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Issues about Culture and Spousal Maltreatment

Updated on May 2, 2012

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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