offline goes online, a query to field workers

Mike Lieber (U28550@UICVM.BITNET)
Tue, 6 Dec 1994 23:25:33 CST

Sarah Hautzinger was taking me to task for being so disagreeable lately and
testing me for biosocial phobia. She used her own work as an example of the
way she employs a biosocial framework to understand domestic violence in
Brazil, mainly male-to-female but some opposite cases as well. I asked whether
she had any information that might be comparable to "my" case (Kapingamarangi
people of Micronesia). She said no, but that it might be worth posting to see
if any of you have comparable information.

My wife and I worked on domestic violence together some years ago. We wrote a
conference paper outlining the following problem, which we were unable to get
any help on at all (and have since dropped the whole subject). Although child
abuse in this commuity is not common, the few cases one does find are pretty
grim and involve physical and/or psychological torture of a child by one or
both parents. All of the cases on which we do have information follow the
same pattern. Families include three or more children. One of the children
is spoiled, another abused, and the rest treated neither horribly nor
wonderfully. In all cases, the father's mother and/or father, the only ones
outside the nuclear family in a position to intervene in the abuse, are either
dead, senile, or otherwise neutralized. There is no case of an abused child
without a spoiled sibling in the same household. The abused child may be
either male or female. I see no pattern in gender preference for abuse,
although the cases are too few to judge.

Does this pattern ring a bell with anything you've observed or read about,
either as ethnographic data or examples in a theoretical argument? Someone
mentioned to me that he remembered vaguely reading something about
"obsessive families," that sounded similar, but he could not find a reference.

I'd appreciate any help on this matter and would quote you, cite you, and
otherwise give you every credit except sole authorship in any resulting
Mike Lieber