Wife battering in rural Colorado

Material Information

Wife battering in rural Colorado a statistical model designed to explain and predict the incidence of wife abuse
Kunz, Dianna Lynn
Place of Publication:
Denver, Colo.
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
xii, 149 leaves : ; 29 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Doctorate ( Doctor of Public Administration)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
School of Public Affairs, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Public Administration
Committee Chair:
Gage, Robert W.
Committee Members:
Cesario, Frank
Cummings, Betty L.
Dignum, Jack L.


Subjects / Keywords:
Wife abuse ( lcsh )
Wife abuse -- Colorado ( lcsh )
Wife abuse ( fast )
Colorado ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 138-149).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Doctor of Public Administration, Graduate School of Public Affairs.
General Note:
School of Public Affairs
Statement of Responsibility:
by Dianna Lynn Kunz.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
14062909 ( OCLC )
LD1190.P86 1984d .K86 ( lcc )

Full Text
Dianna Lynn Kunz
B.S., Colorado State University, 1970
M.S.W., Arizona State University, 1973
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of Public Affairs
of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Public Administration
Graduate School of Public Affairs

This thesis for the Doctor of Public Administration
degree by
Dianna Lynn Kunz
has been approved for the
Graduate School
of Public Aff ai r's
Date 7-

Kunz, Dianna Lynn (D.P.A., Public Administration)
Wife Battering In Rural Colorado: A Statistical Model
Designed to Explain and Predict the Incidence of
Wife Abuse
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Robert W. Gage
Wife abuse has been the topic capturing
current public awareness in the area of domestic
violence. However, very few research studies have
been undertaken to identify the incidence of wife
battering within the American population.
Wife battering has been identified as a legal
and social phenomenon which is under reported. In
addition, the contribution of research findings
either focusing on the special circumstances of rural
communities or utilizing rural populations has been
extremely limited. This dissertation, focusing on
the incidence of wife battering in rural Colorado,
has provided a contribution to the expansion of the
data base surrounding wife battering in rural areas.
It was the purpose of this research project to
identify the major characteristics (independent
variables) which could be used to predict wife
battering (dependent variable).

From these analyses a statistical model was developed
designed to predict the incidence of wife abuse.
Eleven variable categories were selected for
inclusion in the study, from which nineteen
independent variables were developed. The categories
included: murder rate; assault rate; divorce rate;
child abuse rate; rate of alcohol and substance
abuse; education rate of males; income per capita;
age of males; male occupational status rate; male
unemployment rate; and ethnicity rate. The
literature on wife abuse has singled out each of
these social categories as having demonstrated a
significant relationship to the problem of wife
b atter i n g.
Several statistical techniques were used in
the analyses. These statistical methods included:
multiple regression analysis; Pearson correlation
analysis; and partial correlation analysis.
Six independent variables were jointly
identified by means of stepwise multiple regression
as predictors of wife abuse. These variables with
beta weights reported were: rate of elementary
educated males (-.54); rate of ethnic minorities,
non-Black (.35); county income (-.30); county child
abuse rate (.26); county assault rate (.23); and rate

of Blacks in county (.22).
Results showed that 54 percent of the variance
in wife abuse could be explained by the model. The
model was utilized to predict the incidence rate of
wife abuse for thirteen rural Colorado counties for
which data was not available.
The form and content of this abstract are approved.
I recommend its pub-^
Si gned
arge of Thesis

The inspiration for this research began with a
study on wife battering which was supported by the
Boettcher Foundation. The Boettcher study was
conducted to increase the knowledge and information
available concerning the incidence and impact of wife
battering in rural counties of the State of
Colorado. This dissertation, while separate from the
Boettcher study, utilized data from that study, and I
am grateful to the Boettcher Foundation for their
My gratitude extends to many people, for this
study is a product of more than two years of research
and academic association. My greatest intellectual
debts are to Dr. Robert Gage, Dr. Betty McCummings,
Dr. Frank Cesario and Jack L. Dignum, members of my
Dissertation Committee, for their assistance in
review and criticism of the study methodology,
content and style.
Many others have contributed significantly to
the development of this research study, often through
long hours of phone contact, on-site interviewing and
long distance travel. In this process the following

V 1 1
individuals deserve special mention; Susan R.
Russell, Kirk Dignum, Retta, Linda Dee,
Victoria Pierce, Ruth Wilson, Michael James, Connie
Devaney and Courtney Price.
Many local law enforcement officers deserve a
special thanks for the herculean efforts which were
contributed through the on-site review of aggravated
and simple assault records.
I would like to acknowledge the valuable
contribution of Jani Morrissey, a systems analyst
with the University of Colorado Social Science Data
Analysis Center, for her assistance in analyzing and
interpreting the statistical data.
Finally, I would like to thank the Volunteers
of America for the support and assistance I have
received throughout my doctoral studies. Without
their on-going support and encouragement this
dissertation would not have been possible.

LIST OF TABLES...................................... xi
INTRODUCTION...................................... 1
Dissertation Focus............................ 10
Wife Battering Research:
Significance and Public Policy
Implications.............................. 11
Rural Emphasis............................. 15
Statistical Model Application............... 18
Definitions................................... 21
Notes Chapter I............................. 26
RELATING TO WIFE ABUSE........................ 29
Definitions of Violence....................... 30
Social Patterns............................... 32
Rationale for Use of Environmental
Variables As Predictive Indicators
Of Wife Abuse............................... 32
Identification of Key Social
Indi cator s :............................ 36
Murder.................................... 39
Assault................................ 41
Divorce................................... 42

Child Abuse
Alcohol and Substance Abuse............... 47
Education................................. 48
Income.................................... 53
Occupational Status...................... 55
Employment................................ 58
Ethnicity................................. 61
Age....................................... 63
Notes Chapter II............................. 67
METHODOLOGY...................................... 73
Multiple Regression Analysis................... 75
Bivariate Correlation Analysis................. 77
Partial Correlation Analysis................... 78
Data Col 1 ecti on............................. 79
Dependent Variable Data Collection:
Actual Cases of Wife Abuse................ 80
Independent Variable Data Collection
Indicators of Wife Abuse.................. 92
The Nature of the Data...................... 94
Notes Chapter III............................ 103
Multiple Regression Analysis .................. 106
Regression Results.......................... 107

Specific Variable Analysis.................. 113
Education................................ 113
Utilization of Statistical Model
To Predict the Incidence of
Wife Battering In the Rural Counties
of Col or ado................................. 118
Notes Chapter IV.............................. 123
Major Implications of the Statistical
Analysis.................................... 124
Socio-Economic Variables.................... 126
Crime V ar i ab 1 es........................ 129
Public Policy Implications.................. 130
Implications for Future Program
Development.............................. 131
Future Research Perspectives.................. 134
Notes Chapter V............................. 137

1. Actual Number of Assaults and Wife
Batterings Reported Per County in
1980: Rural Colorado Counties With
Populations Under Thirty Thousand........... 83
2. Incidence of Wife Abuse per 1000
Population As Reported by the
Law Enforcement Entities for the
Period of 1980.............................. 91
3. Independent Variables By Data Source
and Method of Collection.................... 95
4. Multiple Regression Equation............... 108
5. Statistical Model With
Standard Errors in Parenthesis............. 108
6. Incidence of Reported Wife Assault
in Rural Colorado Counties In 1980 as
Correlated With Other Crime and
Socio-Economic Indicators,
In Pearson Correlation Coefficients....... 114
7. Pearson Correlation Coefficients
Measuring the Relationship Between
The Education Variable And Other
Selected Independent Variables.............. 116
8. Rank Order of Rural Colorado Counties
Based Upon Reported and Predicted
Incidence of Wife Assault.
Predictions Based Upon
Utilization of Statistical Model............ 120

XI 1
9. Statistical Model Utilized to
Calculate Predicted Abuse Scores
for A Selected Rural County................... 122
10. Final Regression Model with Incidence
of Wife Abuse as the Dependent
Variable and the Six Significant
Predictors...................................... 125

It is hard to imagine within the context of
today's verbal and open society that a social
phenomenon exists which has escaped the scrutiny of
those who attempt to chronicle and dissect every
nuance of human behavior. Wife battering, however, is
such a phenomenon. Wife battering continues to be
surrounded by a cloak of silence and misconception.
This nonconspiratoria1 silence, shared by the victim,
muzzled by fear and shame, and the community, muzzled
by discomfort, has been a common thread characterizing
the problem of wife battering. Whether termed
domestic violence, spouse abuse, wife abuse or wife
battering the problem has been played out as though
synchronized across the neighborhoods of America.
Violence in contemporary America has been manifest in
one of society's most cherished institutions--the
family unit.
Family violence has come to the forefront of
social consciousness through a wide range of studies,
articles and literary works. Violence inflicted upon
children by adult family members, violence wrought

upon one adult by another adult member of the family
and sibling violence, occurring between the children
of a given family, have all been areas of violence
explored and documented with increasing regularity.
Spouse abuse, however, has been the topic capturing
current public awareness in the domestic violence
arena. The topic has generated a plethora of studies,
research projects, documents and other literary works
designed to describe the causes, consequences and
characteristics of spouse abuse in historical as well
as contemporary terms.
A brief excerpt synthesized from an actual
case study will serve to demonstrate in graphic detail
the contemporary focus of the wife battering
phenomenon and more fully reveal the depth and
importance of research into this timely topic:
The doctor studies the dark purple bruise, about
the size of a grapefruit, on Sarah's back.
After spending several minutes probing and
examining the injured area the doctor reached
for his chart and quietly tried to catch her
averted gaze.
"How did this happen, Sarah?"
"I slipped on the baby's wagon and fell
backwards down the stairs," Sarah quickly
replied without once raising her eyes.
"You fell again, Sarah? These falling spells
have been happening much too frequently. You
must be careful. This time you narrowly escaped
serious kidney damage. One more severe...severe
fall affecting this same area and we won't be
discussing the problem quietly in my office,
we'll be meeting in the operating room."

"I know. I'll be more careful, I promise."
"Please be careful, Sarah, and tell your husband
you can't take any more 'falls' like this one."
The doctor turned quickly and strode from the
room into the adjacent area where another
patient was waiting. Sarah breathed a heavy
sigh of relief and tightly closed her eyes,
trying to stem the flow of tears welling up
despite her best efforts to the contrary. Sarah
began to take deep breaths trying not to lose
control here in the doctor's examining room.
Sarah tried to blot out the feelings of
humiliation and embarrassment engulfing her as
she realized that the doctor had not believed
her story about falling, that the doctor knew
her husband had hit her.
With this realization Sarah experienced yet
another episode of acute terror. Who else
knew? Would her husband find out that others
knew and accuse her of exposing him, using that
as an excuse to beat her again. With all these
fears and emotions coursing through her
consciousness, Sarah dressed as quickly as she
could and left.
(Excerpt from the case files of Brandon Center,
Safehouse for Battered Women, Denver, Colorado)
Sarah's case is typical of many others. She
will play out her scenario in fear bordering on
terror, deepened by self imposed isolation, as did
83% of the women documented in the case records of
Volunteers of America, Brandon Center Shelter for
battered women in Denver, Colorado during 1982.
In her futile attempts to keep her extended
family, neighbors and friends ignorant of the
escalating violence in her personal life, she will
cut herself off from the supportive, healing
relationships offered by these liaisons, frantically

searching for a concrete "reason" for the violence.
As Sarah clings to the recurring hope that
the beating she has just received will indeed be the
last, she is as yet unaware of the thousands of other
women in her community, her state, her nation who
share similar secrets as victims of domestic violence.
Sarah, with her not atypical scenario, is a
single member of a very large and diverse group of
women. These women are diverse in economic
background, educational accomplishments, age,
ethnicity and life style expectations. However, they
share a tragic commonality. They are all battered
women. They are women who are being routinely beaten
by their husbands, ex-husbands, boy friends and
common-law spouses.
The problem of battered women is certainly
not a new one. What is new is that the battered
woman is just beginning to be recognized as a
significant social problem worthy of concern and
empirical research. Estimates of the number of
battered wives vary greatly. The simple truth is
that very few research studies have been undertaken
to identify the incidence of wife battering within
the American population. A number of researchers
have made limited attempts to collect or compile
existing statistics on incidence with minimal success.

