tend to think that the place for a woman should be in the house.

Spousal maltreatment and misuse of religion

The teachings in the bible are sometimes used to justify the abuse to women. Perpetrators of the crime try to justify their actions because of what the perceived teachings of religion about dominance.


People should be aware of their rights and that any forms of maltreatment (emotional or physical) is not good. It is true that in every culture, the concept of spousal maltreatment is not existent at all, but in my own opinion, spousal maltreatment is the worst thing one could ever experience because if the people who you think should protect and loved you are the ones maltreating you, then who else is there to turn to. Spousal maltreatment brings forth psychological damages which is difficult to repair. The worst thing that a child can experience is the presence of any kind of abuse in the household because they might think that this is the right thing to do.

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Comments 19 comments

Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 7 years ago from Andalusia

Yes, that's a difficult one, cultural barriers. I can understand the women who like to keep working during pregnancy. I was digging the last of our potatoe trenches myself the day my daughter was born. Westerners are often too pampered. Pregnancy is not an illness.

However a distinct line must be drawn between intercultural tolerance and turning a blind eye to abusive and violent behaviour against women, children, the weak and elderly, animals and all those who cannot fight back.

PS I really value your input as someone who knows more about other cultures than the dominating ones. We need more people like you on HubPages.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US Author

thanks Ms. Sue for dropping by and reading this and I like what you said in the second paragraph. You nailed it!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

This was certainly a well researched and comprehensive article on spousal abuse, Pretty. You touched on just about all of the issues concerning spousal abuse and brought forth the eccentricities of the causes of such. Wonderful job! I hope that many will benefit from reading this one!

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US Author

yes Dohn, sometimes there are eccentricities to it like it is verey difficult for some people to understand why this is a big issue and to infringe on the right of women in other culture.Thanks for reading this one.

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lyricsingray 7 years ago

Fabulous write on a tough subject - I'm tackling mine tonight. I really enjoyed yours and learned some new things-thanks, kimberly

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US Author

thanks lyricsngray for reading this hub, i am happy you learnt a lot from it, will wait for yours tonight!

Princessa profile image

Princessa 7 years ago from France

Very interesting thought provoking hub. I grew up in South America and what was expected from women was completely different (at the time) to what you expect from women in Europe. Even in European countries these days the expectations vary a lot from country to country and what would be considered abuse in some places is normal in others.

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lynnechandler 7 years ago

You did a really good job on this hub.

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US Author

hi lynnechandler, thanks for dropping by!

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lyricsingray 7 years ago

Never heard the term IVP before. Learned a great deal from this Hub and I thank you, Kimberly

beth811 profile image

beth811 7 years ago from Philippines

Issues about domestic violence on women are prevalent nowadays. There was this rare issue about abusive wife I saw in the documentary series featured in BBC. I was appalled when I saw it.

But, almost always the perpetrators are the abusive husbands.

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US Author

lyricsngray, hi, yes IPV is the same as spousal violence! thanks for dropping by and readign this hub! Maita

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US Author

hi Beth, kumusta. thanks for dropping by, I think both male and female are both the casualty in domestic violence, only that the female are mostly beaten up!I watched BBC most of the times, but I missed that one.

DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 7 years ago

Prettydarkhorse, Very good and informative hub! Abuse rather physical, mental or emotional of any kind is or should I say never acceptable under any circumstances! You are quite right "both male and female are the causualty in domeatic violence" Thank you for sharing this much needed hub! Blessings!

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US Author

Thanks too Ms Deborrah, Bless you and I totally agree with you too, I am glad you like this one, Maita

Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

Well written and thought provoking article. I never thought about abuse assuming so many forms; thanks for the information :)

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US Author

thanks cool, Maita

tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

This is a very interesting and important Hub. Culture is often used to justify things that are wrong. Female genital mutilation might be a cultural practice in certain cultures, but that does not justify it. Times change and so do cultures, in the light of advancing knowledge. It was once culturally acceptable to enslave people, but times and the culture changed and so it is no longer acceptable.

However, I also think it is important that the change in a culture comes from within that culture and is not imposed by someone outside of it. Again the issue of slavery is instrucitve - that culture was changed from within. It was people who were within the slave-owning culture who came to see that slavery was wrong and campaigned to change the culture.

Cultures can and do change and with increasing cross-cultural contacts and interaction this will happen. What is important is to support those within the culture working for change. Especially in the case of women and children abuse that seems to be embedded in a culture it is important to support those within the culture who seek to change it.

I know that culture is a very tricky thing. In South Africa apartheid used to be defended as "our culture" or "our way of life." Similarly now that we have gotten rid of apartheid there are many in South Africa who would defend things like polygamy as "our culture" or "our way of life." That may be so but those who oppose such things need to change it from within. A very fine line and delicate balancing act indeed!

Thanks for sharing these important thoughts.

Love and peace


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US Author

Hi Sir Tony the prevailing culture like the western culture is also spreading so I think I agree with you about the people who change from within their own culture. The dominant culture will sure change the way things are and women will appreciate their value thrugh women empowerment. About apartheid, slavery etc, I agree with what you said Sir. The main problem is the opposition from the other side which are the stakeholders --- the ones who are perpetuating the culture, Thank you so much for the enlightening remarks Sir, Maita

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