This is a collection of posts on Domestic Violence from the Smart Marriages Archive.
However, this is just a drop in the bucket - there are tons more.  To find them, go to and use the search engine.  - diane

May, 2001

> Diane, from today's Boston Globe editorial you sent to the list:
>> Offering a battered
>> woman $1,000 to stay married to a violent husband won't change that, or
>> promote any rational person's idea of ''family.''
> Can anyone on the list help with documentation /research on this recurrent
> accusation that supporting marriage equals making women stay married to
> violent husbands. I keep hearing references to studies showing that domestic
> violence is more common among cohabiting couples, than among married, but
> is there any real evidence?  My very liberal friends are highly suspicious
> of my work as a marriage educator, because they believe I am in league (in
> bed?) with those who want to force women to stay in bad marriages, as this
> writer does.
> Save this until after conference if you want, but I would like it posted
> sometime....unless there's a keynote speaker talking on this in Orlando.
> Jana Staton
> Jana,
> Keep a copy of "The Case for Marriage" by Waite and Gallagher with
> you at all times to read to your friends who are suspicious.  Maybe I can
> get permission from them to post Chapter 11: "Is Marriage A Hitting
> License?" on the web site.  In it, they tackle the myth that "promoting
> marriage puts women at risk for violence" - they blow it out of the water.
> "A large body of research shows, for example, that marriage is much less
> dangerous for women than cohabitation"....and they give the research and
> the explanations.
> Break-up time - whether for a marriage or a cohabitation - is when violence
> is most likely - which makes it easy to understand why cohabiting
> relationships with their lack stability and threats to leave would
> have more incidents of violence.
> Please go to the smart marriages newslist archive and search
> for domestic violence and you'll find all kinds of evidence - women
> are simply safer in marriage than in cohabiting and dating relationships -
> safer from domestic and all other forms of violence. (Married men, too, are
> safer than bachelors.)
> However, we shouldn't stop there!  We want ALL marriages to be safe -
> and as we teach skills/behaviors/attitudes that will build marriages
> that are satisfying - we'll improve the numbers.  Violence is a terrible
> way to communicate. - diane
May 2001
> << Can anyone on the list help with documentation /research on this
> recurrent accusation that supporting marriage equals making women stay
> married to violent husbands. I keep hearing references to studies showing
> that domestic violence is more common among cohabiting couples, than among
> married, but is there any real evidence? >>
> Tons.  these references would be a decent starting place for one who wants
> to dig in deeper on this.  the domesitic violence differences are not in
> each of these, but those findings do seem pretty robust in different
> studies.
> One of the key things that people might miss in this whole dynamic is the
> role of males and the effects of marriage on males.  Sarah Whitton (along
> with me and Howard Markman) have some fascinating research going on
> sacrifice. Sarah finds (so far) that men are simply not oriented toward
> sacrificing toward women UNLESS they have a sense of a long term view AND a
> strong sense of a couple identity.  Marriage is a very strong discriminative
> stimulus (a big giant SIGN) that represents these very two things--at it's
> very essence.  It's seeming increasingly likely to me that marriage
> represents a major marker for men of a change; that the rules are now
> different because there is a clearly expressed long term view and there is a
> clearly recognized (to varying degrees) identity of an us.  Frankly, when it
> comes down to it, I think we'll find that, on average (research is always
> about broad average differences.  there are always zillions of exceptions)
> men just don't behave the same way toward females without marriage whereas
> females may behave relatively altruistically regardless.
> Here are some useful references:
> Axinn, W.G., & Barber, J.S. (1997). Living Arrangements and Family
> Formation Attitudes in Early Adulthood.  Journal of Marriage and the Family,
> 59, 595-611.
> DeMaris, A. & Leslie, G. R. (1984). Cohabitation with future spouse: Its
> influence upon marital satisfaction and communication. Journal of Marriage
> and the Family, 46, 77-84.
> DeMaris, A., & MacDonald, W. (1993). Premarital Cohabitation and Marital
> Instability: A Test of the Unconventional Hypothesis. Journal of Marriage
> and
> the Family, 55, 399-407.
> Forste, R., & Tanfer, K. (1996). Sexual exclusivity among dating,
> cohabiting, and
> married women. Journal of Marriage the Family, 58, 33-47.
> Gaertner, L., & Foshee, V.  (1999).  Commitment and the perpetration of
> relationship violence.  Personal Relationships, 6, 227-239.
> Nock, S. L. (1995). A comparison of marriages and cohabiting
> relationships. Journal of Family Issues, 16(1), 53-76.
> Popenoe, D., & Whitehead, B.  (2000).  Should we live together? What
> young adults need to know about cohabitation before marriage. Piscataway,
> New
> Jersey: National Marriage Project.
> Stanley, S.M., & Markman, H.J.(1997) Marriage in the 90s:  A Nationwide
> Random Phone Survey. Denver, Colorado: PREP, Inc.
> Stanley, S.M., Markman, H.J., & Whitton, S. (under review). Maybe I Do:
> Interpersonal Commitment and Premarital or Non?Marital Cohabitation.
> Stets, J. E., Straus, M. A. (1989). The marriage license as a hitting
> license: A comparison of assaults in dating, cohabiting, and married
> couples.
> Journal of Family Violence, 4(2), 161-180.
> Straus, M. (1979).  Measuring intra family conflict and violence: The
> Conflict Tactics (CT) Scales.  Journal of Marriage and the Family, 41,
> 75-88.
> Thomson, E. & Colella, U. (1992). Cohabitation and marital stability:
> Quality or commitment? Journal of Marriage and the Family, 54, 259-267.
> Thornton, A., Axinn, W.G., & Hill, D.H. (1992). Reciprocal effects of
> religiosity, cohabitation, and marriage. American Journal of Sociology,
> 98(3), 628?651.
> Waite, L. J. (1995). Does marriage matter? Demography, 32, 483-507.
> Waite, L., & Gallagher, M. (2000).  The case for marriage.  New York:
> Doubleday.
> Waite, L. J., & Joyner, K. (In Press). Emotional Satisfaction and
> Physical Pleasure in Sexual Unions:  Time Horizon, Sexual Behavior and
> Sexual
> Exclusivity.  Journal of Marriage and the Family.