In almost every scholarly book, article or
monograph written on the subject of wife battering,
the authors offer as a prelude to their specific
academic treatment of the topic, a statement
regarding the lack of reliable, empirically derived
and validated statistics on the incidence of domestic
violence episodes. These authors include Straus,
Gelles and Steinmetz, Langly and Levy, Roy, O'Brien,
and Freeman, to highlight but a few.^
Drs. Suzanna K. Steinmetz and Murray A.
Straus, in their 1974 work entitled Violence in the
Family, indicated in a statement which paraphrases
the thought and findings of all these theorists, that
amazing as it seemed, the writers could not locate
research findings which delineated the percentage of
couples who were involved in violent fights. Just
about every other aspect of family life has been the
object of many studies by social scientists.
Statistics on the incidence of wife battering
seem to be the missing link in the comprehensive view
of American violence. Wife battering incidence is
one of the few areas of concern not studied in
depth. In our statistically oriented society this
seems a significant omission.
Roger Langley and Richard C. Levy have
reviewed this documentation gap in their 1980 work

entitled Wife Beating: The Silent Crisis. According
to these authors, wife beating has been difficult to
document, not because it does not exist, but because
of the public's insensitivity toward it. "Wife
beating is so ingrained in our society that it is
often invisible. It is so pervasive that it
1iterally does not occur to people to report it or
collect statistics on it."
Michael David Alan Freeman writing concerning
Violence in the Home noted that our knowledge
regarding wife abuse is so scanty that there is no
way of determining whether it occurs more now than it
did during past ages. Freeman, along with other
theorists has been limited because of inadequate
data. Researchers have been confined to the use of
piecemeal statistics by individual law enforcement
agencies and single purpose social service providers.
The statistics which are available for the
most part indicate in retrospect what the courts and
police departments do once an episode of violence
enters their sphere of influence. This information
does not reflect the true incidence of such violent
behavior. Many writers including Langley and Levy,
Thorman, Steinmetz, Prescott and Letko, have
contended that only a small percentage of actual wife
battering episodes ever reach the attention of the

police or social networks. Many instances of
domestic violence do not become known due to the
various disavowal techniques utilized to keep the
knowledge "in the family." Some of the reasons for
this gross under reporting have been chronicled by
Langley and Levy:
It is common practice for the police and lawyers
to actively try to discourage a woman from taking
criminal action. They try to get her to drop the
matter or to pursue it through civil channels.6
Therefore, one cannot tell from the data on police
calls and assault charges just what percentage of all
husbands and wives have had physical fights. This is
the case since it takes an unusual combination of
events in order for the police to be called.
Most writers commenting on the reliability of
police statistics as they relate to the
identification of the true incidence of wife
battering episodes would agree that there is
considerable under reporting of domestic violence
incidents. However, this limited information is in
many instances all that is available. The next
logical question then lies in the application of
current statistics toward the projection of useful
incidence rates.
Through document reviews of police
statistics, police reports and other criminal justice

reporting mechanisms it has been determined by many
social researchers including Freeman, Roy, Snell,
Thorman, Straus, Gelles, Steinmetz and Bard that
current police statistics do not even minimally
reflect the number of domestic violence calls
reported to and/or responded to by police units
during any designated time period.7 Most
frequently, domestic violence episodes are reported
under the broad categories of assault and battery or
simply disputes. In the most statistically ambitious
police units these domestic violence calls may be
listed under the heading of family disputes.
Unfortunately, even this slightly more precise
designation includes all incidents occurring between
extended as well as nuclear family members, between
children and parents as well as between spouses.
Langley and Levy have reported as part of
their review of the current state of police
statistics the case of Susan Jackson, a San Francisco
attorney, who undertook to review the police records
of the San Francisco Police Department. Jackson
reported that:
There are no separate police statistics available
on the number of family violence calls received
by the police, the number of calls responded to,
the average time lapse in responding to family
calls, the number of cases for which no report is
filed, the number of repeat calls, the number of
aggravated assaults and homicides resulting from

i 9
repeat-call situations, the number of cases
involving female victims, and the percentage
involving victims who are male.8
Jackson's findings regarding the lack of reliable
statistics parallel those of other researchers
including Freeman and Goodman.
The 1970's have been characterized as the
decade which fostered the beginning of public
awareness regarding the involvement of a large
segment of the American public in the cycle of
domestic violence. With this awareness has come an
intense concern by governmental units, social service
providers, the business community, community
organizations and individuals. This concern has
provided an impetus to identify the true incidence of
the problem in order to more fully understand the
contributing influences which have fostered the
development of this family tragedy.
As has been indicated by the writers
investigating the wife beating phenomenon, in a
single decade there has not been sufficient time to
fund, develop and conduct comprehensive empirical
research into the causes of the problem and the
characteristics of the affected population, in order
to reach any definitive conclusions. Moreover,
research focusing on the incidence of the battered
woman phenomenon has been hampered by: (1) limited

empirical research data focused on true incidence;
(2) under reporting of the problem to record-keeping
entities (e.g., police and social service agencies);
and (3) imprecise data collection and management
methods within the criminal justice system, the
primary statistics generating system.
Dissertation Focus
It is the purpose of this research project,
utilizing the State of Colorado as the primary
research focus, to develop a statistical model
designed to identify the major characteristics or
factors (independent variables) which demonstrate a
significant statistical correlation to wife battering
(dependent variable). The model will then be used to
predict the incidence of wife battering for the rural
counties of Colorado for which incidence data are not
It is important to establish at this juncture
why such a topic of inquiry is sufficiently important
and timely to warrant the intense and careful
scrutiny which characterizes the dissertation
preparation process. Empirical research surrounding
the identification of wife battering within the
fifty-three rural counties of Colorado will have the
following public policy implications.

1) The information will be helpful in
assisting the public sector, the private
sector and the third sector (private
non-profit) in making critical decisions
regarding the allocation of resources.
2) The data will be helpful in assisting the
Colorado legislative branch of government
in assessing the actual extent of need
for interventive services on behalf of
battered women and their children in
rural Colorado.
3) The methodology developed will have
applicability to other states for
utilization in the determination of
incidence of wife battering.
4) The model will have the capacity to
predict changes in the dependent variable
based upon observed changes in the
independent variables of the model.
Wife Battering Research:
Significance and Public Policy Implications
Over the last several decades interest in the
problem of wife battering has grown and developed as
individuals, special interest groups, communities and
states have coalesced into a movement focused on the
identification, treatment and ultimately the

prevention of wife battering. As the problem has
become more widely recognized, political pressure has
been brought to bear on governmental units, private
non-profit social service agencies, and corporate
businesses to allocate fiscal resources toward the
development of social programs designed to assist the
battered woman and her children.
In the realm of private enterprise this
pressure has taken the form of union and employee
groups bringing to the attention of management the
number of work days lost due to domestic violence
situations. Productivity schedules and rates have
also suffered as working women enmeshed in the
cyclical crises of domestic violence bring personal
concerns and problems to the job. In more serious
instances the domestic violence has been brought to
the door of corporate life as irate husbands storm
the work environment "looking" for wives who have
fled from home in the aftermath of a violent
From within the ranks of management systems
more and more personnel interests are exploring the
range of in-house programmatic options for dealing
with the problems and concerns of employees caught up
in the throes of family violence. Corporate
management is interested in identifying geographic

areas reflecting a high incidence of spouse battering
in order to most accurately assess the potential
exposure of individual plants and divisions to the
loss of employee productivity due to family
violence. This information is important to the
selection of employee services to be offered by
private enterprise organizations in varying parts of
the nation and within individual states.
The public sector organizations at all three
levels of government have been under considerable
pressure to provide services to victims of domestic
violence, primarily focusing on battered women and
their children. Since many women who flee a violent
home situation frequently leave in the middle of the
night with several children and limited resources,
the public sector, through Aid to Families and
Dependent Children (AFDC)S is frequently called upon
to provide financial and medical support. In this
political and economic era of cutbacks and program
reductions, the individuals needing special programs
for victims of domestic violence find themselves in a
very hostile environment.
The situation is a classic case of social
service client groups competing for an already too
small and quickly diminishing piece of the proverbial
pie. In this type of a situation it is crucial for

governmental units to have information as to the
actual incidence of wife battering in order to make
rational decisions as to the need and probable impact
of funneling scarce dollars into a given problem area
and a specific geographical location.
The private non-profit sector has been
heavily impacted by the growing awareness relating to
the battered wife syndrome. This impact can be seen
clearly in the experience of the Charitable
Foundation community. Foundations have traditionally
been viewed as valuable financial resources for the
support and development of innovative service
approaches to meeting important community needs.
Foundations have frequently been approached to
provide financial support for demonstration programs
which have been designed to demonstrate effective
service delivery, sufficient to attract on-going
operational funds after the designated start-up
period has ended.
In the current economic situation,
foundations are being approached in an attempt by
social service agencies to bridge the gap between
governmental funds which had been available to
support needed social services and governmental funds
which are now available. It is obvious that the
private sector cannot make up the difference in any

real sense. It is crucial then that incidence data
on wife battering be available to foundations and
other private charitable organizations as vital
decisions are made as to the allocation of these
vital and scarce resources between programmatic areas
and between local communities.
The incidence of wife battering is an
especially critical issue within the State of
Colorado. In recent years the Colorado Domestic
Violence Coalition was organized as a statewide focal
point for the study of the problem of wife
battering. The Coalition, which is comprised of
representatives from the public sector, the private
sector and interested groups and individuals has
evolved conceptually over the tenure of the
organization from a lobbying, special interest group
toward taking a more active role in resource
allocation and program design and evaluation. In
this role it is important for the Coalition and other
organizations sharing similar interests to have
access to incidence data as it relates to the
fifty-three rural counties within Colorado as well as
the ten urban counties.
Rural Emphasis
As with many social problems the issue of

domestic violence is viewed as predominantly the
concern of urban areas. This perception is due in
part to the lack of reliable statistics on the
incidence of wife battering in rural areas. It is
critical to the study of wife battering that the
knowledge base be expanded to include data focusing
on the characteristics and frequency of wife abuse in
non-urban areas.
Victims of domestic violence across the
nation share many common stories of heartbreak and
fear. These themes run through the fabric weaving
the domestic violence pattern throughout the entire
country. The impact on victims, their children,
their families and their communities is
immeasurable. A case illustration of a victim in
Colorado could just as easily be the life story of a
woman in California or the Carolinas.
There are however, inherent differences to
life in various regions of our nation. Perhaps even
greater than the differences between North and South,
or East and West, are the startling contrasts between
life in an urban metropolitan area and life in rural
America today. Since empirical research into the
domestic violence problem is in its embryonic stage,
little research focusing on the incidence of wife
battering, the causes of wife battering or possible

preventative measures influencing wife battering has
been conducted utilizing a rural focus. The research
which has been initiated has focused primarily on
urban centers.
Initially, most of the focus on wife
battering has been generated by urban groups and
shelter programs who have been in existence for a
sufficient period of time to generate statistical
data. Research requires data, preferably over a
multi-year period, and a study population, both of
which have been supplied by special interest groups
in urban settings. Since the critical ingredients to
viable research have been readily available in urban
settings the predominate focus of research completed
to date has been urban oriented.
The contribution to research findings, either
focusing on the special circumstances of rural
communities or utilizing rural populations, has been
extremely limited. Under these circumstances this
dissertation, focusing on the incidence of wife
battering in rural Colorado, not only provides a very
practical benefit through the provision of resource
allocation information but also provides a valuable
contribution to the expansion of the data base
surrounding the special ramifications of wife
battering in rural areas.

