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The study examined the types, prevalence and causes of domestic violence among selected couples in Mushin Local Government Area Of Lagos State. The study reviewed related literatures under some sub-headings. The descriptive research survey was used for the assessment of the opinions of the respondents, with the use of both the research questionnaire and the sampling technique. A total of 100 respondents were sampled. Four null hypotheses were formulated and tested using the ANOVA for hypothesis 1 and 2 and Pearson product moment correlation statistical tool for hypotheses 3 and 4 at 0.05 level of significance. At the end of the analyses, the following findings were obtained:

(1)         that a relationship exists between the years of marriage and couples’ domestic violence in the community,

(2)         that religion will significantly play an important role in the incidence of couple marital violence in the family,

(3)         that there is a significant relationship between domestic violence and newly wedded couples in the family and

(4)         that there is a significant relationship between domestic violence and old married couples in the study.

Based on the conclusions of this study, the following recommendations were made thus:Government should increase public awareness on domestic violence, by sensitizing individuals on their rights and laws guiding these rights. Also, social workers should ensure that victims of domestic violence and their children are safe-guided through a programme tagged “Save the children” programme, in which the children’s conditions in marriages rocked by domestic violence are taken care of.


1.1    Background to the Study

Domestic abuse is a problem that is entrenched in many societies across the globe and Nigeria is not an exception. Research in this area such as the one done by Eneh, et al. (2005) has shown that this type of violence has traumatised many Nigerian couples. Domestic violence remains a persistent problem because of the power and control held by the abuser; the fear, intimidation and humiliation suffered by the victim of this crime (Okere, 2000).

The oldest and most prevalent institution in the world today is the marriage institution. In all cultures, there is a particular sanctity attached to this institution, so much that it is particularly considered to be a building block of any society. The pivotal position of marriage has made domestic violence a subject of interest to various disciplines, government, religious sects and professional associations (Arldine, 1994).

American Psychological Association (APA) (1996) defined domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behaviour including a wide range of physical, sexual, and psychological maltreatment used by a person in an intimate relationship against another to gain power unfairly or to maintain the misuse of power, control and authority.

The role of spouse in family relationship is significant, such that some people have acclaimed it to be a surviving family adjustment. However, this role has its own problems. Some spouses have been found to be abused in various forms, ranging from sexual to financial abuse and communicative abuse. All these have implication on family relationship (Ayo, 2001).

Domestic violence occurs in traditional heterosexual marriages, as well as in some sexual partnership. The abuse may occur during a relationship  or after the relationship has ended. The key elements of domestic violence are: intimidation, humiliation and physical injury. Going by the definition of domestic violence, couples engage in it to control the other partner and keep him/her from departing or quitting the relationship.  A critical look at the definition of domestic violence will reveal that they assume the dimension of portraying women as the victims bearing the brunt, while men are seen as perpetrators.

This could be as a result of the widely held beliefs that women are the weaker sex while men are by right, the head of the family that must be obeyed. Nigeria as a country has her own fair share of domestic violence, which could be seen in the rate of divorce, separation and marital dishonesty in the country.

According to Ajila (2000) in his study on wife beating in western Nigeria, it was found that 32% of women indicated that they have experienced abuse, 21% believe strongly that wives should be beaten while 72% believe that wives should be beaten once in a while.

Bakare (1986) identified marital conflict to exist along a particular continuum which are:

1.            Occasional verbal quarrels

2.            Frequent verbal quarrels

3.            Occasional physiological quarrel

4.            Frequent physical quarrel

5.            Psychological separation

6.            Physical separation

7.            Divorce

A close look at this shows that a particular couple is expected to go through the whole stages, but it is not necessarily so in all situations. Some couples get to the divorce stage without going through physical quarrels and physical separation, while some resolve the conflict completely before it gets to divorce stage (Anyanwu, 2004).

