Domestic violence isn’t what we thought we would be carrying as a societal problem into the new Millennium. In fact, its an ancient problem that mere mention of it today as an ongoing crisis should really make our society embarrassed and oppressive. Only with the past decade is our society beginning to realize that we’ve overlooked the stringency of domestic violence.
All along we’ve been viewing domestic violence as merely a moral and ethical dilemma, not an obligation. We’ve convinced ourselves that it was a private family matter” and not a criminal act. We have told ourselves that some women deserve it, or that they provoked it to happen. We excuse ourselves from the problem, into an uncomfortable but yet acceptable, part of our culture and convinced ourselves it was acceptable to look the other way.
So while we were looking the other way, here’s what has developed. “Battering is the single major cause of injury to women…more than injuries cause by muggings, rape, and car accidents combined. It is the second leading cause of death to women age twenty to forty-five” (“Some” 1). Strangers perpetrate Twenty percent of violent crimes. More than half are committed by the person’s partner (“Some” 1). Research has shown that 36 to 50 percent of American women will be abused in their lifetime. Women and girls sometimes abuse men and boys, but nine out of ten victims are girls or women (Shannon 1). Domestic violence is not only limited to women though, it has been leaking into high school and college relationships. “It is now estimated that at least one out of three high school and college-aged youth experience abuse at some points in their relationships. It can range from a single episode to chronic abuse” (“Some” 1). Even more teens will face verbal or emotional abuse during a relationship, and 10 to 25 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 24 will be the victims of rape or attempted rape (“Teen” 1). According to a 1999 survey conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Education, 18 percent of females in grades 9 through 12 reported being hurt physically or sexually by a date (“Seeking” 2). We use to see this problem as only belonging to families on the lowest of the socioeconomic ladder. Domestic abuse occurs across all economic, religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Women who are subjected to abuse need to understand that they are not the ones at fault. Guys who do this have serious issues. Things like this don’t just come along. They are either learned or brought on by their own insecurities.
When guys is using verbal put-downs, often the cause of it is due to insecurity brought on by things that have happened in their own lives. Women are often afraid to challenge them because they think it is normal and that it will eventually stop. “The highs are very, very high. Some victims are willing to staying the relationship to experience those emotional highs” (Roberts 2). Guys continue to use verbal put downs because there have been no consequence in the relationship because after a while women tend to think that it is normal and that it happens in every relationship at one point or another.
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One cause of domestic violence is social factor. Male dominance plays a major part in it. Also the fact that women are looked at with a negative attitude a lot of the time. Also it partially results in the fact that for a long time women were viewed as property of her husband. So he was able to do what ever he saw fit to do to keep his wife in line even if that meant beating her. Many people still view family violence as a private matter (“Causes” 1).
Family history is the single most common characteristic in domestic violence (“Causes” 3). “Family violence and health have always been a major health problem. Children that have been subjected to this as a child will more then likely be come an assaulter” (Causes” 3). Although these are associated with domestic violence, many abusers were not subjected to this who became abusers and many people who saw violence take place in their home and never became an abuser (“Causes” 5).
Another origin of abuse is personal control. Abuse and violence work to maintain power and control over others (“Causes” 2). Violence is a learned behavior that is often reinforced by beliefs and socialization. “The use of violence is reinforced every time it is used as an effective means of control” (“Causes” 2). People have said that the abuser’s goal is often to control and dominate the victim.
Many people feel that when substances are brought into a relationship, that the violence is more prevalent (“Causes” 4). Although in many cases there are probably not many abusers who aren’t abusing substances. Research in this field is not yet conclusive, but health professionals should recognize substance abuse as a risk factor for abuse, not an explanation (“Causes” 4). Evidence indicates that,” while substance abuse and violent behavior frequently coexist, the violent behavior will not end unless interventions address the violence as well as the addiction”(“Causes” 4). Although substance abuse is often a major factor in domestic violence it cannot yet be considered a cause of it. If a person is already a batterer, the violent behavior may increase with the abuse of substances, however, there are many alcohol and drug abusers who never batter their wives (“Causes”4).
There is no one cause for domestic violence. While there is no “typical” batterer. There are though, guys that are a combination of abusers. Such as emotional and physical or emotional and mental. There are also ones that are just physical, mental, or emotional. But they all will have one thing in common and that is there influences.
Abusers come in all shapes and sizes, but there are only three categories to classify the types of abuses, physical, mental and/or emotional. “Physically abusive relationships begin with emotional or mental abuse, Pack said, and as time passes the abuse escalates into violence” (Roberts 2). According to the American Psychological Association, even though many don’t think of emotional and mental abuse as true abuses they are. Psychological or emotional abuse is an associated with jealousy and possessiveness (“Teen” 1). Controlling behavior can often be seen as keeping track of whom you’re with and where you are. Telling you what to wear. Picking your friends. Keeping you from getting a job. Taking your money. Threatening to commit suicide, to spread gossip about you, or out you if you’re part of a same sex couple (Shannon 1). The people out there are right though when they say that physical violence is the worst out of all of them. Physical abuse can be categorized as punching the wall. Yelling. Insults. Name-calling. Isolating you from family and friends. Slamming the door. Insisting on any kind of unwanted sexual activity. Throwing things. Pinching, pushing, spanking…enough said? (Shannon 2). But women have to look for warning signs too. That will help them realize they are in an abusive relationship. And hopefully inspire them to get help and get out of them.
