TRIZ Challenge - August 2001

By: Ian Care

We challenge you to use your TRIZ skills and your knowledge to help solve a humanitarian or social problem.  We hope that you will submit your results for publication in the TRIZ journal.  Every few months we will set a new challenge - but that does not mean that you cannot continue to work on previous challenges, indeed you may have chosen to work on this for your project or coursework.

Send your results, ideas, comments and suggestions for future challenges to

This month is another social challenge - how do we address the problems of domestic violence.

In several of our societies, there is still a mainly hidden problem of domestic violence.  This is predominately, but not exclusively performed by men against their partners and children.

Our challenges are to look at how we might:

  1. More easily find out where this domestic violence is taking place, so that some action can be taken.
  2. Change society, such that a family can take an action such as isolating themselves from the violent person
  3. Identify and treat those who perform such violent acts.

 Can you consider how the problem starts and therefore how this can be addressed before it starts (pre-cushioning)?

Determine an un-intrusive way of detecting or measuring the problem. Do we know the extent of the problem? How do you set an alarm or trigger level?

In many cases the 'victim' feels that the only person they can discuss this with is also the perpetrator. Can we have links in society where other (non-threatening) relationships can develop to alleviate this?  Can there be an anonymous relationship such that intimate problems can be discussed without treat or follow-up?

If we could measure the propensity for violence, we could determine the causal situations and the effectiveness of any treatment.

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It is estimated that six million women are assaulted by a male partner each year and of these, 1.8 million are severely assaulted. However, the rate for assaults by female partners is 124 per 1,000 couples, compared with 122 per 1,000 for assaults by male partners as reported by wives. (Straus, 1993).

Every year, domestic violence causes approximately 100,000 days of hospitalisation, 28,700 emergency department visits and 39,900 physician visits. This violence costs the nation between $5 and $10 billion per year. (Meyer, 1992).

In 1993, twenty-nine percent of all female murder victims were slain by their husbands or boyfriends. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1994).

One recent study found that possessiveness, which included infidelity, fear of termination of the relationship, and sexual rivalry, was the most prevalent reason given for a male offender to kill his romantic partner.  Female offenders killed much more often for self-defence than for any other reason. (Rasche, 1993).

There seems to be a greater likelihood that spousal homicide of the female partner in heterosexual couples will occur during a separation phase of the relationship than during cohabitation. A 1993 study shows that while risk to the female increased, there was no such greater risk for the male. It found that wives were particularly at risk during the first two months after separation and if they had unilaterally decided to end the relationship. (Wilson and Daly, 1993).

In a community study of Mexican Americans, Blacks, and Whites, those men and women reporting being beaten were also likely to report beating their spouse, with the one exception of Mexican American men. Also studying the effect of alcohol consumption, the quantity of alcohol consumed is the best predictor of spousal violence rather than either the frequency of drinking or the total volume consumed over a period of one week. Among the formerly married women who reported being beaten, over 80% of all ethnic subgroups also reported beating their former spouse. (Neff, Holamon and Schluter, 1995).

A recent study indicated that women who killed their mates compared to a sample of battered women who had not, experienced higher levels of severe violence such as punching, kicking and strangling; perceived lower social support available; and suffered from a higher level of posttraumatic stress disorder. (Dutton, 1994).

Between 20% and 30% of our total population is at risk of serious dysfunction from the abuse of psychoactive substances. In some communities, the risk is more than 50%. A survey of juvenile and family court judges showed they estimate that between 60% and 90% of all their cases involved substance abuse as a significant factor. (National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 1995).

One in ten Kentucky residents suspect their neighbours of spouse abuse. (Paquin, 1994).

Almost one third of responding lesbians say they have been victims of physical violence by their partners. Nearly twelve percent reported severe violence. (Lockhart, 1994).

Military families experience a significantly greater amount of spousal violence than civilians, according to a recent comparative survey. This study showed no significant racial difference. There was a significantly higher amount of slapping and hair pulling among those commissioned than those enlisted. (Cronin, 1995).