Statistical Model Application
The serious research practitioner appreciates
and embraces the value of being precise and
rigorous. Frequently, however, in the analysis of a
given problem all of the conditions which
characterize and define the system are not known.
The researcher has several sets of actions which can
be initiated when faced with such a situation. The
research can be postponed until a full and complete
set of conditions which chaVacterize the system are
known. This alternative requires a protracted period
of time and the patience of Job. For those
researchers not possessing biblical patience or for
those researchers focusing on problems of great
importance which require timely attention, the
problem must be formulated utilizing the "best" set
of conditions based upon available information about
the system.
In this situation Charles B. Thompkins and
Walter Wilson, Jr. have succinctly characterized the
pragmatic solution facing the researcher:
Almost certainly the 'best' that he can do is to
define a mathematical model (problem) which
corresponds to the physical system in the sense
that a solution of the mathematical problem
corresponds to the pertinent characteristic of
the physical system. If no mathematical method
is known that defines the desired solution
explicitly, then the applied mathematician must
alter his mathematical model in such a way that
the new mathematical model (problem) is known to

have a solution and so that the methods are known
which can produce usable estimates to the desired
In the research problem under discussion, the
focus of inquiry is the identification of the
incidence of wife battering in specifically
designated geographic areas. In this analysis
several critical factors remain unknown and thusly
the situation precludes the straight forward
mathematical computation of previously derived
statistical data. The unknown factors include: (1)
precise information on the frequency of wife beating;
(2) scientifically verified information on the
relationship between wife beating and other social
factors; and (3) information concerning the impact of
varying combinations of social factors upon the
incidence of wife battering.
dames V. Bradley commenting on the use and
purpose of statistics which focused on inference or
probability under conditions of uncertainty similar
to those expressed above has stated:
Despite ubiquitous variability in his information
about the world, man must still make decisions.
But since his knowledge about the relevant facts
and relationships is incomplete, he is often in
doubt as to the appropriate decision and must
therefore guess in the face of this uncertainty.
Guesses however, can be blind, uninformed, and
unintelligent, or they can be shrewd and
sagacious, based on an optimally weighted
appraisal of all relevant known facts and
relationships....probability and statistics are
simply systematic, common sensical,

mathematically aided, methods of guessing
intelligently when required to make a decision
under conditions of uncertainty.H
Based upon the uncertainty which surrounds the
question under study, the development of a
statistical model focused on the systematic
mathematical review of data as it has been developed
or preliminarily identified by researchers and
writers in the field, follows the best scientific
traditions for inquiry. Many model prototypes have
been developed to assist the researcher in the search
for the most precise interpretation of data possible
under conditions of uncertainty. Several of the most
widely utilized models include: (1) univariate
statistical models, characterized by such techniques
as the T-test; (2) data reduction models,
characterized by factor analysis, cluster analysis,
image analysis and component analysis; (3) group
difference models, characterized by the linear model;
and (4) relationship models, characterized by the
examination of co-variation or the linear regression
model.^ ^
A combination of the techniques identified
within these model subgroups will be utilized in
order to provide the levels of information and data
analysis which will be necessary to fully explore all
of the ramifications engendered by the many social

indicators which have been purported to have a
significant impact on the incidence of wife
battering. In practice, the model prototypes do not
have clear and impenetrable differences which
separate one from another. In fact, many of the
techniques characterizing one model group form the
basic procedures needed to perform the tests of the
next. This dissertation will utilize several models
in a hierarchical fashion utilizing the tests of one
model group to produce the data required by the next,
as the models' capacities increase in level of
sophistication as relates to data analysis. This
combination will be more fully discussed in Chapter
Defin it ions
Rural counties are being defined for the
purpose of this study, to include all Colorado
counties with a population density under thirty
persons per square mile and a total population not
exceeding 30,000 persons, as reported in the 1980
census publication entitled, Characteristics of
1 3
Inhabitants Colorado. The incidence data will
be used to project those areas of rural Colorado
exhibiting the highest rates of wife battering as a
means to identify target areas for program

development and allocation of limited resources.
To do research on the incidence of wife
beating one must be able to define it in a way that
can be precisely measured. For the purposes of this
dissertation the violent behavior to be studied will
be the physical abuse which is inflicted by the male
upon the female within the family setting, which for
the purpose of this study will include: (1) couples
who are legally married, (2) couples who are
considered married by common law criteria, (3)
couples who are living together, (4) couples who are
separated legally or otherwise and (5) couples who
are divorced. Due to the primary data sources being
utilized (e.g., police records) it would be
impractical to include emotional abuse or verbal
abuse within the research purview.
Although study data indicate that spouse abuse
is definitely not limited to violence by male family
members against their female mates, for the purposes
of this study, violence perpetrated by men on women
will be the focus. The fact that almost as many
wives battered husbands as vice versa and that
violent women tended to engage in violent acts more
frequently than husbands, is research data which is
not widely understood. Richard Gelles in his study
published under the title, The Violent Home, found

that nearly one-third of wives in his sample hit
their husbands and 11 percent did so at least half a
dozen times a year to as much as daily. Murray
Straus in his article entitled, "Leveling, Civility
and Violence in the Family," published in the Journal
of Marriage and the Family, revealed that in his
study of 385 couples there was little difference in
the frequency with which husbands and wives committed
1 5
physically violent acts against each other.
Steinmetz found in her sample of 57 New Castle County
families, that virtually identical percentages of
husbands and wives resorted to throwing things,
hitting the other spouse with their hand and hitting
the other spouse with some hard object. Steinmetz
concluded that: "women are as likely to select
physical violence as are the men to resolve marital
conf 1 icts .
As can be seen by this empirical data, women
initiate violence within the family at least as
frequently as their male counterparts. The crucial
difference, however, is that the violence perpetrated
by men is far more damaging and harmful than the
violence perpetrated by the female. Steinmetz
attributes this occurrence to the greater physical
strength of the male.^

In reviewing the definitions of physical
violence which have been developed by the scores of
writers addressing family violence issues, one
definition presents itself as extremely applicable
for use in this research project. Straus, Gelles and
Steinmetz have conducted one of the few studies
utilizing a random sample designed to identify true
incidence data for different types of family
violence. This study published under the title,
Behind Closed Doors, defines abusive violence as: "an
act which has high potential for injuring the person
being hit." This abusive violence is further
operationalized by identifying the types of violence
included under this designation. These include:
1) kicking, biting or hitting with the fist,
2) hitting or trying to hit with something,
3) beating,
4) threatening with knife or gun,
5) using a knife or gun.
For the purpose of this study the definition
of abusive violence developed by Straus, Gelles and
Steinmetz will be utilized and the operational
definition expanded from the definition previously
stated to include the five specific acts of violence
identified above. In summary, the violent behavior
which will be the focus of this research project

1) Abusive violence which is defined as
an act which has high potential for
injuring the person being hit.
2) Abusive violence occurring between
husbands and wives within the family
unit to include a broad definition
of wife (e.g., live-in partner,
estranged spouse).
3) Abusive physical violence
perpetuated by the male upon the

Notes Chapter I
^Murray A. Straus, Richard J. Gelles, and
Susan K. Steinmetz, Behind Closed Doors (New York:
Anchor Books, 1980); Roger Langley and Richard Levy,
Wife Beating: The Silent Crisis (New York: E. P.
Dutton, 19 7/) ; Maria Roy, Batfered Women: A
Psychosociological Study of Domestic Violence (New
York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1 977); John E.
O'Brien, "Violence in Divorce Prone Families," in
Violence in the Family, eds., S. K. Steinmetz and M.
JT. Straus (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1 974);
Michael David Alan Freeman, Violence in the Home
(London: Saxon House, Teakfield Limited, 1979).
^Suzanne K. Steinmetz and Murray A. Straus,
Violence in the Family, eds., (New York: Dodd, Mead
and Company, 1974), p. 47.
3Roger Langley and Richard Levy, Wife
Beating: The Silent Crisis (New York: E. P. Dutton,
1977), p. 2. --------------
^Michael David Alan Freeman, Violence in
the Home (London: Saxon House, Teakfield Limited,
1979), p. 130.
^Roger Langley and Richard Levy, Wife
Beating: The Silent Crisis (New York: E. P. Dutton,
1 977 ), p 51 George TiTorman, Family Violence
(Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas,
Publisher, 1980), p. 104; Suzanne K. Steinmetz,
"Wifebeating, Husbandbeating A Comparison of the
Use of Physical Violence Between Spouses to Resolve
Marital Fights," in Battered Women, ed., Maria Roy
(New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1977), p.
64; Suzanne Prescott and Carolyn Letko, "Battered
Women: A Social Psychological Perspective," in
Battered Women, ed., Maria Roy (New York: Van
Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1977), p. 72.
^Roger Langley and Richard C. Levy, Wife
Beating: The Silent Crisis (New York: E. P. Dutton,
T9 7 7 J! p. "1 53.--------

^Michael David Alan Freeman, Violence in
the Home (London: Saxon House, Teakf ield Limited,
1979), p. 130; Maria Roy, Battered Women: A
Psychosociological Study of Domestic Violence (New
York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1 977), p. 138;
J. Snell, Richard J. Rosenwald, and Ames Robey, "The
Wifebeater's Wife," Archives of General Psychiatry,
Vol 1 1 (1964); p. 107; George Thorman, Family
Violence (Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas -
Publisher, 1980), p. 104; Murray A. Straus, Richard
J. Gelles, and Suzanne K. Steinmetz, Behind Closed
Doors (New York: Anchor Books, 1980), pp. 6-17;
Morton Bard, Functions of the Police and Justice
System in Family Green (Boulder, Colorado: Westview
Press, Inc. 1980), p. 112.
^Roger Langley and Richard Levy, Wife
Beatinq: The Silent Crisis (New York: E. P. Dutton,
1977), p. 4.
9Michael David Alan Freeman, Violence in
the Home (London: Saxon House, Teakfield Limited,
1979), p. 130; Emily Jane Goodman, "Legal
Solutions: Equal Protection Under the Law," in
Battered Women, ed., Maria Roy (New York: Van
Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1977), p. 150.
10Charles B. Thompkins, Walter L. Wilson,
Jr., Elementary Numerical Analysis (Englewood Cliffs,
N. J.: Prentice Hall, Inc. 1 969), p. i x.
lljames V. Bradley, Probability; Decisions;
Statistics (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice Hall,
Inc. 1 976), p.2.
12Herbert W. Eber, "Multivariate
Methodologies for Evaluation Research," in Handbook
of Evaluation Research, eds., Elmer L. Struening and
Marchia Guttentag (Beverly Hills, Ca.: Sage
Publications, 1975), pp. 553-565.
12U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of
the Census, Number of Inhabitants Colorado, 1980
Census of Population, Volume 1:9.
14Richard Gelles, The Violent Home (Beverly
Hills: Sage Publications, 1974), p.52.
^Murray Straus, "Leveling, Civility and
Violence in the Family," Journal of Marriage and the
Family, Vol. 36 (1974), p. 13.

l6Suzanne Steinmetz, The Cycle of Violence:
Assertive, Aggressive and Abuse Family Interaction
(New York: Praeger Pub!ishing, 1977), p. 89.
l^Suzanne Steinmetz, "Wifebeating,
Husbandbeating A Comparison of the Use of Physical
Violence Between Spouses to Resolve Marital Fights,"
in Battered Women, ed., Maria Roy (New York: Van
Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1977), p. 68.
^Murray A. Straus, Richard J. Gelles, and
Suzanne K. Steinmetz, Behind Closed Doors (New York:
Anchor Press, 1980), p. 22.

The subject of wife abuse includes concepts as
broad and diffuse as "violence" and "systems" of
familial, social and economic phenomena. The critical
questions are: What measurements will be used to
analyze the problem of wife battering, and, what
social, economic and political phenomena should be
tested for their relationships to the measures of wife
abuse? To enable the reader to appreciate the
analytic choices which exist in a review of this
topical area it will be helpful to review two bodies
of literature.
The first approach to the study of wife
battering is found in the publications of scholars who
have focused on a discussion of violence in the
generic sense: its genesis; possible causes; and
influencing factors. This body of literature, vast in
its diversity and volume, will be reviewed with an
emphasis on those works which contribute to an
understanding of wife abuse as a manifestation of
violence within the family institution.

The second body of literature includes the
findings of social scientists who have examined the
affects of certain social variables, i.e. income,
race, education, etc., on the incidence of wife
abuse. The writings reflect different selections of
social variables and represent a broad spectrum of
Definitions of Violence
There is no evidence that would indicate that
today's family is any more violent or assaultive than
the family units of past generations. Within the past
ten to twenty years, there has been an increasing
interest in the various aspects of violence within the
home, and some improvement in our understanding of the
phenomenon. Walter has.defined violence as:
"destructive harm...including not only physical
assaults that damage the body, but also ... the many
techniques of inflicting harm by mental or emotional
means.This definition is helpful to those
individuals studying the many forms and nuances of
violence perpetrated by one family member upon another.
A definition of what constitutes violent
behavior must be constructed with care and sensitivity
to the forms of violence which have been
institutionalized within the norms of family life.