There are often warning signs in the early stages of a relationship that can indicate a potentially abusive situation, Pack said. Often, though, certain warning signs can be exactly what a man or woman is looking for (Roberts 2). It begins with love and affection, followed by getting angry, finding faults, showing jealousy, after which comes the violence/abusive stage, followed by perhaps by a reconciliation, which my lead to a new love and affection phase, and then cycle starts all over (“Teen” 1). Most women tend to think that its all ok if in the end he apologizes for what he has done. The thing that women need to look out for is what seems to be the “perfect guy”. ” People need to look out for people who are to romantic, who are always showing up, sending little notes, saying ‘ I can’t live without you,’ pushing for an early commitment,” Pack said. If women and men can attempt to find these it would help them out greatly in getting out of a potentially abusive relationship.
One of the highest misconceptions and frustration we hold about victims is why do women stay? Why don’t they just walk out? There are many critical reasons for this. Battered women live in pure fear. They spend their days consumed in a life where they are not allowed to make decisions for themselves, earn their own money or turn the doorknob to leave the house when they desire. They live a life without rights or choices. Most battered women, as worn down as their spirits and mental capacities become, know to leave their environment invites even greater risk. ‘People who stay in or get into abusive relationships often have a hard time getting out because the abusers makes it very difficult for them to leave,” Pack said. “The abuser is always telling them that they’re not good enough to find anyone else” (Roberts 2). Yet some victims play a role in their own abuse (“Teen” 1). They fail to escape, often using very strong denials such as “Oh, he didn’t mean to hurt me” or “He promised he would stop” (“Teen” 1). Some of the victims of abuse say that they stay because they are afraid or that they don’t like to be alone. They also may stay in the relationship because the abuser buys them things (“Teen” 1-2). Pack said that abusers and their victims often both suffer from insecurities and a lack of self-esteem, which can lead the abusive partner to become very jealous and controlling. Abusers typically try to isolate their partners from friends and family and restrict their activities, but meanwhile,” they can do whatever they want,” Pack said (Roberts 2).
While women may think that there is no way out of these relationships, and they must stay in them, that is not true. If they would take the time to go over the solutions they would realize that getting out of the relationship is safer than staying in them.
One option is to teach our children at a young age that abuse does not make you a strong person. Jay S. Schachne founded the Kate Brown Fund in February of 2001 to attempt to help young people recognize and prevent dating/relationship violence (“Seeking” 1). “To date, the fund has raised almost seventy thousand dollars, enough to hire two full time educators who will work in public and private schools raising awareness about the issue (“Seeking” 2). This program hopes to administer a ten-week prevention program at schools during health classes (“Seeking” 2).
Another option is to have the abuser go to counseling sessions. In these sessions the abusers would learn how to control their anger and emotions.
Our unswerving standards for all interventions for partner abusers are as follows:
 engage abusers in the first session to prevent all forms of retribution against victims, including subtle emotional abuse and blame
 instill zero tolerance for even the most subtle forms of abuse and blame
 motivate abusers to change by teaching the rewards of change based on compassion: unparalleled self-enhancement and self-empowerment
 illustrate the power of understanding and internally regulating one’s own abusive impulse, as opposed to the utter powerlessness of blaming it on the victim
 transformation of the identity of abusers from victims, avengers, or batterers to compassionate moral agents
 supplement criminal justice sanctions and constraints by building internal inhibitions against all abusive behavior (human change processes require a combination of internal reward for pro-social behavior and external punishment for abuse)
 avoid replicating abusive dynamics through intolerance of disagreement and use of power and control tactics to “win” disputes or silence others, thereby reinforcing that the one with the most power and anger wins
 model responsibility and accountability by proving program effectiveness.
Absolute safety and healing of victims is the primary goal. All abusers sign an oath to maintain zero tolerance for all forms of abuse, including accidentally hurting the feelings of all loved ones through failure to understand their perspectives. Failure of compassion is abuse. The reward of compassion is an enhanced sense of self.
To ensure the safety of victims, we strongly advocate mandatory, on going, random-assignment comparison evaluation of intervention programs serving court-ordered clients in every community of the country.
In the interest of victim safety, we seek comparison studies with treatment programs everywhere in the country (Wygoda).
The engine of sexism and abuse is the compulsion to blame vulnerable emotions on others. The inability to sustain compassion for self and others causes not only failure and abuse of partners, but sexist and racist attitudes as well.
Yet another option is to leave the relationship. Many women view this as the impossible way out but it is the best option to ensure their safety. Women shouldn’t just stay in the relationship because they are afraid. There are always organizations that they can go to or they can always talk to a friend or a family member and set up a plan to help them get out.
But with the good comes the bad. Just because theses are an option doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be effective in the long run. Schools can have classes where they teach children and teenagers about the dangers of abusing a partner, but there is always the chance that the program could fail and we would have made no progress.
Then just because the abusers go to counseling sessions doesn’t mean that they will be able to stop the abuse totally. The program may work for little while, but if they have no healthy way of venting their anger then they might end up having the situation go back to the way the were or possible get even worse.
It’s almost unconscionable how passive and ignorant we’ve been about crimes of domestic abuse. But on the other hand we are also aggressively taking steps to right this wrong. The implications of domestic violence are forcing the medical community to address a whole new set of issues, from how to increase accurate diagnoses of abuse, how to counsel victims, and how to report injuries for criminal records. Also having abusers go to counseling sessions and having children learn early on in life the effects of abuse on their partner and themselves.
When we think of domestic abuse let the image of CNN panning in on crime scene photos of Nicole Simpson come to mind. Let us think that these women aren’t just mere strangers. These women could be your mother, daughter, or sister. Domestic violence is not just a physical act. It is an act that falls into several categories, intimidation, threats, and economic depravation, sexual and emotional abuse. A bruise may last a few days, but the emotional scars are forever etched into the minds of the innocent women and children. Let us think of them when we think to keep a family’s “dirty little secret”.