Perpetrators of domestic violence : men's experiences in the Western Cape

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study explored male perpetrators' understanding and experience of domestic violence in the Western Cape. The literature highlights the severe impact and cost of domestic violence on a global scale. Previous studies, particularly in South Africa, have focused on women victims, couples, or the prevalence of domestic violence with there being few studies focused specifically on perpetrators. A pro-feminist approach was used to understand men's use of violence. Within this framework, a qualitative methodological approach was used to explore, describe and interpret the data. Interviews were conducted with 12 male perpetrators of domestic violence, and the interpretive phenomenological analytical approach was employed to analyse the data. The findings are similar to studies which have taken place in other countries. Men used denial, justification, remorse and dissociation when they referred to their violent behaviour. To a large degree, they adhered to patriarchal codes of masculinity where control over their partners was permissible and justifiable. Men identified the legal system as biased; limited treatment resources; and a general understanding that the legislation was not supportive. They constructed themselves as victims rather than perpetrators. Three recommendations for further research are highlighted. Firstly, treatment options for perpetrators may need to be reviewed in the context of their content. Secondly, there should be a youth focus through preventative programmes which address the intergenerational use of violence. And lastly, the legislation in South Africa should be challenged and amended in order to address rehabilitation options for perpetrators of domestic violence.

Includes abstract.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 131-147).