Domestic violence can affects anyone. Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another through emotional attack, fear, and intimidation. Domestic violence or battering, often, includes the threat or use of violence; this violence is a crime. Battering occurs when one person believes he/she is entitled to control another. Domestic violence affects people in all social, economic, racial, religious, and ethnic groups; whether the couple is married, divorced, living together, or still dating. Another reality is that abusers and their victims can be gay, strait, young, or old. Violence develops from verbal, physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse. Most domestic violence victims are women by men, but that doesn’t suggest that others cannot be battered or are perpetrators of abuse -- such as women on men, or same sex abuse.Battering or domestic violence, is now mutual and it is not a ‘couple’s quarrel’. Disagreements arise occasionally in all relationships, but battering involves every aspect of a relationship. While physical violence is the “enforcer” or the criminal act, other behaviors erode the partner or victim’s sense of self, self-determination, and free will; this is ultimately lethal for many women.
Often batterers possess a low self-esteem and gain a sense of power by means of humiliating and controlling their partner. Control techniques can include verbal insults intended to bring down the partner’s self-esteem, threats meant to scare the partner into obedience, or mind games aimed at making the victim feel unsure and weak. Batterers who use physical abuse push, slap, pinch, grab, or use other demonstrations of physical strength to show that they have power in the relationship and to keep the partner from exercising control over their own life. Abusers often show extreme possessiveness of their partner, wanting there their partner to account for time spent away from home or on the phone. Furthermore, sexual abuse further serves to weaken the spirit of the victim and to show that the abuser has total authority.These forms of abuse are but a fraction of the tactics used by batterers to dominate the partner.
The physical form of domestic violence includes pushing, shoving, slapping, hitting with a fist, kicking, choking, grabbing, pinching, pulling hair, or threatening with weapons. Another form is sexual, which includes forced sex with the threat of violence, rape, unwanted touching, sexual humiliation, the physical attacking of sexual parts on the body, sex after violence has occurred, or the use of objects or damaging acts without the woman’s consent. An additional form of domestic abuse is emotional/verbal, which includes name-calling, put-downs, public humiliation, yelling, degrading statements, brainwashing, and control of the victim’s freedom to come and go when she chooses.
There are many causes of battering. Among many causes, one can be attributed to the unequal power relationship between men and women. Women are traditionally in a position of being economically dependant on men. The socialization of girls prescribes girls to be passive; the socialization of boys prescribes boys to be aggressive. Another contributing cause is that family violence is a generation cycle; as battered children, or children in families where battering occurred often, people may become batterer or battered women.
Domestic violence is a social problem that is widespread. It is a potentially fatal problem from which no person is immune. Domestic abuse has historically been a private violation that has been kept within the walls of the family home. This violence has also historically been denied. Domestic violence acts are events still perceived as anything but a crime; it is only no beginning to be criminalized.
If someone is in an abusive relationship she/he is caught between conflicting emotions, such as love and hate. She/he lives a life of isolation. She/he has been taught, and has learned to be submissive, to feel powerless, and is trapped because of the economic dependency on the abusive partner. This learned helplessness can be attributed primarily by societal views and than is reinforced by the abusive partner. Many who are abused are humiliated about their situation because they feel that it reflects on their abilities as a person, partner, and parent therefore, they withdraw from support of other people to avoid embarrassment.
Abuse affects every corner of the lives of the people it touches. As humans we are psychological, emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual beings. Each aspect of a person’s being is affected by abuse. In terms of violence against women, we live in a society where many attitudes, beliefs, practices, and policies discriminate against women; for instance, in the work place and the perpetual theory of the subservient homemaker.
Many, perhaps most, people believe that battered person will be safe once they separate from the batterer. They also believe that the abused are free to leave abusers at any time. However, leaving does not usually put an end to the violence. Batterers may in fact escalate their violence to force the abused in to reconciliation. In view of the fact that leaving may be dangerous, it still does not suggest that the battered women should stay. Cohabitating with the batterer is highly dangerous as violence usually increases in both frequency and severity over an extended period time. A batterer may engage in preemptive strikes, fearing abandonment or anticipating separation even before the battered woman reaches such a decision.Although leaving may pose additional hazards, ultimately a battered woman can best achieve safety and freedom apart from the batterer.