Acts of violence, for example, are often viewed as
legitimate means of control or punishment. W.J.
Goode, who developed this thesis in the early 1970's
stated that many forms of physical violence and
aggression such as the corporal punishment of children
have achieved the status of legitimate behavior within
the family environment. In many instances beating
one's spouse is considered not only to be acceptable
behavior but to be in their best interests.
Violence, to quote Walter: "is generally
understood as unmeasured or exaggerated harm to
individuals, either not socially prescribed at all or
else beyond established limits." The force which
is condoned as "necessary" or acceptable within the
confines of family membership may slip the bonds of
socially allowed violence and plunge headlong into the
realm of unlawful conduct. Freeman, Green, Gayford
and Lion, along with many of their contemporaries have
studied this fine line separating socially acceptable
force from illegitimate violence and found the
territory separating the two to be ambiguous.^
Richard Gelles, a researcher who has conducted
many surveys and projects in the area of conjugal
violence, found that many couples interviewed
considered incidents of violence between husbands and
wives to be normal, routine, and generally

acceptable. "From our interviews we are convinced
that a marriage license also functions as a hitting
license." A survey conducted by Louis Harris in
October, 1968 showed that one-fifth of those
interviewed approved of slapping one's spouse on
appropriate occasions, and 25 percent of college
educated individuals approved of a husband slapping
his wife.
Murray Straus has identified the term
"wifebeating" to be a political concept rather than a
scientific term. For many individuals, wife beating
refers only to those instances in which severe damage
is inflicted. Other violence is treated as normal or
laughed off with such remarks as: "Women should be
struck regularly like gongs.This statement
suggests that a certain amount of violence in the
family is considered to be "normal violence" in the
sense that it is "deserved." This violence is viewed
separately from similar or identical violence which
occurs outside the confines of the family and would be
labeled as assault; thereby mobilizing immediate
sanction by governmental institutions.
Social Patterns
Rationale for Use of Environmental Variables
As Predictive Indicators of Wife Abuse
Several political science theorists, including

Dye, Skarkansky and VanMeter, have discussed the
utilization of environmental variables within the
context of policy analysis, providing a unique
perspective on the applicability of their use within
the research purview. According to Thomas R. Dye:
Environmental variables include such things as the
level of technological development, the extent of
urbanization, the literacy rate, the level of
adult education, the character of the economic
system and its level of development, the degree of
modernization of the society, the occupational
structure, the class system, racial composition
and ethnic diversity, mobility patterns,
prevailing myths and beliefs, and so on.9
These environmental variables are contrasted against
two differing types of variables which can be utilized
within public policy analysis: political variables;
and public policy variables.
Sharkansky and VanMeter have further defined
this environmental arena as that sector of the public
policy delivery system which "includes all the social,
economic, and political factors that present problems
to policy makers and help or hinder their efforts to
seek solutions."^ Within traditional political
science arenas environmental variables have frequently
been relegated to a less relevant plateau as compared
with the variables surrounding institutions and
political processes. This has been the case due to
the non-manipulative character of such demographic
variables which tend to be descriptive and contextual.

By viewing environmental variables as less
productive in the process of providing relevant
information for the purposes of public policy
development, valuable data may have been overlooked.
According to Dye:
Political science has been so preoccupied
with describing political institutions,
behaviors, and processes, that it has frequently
overlooked the overriding importance of
environmental forces in shaping public policy.
Of course, political scientists generally
recognize that environmental variables affect
politics and public policy, but these variables
are often slighted, and occasionally ignored, in
specific policy explanations. The problem seems
to be that the concepts and methods of political
science predispose scholars to account for public
policy largely in terms of the internal
activities of political systems^ Political
science never lacked descriptions of what goes on
within political systems; what it has lacked is a
clear picture of the 1inkages between
environmental conditions, political activity and
publi c policy.11
Although the development and refinement of the
concept of environmental variables have taken place
in the political science milieu and in the political
science literature there are many applications of the
concept which can be made as relates to social
science research. For the purposes of this
dissertation, care has been taken to utilize those
environmental variables which have been identified
through prior studies as having a significant impact
upon the problem of wife abuse. The environmental
variables have been used as independent or predictor

variables and have been examined to determine their
relationship to the incidence of wife abuse.
The environmental variables have proven to be
ideal for use in the development of a statistical
model designed to predict the incidence of wife abuse
in the rural counties of Colorado for the following
1) Environmental variables represent those
conditions within society which are highly visible,
discrete in nature (individuals cannot be considered
to be in more than one like category at any given
moment), commonly described and easily quantifiable.
2) Environmental variables have traditionally
been identified as those phenomenon of broad impact
requiring attention by formal data gathering systems
(e.g. census, statistical profiles, etc.).
3) Data on environmental variables have been
gathered on a longitudinal basis, in like form,
retrievable by geographic location as well as
political criteria to the lowest levels of the
governmental hierarchy (e.g. counties, cities,
municipalities, etc.).
4) Data on environmental variables are
accessible, current and as valid and reliable as
current technology will allow.
5) Since the focus of the research was the

development of a statistical model designed to
identify incidence rather than to assert cause and
effect between the variables, the environmental
variables provided an excellent basis for the
mathematical processes required in multi-variate
analysi s.
Many prior research studies have utilized
environmental variables as key determinants in
multi-variate statistical analysis. These studies
have been conducted by political scientists,
economists, as well as social scientists including
Coleman, Fabricant, Ranney and Kendall, Key,
1 2
Schlesinger and Golembiewski to name but a few.
Although the field of study, as well as the specific
content area were all different, the methodological
concept remained consistent across each research
Identification of Key Social Indicators
Social patterns as they relate to family
violence have been the focus of several research
studies conducted in the late seventies. These
studies were primarily undertaken as segments of much
larger research efforts, which focused on providing
an overall analysis of all forms of family violence
from child abuse to sibling abuse to spouse abuse.

Although the social patterns relating to domestic
violence might not have been the central focus of the
endeavor, they were extremely significant in several
The research on child abuse and wife abuse
conducted in the late 60's and early 701s utilized as
its basic data source clinical cases of family
violence gleaned from police and medical
records. As in most cases of illegal conduct,
the poor and the powerless individuals of society
were represented in large numbers giving the initial
impression that family violence was a lower class
Straus, Gelles and Steinmetz have explained
this bias and noted another which sought to discount
the influence of social factors entirely:
Researchers in the sixties and early seventies
either argued that social factors were not
related to family violence because cases of
abusive violence could be found in all social
classes, or they argued that only poor people
were violent. The first argument, that people
from all social classes are violent, overlooks
the possibility that, while all portions of
society are represented in acts of family
violence, some people and places are
overrepresented. In other words, although people
from all income levels abuse their children and
spouses, it may be that people from one income
group are more likely to be abusive, while those
from another group are less likely. The second
argument overlooks the fact that our society is
more likely to label poor people deviant, no
matter what the actual distribution of illegal
acts is.*4

The combination of these two conceptual biases
retarded for some time serious research into the
significance of social factors as they relate to
family violence and more specifically as they relate
to wife battering.
In the late 1970s several landmark research
efforts were conducted which identified social factors
as having a significant influence on wife battering.
These research efforts and their respective findings
are central to a clear understanding of the battering
phenomenon and its influence on the rates of abuse
which exist in certain geographic regions. The
following discussion will focus on the specific
findings identified and described in these studies as
well as crucial information presented in the
literature surrounding key social variables.
The variables which were selected for
inclusion in this study were chosen based upon the
following criteria. (1) All social variables selected
were identified as having demonstrated a significant
relationship to wife battering by a minimum of five
prominent writers in the area of family violence. (2)
All social variables selected, in addition to being
identified in a repeated fashion by several theorists,
were described consistently as related to the
interpretation of the relationship between the

variable and wife abuse by all the theorists. If as
in one case, the writers indicated that the rates of
child abuse demonstrated a positive correlation to the
rate of wife abuse, all theorists by necessity were in
accord in order for the variable to be utilized. (3)
All social variables selected had been quantified and
data had been formally gathered by a governmental
entity thus providing comparable statistical
information by county for the fifty-three rural
counties of Colorado.
Eleven independent variable categories were
selected for inclusion in the study based upon the
aforementioned criteria. The categories included:
murder rates; assault rates; divorce rates; child
abuse rates; rates of alcohol and substance abuse;
education levels; income levels; age; occupational
status; employment rates; and ethnicity rates. The
literature on wife abuse has singled out each of these
social phenomena as having demonstrated a significant
relationship to the problem of wife battering. A
review of these landmark research studies and their
findings will be helpful to a full understanding of
the research focus.
Murder. Murder is one aspect of domestic
violence for which there is precise data. Steinmetz

and Straus indicate that this is because murder is a
crime which leaves visible evidence which cannot be
ignored by community individuals and
1 5
institutions. Gelles in his article entitled
"Violence in the American Family," noted that:
"Statistics indicate that the most common relationship
between murderer and victim is a family
1 6
relationship." According to Curtis, in Atlanta,
31 percent of the 255 homicides in 1972 were the
result of domestic quarrels. Curtis goes on to state
that the situation in Atlanta is representative of the
nation as a whole. In Atlanta statistics indicate
that between 20 percent and 40 percent of all murders
are committed by family members, against family
members. ^
Eisenberg and Micklow complete the litany by
reporting that the "lack of any meaningful protective
measures available to the assaulted wife,...often
1 8
produce drastic results--homicide." Of the
murders involving spouses, Bach and Goldberg examined
the cases of 2,000 spouse killings and found that 54
percent of the victims were women and 46 percent
men. Data suggest that spousal homicide is
engaged in by both sexes in approximately equal
Murder rates was selected as a social

indicator to be included in the analysis due to: (1)
the precise nature of the statistics as to incidence;
(2) the significant number of homicides involving
spouses; and (3) the equal participation by both sexes
as to frequency.
Assault. Data on assaults are more difficult
to analyze due to the reluctance many family members
have regarding the filing of criminal charges against
another family member. Pitman and Handy, and
Bourdouris have all conducted detailed studies of
specific communities in order to identify the
percentage of aggravated assaults which occurred
between husbands and wives for the duration of the
respective study periods. The results ranged from
a low of 11 percent in St. Louis to a high of 52
percent in Detroit. Assault rates become a
significant variable due to the high rate of assaults
between spouses reflected in the assault and battery
Straus, Gelles and Steinmetz have further
characterized this relationship in their study
reported in the publication Behind Closed Doors. In
contrasting the rates of wife abuse reported in the
study with the rates of aggravated assault reported
through law enforcement agencies annually, the
comparison between the statistics supports the overall

contention that assault rates could be predictive of
wife battering even though the assault rates are not
truly inclusive of the true incidence of wife assault.
We can translate the rates for this survey into
rates per 100,000 per year. They are 3,800 per
100,000 for assaults on wives.... Compare this
with the roughly 190 per 100,000 aggravated
assaults of all kinds known to the police each year.
Of course, many crimes are not reported to the
police. So there have been surveys asking people
if they were the victims of crime. The rate of
aggravated assault coming out of the National Crime
Panel survey is very high: 2,597 per 100,000. But
our rate for wife almost two and one
half times higher. Also, since the Uniform Crime
Reports, and especially the National Crime Panel
data, include many within-fami 1y assaults, the
amount by which husband-wife assault exceeds any
other type is much greater than these rates
Even though the assault statistics are not truly
reflective of the total number of assaults due to wife
battering, the statistics do offer a measure with which
to compare between communities the rates of reported
assaults. Within these statistics are included the
reported cases of wife battering. Since these wife
abuse cases constitute a significant proportion of the
total assault case-load, the reported assault and
battery statistics should be useful in the data
analys i s.
Pi vorce. Studies which have been conducted
focusing on the process of seeking a divorce have
identified a high incidence of violence in the American