Researchers such Rhodes, Adamson and Arnolds (2000) indicated domestic violence, through prevalent in Nigeria is still largely under reported, if reported at all. The causes of domestic violence can be seen in two broad categories. The traditional causes such as culture, ethnicity and religion are those factors that are commonly seen and discussed as leading to fighting among couples. They are immediate causes that can be pin pointed as leading to violence in the home. These include, among others, sex role, sexual dissatisfaction and infidelity, ego massage, income disparity, religion differences, alcohol consumption, money matters, childlessness, influence of inlaws etc (Adekoya, 2005).

Secondly, contemporary causes of domestic violence are those underlying remote factors such as frequent verbal quarrels, occasional physiological quarrel, frequent physical quarrel and psychological separation that are not easily seen or implicated, yet they influence violence behaviour in marital relationship. Domestic violence has now become a common phenomenon. It should be noted here that as husbands abuse their wives so also wives abuse their husbands (Steinmetz, 1997). It is only the degree that varies. The question then is how well has domestic violence or abuse been able to achieve its end? Has domestic violence solve the problems of family discord, divorce, separation etc experienced today?

Base on the above picture, the study is to determine the influence domestic violence on family relationship among couple in Musin Local Government Area of Lagos State.

1.2Theoretical Framework

Three theoretical models will be used to explain domestic violence and neglect in family relationships:

1.            Resource Theory

2.            The Patriarchy Theory

3.            General System Theory

Resource Theory

The resource theory of family violence propounded by Goode (2001) assumes that all social systems (including the family) rest to some degree of force or the threat of force. The more resources – social, personal and economic a person can command, the more force that individual can muster. However, according to Goode (2001), the more resources a person actually has, the less that person will actually use force in an open manner. Thus, a husband who wants to be a dominant person in the family, but has little education, has a job, low prestige and income, and lacks interpersonal skills may choose to use violence to maintain the dominant position.

According to Nadin (1998) employed women are less dependent on abusive partners and better able to extricate themselves from harmful relationships. Women are not absolved from this social vice of heart breaking. Some women (especially those of superior economic standings to their male counterparts) are tempted to play domineering role in the family in such a way that their husbands have to play the second fiddle in a home, where they are supposed to be the head of the family.

In the incidence of domestic violence on family relationship, the causal factors in most cases include infidelity, sexual dissatisfaction, influence of inlaws, economic hardship, lack of education among others. For instance, women that are not allowed to work tend to stay in an abusive relationship because, their husbands sometimes gain economic and psychological control over them.

The Patriarchy Theory

The patriarchy theory according to Dobash and Dobash (1979) is that economic and social process operate directly and indirectly to support  patriarchal (male dominated) social order and family structure).

The central theoretical argument is that patriarchy leads to subordination and oppression of women and causes the historical pattern of systematic violence directed against wives.

The patriarchy theory finds the source of domestic violence in society at large and how it is organized as opposed to within individual families or communities.

Globally, and in every culture, men have been seen and celebrated as superior to their female counterparts. Traditionally, the arrival of male child into a family is seen as a special blessing to such home. It is not uncommon, most especially among Africans, to pray and earnestly expect a male child irrespective of the number of the female children in the families. The central belief is that male children are by all standard superior to their female counterparts and should be treated as such.

This situation is buttressed also by the social order and family structure. Almost in every social strata, male are mostly favoured for significant posts. The affair of family living has also conferred superiority on the men. This has helped shape the behaviour and perception of men as superior to the female counterparts and has largely contributed to their violent behaviour against wives in family relationships.

In most cases, wives also tries to prove that they are never inferior. When this happens, the consequence is domestic violence with its many evil effects on family relationship.

General System Theory

A social system approach was developed and applied by Straus (1993) and Jean (1983) to explain family violence. Here violence is viewed as a system product rather than the result of individual pathology. The family system operation can maintain, escalate or reduce levels of violence in families. The theory describes the processes that characterize the use of violence in family interaction and explains the way in which violence is managed and stabilized. Straus argues that a general system theory of family violence must include at least three basic elements:

2.            Alternative causes of action or causal flow.

3.            The feedback mechanism that enable the system to make adjustments and

4.            System goals.

1.3Statement of the Problem

It has been found that various forms of domestic violence exist in some family relationship and has degenerated into various marital problems among which are child negligence, communication gaps, destruction of property, divorce, separation and ultimately death.

