Violence against women is a serious human rights abuse and public health issue (Garcia-Moreno 1260-1269). Domestic violence is a crime that is increasing every year. At this point, society should be concerned with the safety and well-being of anyone that is a victim. With every intention to clearly define what it is means, and to give a little history about it, while explaining the dynamics of domestic violence. In fact, give the many ways there are to report any incidents and the different ways to get help. Though this is a tough subject for some people it is a journey well worth embarking on. The purpose of this paper is not only to inform people of what domestic violence is but to help prevent or avoid this cycle of abuse from continuing to plague our society.
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To understand this issue, a person would first need to understand what domestic violence is. Domestic violence is simply a narrower term for domestic abuse. Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control (Reuters). The main purpose of such control is to be able to completely suppress the partners will and manipulate them. Contrary to what people believe domestic violence is not just limited to physical abuse it includes sexual abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, as well as financial abuse. Definitions of domestic violence recognize that victims can include anyone regardless of their background, education level, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender (Reuters).
Mill’s writes, “ How vast is the number of men in any great country, who are a little higher than brutes…This never prevents them from being able, through the laws of marriage, to obtain a victim…The vilest malefactor has some wretched woman tied to him against whom he can commit any atrocity except killing her-and even that he can do without too much danger of legal penalty (Mill 4). Domestic violence goes as far back as the 1700s. The background of domestic violence is an issue that has not always been taken seriously. Throughout history, it was the idea that the husband had the “right” to do whatever was necessary to “control” his wife as if she were his property. In 1800 BC, the code of Hammurabi decreed that a wife was subservient to her husband and that he could inflict punishment on any member of his household for any transgression (Therapist) In the United States, the courts continued to uphold a man’s right to punish his wife with violence until 1871. In a case known as Fulgam vs. the State of Alabama, the court ruled that, “The privilege, ancient though it may be, to beat her with a stick, to pull her hair, choke her, spit in her face or kick her about the floor or inflict upon other like indignities, is not now acknowledged by the law(Bellack, Hersen, Morrison, Hasselt 1988). In learning that throughout, history domestic violence was tolerated and accepted in many societies worldwide. It has not progressed much since then, with the exception that it is now a crime and that is partially in the U.S. for a person man or woman to beat a spouse or anyone.
In fact, physical and sexual violence against women is a problem that has reached epidemic proportions. An estimated 8 to 12 million women in the United States are at risk of being abused by their current or former intimate partners. This violence causes serious physical, psychological, and social sequelae for these women and their families (Arch Fam Med. 1992 Sep;1(1):39-47.). That would mean on average, 24 people per minute becomes a victim. Society would have one to think that domestic violence of only physical and emotional abuse, when in fact, it extends out to a few other branches. Physical abuse being the first and most common abuse is associated with domestic violence is exactly that physically hitting, beating, punching, and choking and after that is done prohibits access to medical attention. The second being emotional/psychological abuse, which of course can mean anything from verbal to non-verbal and includes name calling, threats against friends, family, not limited to accusations, extreme jealousy, and restricting access to phones or computers. Thirdly, sexual abuse is one in which is interpreted by the perpetrator that feels entitled to such because of relationship status or relationship history between the two. Well, in any language, “no” clearly means no. More than half (51.1%) of female victims reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance. Lastly, they type of abuse that is common is financial abuse which would include withholding funds, stealing, creating financial dependence, forcing one to work, or forbidding a person from working. On April 18, 2012, President Obama issued a memorandum entitled “Establishing Policies for Addressing Domestic Violence in the Federal Workforce,” which required the Office of Personnel Management to issue guidance on the development of agency-specific policies to address domestic violence in the workplace. All federal agencies are required to develop an agency-specific policy based on the guidance. The department welcomed the chance to build upon the existing policy first created by Attorney General Janet Reno in 1999, which established support and resources for department employees who experience domestic violence. This order unequivocally stated that domestic violence perpetrated in the workplace was unacceptable and would not be tolerated (United States Department of Justice Office,2014). According to statistics found by the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, women make up 85 percent of the domestically abused victims, while men make up 15 percent. Some of these cases even end in death for the abused and sometimes the abuser.