home. O'Brien in a study entitled, Violence in Divorce
Prone Families, interviewed 150 couples of which 17
percent spontaneously revealed that violent behavior
was one of the prime reasons for seeking dissolution of
the marriage. George Levinger directed a research
study of 600 couples residing in the Cleveland area.
The study entitled Sources of Marital Dissatisfaction
Among Applicants for Divorce revealed that 36 percent
of the women interviewed gave physical abuse as a
reason for ending the marriage. Langley and Levy,
reporting the findings of a U.S. Department of Health,
Education and Welfare study, revealed that there were
an estimated 1.6 million divorces a year in the U.S.
"Extrapolating the figures from the various estimates
and studies indicates that between 200,000 and 800,000
battered wives seek divorces every year."
Prescott, Letko and Roberts have further
identified the presence of violence within the marital
relationship as a precipitating factor to the
2 5
dissolution of the marriage through divorce. Many
contributing circumstances including, dissimilar
backgrounds, poor communication skills, economic
reversals, family expansion, differing role
expectations, etc., have been identified as social
factors influencing the development of marital
conflict. The marital conflict as observed by the

authors, has frequently blossomed into physical
violence. The violence has resulted in ineffective
problem solving behavior. The couple has therefore
perpetuated the violence and set the stage for expanded
violence. Divorce as discussed and documented earlier,
is frequently selected as the final solution to marital
di scord.
The high proportion of divorced individuals
willing to identify the presence of violence within
their marriage as an important reason for the
dissolution of the marriage, would indicate that
divorce rate statistics should be useful as a predictor
variable to be used in the analysis.
Child Abuse. Child abuse and spouse abuse as
two separate manifestations of family violence have
been found by research studies to be closely related,
especially in the areas of family dynamics and
incidence. Roy, conducting a study of approximately
150 women, randomly selected from over 1,000 clients of
the Abused Women's Aid in Crisis Agency in New York
City, has revealed that approximately 45 percent of the
assaults perpetrated upon the women in the sample were
accompanied by physical assault on at least one child
in the household. Prescott and Letko conducting a
survey of 40 battered women noted that thirteen (43

percent) of the 30 women who had children indicated
that their partner's physical violence had also been
? 7
extended to their children.
Nurse, directing a similar study, focused her
research on actual reported cases of child abuse and
utilized 20 child abuse cases as her sample. Nurse
found that in seven of the twenty cases of child abuse
studied, the abusing parent also physically abused his
2 8
or her partner. Boisvert, commenting on "The
Battered Child Syndrome" in Social Casework, reported
that in one-fourth of the cases he studied, the abusing
parent had been physically abused by the spouse and
2 9
then in turn had abused a child.
Based upon these studies and other articles
written on the relationship between wife abuse and
child abuse it would seem that the two manifestations
of domestic violence are closely related. In a home
where wife abuse occurs there is a strong probability
that if children are members of the family unit, the
abuse may spill over to involve them as well. This
involvement has been characterized in several ways.
The first scenario includes the involvement of
the children as an adjunct to the violence perpetuated
upon the woman of the household. The husband beats his
wife and children as a single action or as a reaction
to the crying or rescuing behavior which the children

exhibit during the beating of their mother. In this
type of abusive situation the husband/father is the
perpetrator of the violence upon the other members of
the family unit. The sequence of abuse could easily be
reversed in these type cases with the child the primary
victim of abuse and the mother being abused as she
attempts to intervene in the situation.
The second scenario involves a chain reaction of
abuse characterized by an initial abusive incident,
perpetrated by the husband upon the wife and followed
by an episode of abuse, initiated by the wife upon the
child. This situation has been described as an
occurrence motivated by frustration and powerlessness
on the part of the woman. This powerless feeling,
prompted by physical abuse by a stronger, more powerful
individual, is brought to the forefront as the wife
exercises power and control over the members of the
family possessing less power than herself--her children.
In either one of these types of child
involvement the child abuse accompanies the wife abuse
either simultaneously, consecutively or as a frustrated
response by the mother to her lack of power and control
in her marital relationship. The high percentage of
cases where wife abuse and child abuse exist
concurrently within the same family unit would point to
the use of child abuse statistics as a predictive

variable in an analysis of wife battering incidence.
Alcohol and Substance Abuse. There is no lack
of research data indicating that alcohol and drugs have
a considerable influence on the problem of wife
battering. From 26 percent to 90 percent of spouse
abuse cases are estimated to be directly related to
alcohol abuse. These researchers and their findings
regarding the use of alcohol as a characteristic of the
wife battering incident include Roy (90 percent),
O f)
Orford (45 percent), Bard and Zacker (26 percent).
Of course each of these research endeavors utilized
different samples. Some utilized random samples,
others selected samples, which would account for the
wide discrepancy in findings. However, all researchers
studying the problem found that alcohol abuse played a
major role in the wife battering occurrence.
This finding has been succinctly characterized
by Eisenberg and Micklow as they summarize their
parallel findings:
In 60 percent of the cases, alcohol consumption by
the assailant was always present at the time of the
In an additional 20 percent alcohol was present
occasionally. Drugs, especially amphetamines, were
used prior to the beating in 20 percent of the
cases, but always in conjunction with alcohol. The
characterization of the drunken husband as a wife
beater has some merit.31
The heavy use and abuse of alcohol and narcotic

substances have been closely related to wife abuse as a
precipitating factor and/or simultaneous occurrence to
the abusive incident. The statistics on alcoholism and
substance abuse should provide insight into the
incidence of wife battering based upon the positive
correlation which has been established between the two
types of behavior. The behavioral manifestations
peculiar to the use of alcohol and psychotropic drugs
include an acute lessening of the inhibitions and
behavioral controls which under normal circumstances
deter hostile and aggressive tendencies. Based upon
the entry of alcohol and/or other mind altering
substances into the behavioral portrait of an
individual engaged in a volatile domestic situation the
results seem to be easily predictable.
Whether the alcohol serves as a retardant to
normal behavioral controls or whether alcohol is
utilized as an "excuse" for engaging in violent
behavior, the outcome remains constant--wife abuse.
Based upon the selection of a reliable measure of a
community's involvement in alcohol and substance abuse,
the resulting statistics should provide useful data to
the analysis.
Education. Education has been identified by
many social scientists as a factor to be considered in

the attempt to predict the occurrence of wife battering
on an individual, as well as on a community basis.
Several theorists, including Thorman and Gelles, have
contributed data which have been utilized to develop a
psycho-social profile or archetype of an individual
3 O
prone to engage in wife battering behavior. These
studies have attempted to identify those individuals,
who through acculturation, socialization and learning
have developed personalities which when exposed to
stress within the family choose to utilize violence.
The level of education achieved has been identified as
a central characteristic in this violence profile.
Education within our society provides the key to
many other social and intellectual experiences which
are perceived as being broadening and beneficial.
Initially, education level frequently is a key
determinant in the occupational status and occupational
opportunities available to an individual. Level of
education, by influencing occupational status,
contributes heavily to the level of income an
individual can achieve.
Many writers discussing the genesis of violence
point to the lack of resources in the form of income
and influence as the precipitating factor in the
development of frustration which ultimately results in
violent behavior.^ Those individuals lacking

resources, and just as importantly, lacking the future
expectation of securing resources, resort to violence
upon individuals perceived as weaker than themselves.
This supremacy over weaker individuals, in some
distorted way, is seen as a way to counterbalance the
lack of resources and increase the self esteem of the
If, as in many cases, the weaker individuals are
in fact members of the individual's family, the
pressure may intensify. The inability of the husband
as the traditional head of household, to secure
resources on behalf of his family can create guilt and
loss of face. Displaced aggression against those
nearest can contribute to the cycle of violence.
Education level, as a key social determinant, must be
central to any review of the social indicators of wife
Some interesting information has been brought to
light concerning the association of wife battering and
the education level of the perpetrator. Richard
Gelles, in his research project which surveyed eight
New Hampshire families, concluded that there was an
inverse relationship between family violence and the
education of the husband. Straus, Gelles and
Steinmetz in their much broader study identified an
interesting twist to the data. In this study,

published under the title Behind Closed Doors: "the
most violent fathers and husbands were those who had
graduated from high school. The least violent were
grammar school dropouts and men with some college
educati on.
In studying this factor, differentiation between
the following educational levels of the males within a
community was necessary: (1) no schooling, or
elementary school only; (2) high school and high school
graduate; and (3) those who attended college. Rather
than a simple inverse relationship between violence and
education, the data tends to indicate that the most
violence occurs in the middle of the scale, being lower
at both ends of the scale.
The interpretation of these data, by the
authors, focused on the expectation levels and the
resulting frustration levels experienced by individuals
achieving the hierarchical levels of education
described. Those individuals achieving less than an
eighth grade education were characterized as having
lower expectations as to the level of income and
occupational status which might realistically be
achieved. They were more satisfied with their level of
accomplishment, had no great expectations to meet and
therefore, exhibited low levels of frustration.
The group of individuals having achieved

exposure to college for at least one year were
described as having high expectations, accompanied by
the educational credentials necessary to potentially
meet these high expectations. Since the expectation
levels were attainable, the resulting frustration
levels were correspondingly low. Low frustration at
both the upper and lower ends of the educational
continuum were translated into lower incidence of
violence by the males included in these groups.
The highest incidence of violence was identified
in the middle educational interval. This was denoted
by the authors to be the result of high expectations,
low achievement potential and high frustration,
occasioned by the cognitive dissonance caused by the
perceived distance between the expectation and the
achievement of the expectation.
Those individuals achieving a high school
education were seen to be operating on outdated value
information which led them to believe that the
completion of a high school education would ensure
adequate employment opportunities. In reality the high
school education has for the most part been translated
into the minimum requirement for further training or
education which is currently necessary for the level of
employment opportunity sought by most individuals.
This occurrence, according to the authors, has

engendered within those high school educated
individuals a level of expectation which cannot
realistically be met. The result is individuals
experiencing high levels of frustration due to their
inability to achieve goals commensurate with their
According to those theorists supporting the
frustration model as a central explanation for the
violent incident, the high levels of frustration
brought on by unmet expectations are a primary focus
for understanding the violence prone individual. With
these findings in mind, statistics focusing on the
educational levels achieved within a given community
should provide valuable information to be used in a
statistical analysis designed to identify the incidence
of wife battering.
Income. Income differentiation was found in all
the research studies reviewed to have an inverse
relationship with wife abuse. Straus, Gelles and
Steinmetz found in their study that "family income made
the biggest difference in terms of violence between
Families living at or below the poverty line
(under $5,999, for a family of four) had a rate of
violence between husbands and wives which was 500

percent greater than families in the most well-to-do
o 7
category (incomes over $20,000). In another study
reflecting the characteristics of men involved in
beating their wives, John O'Brien divided his sample
into three socio-economic categories based upon the
husband's income and education. He found that 24
percent were upper-class, 29 percent were middle-class,
3 8
and 47 percent were lower-class.
Authors such as Goode, Freeman, Rodman and
Rogers have closely aligned family violence with the
ability to command resources by the male partner in the
family structure. When the males' access to
resources (income) are limited the violence escalates.
Resources both monetary and power based are closely
related to the individual's ability to influence those
around him or her. According to these theorists the
ability of the individual to secure economic resources
is directly tied to the individual's feelings of
security, well-being and self worth. Lacking such
resources the individual experiences negative feelings
of worth which increases frustration which precipitates
and fosters violence.
Income levels within a given community would
seem to offer an excellent view of the economic make-up
of the individuals comprising the community sample for
the purposes of contributing to an increased

understanding of the disposition toward violence which
may exist.
Occupational Status. Occupational status is
closely tied to socio-economic data with three
occupational status categories being mentioned most
frequently. These breakdowns include: white collar,
blue collar (working class) and service employment
Hoffman, Komarovsky, McKinley, Lopata, Scanzoni,
Young and Willmott have all noted a characteristic
clinging by male representatives of the working class
to more patriarchal norms of authority in our society
than members of the other occupational status
groups.^ However, the resources available to this
group are less.
The interacting effect of fewer resources with
stronger adherence to patriarchal norms leads us to
expect that the lower the occupational status of
the husband the greater the correlation between
resources, power and violence.
The relationship of occupational status as a
category of variables would appear to be useful as a
correlational factor.
As the theorists review the impact of varying
occupational status affiliations upon the level of
violence, the correlation between several other
variables becomes readily apparent. The occupational

