Domestic Violence

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Domestic Violence

Introduction

Domestic Violence Against Women is a global issue reaching across national boundaries as well as socio-economic, cultural, racial and class distinctions. It is a problem without frontiers. Not only is the problem widely dispersed geographically, but its incidence is also extensive, making it a typical and accepted behavior. Only recently, within the past twenty-five years, has the issue been "brought into the open as a field of concern and study" (Violence Against Women in the Family, page 38).

Domestic violence is not an isolated, individual event but rather a pattern of repeated behaviors that the abuser uses to gain power and control over the victim. Unlike stranger-to-stranger violence, in domestic violence situations the same perpetrator repeatedly assaults the same victim. These assaults are often in the form of physical injury, but may also be in the form of sexual assault. However the abuse is not only physical and sexual, but also psychological. Psychological abuse means intense and repetitive humiliation, creating isolation, and controlling the actions of the victim through intimidation or manipulation. Domestic violence tends to become more frequent and severe over time. Oftentimes the abuser is physically violent sporadically, but uses other controlling tactics on a daily basis. All tactics have profound effects on the victim.

Perpetrators of domestic violence can be found in all age, racial, ethnic, cultural, socio-economic, linguistic, educational, occupational and religious groups. Domestic violence is found in all types of intimate relationships whether the individuals are of the same or opposite sex, are married or dating, or are in a current or past intimate relationship. There are two essential elements in every domestic violence situation: the victim and abuser have been intimately involved at some point in time, and the abuser consciously chooses to use violence and other abusive tactics to gain control over the victim. In some instances, the abuser may be female while the victim is male; domestic violence also occurs in gay and lesbian relationships. However, 95% of reported assaults on spouses or ex-spouses are committed by men against women (MTCAWA e-mail interview)

"It is a terrible and recognizable fact that for many people, home is the least safe place" (Battered Dreams, 9). Domestic violence is real violence, often resulting in permanent injuries or death. Battering is a widespread societal problem with consequences reaching far beyond individual families. It is conduct that has devastating effects for individual victims, their children and their communities. In addition to these immediate effects, there is growing evidence that violence within the "family becomes the breeding ground for other social problems such as substance abuse, juvenile delinquency, and violent crimes of all types" (MTCAWA e-mail interview). Domestic violence against women is not merely a domestic issue; but, rather a complex socio-economical crisis that threatens the interconnected equilibrium of the entire social structure.

Causes & Effects

"Within the family there is a historical tradition condoning violence" (Violence Against Women: The Missing Agenda, 29).
Domestic violence against women accounts for approximately 40 to 70% of all violent crime in North America. However, the figures don't tell the entire story; less than 10% of such instances are actually reported to police (The Living Family, 204).

The causes of domestic violence against women are numerous. Many claim stress is the substantial cause of domestic conflict resulting in violence. Though stress in the workplace is a contributing factor, it is by no means the substantial one. Many people suffer from stress disorders, but most don't resort to violence as a means of release. It is apparent that the substantial causes have more to do with the conditioning of males culturally,...
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