Witnessing violence, in general, has been associated with emotional, behavior, and learning problems in children, with children’s susceptibility affected by developmental level, chronicity of exposure, physical closeness to the incident, and emotional closeness to the victim (Margolin). Children who are affected by domestic violence tend to have behavior issues, the toll it takes on an impressionable mind can be a lot to handle. The impression of the abuser and the abused may frighten them at first, but some kids tend to want to help the abused. Which in turn now is putting themselves in harm’s way. As mentioned before the abuser could then turn his anger towards a child as well. It should not be a battle an innocent kid should have to fight or a choice they should have to make, but sadly it is. The National Domestic Violence hotline states that 30 to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse the children in the household. The perpetrator will try to if not succeeds at intimidating or threatening the family to gain control and keep it. Consequently, it can be detrimental to everyone involved.
Ordinarily, people would assume the signs of physical abuse can be easily identified by unexplainable injuries; just to name a few kicking, biting, punching, contusions, abrasions, and minor lacerations, as well as fractures or sprains being repeated or chronic injuries. Nevertheless, emotional abuse can sometimes be a bit harder to identify they would both show fear towards there abuser and some even feel guilty as if it is their fault. The abuser believes that acceptable, justified, and it is unlikely to be reported. It may create generational cycles of abuse in children and other family members, who may feel that such violence is acceptable or condoned. Very few people recognize themselves as abusers or victims because they may consider their experiences as family disputes that just got out of control. Although signs and symptoms of abuse may not be as clear in some cases does not mean that it does not exist. As soon as the problem is identified a person should get help immediately. Lastly, there are numerous ways of getting help for domestic violence from hotlines to local centers. Every state is different, but they all have accommodating ways to help those in need. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is the second number outside of calling your emergency line 911. Call the police and start to plan an escape. There are housing options available as well, and if anyone would like help in locating such program call 1-800-799-7233, the sooner the better.
In conclusion, everyone in this country must play a role in helping end this horrible epidemic and stop this cycle of abuse. Domestic abuse should not be considered a private family issue but a public problem. Almost everyone at some time or another will suffer from domestic abuse. People across the world are suffering and it is about time we find a solution. The victim could be male or female, a child or elderly, your sister or neighbor. The abuser may be your doctor, your lawyer, or your best friend. No matter what the status of the economic class of those involved the time to act is now. Love is supposed to be a beautiful thing but do not be blinded with false hope that love is supposed to hurt and tolerate any type of abuse. It should never be accepted but sadly in society it is and the abused remains silent about it. Most domestic violence incidents are never even reported, but it is time that people unite as a nation and Break the Silence against domestic violence and speak up because every voice matters and every story counts. It is time for change and it starts with everyone to be held accountable if not for our own actions but for those who afraid to speak up and those that cannot speak up.
- Alan S. Bellack, Michel Hersen, R.L. Morrison, Vincent B. Van Hasselt. Handbook of Family Violence. 1988th edition.
- “Arch Fam Med. 1992 Sep;1(1):39-47.” (n.d.).
- Garcia-Moreno, Claudia, et al. Prevalence of intimate partner violence:findings from the WHO multi-country study on women’s heath and domestic violence. The Lancet 367.943(2006):1260-1269, n.d.
- Margolin, Gayla. “Effects of domestic violence on children.” (1998).
- Mill, John Stuart. The Subjection of Women. 1869, n.d.
- Reuters, Thomas. “What is the Definition of Domestic Violence?” Findlaw, n.d. (2018).
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- Therapist, Joomla Counseling. “Women Safe.” (2011).
- Women, The Office on Violence Against. “United States Department of Justice.” (2014).