The Bureau of Justice Statistics studied data of nearly 10,000 murder defendants from large urban areas and found that of the spousal murder defendants, 41% were female. Black females were more likely to kill their spouses than white females: 47% of the black homicide victims were male compared to 38% for white male homicide victims. (Dawson and Langan, 1994).

One study shows nearly ninety percent of spouse killers receive a prison sentence, with an average mean term of thirteen years. Although the study does not break out sentence length received by gender, convicted spouse murderers were less likely to receive a severe sentence compared to non-family murder convicts: 12.7% received a life sentence and 9.3% received probation for spouse killers, compared to 16% and 2.7% receiving life sentence and probation respectively for non-family murderers. (Dawson and Langan, 1994).

Family violence researchers have developed a list of severe violence risk markers for identifying battering potential by men. In addition to living below the poverty line, the men: are unemployed or lower skilled; use drugs; have a different religion from partner; saw his father hit his mother; not married to but live with partner; have some high school education; between 18 and 30; or their partners use severe violence toward children at home. (Gelles, Lackner and Wolfner, 1994).

An analysis of severe husband-to-wife domestic violence indicates that husbands who were sober during the incident tend to blame their wives for the violence while husbands consuming alcohol tend to assume responsibility. (Senchak and Leonard, 1994).



  1. Cronin, Christopher. (1995). "Adolescent Reports of Parental Spousal Violence in Military and Civilian Families." Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 10(1): 117-122.

  2. Dawson, John M. and Patrick A. Langan. (1994). Murder in Families. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics.

  3. Dutton, Mary Ann et al. (1994). "Traumatic Responses Among Battered Women Who Kill." Journal of Traumatic Stress, 7(4): 549-564.

  4. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (1994). "Crime in the United States, 1993." Washington, D.C.

  5. Gelles, Richard J., Regina Lackner and Glenn D. Wolfner. (1994). "Men Who Batter: The Risk Markers." Violence Update, 4(12): 1-2, 4, 10.

  6. Lockhart, Lettie L., Barbara W. White, Vicki Causby, and Alicia Isaak. (1994). "Letting out the Secret: Violence in Lesbian Relationships." Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 9(4): 469-492.

  7. Meyer, Harris. (1992). "The Billion-Dollar Epidemic," in Violence: A Compendium from JAMA, American Medical News, and the Speciality Journals of the American Medical Association. Chicago: American Medical Association.

  8. National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. (1995). "Drugs - The American Family in Crisis: A Judicial Response: 43 Recommendations." Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 46(1): i-112.

  9. Neff, James Alan, Bruce Holamon and Tracy Davis Schluter. (1995). "Spousal Violence Among Anglos, Blacks, and Mexican Americans: The Role of Demographic Variables, Psychosocial Predictors, and Alcohol Consumption." Journal of Family Violence, 10(1): 1-21.

  10. Paquin, Gary W. (1994). "Statewide Survey of Reactions to Neighbours' Domestic Violence." Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 9(4): 493-502.

  11. Rasche, Christine. (1993). "'Given' Reasons for Violence in Intimate Relationships." in Wilson, Anna V. (ed.). (1993). Homicide: The Victim/Offender Connection. Cincinnati: Anderson Publishing Company.

  12. Senchak, Marilyn and Kenneth E. Leonard. (1994). "Attributions for Episodes of Marital Aggression: The Effects of Aggression Severity and Alcohol Use." Journal of Family Violence, 9(4): 371-381.

  13. Straus, Murray A. (1993). "Physical Assaults by Wives: A Major Social Problem." in Gelles, Richard J. and Donileen R. Loseke, eds. (1993). Current Controversies on Family Violence. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Pub.

  14. Wilson, Margo and Martin Daly. (1993). "Spousal Homicide Risk and Estrangement." Violence and Victims, 8(1), 3-16.