According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, in the early 1800s, some legal systems accepted wife beating as a husband’s right. After a series of political agitations and the first wave feminist movement, changes were made to the legislation regarding domestic abuse in several countries. Domestic abuse is not limited to husband and wife relationships but also parent and child, and even elderly relationships.
WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Domestic violence involves the use of brutality or manipulation by a person to gain or maintain a certain level of control and power over someone to whom they are closely related. Domestic violence may include verbal abuse, psychological manipulation, intimidation, physical abuse, threats, sexual abuse, and many other vices.
Domestic violence may involve partners, spouses, ex-partners, parents, caretakers or guardians, family members, or people who are closely related to another person. Behaviors associated with domestic abuse include behaviors with intentions to terrorize, coerce, frighten, manipulate, intimidate, or hurt someone.These behavior makes the victim unsafe.
WHAT CAUSES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
As earlier discussed, domestic violence is about control and power. It can happen to anyone irrespective of race, religion, tribe, sexual orientation, or gender. To be hurt by an intimate partner can be a very traumatizing experience and it can also be very unsettling and confusing.
People often wonder why domestic abuse survivors do not “leave”, but these violent relationships are often complex and dynamic making it quite difficult to walk away from. Statistics show that over 10 million adults in the United States are involved in domestic abuse by their intimate partners every year. Other domestic violence statistics include;
- Over 500,000 women were killed worldwide by a close related partner or family member in 2017.
- By the minute, around 20 people are physically abused by a close related partner in the United States.
- According to the CDC, over 35.6% of women and 28.5% of men in the United States have experienced physical violence, rape, or intimidation by an intimate partner.
Domestic violence affects both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. Domestic abuse also has quite an effect on those outside the abused, the child may be exposed to violence, and relationships with co-workers, friends, and family members may deteriorate.
Domestic violence has no specific cause and it varies along with an individual. It is important to understand that domestic violence is not impulsive or uncontrollable, it is a choice and a wrong one. A survivor of domestic abuse is in no way at fault and is not to be considered the cause of the aggressors’ actions.
Regardless of a survivor’s actions, be it to please, pacify or understand their abusive partner, the need to control and gain power over the survivor would reveal itself eventually. Intimate partner abuse can be influenced by certain conditions and situations and in the unlikely case that both you and your partner exhibit domestic abusive tendencies the situation may quickly get out of hand.
Research shows that much of domestic abuse is learned. Children exposed to domestic violence grow up believing psychological manipulation and physical violence are permissible ways to resolve conflict.
The necessity of control that can lead to domestic violence can also be connected to a few individual attributes such as:
- Lack of proper education
- Drug abuse
- Cultural behavior
- Behavioral disorders
- Lack of self-esteem
- Anger management issues
However, these traits are not direct indicators pointing toward domestic violence. They do not necessarily mean persons possessing these traits would most definitely become abusers.
SIGNS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Physical conditions and behavioral changes can act as warning signs of domestic violence. Although this may not be the case, it is worth investigating. Many individuals being abused or have been abused in their relationships often try to mask its effects due to a variety of reasons. The responsibility of their care falls on their friends and families to identify these signs and quickly intervene.
As much as one would like to hide the effects of physical domestic violence, the constant bruises and injuries would suggest otherwise. When an individual becomes quiet, distant, and emotionally detached it could be a sign of emotional abuse either way it is worth investigating and they would require assistance.
Some signs of domestic violence you may notice in a friend or family member include:
- They may exhibit low or reduced confidence and may be less active or lively than before.
- They may become too quiet
- They are scared of their partners
- They may seem too “accident prone” or become elusive when the subject of their injuries is brought up.
- They have injuries like cigarette burns, slap marks, broken bones, cuts, sprains, etc.
- Their children appear frightened of the person or become more anxious.
- Their partner humiliates them, coerces them, and makes all the decisions for them.
- They may have injuries indicating signs of a struggle such as sprained wrists, bruises on the arms, etc.
- Some emotional signs include anxiety, changes in sleeping habits, agitation, lack of interest in activities, etc.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HELP
As gruesome as this type of violence may present itself, there are solutions and remedies. If you observe the signs of domestic violence listed above and confirm your theory, there are many ways to help a friend or family member in an abusive relationship.
Being available to listen to and support someone going through domestic violence can go a very long way. If someone approaches you about issues concerning domestic violence, you should take it very seriously. It may be an adult or even a child. When the opportunity to help presents itself, ensure you give a listening ear to them.
To help an adult facing domestic violence, do more listening than “trying to give advice”. What most people do when they are approached with concerns involving other people is rush to give their advice rather than putting themselves in the person’s shoes. They do not connect emotionally with them to first relieve a certain level of the burden by allowing the person to pour out their heart. Take your friend or family member to a safe place and allow them to express themselves, afterwards, offer support.
Making them feel supported helps them overcome the emotional damage being caused. Ask them how best you can be of support. Provide resources and respect their choices. Discuss safety plans with them and offer support. Remember, it is never the victim’s fault.
HOW TO DEAL WITH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
The first step to dealing with domestic violence is understanding what it constitutes. Having a good understanding of what domestic violence is about is the first step to tackling it. Some domestic violence types are:
- Psychological Abuse: This type of domestic violence involves the use of intimidation and fear to manipulate and control another person. For example, threatening self-harm or isolation from family and friends and gaslighting to convince the victim that he or she is the cause of the abuse and is deserving of it.
- Physical Abuse: This type of domestic violence involves threatening to harm or harm the victim. It may be subtle such as pulling hair, forcing the victim to drink something, or denying them access to their medicine. In most cases it may be more violent, ranging from slaps to jabs.
- Sexual Abuse: This form of domestic abuse involves forcefully attempting to coerce sexual behavior from the victim. It may involve unwanted touching or sexually demeaning or humiliating the victim.
The next step is understanding why abusers abuse. This form of abuse is all about power, control, and manipulation. These violent tendencies would then reveal themselves in situations where they feel a lack of power or a power tilt. While abuse may happen due to various reasons, the abuser and the abuse are never justified. Abusers may have an excuse ready as to why they acted in such a manner. Though, there is never a valid reason to abuse another person.
Another step is becoming familiar with the law and its legislation in your area. As earlier discussed in the article, amendments have been made regarding domestic abuse in several countries.
What is the punishment for domestic violence in Australia?
According to Australian law, depending on the type and severity of the domestic violence offense, a court can sentence the abuser from a maximum of 2 years to life imprisonment.
The next step is to make use of the resources available. Depending on the region several resources provide assistance to help a victim find temporary housing, relocate, escape a violent partner or even press charges. Individuals finding themselves in an abusive relationship should call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-787-3224 or 1-800-799-7233. It is a 24 hour hotline that helps individuals connect with resources in their area.
Domestic violence is unacceptable behavior and should be treated as such. Educating children and even adults on the negative effects and consequences of domestic violence can help create and promote safer relationships.