Tributaries

3 04 2011

This weekend I am writing a research paper on the propensity of male children who are raised in a family system that relies heavily upon shaming practices to become abusive in their future relationships with women. This paper (this topic, this world) sucks, and I am finding it an absolute necessity to take frequent grief breaks.

This time, I’m choosing to share something of my grief with anyone who might stumble across my happy little corner of the internets. You’re welcome, readers

So I’m reading this article (Ehrensaft, Cohen, Brown, Smiles, Chen, & Johnson, Intergenerational Transmission of Partner Violence: A 20-year prospective study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2003. 71(4) 741-753…did I really just cite something in my blog? Wow, I’m feeling even more masochistic than I thought…) These valiant folks are talking about how they selected their “abused children” population and how they “asked only a few questions, aimed at maximizing specificity (few false positives) at the expense of possibly low sensitivity (high rates of false negaties).” I read through all the criteria they had for excluding a self-report of abuse from their sample, all the cross-checking and redundant validity they have in place to eliminate any chance of a false positive, and I’m thinking “holy crap, how could anyone filter through all of these checks? They even found a way to exclude people who had been criminally prosecuted as child abusers and been found guilty from their sample!”

Want to take a guess at the percentage of their population they still included in their maltreatment groups?

10%

The absolute minimum ratio of abusive families is 1:10. That is with every excuse taken to turn a blind eye, and only the most egregious forms of recurrent abuse included. And this is all from a relatively affluent population; abuse rates skyrocket when you select from families at or below the poverty line. My heart aches as I dwell in the presence of these numbers today.

And this is the world I intend to step into?

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2 responses

3 04 2011
Mark

All the more reason to seek to effect some good with your time on earth.

3 04 2011
TomS

Verily, Mark, there is truth in what you say.

I’m also finding that an occasional episode of whining about how much I don’t want to do anything is an important step in my process of actually getting out and effecting good. This is that.

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