status of an individual is profoundly influenced by the
level of education achieved and in turn influences the
level of income which may be available to the
individual. In addition to income or economic
resources, the occupational status of an individual, to
a great extent, influences the prestige and social
status which that individual may command. These
factors are resources, in that they influence the power
and control the individual may have over his
In the first instance, occupational status
carries with it a built-in set of economic indicators
which define the range of economic resources that a
given occupation can achieve within the free market
system of supply and demand. Lower economic rewards
have traditionally been associated with those
occupations occupying the lower strata of the
occupational status hierarchy, i.e. blue collar and
service employment occupations. Of course this is not
always the case since notable exceptions exist where
lower occupational status positions carry with them a
higher economic reward-base than positions of higher
relative occupational status. However, these examples
remain the exception to the rule rather than the norm.
The occupational status of an individual based
upon the resources model defines the level of economic

and power based resources an individual can hope to
achieve. In the lower status categories the economic
rewards remain lower, in a relative sense, than the
resources available to individuals at a higher
occupational status level. These limited resources
influence the frustration level and stress threshold of
individuals situated within the lower occupational
status categories, thus providing the critical
ingredients for an environment more susceptible to
violent behavior.
An interesting variation to the lower
income/higher frustration explanation of the phenomenon
which exists around occupational status should also be
presented for consideration. Even in those cases where
the lower occupational status individual, in fact, has
been able to secure a higher income than his higher
occupational status counterpart, the level of
frustration and dissatisfaction has not changed
significantly. This nuance requires that the
relationship between occupational status and income be
explored more closely.
Occupational status also carries with it a
certain influence over community opinion, social
position, group affiliation and other social indicators
which are not completely related to income. The
psychological perception an individual embraces around

the good opinion of their family, neighbors and
community may be an equally powerful motivator as
compared to the economic motivators previously
discussed. Individuals who perceive themselves not to
possess the status to influence the good opinion of
these significant others may in fact experience the
same type of frustration and anxiety exhibited by those
persons with limited incomes.
In any case, the statistics relating to
occupational status should offer valuable insight into
the occupational breakdown of individuals residing in
local communities in the quest for a statistical model
designed to identify the incidence of wife battering.
Employment. Employment is a very important
social criteria within our society which is utilized to
define self worth, responsibility toward family and
society, contribution toward community and national
economic health and personal value. Within the
protestant work ethic which has framed many of our
social institutions, an individual's worth as a person
is perceived to be directly related to the individual's
contribution to the economic life of the community.
Individuals who are not employed and are perceived as
being "able bodied" are imbued by society with many
negative and uncomplimentary characteristics. Whether

these characteristics are in fact true or warranted
does not contribute significantly to the perception of
their validity within the community. This negative
stigma which accompanies unemployment contributes
significantly to the level of stress experienced by
individuals involved in this phenomenon.
In considering the impact of employment on the
incidence of wife battering, Straus, Gelles and
Steinmetz studied the employment criteria by defining
the following employment categories; employed
full-time, employed part-time and unemployed. Based
upon this employment breakdown, it was determined
through the research data that households, where the
husband was unemployed or only employed part-time, had
the highest rates of violence among spouses. According
to the authors: "If a man is employed part-time, or
unemployed, there is more severe violence in his home.
Unemployed men are twice as likely to use severe
violence on their wives as are men employed full
Gayford, McClintock, Marsden and Melville have
shared with other theorists this focus on unemployment
as an important variable in the wife battering
problem.43 Unemployment brings with it several
exacerbating influences which tend to intensify the
negative impact of the situation. Lack of income, lack

of social status, lack of positive external personal
feedback and validation all contribute to the increased
stress and frustration which has been attributed as a
prime factor in the development of violent behavior.
In addition to the outside influences which tend
to denigrate the unemployed male, there are many
internal tensions within the home which contribute to
the stress and discomfort. Dennis Marsden, reporting
on a study of unemployed men and their families made
the following observation: "Conflict and violence
arose in some families because the man was at home
devalued, interrupting his wife's normal routines and
relationships."^ This break in the sexual division
of tasks in the household and the skewing of the
masculine status as perceived by both the male and
female family members increased the stress and tension
experienced by the unemployed individual.
This category directly relates to several other
social indicators which have also been selected for
inclusion in this research project. Income is
certainly an influencing factor since the unemployed
individual is not in a position to attract and possess
economic resources. Occupational status becomes an
important consideration when it is understood at which
level of occupational status positions are
traditionally cut in times of economic distress. Blue

collar and service positions are usually the first to
be eliminated or cutback and usually the last to be
All of these factors contribute to the increase
in those social and psychological factors which
contribute to the expanded likelihood that violence
will occur. These factors include stress, tension,
frustration, fear, poor self concept and learned
behavioral responses. Based upon the data it is clear
that the unemployment rate of a community would provide
valuable information to be used in the development of
the statistical model.
Ethnicity. To discuss family violence with an
emphasis on ethnicity can be very misleading if other
extraneous variables are not considered. Since
unemployment and low income criteria exist at much
higher levels in minority communities it is not always
easy to separate the effects of these variables from
the effect ethnicity may play in violent homes.
Education and occupational status are interrelated as
well when viewing the opportunities which exist within
minority communities to achieve advanced educational
opportunities and thus to achieve advanced occupational
Joseph C. Carroll in his writings on the

development of a "cultural-consistency theory of family
violence" has attempted to relate the use of violence
within certain cultural groups to normative learning
and the institutionalization of certain values
concerning the use of violence. "Thus a group of
people, for example, an ethnic group, may share values
and norms regarding family life that are not identical
to those generally accepted by the wider society."
Values included in this type of discussion include
those of power relations assigned by age and sex within
the ethnic group or the practice of religion and its
effect on the behavior of the group members.
There is little doubt that norms of family
violence do exist in some ethnic groups. Lewis,
Madsen, Ramirez and Penalosa, to name but a few, have
reviewed the cultures of divergent ethnic groups with
an eye toward the differences which exist in the
attitude toward, and the use of, violence within the
cultural framework.^ These differences however,
have been noted to have a lessening influence as the
cultures are more readily assimilated into the majority
Caution must be taken to consider all of the
variables which relate closely to ethnicity, lest the
effects of race fall victim to unidentified spurious
relationships. With these cautions in mind, the

following data were collected from a study conducted by
Straus, Gelles and Steinmetz who interviewed 2,143
individuals. The study yielded valuable data on the
ethnicity of individuals engaged in wife battering.
The racial categories were collapsed into three
designations: (1) Whites; (2) Blacks; and (3) Other.
The highest incidence of wife beating among the study
sample occurred among Blacks. Wife battering was 400
percent more common in Black households than in White
households. The Other minorities category evidenced
the second highest rate of wife battering with the
white category exhibiting the least incidence of wife
abuse. The White and Other categories were very close
4 8
in the level of wife beating reflected in the study.
Ethnicity is a variable which seems to be
related closely to several other of the social
indicators selected for this study. This category will
be useful in an analysis of those predictor variables
which can be identified as having a high correlation to
wife battering. This variable along with all the
others will be examined closely for spurious
relationships and interrelated tendencies. As such, it
will provide a valuable and useful insight into the
effects of ethnicity on the incidence of wife battering.
Age. Family violence occurs at all ages, just

as it occurs in all social classes. The propensity
toward violent behavior by a particular age group has
been the focus of several research studies focused on
identifying high risk marriages and high risk periods
during marriage. One such study was conducted by
Straus, Gelles and Steinmetz as part of a much broader
review of many social variables thought to have a
correlation to wife abuse. According to these authors:
...the statistics from this nationally
representative sample leave no doubt that younger
couples are more violent. ...rates of each type of
family violence are uniformly the highest where the
respondent was under thirty years old. As the age
increases, the rate of violence decreases.49
Many reasons have been discussed in an attempt
to shed some additional light on the reasons why
younger individuals exhibit a much stronger
predisposition toward violent behavior. One such
rationale was discussed by F.H. McClintock in his
article entitled, "Criminological Aspects of Family
Violence." McClintock indicates that younger people
are in fact more violence prone than their
chronologically older counterparts, and younger
marriages are in fact more violence prone than
marriages of longer duration. These assumptions can be
borne out by a look at the homicide rates for the age
group in question. The highest homicide rate for any
age group occurs in the eighteen to twenty-four years

of age interval. The rate drops off dramatically after
this point, thus confirming the increased violence
premise attached to younger individuals.^
An obvious result of an increase in violence
during the early years of marriage would be that
marriages would terminate before the parties would be
likely to reach old age. This of course would
perpetuate the notion that violence occurs in young
marriages. The individuals residing within these
relationships would either resolve the conflicts,
remove themselves from the relationship through
divorce, or be injured sufficiently to have the
perpetrator placed in a correctional institution. In
any case, the relationship would not survive to be
included in any longitudinal study of violent marriages.
Whether the statistics reflect a process of
natural selection among marriages or whether the facts
indeed bear out the violent tendencies of the very
young, statistics indicate that the age rates for a
given community should be helpful in the analysis
required to develop a statistical model designed to
identify the incidence of wife abuse.
Eleven social indicators have been selected for
inclusion as independent variable categories in the
quest to develop a statistical model designed to
identify the incidence of wife battering within the

fifty-three rural counties of Colorado. Based upon a
review of the literature relating to domestic violence
and wife battering, these eleven categories were
selected due to their suspected correlation to wife
abuse. From these eleven categories, nineteen
independent variables were developed. These variables
include: murder rate; assault rate; divorce rate;
child abuse rate; rate of alcohol and substance abuse;
education level of males grades 0-8; education level of
males grades 9-12; education level of males grades 13+;
income rate; occupational status white collar;
occupation status blue collar; unemployment rate;
ethnicity rate of Blacks within the population;
ethnicity rate of other minorities within the
population; age of males between 18-24; age of males
between 25-34; ages of males between 35-44; age of
males between 45-54; and age of males between 55-64.
The eleven variable categories and the subset of
nineteen independent variables will be further
described as the methodology is presented in Chapter

Notes Chapter II
^E. Walter, Terror and Resistance: A Study
of Political Violence COUP, 1969), p. 8.
^William J. Goode, "Force and Violence in the
Family," Journal of Marriaqe and the Family, Vol. 33
(i97i), p ~mr.-----------^-------------------
^E. Walter, Terror and Resistance: A Study
of Political Violence (OUP, 1969), p. VT.
^Michael David Alan Freeman, Violence in the
Home (London: Saxon House, Teakfield Limited, 19/9),
p. 1; Maurice R. Green, Violence and the Family
(Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press Inc., 1980), p. 3;
J.J. Gayford, "Battered Wives," in Violence and the
Fami1y, ed., J.P. Martin (New York: John Wiley and
Sons, 1978), p. 36; John R. Lion, "Clinical Aspects of
Wife-Battering," in Battered Women, ed., Maria Roy (New
York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1977), p. 27.
^Richard Gelles, The Violent Home (Beverly
Hills: Sage Publications^ 1974), p. 153.
6r. Stark and J. McEnoy, "Middle-class
Violence," Psychology Today, Vol. 4, No. 6 (November,
1970), pp. 52-53.
^Murray A. Straus, "Wife Beating: How Common
and Why," The Social Causes of Husband-Wife Violence,
eds., Murray A. Straus and George T Hota I ing
(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980), p.
^Thomas R. Dye, Understanding Public Policy
(Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall Inc.,
1972), pp. 5-6; Ira Sharkansky and Donald VanMeter,
Policy and Politics In American Government (New York:
McGraw-HiI I Book Co ., 19/5), pp 1-12.
^Thomas R. Dye, UnderstandingPublicPolicy
(Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prenti ce-Hal1 Inc .,
1972), pp. 231-232.

