THE PLAGUE OF VIOLENCE: A preventable epidemic
By Mitch Hall
Checkmate Press, 2002

"The reader will begin to see a broadening of the term "peace work," beyond the traditional efforts to end wars. Peace work becomes any effort to reduce violence at any level... a parent raising happy, secure children... people working to stop domestic violence... caring and supportive teachers ... join the ranks of those working for peace."

Joseph Gainza
American Friends Service Committee Vermont

"In this booklet you have assembled in a few pages more information about violence in our lives and in our world than I have ever seen. The economy of words is thrilling: this is a 1,000-page work compressed into 36 pages."

Norm Lee
Parenting Without Punishing

"Mr. Hall offers a unique perspective on the causes of violence in our society... and this may lead to new strategies for violence prevention in our communities and the world."

Ellen Kahler
Peace & Justice Center (Burlington, Vermont)

EXCERPT (Pages: 15-16 and 23):

Those cultures with the most abusive, unloving childrearing practices produce the most murderers, terrorists, and wars. Children raised abusively are more easily hypnotizable in adulthood. This means that in times of crisis, such as war, the formerly abused dissociate and submit to the authority of leaders, just as they had done as children. Whereas they were likely alone in their suffering as abused children, they can now be participants in collective trances. The onset of wars is enormously popular because there will be outlets for violence and also, on a delusional level of thinking, because the sacrificial blood of innocents will be shed to purge the group members of their imagined sins...

The second most important cause of violence is gender abuse, the unequal and inequitable treatment of the genders. This occurs in the context of patriarchy, which is a cultural system of male supremacy, that is, the domination and oppression of women by men. In patriarchal cultures, males inordinately control wealth, political power, and have higher prestige and status, all to the detriment and disempowerment of women.

Endemic to patriarchy is misogyny, the fear and hatred of women and of character traits culturally identified as feminine, such as nurturance, emotional expressiveness and accessibility, vulnerability, sensitivity, sensuality, and gentleness. Misogyny afflicts patriarchal males, but many women may suffer from it also through false consciousness, which is the internalization by the oppressed of the negative value judgments of the oppressors. An example of such false consciousness is seen again and again in cases of battered women who believe their mistreatment is their own fault. Their low self-esteem derives from and perpetuates the trauma of having been abused, neglected children when the false consciousness of believing themselves unworthy of respect and love was first instilled. Many women say they have never been treated abusively until they met the male abuser in adulthood, but I believe they are in denial. A woman with high self-esteem would have left an abusive relationship very early or not gotten into it in the first place. In reaction to misogyny, as well as to child abuse, the most insecure males develop traits of hypermasculinity. They are the macho, aggressive, violent, sexually predatory, feelingless males who will do anything to prove they are not like women, and that they have no needs for nurturance and dependency. Their hypermasculine facades mask their underlying sense of inadequacy. As children, these males were unloved. Their parents were cold, rejecting, dominating, and abusive. This gave them abysmally low self-esteem and led them to doubt their own masculinity. They compensate through aggressiveness and violence in a culture which identifies maleness with these very rough traits.


Cultures that are rife with child abuse, gender abuse, and social stratification also justify their direct and structural violence through myths, religions, ideologies, histories, vocabulary, symbols, songs, art, and stories. Together these symbolic justifications constitute cultural violence. Shamed individuals compensate for their humiliations through group identities which give them the illusion of being superior to others.

Myths legitimize the domination of one category of people by another, such as the domination of women by men, children by adults, people of color by whites, unbelievers by members of the "true religion," the poor by the wealthy, one ethnic group or nationality by another, and other animal species and nature by humans. Survivors of child abuse unconsciously project their own stories onto the myths, which contain references to threats and traumas, real or imagined.

Fundamentalist Jews, Christians, and Muslims justify male domination of women with literal scriptural interpretations from earlier misogynist cultures. References to god as male imply men are more godlike. At weddings, priests quote St. Paul's statement that just as men must submit to god's will, wives must submit to their husbands. The biblical commandment to "honor thy parents" and phrases such as "spare the rod, spoil the child" justify adults' forceful subordination of children. Fairy tales such as Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, and Snow White depict parental cruelty in the personae of jealous stepmothers or wicked witches. While these stories give imaginary happy endings, they reflect the cultural reality that children are at the mercy of dangerous adults who abandon them in the woods, abuse them, or even try to cut their hearts out...

Learn more about the work of Mitch Hall at Checkmate Press -- Winning Strategies for Environmental Peace at

Single or multiple copies of The Plague of Violence: A preventable epidemic can be ordered on the Web site,, by writing or by calling toll free 866-923-9223.


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