Many marriages today, have failed unmendably due to domestic violence. For instance, many couples, especially the men folks, have resorted to settling scores with their wives through aggressive actions such as beating and fighting on any slightest provocation. In some families, love has flown away, and has been replaced by spousal hate and aggression. For instance, in many couples’ homes, occasional verbal quarrels, frequent verbal quarrels, occasional physiological quarrels, frequent physical quarrels, psychological quarrels and separation which in any case, lead to physical separation and total divorce, have resigned supreme. No wonder in our customary and conventional courts today, there are cases of divorce occasioned by domestic violence or aggression among spouses.

Based on the above picture, this study is therefore meant to determine the prevalence, types and causes of domestic violence among couples inMushin Local Government Area of Lagos State.

1.4    Purpose of the Study

The primary purpose of this study are to:

(1)     Determine the relationship between domestic violence and family relationship among newly wedded couples in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State.

(2)     Determine the difference between domestic violence among couples with many years marriage and newly wedded couples in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos.

(3)     Identify the causes of domestic violence among couples.

(4)     Find out the types of domestic violence among couples in Lagos State.

(5)     Discuss the implications of the problems and findings for marital and family counselling.

1.5    Research Questions

This study will provide answer to the following questions:

(1)         What are the types of domestic violence?

(2)         What are the perceived and real effect of domestic violence?

(3)         What are the causes of domestic violence among couples?

(4)         Is religion related to domestic violence?

(5)         To what extent will ethnicity affects couples’ relationship?

1.6    Research Hypotheses

The hypotheses that guide the study are as follows:

(1)         Years of marriage will not significantly relate to domestic violence among couples.

(2)         Religion will not be a significant factor in the incidence of violence among couples.

(3)         There will be no significant relationship between domestic violence and newly wedded couples.

(4)         There will be no significant relationship between domestic violence and old couples.

1.7Significance of the Study

The outcome of this study will be of great benefit to the married couples, marriage counsellors, children of violent couples and the society at large.

With reference to the married couples, the finding of this study will help them identify some of this evil effects of violence not only on them as perpetrators but also on everyone who maintains intimate relationship with them such as their children and extended family members or friends. Thus, be able to control their anger.

Also, marriage counsellors will be able to identify the various forms of violence among couples and be able to provide adequate counselling assistance whenever the need arises.

On the other way, children of violent couples will be exposed to the right attitude to violent behaviour of their parents so as not to grow up as perpetrators of domestic violence. These children will also be educated on the need to always develop healthy emotional life inspite of the violent circumstance prevailing among them.

The society at large will be made to the damning effects of domestic violence on family relationship. It will also assist the society to see and accept marriage as a loving relationship that should be devoid of humiliation, intimidation, threat and physical injury.

1.8Scope of the Study

This study basically covered married couples in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos. Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos is predominantly the commercial nerve centre of the state with all its inhabitants from all social classes of the Nigerian economy.

1.9   Definition of Terms

1.      Domestic Violence: Domestic violence which is otherwise referred to as spousal abuse is described as when adults in a relationship misuse power to control another whereas such establishment of control in the relationship is through violence and other form of abuse. It is also defined as a pattern of abusive behaviour including a wide range of physical sexual and psychological maltreatment used by one person in an intimate relationship against another to gain power unfairly or to maintain the person misuse of power, control and authority. The following factors amount to domestic violence; occasional verbal quarrels, frequent verbal quarrels, occasional physiological quarrel, frequent physical quarrel, psychological separation, physical separation and divorce.

2.      Family Relationship: This is defined as the relationship of trust, love and care existing between couples who have agreed to co-exist as husband and wife. It is the foundation or bedrock of all other societal relationship. Family relationship is expected to last till death do couples part. The following factors amount to domestic violence; occasional verbal quarrels, frequent verbal quarrels, occasional physiological quarrel, frequent physical quarrel, psychological separation, physical separation and divorce.



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