Domestic violence: "What's love got to do with it?": “What’s love got to do with it?”

Samir Al-Adawi, Sabah Al-Bahlani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


SURVEYS FROM DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE world have shown that a woman is more likely to be injured, raped or killed by an intimate partner than by any other person. There are a myriad of subtle but debilitating forms of violence directed towards women: dowry-related or son preference that leads to abortion of female fetuses, female infanticide and bride-burning homicides. The list also includes misdemeanours such as rape, sexual abuse, forced prostitution, female circumcision or genital mutilation.1, 2 Although males are also abused by their female partners and intimate partner violence is not exclusively a male domain,3 for the present purpose, this paper will focus on violence directed at women; that is, women assaulted or harmed physically, psychologically or emotionally by their partner. The rationale for focusing on women is based on the widely established opinion that a female is more likely than the male to bear the adverse effect of intimate partner violence. The saying, “A hungry man is a hungry man, but a hungry women is a hungry world”, may be relevant a metaphor in coming to grips with the ill effects of abused women. Despite its global occurrence, there is no standard classification for domestic violence in medical literature. The most widely used term for violence between husband and wife is ‘intimate partner violence’. The word ‘intimate’ is misleading since there is no intimacy in such tumultuous circumstances. Other terms that encapsulate partner violence include domestic abuse, domestic violence, spouse abuse, courtship violence, battering, marital rape, and date rape or simply wife beating. For the present purposes, an abusive relationship between husband and wife occurs when a husband tries to harm his wife or to exert control that will harm her either immediately or eventually if repeated over the time. Although data from elsewhere have suggested that women are more likely to experience lack of empowerment and be trapped on the margins of society than their male counterparts,4 in the past decades Oman has begun to close this gender gap. In higher education, approximately 48 per cent of all students enrolled in tertiary education are males, suggesting that female enrollment rate in post secondary education has surpassed that of males.5 Complementing their recent enrollment in education, one of major benefits of the recent literacy campaign is the entrance of women into the labour force. Approximately 30% of the workforce in the Omani civil service is female.6 An interrelated aim of the present discourse is to highlight the role of aggression in human nature with theoretical input from psychoanalytic, ethological, biological and social learning theories. The article will also synthesize the components of domestic violence such as the role of emotions like jealousy, the roles of hormones and substance abuse as well as consider the role of culture in the expression of domestic violence. Awareness among health professionals of domestic violence is paramount as women experiencing intimate partner violence are at increased risk of various medical and psychosocial problems. It should be highlighted at the outset that, to our knowledge, there are no studies from Oman in the public domain on domestic violence. Therefore, the present discourse is inferential from evidence emerging from elsewhere that may not have direct bearing on the situation in Oman. Consistent with cultural teaching in Oman that the only accepted intimate relationship is a conjugal one, the present focus will be on married couples but, in reviewing literature from other parts of the world, reference will be made to other types of intimate partner violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-14
Number of pages10
JournalSultan Qaboos University Medical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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