> Scott M. Stanley
> University of Denver


April 1999
> Dear Diane: I'm writing to support your comment on the Oregon legislation and
> send you some info that you might want to forward the sponsors of the bill.
> Suffice it to say it is clear that domestic violence is not rooted in the
> institution of marriage. (though of course, like girlfriends, many wives are
> victims of violent men).
> In the National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted by the U.S. Department
> of Justice, of all violent crimes committed by intimate partners between 1979
> and 1987, 65 percent were committed by boyfriends or ex-husbands.  Husbands
> committed just 9 percent of these crimes.  The survey was then redesigned to
> encourage reporting of domestic incidents (replacing criminal justice
> terminology with more neutral behavioral descriptions).  But even the new
> survey methods make it clear that boyfriends are far more dangerous to women
> than husbands: 55 percent of all violent crimes committed by intimate partners
> in 1992-93 were committed by current or former boyfriends; husbands accounted
> for 31 percent of domestic acts of violence against women, and ex-husbands
> were responsible for 14 percent of such incidents.   Even when it comes to
> murder, killings are more likely to happen to unmarried cohabitors than
> spouses.   As one scholar sums up the relevant research, "Regardless of
> methodology, the studies yielded similar results: cohabitors engage in more
> violence than spouses." - Maggie
> Note: This is from Maggie Gallagher, co-author with Linda Waite of the much
> anticipated book "The Case For Marriage" available Spring/2000, Harvard Univ
> Press.   Maggie will present a session, "The Case for Marriage," at the July
> conference which summarizes the many benefits of marriage.  Maggie invites
> inquiries about domestic violence in cohabiting vs marital relationships to
> her attention at  maggieiav@xxxxxxx  -diane



Here are examples of the First Step Family Violence Intervention Center's "We Believe In Marriage" campaign.  First Step believes
we must take action to clear up the misperceptions around marriage and
domestic violence.

> Research related to domestic violence indicates that a healthy marriage is
> probably the best deterrent to domestic violence. First Step considers its
> efforts to honor successful marriages and to provide relationship skills a
> good strategy to help prevent even the first acts of family violence.

Check out their web site for more ideas.

- diane


CONTACT: Terri Mercer, First Step Executive Director

Stacy and Brian Cobb win ?We Believe In Marriage* Contest
(Fostoria) Stacy and Brian Cobb of Fostoria are the winners of the 2003 ?We
Believe In Marriage* contest that was sponsored by First Step Family
Violence Intervention Center in cooperation with the Black Cat restaurant.

To enter the drawing, all that was required was for married couples to
submit entries with their addresses and telling how many years they have
been married. The Cobbs* entry was drawn from a total of 63 entries. The
Cobbs have been married four years.

Of the entries, the couple most recently married is Beth and Bryan Fox of
Findlay, married less than two years. Married the longest is Mr. and Mrs.
Carl P. Williams of rural Fostoria, who will mark their 63rd anniversary
March 17. Also entering the contest with at least 60 years of marriage was
Mr. and Mrs. George A. Gray of Fostoria who have been married 60 years.

The Cobbs received a certificate honoring their marriage, dinner for two at
the Black Cat, two tickets to the 2003 Soul Shine blues fest, flowers and
candy. If they desire, the Cobbs are also invited to participate in
relationship enhancement classes at First Step.

First Step is becoming more active during 2003 to honor successful marriages
and to offer relationship enhancement opportunities, including the First
Step PASSAGES class, for those who would like to improve their relationship

Research related to domestic violence indicates that a healthy marriage is
probably the best deterrent to domestic violence. First Step considers its
efforts to honor successful marriages and to provide relationship skills a
good strategy to help prevent even the first acts of family violence.

CONTACT: Terri Mercer, First Step Executive Director

First Step to Honor Mayor Davoli at Council meeting

To Join with city in proclaiming March ?Marriage Enrichment Month*
(Fostoria) First Step Executive Director Terri Mercer presented a
certificate to Fostoria Mayor John Davoli and his wife Lisa in honor of
their 17+ years of marriage. The presentation was made at the February 18
Fostoria City Council meeting.