The Cycle of Domestic Violence shows how domestic violence often becomes a pattern comprised of three stages. The phases vary in time and in severity between couples, and even at different times within the same relationship. It is, then, difficult to predict how long a couple will remain in one phase or to determine the length of an individual couple’s cycle. Phase 1 is the Tension-Building Phase, which constitutes criticism, yelling, swearing, and using angry gestures, coercion, and/or threats. Phase 2 is the Violence Phase, which is characterized by physical and sexual attacks and threats. Phase 3 is the Seduction Phase that is portrayed with apologies, blaming, promises to change, and gifts.It also explains how three dynamics — (1) love, (2) hope, and (3) fear -- keep the cycle in motion and make it difficult to end a violent relationship. For the sake of illustration, (1) Love for one’s partner: ‘the relationship has it’s good points, it’s not all bad”. (2) Hope that it will change: ‘the relationship didn’t begin like this’. (3) Fear that the threats to kill you or your family will become a reality.
Sometimes the abuse does not stop with the victim. Children can suffer when one parent is abused by the other. Children are sometimes physically injured while the abuse is going on. They can be hit by something that is thrown, or be assaulted while trying to protect the battered. Children can be emotionally and physically neglected while the abuse is subsisting. Some of the emotional effects of domestic violence on children include: taking responsibility for the abuse, constant anxiety (that another beating will occur), guilt for not being able to stop the abuse or for loving the abuser, and fear of abandonment.Children of all ages are at risk for learning abusive behavior, and frequently show signs of aggression and/or withdrawal. Children in abusive homes worry about their own safety and the abused parent also. In a 36-month study of 146 children, ages 11 to 17, from homes where wife beating was a major problem, all sons over the age of 14 attempted to protect their mother. Sixty-two percent of them were injured in the process.
In homes where domestic violence occurs, children are at high risk of suffering physical abuse themselves. Regardless of whether children are physically abused, the emotional effects of witnessing domestic violence are very similar to the psychological trauma associated with being a victim of child abuse. Each year, an estimated minimum of 3.3 million children witnesses domestic violence. One-third of the children who witness the battering of their mothers demonstrate significant behavioral and/or emotional problems, including psychosomatic disorders, stuttering, anxiety, fears, sleep disruption, excessive crying, and school problems.Those boys who observe their fathers’ abuse of their mothers are more likely to inflict severe violence as adults. Data suggests that girls who witness maternal abuse may tolerate abuse as adults more than girls who do not. These negative affects may be diminished if the child benefits from intervention by the law and domestic violence programs.
The long-term effects of domestic violence have not begun to be fully documented. Battering is the single major cause of injury to women, more significant that that of auto-accidents, rapes, or muggings.Battered women suffer physical and mental problems because of domestic violence. In fact, the emotional and psychological abuse inflicted by batterers may be more costly to treat in the long run that physical injury. Many of the physical injuries sustained by women seem to cause medical difficulties, as women grow older. Arthritis, hypertension, and heart disease have been identified by battered women as directly caused by aggravated domestic violence early in their adult lives.Battered women frequently lose their jobs because of absenteeism due to illness as a result of the violence.Battered women may have to move many times to avoid violence. Moving is costly and can interfere with continuity of employment. Battered women often lose family and friends as a result of battering. Some battered women have lost their religious communities when separating from abusers because their religious doctrine prohibits separation or divorce whatever the severity of the abuse. Many battered women have had to forgo financial security during divorce proceedings to avoid further abuse.Therefore, the battered are more likely to be impoverished, as they grow older.
Domestic violence is a serious dilemma in today’s society. The only answer toward preventing domestic violence should start when we raise our children. Violence is a learned behavior. When children get hit, they learn something in that process. They ascertain that when frustrated or angry, it is OK to take out that frustration and anger on someone else. They learn that violence is OK. Violence then becomes a learned behavior. The only way to promote a non-violent society is to teach children non-violent habits.
Buzawa, Carl G. and Buzawa, Eve S. Second Edition: Domestic Violence. SagePublications, Inc.; Thousand Oaks, California. 1996
Knudsen, Dean D. and Miller, JoAnne L. Abused and Battered: Social and LegalResponses to Family Violence. Aldine De Gruyter, Inc.; New York. 1991.