The intergenerational transmission of violence theory has until recently mostly considered the male child’s witnessing of violence between their parents and the learning of violence as the main causal factor behind men’s violence against women (Gover, Kaukinen & Fox 2008). New research considers the negative emotional consequences of child abuse where increased shame proneness generally has been related to both introvert self-injurious behaviors as drug use and extroversions as aggressions and violence against other men and women (Scheff & Retzinger 2001; Tangney, Stuevig Mashek, & Hastings 2011; Schoenleber & Berenbaum 2012).
In order to explore the relationship between causal factors as; exposure to violence in childhood, the foundation of basic emotions, socialization, masculinity construction and violence, 10 men at a treatment center against violence has been interviewed about their childhood experiences, socialization, masculinities, emotions and violence.
Biographical individual interviews were used as data collection method and directed content analysis have been used as analysis method. Special interest has been devoted to the exploration of the interaction between the men’s childhood experiences, socialization, masculinity construction, emotions and their use of violence. Since violent men at a treatment center represent a vulnerable group, special ethical considerations was given to them to avoid the risk of further stigmatization of the group. All respondents has approved to the study and given their informed consent.
The results indicate that the shame proneness varies among the men and corresponds with the severities of their childhood experiences. The men’s childhood experiences seem to be related to their propensity to bypass feelings of shame and their use of anger, aggressions and violence as substituting emotions and behaviors. The men that had personal experiences of violence in childhood were extremely sensitive to humiliations and reacted almost immediately with anger (i.e. bypassed shame) and violence. The men who had experienced violence in childhood had also often been exposed to an inappropriate socialization with less social control and support from their parents. This behavioral pattern seems to have influenced their school results and masculinity construction since their ability to use conventional social resources was impaired. The men who not had experienced violence in childhood were not demonstrating the same extent of shame proneness as those men that personally had experienced violence in childhood but witnessed about a lack of social control and positive role-models.
More research is needed in order to fully understand the relationship between exposure to violence in childhood and how it affects the emotional repertoire and reaction patterns as an adult. Still the results indicate support to the research that emphasizes the significance of negative childhood experiences to men’s violence as adults.