In addition, Mayor Davoli signed a proclamation naming March as ?Marriage
Enrichment Month* in Fostoria. The proclamation encourages church groups and
other community groups to host or become involved with special activities
that promote marriage enrichment.

As a domestic violence intervention agency, First Step honoring the mayor
and his wife as a way to highlight the message that a healthy marriage is
the best deterrent to domestic violence. Studies indicate that people in
healthy first marriages are least likely to experience domestic violence and
their children are likely to fair better as well.

Around the nation, and even in other countries, efforts at prevention have
long been a part of the strategy to deal with domestic violence. Usually
those methods of prevention include more effective ways at law enforcement,
prosecution or personal counseling to prevent repeat occurrences of
violence. But the best forms of prevention are those that
prevent even the first acts of violence. In that category, only a healthy
relationship can provide prevention. A healthy marriage is statistically the
best prevention of all.

During 2003, First Step is expanding its efforts at primary prevention.

PASSAGES, the First Step educational program, is now open to all people as a
relationship enhancement experience. The class teaches improved
communications techniques and other skills for better relationships.

First Step will be sponsoring a speaker series during the year, beginning in
March when Professor Gwen Sandstrom of Winebrenner Theological Seminary will
speak on a marriage and family topic. Each speaker in the series will speak
on an educational or informational topic related to marriage or improved

 First Step will be honoring married couples for milestone anniversaries,
recognizing those couples as models for successful marriage. Some of those
marriages will be highlighted with feature stories in the First Step
newsletter and local media are encouraged to publish positive features and
information about healthy relationships, especially marriages.

First Step will continue its vigilance at providing crisis intervention
services when individuals request that help. First Step continues to be a
leader in providing safe residency in Northwest Ohio along with providing
other excellent and necessary domestic violence services.

First Step is a non-profit family violence intervention center that helps
individuals and families in Wood, Sandusky, Seneca and Wyandot Counties
learn to live abuse-free lives. In addition to 24-hour crisis intervention,
First Step provides safe residency, legal advocacy, counseling, home visits,
and educations programs, including Passages. First Step is a local United
Way agency.


On violence: Linda Waite analyzed NSFH data for "The Case for Marriage" and
found (as has every researcher I know of) that violence is more common among
cohabiting couples.

This is sometimes disguised by a peculiar linguistic convention in domestic
violence research in which "husband" and "intimate partner" are used
interchangeably.  There is a chapter (Chapter 11) on the research on
domestic violence and marriage in "The Case for Marriage."  Perhaps the most
famous study of domestic violence Stets and Straus' "The Marriage License As
A Hitting License" also shows rates of domestic violence are higher among
cohabitors than married people.

Which does not mean of course that wives do not need protection from violent
husbands.  But it does suggest that generally retreating from marriage as
an institution is not a very good way to protect women from intimate

Maggie Gallagher
1. re: divorce ceremonies--
   In my grad school days in the early 70's, in Southern California, the
no-fault divorce movement was gaining acceptance. One of my professors--a
psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and ordained pastor--shared in
our marriage class his response to those couples who stopped by his office
on their way to divorce court, just to get his professional and clerical
blessing for their decision to divorce. Rather than flow with their shared
argument that they had tried everything and just wanted to minimize the
acrimony and harm to the children, this counselor would respond: "I don't
facilitate divorces. If it's a divorce you want, there are some good
attorneys down the street who will help you with that goal. What I do is
save marriages. If you would like to save your marriage, I can help you with
that." Caught by surprise that he didn't simply affirm and give pastoral
blessing to their decision to negotiate a mutually-acceptable divorce
arrangement, a significant percentage of these couples would pause to
re-evaluate their societally-supported conclusion that the marriage was
over; and a significant proportion of those who did pause to reconsider were
then able to heal their wounds and reaffirm their marriage. Three decades
later, the challenge remains:  The Church and the counseling profession must
discover or recover the courage to challenge the culture of easy divorce.
Enabling and affirming divorce serves no healthy purpose; it only promotes
temporary good feelings, anesthetizing the pain of deeper issues that
deserve instead hope and help.

2. re: aggression among co-habitors--
   Speaking of saving and promoting marriages, our own Mike McManus, in
Marriage Savers, cites a dramatic figure concerning aggression among
co-habitors.  Extrapolating from a 1992 U.S. Justice Dept. study, "Female
Victims of Violent Crime," he writes, ". . . a cohabiting woman is sixty-two
times more likely to be assaulted by a live-in boyfriend than by a husband.
Husbands respect wives. Boyfriends do not respect live-in lovers." (p. 40)
Though the data on which the Justice Dept. report is based come from the
1980's, I suspect that few would argue that violence has decreased in our
society since that time--especially if we factor in the more recent data
indicating, as Roger Eldridge suggests, that "women are now clearly the
majority perpetrators of domestic violence."

Cary Lantz
Forest, VA

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