lOlra Sharkansky and Donald VanMeter, Policy
and Politics In American Government (New York:
McGraw-Hi I I Book Co., 1975), p. 8.
^Thomas R. Dye, Understanding Public Policy
(Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc.,
1972), p. 231.
12James S. Coleman, Equality of Educational
Opportunity (Washington D.C: Government Printing
Utt i ce, l y b 6); Solomon Fabricant, Trend of Government
Activity In the United States Since 1900 (New York:
National bureau of Economic Kesearcn, T9T52); Austin
Ranney and Wilmore Kendall, "The American Party
System," American Political Science Review, Vol. 48
(1954), pp. 477-85; V.O. Key, Jr., American State
Politics (New York: Knopf, 1956), p. 99; Joseph A.
Sch les1nger, "A Two Dimensional Scheme for Classifying
States According to Degree of Inter-Party Competition,"
American Political Science Review, Vol. 49 (1955), pp.
1120-28; Robert T. Golembiewski, "A Taxonomic Approach
to State Political Party Strength," Western Political
Quarterly, Vol. 11 (1958), pp. 494-513.
13[i/|aria Roy, Battered Women (New York: Van
Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1977), p. xi; Roger L.
Langley and Richard Levy, Wife Beating: The Silent
Crisis (New York: E.P. Dutton, 19 77 ), p. 43; Maurice
R. Green, Violence and the Family (Boulder, Colorado:
Westview Press, Inc., I98U), p. I; Murray A. Straus,
Richard J. Gelles, and Suzanne Steinmetz, Behind Closed
Doors (Garden City, New York: Anchor Book's^ 1980), p.
^Murray A. Straus, Richard J. Gelles, and
Suzanne Steinmetz, Beh ind Closed Doors (Garden City,
New York: Anchor Books, 1980), p. 124.
l^Suzanne K. Steinmetz and Murray A. Straus,
eds., Violence in the Family (New York: Harper and
Row, 1974), p. 48.
^Richard J. Gelles, "Violence in the
American Family," in Violence and the Family, ed., J.P.
Martin (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1978), p. 172.
17[_ynn Curtis, Criminal Violence: National
Patterns and Behavior (Lexlngton, Massachusetts:
Lexington Books, 1974), p. 49.

l^Roger e. Langley and Richard C. Levy, Wife
Beating: The Silent Crisis (New York: E.P. Dutton,
1977) p. 196, citing Sue E. Eisenberg and Patricia L.
Micklow, "The Assaulted Wife: 'Catch 22' Revisited,"
Women's Rights Law Reporter, Vol. 3-4 (Spring-Summer
197 7 ).-- -----------------
^George R. Bach and Herb Goldberg, Creative
Aggression (New York: Doubleday and Co., 19/2), pp.
20d.J. Pittman and William Handy, "Patterns
in Criminal Aggravated Assault," Journal of Criminal
Law, Criminology and Police Science 55 (4): pp. 462-67;
J. Boudouris, "Homicide and the Family," Journal of
Marriage and the Family, Vol. 33 (November^ 19/1), p p.
667-77 .
^Murray A. Straus, Richard J. Gelles, and
Suzanne Steinmetz, Behind Closed Doors (New York:
Anchor Books, 1980), p. 4y.
22John O'Brien, "Violence in Divorce Prone
Families," Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 33
(November, Iy /1 ), pp. by2-byS.
^George Levinger, "Sources of Marital
Dissatisfaction Among Applicants for Divorce," Ameri can
Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Vol. 26 (October, 1966),
ppY"tfU3'-'W. -------
24Roger Langley and Richard C. Levy, Wife
Beating: The Silent Crisis (New York: E.P. Dutton,
1977)',' pV '9Y -------------
25Suzanne Prescott and Carolyn Letko,
"Battered Women: A Social Psychological Perspective,"
in Battered Women, ed., Maria Roy (New York: Van
Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1977), p. 75; Jacquie
Roberts, "Social Work and Child Abuse: The Reasons for
Failure and the Way to Success," in Violence in the
Family, ed., J.P. Martin (New York: John Wiley and
Sons, 1978), p. 266.
2^Maria Roy, Battered Women (New York: Van
Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1977 ), p. 33.
2^Suzanne Prescott and Carolyn Letko,
"Battered Women: A Social Psychological Perspective,"
in Battered Women, ed., Maria Roy (New York: Van
Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1977), p. 79.

28shirley M. Nurse, "Familial Patterns of
Parents Who Abuse Their Children," Smith College
Studies in Social Work, XXXV, No. 1 (Uctober, 1964),
pp. 11-25.
29Maurice J. Boisvert, "The Battered Child
Syndrome," Social Casework, L111, No. 8 (October,
1972), pp. 475-80.
30j. Orford and others, "The Cohesiveness of
Alcoholism Complicated Marriages and Its Influence on
Treatment Outcome," British Journal of Psychiatry, Vol.
128 (1976), pp. 318-339; Maria Roy, Battered Women
(New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.l 1977 ), pi 3?;
M. Bard and J. Zacker, "Assaultiveness and Alcohol Use
in Family Disputes," Criminology, Vol. 12 (1974), p.
SlRoger E. Langley and Richard C. Levy, Wi fe
Beating: The Silent Crisis (New York: E.P. Dutton,
19//) p. /2, citing Sue E. Eisenberg and Patricia L.
Micklow, "The Assaulted Wife: 'Catch 22' Revisited,"
Women's Rights Law Reporter, Vol. 3-4 (Spring-Summer,
32George Thorman, Family Violence
(Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas Publisher,
1980), p. 106; Richard J. Gelles, Family Violence
(Beverly Hills, California: Sage Publications, 1979),
p. 141 .
33m.D.A. Freeman, Violence In The Home
(England: Saxon House, Teakfield Limited, 1979), p.
^Richard Gelles, The Violent Home (Beverly
Hills, California: Sage Pub I i ca-ti ons 1974), p. 122.
^Murray a. Straus, Richard J. Gelles, and
Suzanne Steinmetz, Behind Closed Doors (New York:
Anchor Books, 1980)1 pH 146.
36Murray A. Straus, Richard J. Gelles, and
Suzanne Steinmetz, Behind Closed Doors (New York:
Anchor Books, 1980)1 148.
37Murray A. Straus, Richard J. Gelles, and
Suzanne Steinmetz, Behind Closed Doors (New York:
Anchor Books, 1980), p. 148.

38John O'Brien, "Violence in Divorce Prone
Families," in Violence in the Family, eds., S.K.
Steinmetz and M.A. Straus (New York: Dodd, Mead and
Company, 1974), pp. 65-75.
3^William J. Goode, "Force and Violence in
the Family," Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol.
33 (November, 19/1), pp. 624-636; Ml chae I David Alan
Freeman, Violence in the Home (London: Saxon House,
1979), p. 19; Hyman Rodman, "Marital Power and the
Theory of Resources in Cultural Context," Journal of
Comparative Family Studies, Vol. Ill (Spring, 19/2),
pp. 50-69; Mary F. Rogers, "Instrumental and
Infra-Resources: The Bases of Power," American Journal
of Sociology, Vol. 79 (May, 1974), pp. 1418-1433.
^Lois S. Hoffman, "Effects of Employment of
Mothers On Parental Power Relation and the Division of
Household Tasks," Marriage and Family Living, Vol. 22
(February, I960), pp. 27-35; Mirra Komarovsky,
"Cultural Contradictions and Sex Roles: The Masculine
Case," American Journal of Sociology, (January, 1973),
pp. 873-884; Donald Gilbert McKinley, Social Class and
Family Occupation: Housewife (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1971); John H. Scanzoni, "A Social
System Analysis of Dissolved and Existing Families,"
Journal of Marriage and the Family Vol. 30 (August,
1968), pp. 452-461 ; Mi chael Young and Peter Willmott,
The Symmetrical Family: A Study of Work and Leisure in
the London Region (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul,
^Craig M. Allen and Murray A. Straus,
"Resources, Power, and Husband-Wife Violence," in The
Social Causes of Husband-Wife Violence, eds., Murray A.
Straus and Gerald T. Hotaling (Minneapolis: University
of Minnesota Press, 1980), p. 191.
42|v|urray A. Straus, Richard J. Gelles, and
Suzanne K. Steinmetz, Behind Closed Doors (New York:
Anchor Books, 1980), p I5U.

43j.j. Gayford, "Battered Wives," in Violence
and the Family, ed., J.P. Martin (New York: John Wiley
and sons, TWF), p. 29; F.H. McClintock,
"Criminological Aspects of Family Violence," Violence
and the Family, ed., J.P. Martin (New York: John Wiley
and Sons, 1978), p. 89; Dennis Marsden, "Sociological
Perspectives on Family Violence," in Violence and the
Family, ed., J.P. Martin (New York: John Wiley and
Sons, 1978), p. 110; Joy Melville, "Some Violent
Families," in Violence and the Family, ed., J.P. Martin
(New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1 978), pp. 10-13.
^Dennis Marsden, "Sociological Perspectives
on Family Violence," in Violence and the Family, ed.,
J.P. Martin (New York: John Wi ley and Sons, T978), p.
45joseph C. Carroll, "A Cultural-Consistency
Theory of Family Violence in Mexican-American and
Jewish-Ethnic Groups," in The Social Causes of
Husband-Wife Violence, eds., Murray A. Straus and
Gerald T. Hotal i ng (TTi nneapol is Minnesota: University
of Minnesota Press, 1980), p. 69.
460scar Lewis, "Family Dynamics in a Mexican
Village," Marriage and Family Living, Vol. 21, (1959)
pp. 218-22F1 William Madsen, Mexican-Americans of the
Southwest (New York: Holt, Reinhart and Winston,
1964); Manuel Ramirez, "Identification with Mexican
Family Values and Authoritarianism in
Mexican-Americans," The Journal of Social Psychology,
Vol. 73 (1967), pp. 3-11; Fernado Penalosa, "Mexican
Family Roles," Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol.
30 (1968), pp. 680-689.
^Alfredo Mirande, "The Chicano Family: A
Reanalysis of Conflicting Views," Journal of Marriage
and the Family, Vol. 39 (1977), pp. 747-756.
48Murray A. Straus, Richard J. Gelles, and
Suzanne K. Steinmetz, Behind Closed Doors (New York:
Anchor Books, 1980), p 150.
49Murray A. Straus, Richard Gelles, and
Suzanne K. Steinmetz, Behind Closed Doors (New York:
Anchor Books, 1980), p. 142..
88F.H. McClintock, "Criminological Aspects of
Family Violence," in Violence and the Family, ed., J.P.
Martin (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1978), p. 92.

The research problem which prompted the
development of this dissertation was the absence of
valid, empirically tested data on the incidence of
wife battering. Since wife battering has been
identified as a legal and social phenomenon which is
under reported, the importance of empirical data
emerged as an area of strategic importance to the
development of public policy. This gap in the
professional literature was increasingly apparent as
the researcher sought to review landmark studies and
classic research in the field.
In order to make a contribution to the data
base regarding incidence, this research effort was
undertaken to identify the major characteristics
(independent variables) which jointly demonstrated a
significant correlation to wife battering (dependent
The nature of the research problem was
multi-variate due to the complexity of the social
phenomenon under study and the many environmental

variables identified as having a potentially
significant relationship to the incidence of wife
battering. In order to address this multi-variate
analytical problem, data were analyzed at the
University of Colorado Computer Center on the CDC
Cyber 172 computer. The Statistical Package for the
Social Sciences (SPSS) was used in the analysis.
Several statistical techniques were used to
provide a wide range of measurement instruments to
test the analytical capabilities of the resulting
model. These statistical methods included: multiple
regression analysis; bivariate correlation analysis
(Pearson correlation); and, partial correlation
Multiple regression analysis was utilized to
identify, from the nineteen independent variables,
those variables jointly demonstrating a statistically
significant correlation to wife battering. Tests of
partial correlation and bivariate analysis were
utilized to provide additional insight regarding the
relationships between variables.
In order to more fully incorporate and
understand the methodological design, a brief
discussion of the individual analytical techniques is

Multiple Regression Analysis
According to Nie, Hull, Jenkins, Steinbrenner
and Bent, multiple regression is a statistical
technique through which one can analyze
the relationship between a dependent or criterion
variable and a set of independent or predictor
Multiple regression may be viewed either as a
descriptive tool by which the linear dependence of
one variable on others is summarized and
decomposed, or as an inferential tool by which
relationships in the population are evaluated from
the examination of sample data.'
Both functions of multiple regression analysis
were required to successfully complete the research
study. Initially, the descriptive techniques were
useful in finding the best linear prediction equation
and evaluating its predictive accuracy. The resulting
methodology was designed to predict wife beating
within a community (the dependent variable) from
nineteen independent variables.
Through stepwise multiple regression it was
possible to obtain a prediction equation that
indicated how scores on the independent variables
could be weighted and summed to obtain the best
possible prediction of wife beating within a community
for the sample which included the fifty-three rural
counties of Colorado.

