An examination of the perceptions of marital violence held by advocate-counselors who work in emergency shelters for battered women

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

This paper presents a survey of 121 advocate-counselors who work in shelters for battered women in North Carolina and Virginia. Fifty-four percent of the subjects viewed the husband as primarily responsible for marital violence, 38% of the sample considered the husband completely responsible, and 8% regarded the husband and wife as equally responsible. In all, 62% of the respondents believed both spouses have some role in marital violence.

Advocate-counselors who viewed the husband and wife as sharing responsibility for marital violence were significantly more likely to believe an abusive husband could learn to stop being violent and to accept a battered woman's goal of remaining married. Advocate-counselors who believed the husband was completely responsible were significantly more likely to encourage a wife to leave her husband even if she wanted to remain married to him and to believe abusive husbands can never learn to control their violent behavior.