Domestic Violence against Women as a Grave Threat to Society Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence as it is also referred, is a serious problem in today’s society. This paper will focus on physical violence and abuse against women, though other types of abuse exist. Despite new and emerging laws, advocates speaking out, and a slight decrease in overall reported domestic violence incidents, women are still victims. There are adverse effects to prolonged and/or severe abuse, not the least of which include mental and social disorders, physical illness, feelings of guilt and shame, suicide ideation and even homicide. Domestic abuse is a grave threat to society because it can be linked directly to all of these lifelong illnesses and even some crimes. Domestic violence against women is defined by the United Nations’ Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women as “physical, social, and/or psychological violence within the family, the community, and/or any violence that is condoned by the state” (Morgaine 2007). Domestic violence is not a new issue. It is present in every culture around the world and can be traced back through human existence. What is new is how this issue is being dealt with in society and by the government. The World Health Organization found in studies conducted in the late 1990s that one of every three women worldwide have been a victim of violence by a partner in an intimate relationship at some point in their lifetime (Nayak et al. 2003). This number is astounding. With violence and abuse toward women almost commonplace in intimate relationships, the question begs to be asked: What is being done to stop it? Since the 1970s, many laws have been amended or created to include more variables of abuse. Victims do not have to seek divorce or separation before they are granted help. Laws requiring an arrest if a claim of domestic abuse is made and police are called out to the scene have been passed and put into effect. Other laws and programs have been put into place in favor of the victim. They were created to help victims seek out help. In 1994, and in a reauthorization in 2000, the United States passed the Violence against Women Act. This act prompted a response by the legislature, resulting in “amended definitions, and expanded civil and criminal court remedies (Scott and Kunselman 2007). Social changes, such as the Civil Rights movement and women’s rights activists finally speaking out against domestic violence made the issue a concern of public health as well as an issue of basic human rights. The federal and state governments stepped in to try to curb domestic violence and provided various resources for victims in need. Shelters, hotlines and crisis centers emerged as safe havens for battered women (Rajan and McCloskey 2007). Finally, these women had some place to turn to for help. Despite these laws, however, violence against women is still a very big problem in the United States. Decree and relief from the violence are completely different things, unfortunately. Even though laws were put into place, law enforcement could only do so much. Often times, because of the laws, police were forced to arrest victims as well as the perpetrators because they had not witnessed the event. In other situations, the male was simply told to leave and regain composure before returning to the home, with no consequences enforced (Rajan and McCloskey 2007). These situations did not protect the victims, in fact, it left them quite vulnerable. In 1976, Pennsylvania passed the Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse Act. This act provided protective orders to all victims of intimate partner violence within the state of Pennsylvania. This began several years of reforms and new legal protections under the law (Rajan and McCloskey 2007). The system is not a safe fail, though. There has been a decrease in domestic violence in the last twenty years, but many abusers go unpunished. Without consequences, abusers and...
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