Statistics were also obtained which indicated
how accurate the prediction equation was and how much
of the variance in wife beating within communities was
accounted for by the joint linear influences of the
collective independent variables. The prediction
equation was then "simplified" by deleting independent
variables that did not add substantially to prediction
accuracy, once certain other independent variables
were included.
Kerlinger in his text entitled Foundations of
Behavioral Research, has characterized multiple
regression analysis as one of the most useful and
flexible multivariate methods. Kerlinger has
attributed this to the ability of multiple regression
analysis to handle any number and kind of independent
variables, continuous as well as categorical.
Cohen in his article entitled, "Multiple Regression as
a General Data Analytic System," published in the
Handbook of Evaluation Research, has also lauded the
inherent capabilities of multiple regression analysis,
referring to the technique: "as a general
variance-accounting procedure of great flexibility,
power and fidelity to research aims in both
manipulative and observational research."

Bivariate Correlation Analysis
Bivariate correlation was used in the research
design to analyze the relationships influencing the
variables which had been previously identified through
the stepwise multiple regression as having a joint
correlation to the dependent variable. According to
the authors of Statistical Package for the Social
Bivariate correlation provides a single number
which summarizes the relationship between two
variables. These correlation coefficients
indicate the degree to which variation (or change)
in one variable is related to variation (change)
in another. A correlation coefficient not only
summarizes the strength of association between a
pair of variables, but also provides an easy means
for comparing the strength of relationship between
one pair of variables and a different pair.4
This technique assisted the researcher in
identifying groups of independent variables which
acted in concert with each other sufficiently to
warrant joint comparison with the dependent variable.
This statistical technique proved helpful when
used in concert with multiple regression analysis.
The Pearson correlation indices and the partial
correlation analysis provided the researcher with
additional data regarding the potential interplay
between certain independent variables. This
information enhanced the researcher's ability to
detect possible spurious relationships which could

have projected a false picture of the effects of the
independent variable(s) upon the dependent variable.
Pearson's Coefficient of Correlation was used
in the analysis of the independent variables. Simpson
and Kafka have described Pearson's Coefficient of
Correlation as a tool which can be used to identify
the unit of movement, direct or inverse, between two
variables thereby enabling the researcher to identify
the degree of negative or positive correlation which
exits between any two variables. The coefficient
of correlation measure is a pure number or an index
number in that it does not express units of a variable
like number of persons or number of unemployed. It
measures the degree of the relationship between two
variables on a continuum ranging from -1.0 to +1.0.
Partial Correlation Analysis
Partial correlation analysis was employed in
the later stages of the statistical analysis as a
means to further interpret the interrelationships
between independent variables which had been
identified in the earlier procedures. Partial
correlation analysis provided the researcher with the
tools necessary to establish a single measure of
association describing the relationship between any
two variables while adjusting for the effects of one

or more additional variables. According to Nie, Hull,
Jenkins, Steinbrenner and Bent:
Partial correlation can be used in a wide variety
of ways to aid the researcher in understanding and
clarifying relationships between three or more
variables. When properly employed, partial
correlation becomes a technique for uncovering
spurious relationships, locating intervening
variables, and can even be used to help the
researcher make certain types of causal
The authors of Statistical Package for the
Social Sciences have also identified a second use of
partial correlation analysis. According to these
wr iters:
Another important feature of partial correlation
lies in its ability to aid the researcher in a
search for intervening linking variables. While
there is no statistical difference between the
computation of partials employed to locate
spurious relationships and those used to determine
intervening variables, the conceptual issues are
different....The search for intervening variables
is highly related to the issue of causality
insofar as the researcher wishes to make
statements of the sort: A leads to B which in turn
leads to C.?
Data Collection
The data collection process was initiated
utilizing a two-pronged methodological sequence. The
first part entailed the statistical collection and
compilation of the actual number of wife batterings
which were reported in 1980 for the rural counties of
Colorado. The second part of the process was
concerned with the collection of data measuring those

nineteen independent variables identified in Chapter
II. Specifically, the data collection process
provided two separate, albeit interrelated, data sets.
Dependent Variable Data Collection:
Actual Cases of Wife Battering
The first data set provided incidence data on
reported wife battering within the fifty-three
counties of rural Colorado. Information about the
actual incidence of reported wife battering was
gathered in the following manner. Standardized crime
reporting statistics were synthesized for each county
in Colorado from a report issued by the Colorado
Bureau of Investigation entitled, Crime in Colorado.
This report summarized crime statistics for each
police and sheriff department in Colorado for the year
1980. This report identified, by category, the type
of crimes and the frequency with which various
criminal acts were reported by individual law
enforcement agencies.
Unfortunately, statistics on the incidence of
wife abuse are not gathered by the Colorado Bureau of
Investigation. Through discussions with several local
law enforcement officers, however, it was determined
that cases of wife abuse were reported under the two
broad categories of aggravated assault and simple
assault. Consequently, the next task was to contact

each law enforcement agency directly. Initial
contacts were made by phone, by a trained research
assistant who asked to speak to either the chief of
police or the sheriff of the department. Each chief
executive was then provided with a description of the
research project followed by a request for
assistance. Each local law enforcement unit was asked
to perform a record search to ascertain the exact
number of wife battering incidents which were reported
during 1980 under the broad categories of simple and
aggravated assaults.
To guard against the tendency to provide
imprecise data, each law enforcement unit was provided
with additional information regarding the important
nature of receiving exact figures. Intuitive
estimates, percentages and other imprecise mechanisms
were described as being useless and harmful to the
study. The research assistants sought to assure the
local officials that their assistance was invaluable
and that the research was not concerned with
individual cases or names, but only with aggregate
statistics. Occasionally the law enforcement agencies
from whom information was sought were unable to review
the records as requested. Where appropriate, on-site
record reviews were performed by research project
staff to assist those localities where law enforcement

personnel could not be released for this purpose.
Of the fifty-three rural counties under study,
140 individual law enforcement units had to be
contacted in regard to the incidence of wife abuse.
Of these law enforcement units, 123, or 88 percent,
were able to provide the needed information. Since
all statistical calculations were performed on a
county-by-county basis only those counties in which
each individual law enforcement unit reported could be
included in the final sample. Forty rural counties,
or 75 percent of all counties contacted, provided
complete data on the incidence of wife abuse. Table 1
depicts the incidence of wife abuse by county as
reported by individual law enforcement entities and
shows the percentage of wife abuse cases in relation
to the total number of assaults reported in 1980.
This information provided one portrait of the
incidence of wife battering in rural Colorado. The
statistics taken from the law enforcement files for
1980, placed the mean rate of wife abuse for the forty
counties who supplied raw data, at .968 or one wife
battering per 1000 population. Furthermore, the range
of wife abuse from one county to another was shown to
vary greatly with the lowest county reporting 0 wife
batterings per 1000 and the highest county recording
3.5 wife abuse cases per 1000 population.

Table 1
Actual Number of Assaults and Wife Batterings Reported
Per County In 1980: Rural Colorado Counties
With Populations Under Thirty Thousand
Total Assaults Total No. Reported Wife Batter ings Percent of Wife Batterings Per County
Sheriff's Office 28 14
Alamosa PD 114 *
Adams State DPS 6 2
Sheriff's Office 14 7
Pagosa Springs PD 8 6
BACA COUNTY 11 0 0.00
Sheriff's Office n 0
BENT COUNTY 9 4 44.44
Sheriff's Office 3 1
Las Animas PD 6 3
CHAFFEE COUNTY 39 23 58.97
Sheriff's Office 9 4
Buena Vista PD 12 10
S a 1 i d a P D 18 9
Sheriff's Office 2 *
Sheriff's Office 26 8
Idaho Springs PD 37 3
Georgetown PD 11 5
Empire PD 0 0

Table 1 (continued)
Total No.
Percent of
Assaults Batter ings Per County
Sheriff's Office 7 6
Antonito PD 0 0
Manassa PD 0 0
Sanford PD 0 0
Sheriff's Office 1 k
Ordway PD 1 0
Sheriff's Office 4 0 0.00
DELTA COUNTY 67 19 28.36
Sheriff's Office 22 7
Delta PD 34 10
Paonia PD 5 2
Hotchkiss PD 6 0
Cedaridge PD 0 0
Sheriff's Office 5 3
Dove Creek PD 0 0
Sheriff's Office 59 *
Castle Rock PD 39 *
Sheriff's Office 42 30
Vail PD 44 *
Basalt PD 10 2

Table 1 (continued)
Total Assaults Total No. Reported W if e Batterings Percent of Wife Batter ings Per County
Sheriff's Office 0 0
Elizabeth PD 0 0
Sheriff's Office 75 *
Cannon City PD 56 *
Florence PD 16 0
Sheriff's Office G1enwood 138
Springs PD 12 3
Rifle PD 11 *
Carbondale PD 0 0
Silt PD 0 0
New Castle PD 3 1
GILPIN COUNTY 26 8 30.77
Sheriff's Office 21 6
Central City PD 5 2
GRAND COUNTY 52 6 11.54
Sheriff's Office 30 4
Granby PD 10 0
Kremmling PD 12 2
Sheriff's Office 11 7
Gunnison PD 32 3
Mt. Crested
Butte Pd 2 0
Crested Butte PD 9 2
Sheriff's Office 7 1

Table 1 (continued)
Total No. Percent of
Total Assaults Reported Wife Batterings Wife Batterings Per County
Sheriff's Office 3 2
Walsenburg PD 2 0
Sheriff's Office 1 0
Sheriff's Office 0 0
Sheriff's Office Burlington PD Flagler PD 2 0 0 2 0 0
LAKE COUNTY 69 15 21.74
Sheriff's Office 31 4
LeadvilTe PD 38 11
Sheriff's Office 55
Durango PD 131 10
Ignacio PD 50 12
Bayfield PD 3 3
Sheriff's Office 0 0
Trinidad PD 86 14
Sheriff's Office 2 0
Limon PD 3 1
Sheriff's Office 0 0
Sterling PD 13 *
Fleming PD 0 0

Table 1 (continued)
Total Assaults Total No. Reported Wife Batterings Percent of Wife Batter ings Per County
Sheriff's Office 2 0
Creede PD 2 *
Sheriff's Office lb 4
Craig PD 35 *
Dinosaur 10 *
Sheriff's Office 33 *
Cortez PD 63 *
Mancos PD 2 0
Dolores PD 3 0
Sheriff's Office 0 0
Montrose PD 28 3
Nucla PD 3 1
Olathe PD 16 *
Naturita PD 3 0
MORGAN COUNTY 114 22 19.30
Sheriff's Office 8 5
Brush PD 5 0
Fort Morgan PD 101 17
Wiggins PD 0 0
OTERO COUNTY 33 11 33.33
Sheriffs Office 9 2
La Junta DPS 22 9
Rocky Ford PD 0 0
Fowler PD 2 0
OURAY COUNTY 5 3 60.00
Sheriff's Office 0 0
Ouray PD 4 3
Ridgeway PD 1 0

Table 1 (continued)
Total Assaults Total No. Reported W if e Batterings Percent of Wife Batterings Per County
PARK COUNTY 22 9 40.91
Sheriff's Office 12 5
Fairplay PD 10 4
Alma PD 0 0
Phillips CoUntY 2 0 0.00
Sheriff's Office 2 0
Haxtun PD 0 0
PITKIN COUNTY 188 10 5.32
Sheriff's Office 20 3
Aspen PD 166 7
Snowmass PD 2 0
PROWERS COUNTY 43 11 25.58
Sheriff's Office 0 0
Lamar PD 43 11
Sheriff's Office 19 4
Sheriff's Office 12 4
Monte Vista PD 14 7
Del Norte PD 2 2
ROUTT COUNTY 63 3 4.76
Sheriff's Office Steamboat 12 0
Springs PD 37 0
Hayden PD 14 3
Sheriff's Office 8 0
Center PD 123 12
Saguache PD 1 0