Domestic violence is considered as one of the most serious issues the world has been fighting since ancient times. The worldwide estimate of the United Nations reports that approximately 20 to 50 percent women have been physically abused by a member of the family, most frequently by an intimate partner (Kimmel 1332). In the United States, domestic violence is also regarded as a significant problem of society that needs to be addressed.
The results of the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in 2001 reported nearly 700,000 incidents of intimate partner violence, wherein approximately 85 percent of the victims are female (Rennison). Meanwhile, there are 2. 3 to 10 million children who are exposed to domestic abuse annually, 70 percent of whom are maltreated as well (Rossman, Hughes, and Rosenberg; Fantuzzo and Mohr; qtd in Summers 8). Defining Domestic Violence One of the concerns of researchers when studying domestic violence is the variations in defining the term itself.
For instance, the word “domestic” which implies “within the household” may be too broad of a term and may leave out violence that occurs apart from the incidents that take place within the immediate household, such as the abuse involving dating couples (Summers 14). However, Hester, Pearson, and Harwin attempted to provide a clear definition that can eliminate the differences in interpretations: “any violent or abusive behavior (whether physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, verbal, financial, etc.
) which is used by one person to control and dominate another with whom they have or have had a relationship” (qtd in Summers 14). With this definition, even those whom do not live in the same house but have a relationship in one way or another can be included, such as ex-spouses, unmarried partners, and same-sex partners (Summers 14). Domestic violence has substantial effects in the lives of individuals, young children, families, and communities (Domestic Violence Policy). Men and women as Victims of Domestic Violence Domestic violence does not rule out anyone from becoming a victim.
Regardless of age, gender and social status, anyone can be victimized. Hence, although women have been reported as a primary victim of domestic violence, there are also cases of domestic violence where the victims are men (Summers 15). Many pregnant women suffer from domestic violence. An example of instances of abuse is when husbands do not provide the proper medication needed for their pregnancy. Other cases involve verbal abuse of pregnant women, and some may even involve forced sexual intercourse, resulting in premature labor, child abnormalities, or miscarriage.
The absence of concern and care to the expecting wife may also lead to unsuccessful pregnancy. Domestic violence during pregnancy also includes continuous wife beating and infidelity (Mayo Clinic) The idea that men are also victims of domestic violence appears implausible or even impossible for many, due to the seemingly dominant and powerful nature of the former. In addition, women have been the predominant victim of domestic abuse across ages and cultures (Conner). Contrary to this public belief, men also experience domestic violence.
Those who engage in a male to male relationship are also common victims of domestic violence. They experience abuse via forced sex, stalking and physically assault by their male cohabitant. Male victims usually do not file complains about domestic violence. This is because they are afraid to be criticized by people as most of them want to preserve their image of being strong, masculine and can never be defeated by anyone (Fee, Brown, Lazarus, and Theerman 1908). Violence among the elderly is also another case of domestic violence. Majority of cases of abuse of elders in the U.
S. were perpetrated by their spouses or partners (Harris qtd in National Center on Elder Abuse [NCEA] 1). In a study conducted by Wilke and Linton, they discovered that women who are older are more likely to be abused for a prolonged period of time than the younger ones (qtd in NCEA 1). They are also more inclined to stay in a violent relationship and develop physical health and psychological problems (Wilke and Linton qtd in NCEA 1). Child abuse, on the other hand, involves physical abuse for most cases. Many of the unwanted children are caused by unwanted pregnancies.
The frustrations and disappointments of the parents are later on passed to the innocent child. Children also become victims of sexual abuse by their fathers who also batter their wives (“Domestic Violence Assessment Policy”). Underlying Causes and Effects of Domestic Violence Preventing domestic violence also includes understanding its causes and what are the components of a healthy and nonviolent family. It is really hard to determine the underlying causes of domestic violence since no research has affirmed a single cause that has been the consistent reason for all cases of domestic violence.
There are many theories that attempt to explain the cause of domestic abuse which differ and sometimes overlap each other. Although there are differences, the commonalities from each theory serve as a good basis to counter the issue on domestic violence (Wolfe and Jaffe 134). Biological Theory This theory asserts that violent behaviors of individuals are based on biological and organic factors. It can easily identified using biochemistry and genetics study which traces brain development and changes that are brought about by traumatic experiences.
One example of this is when a child accumulates head injury during childhood. This can affect how the brain functions and as he grows up, may influence his or her problem-solving skills and result in impulsive behavior, which later on leads to more violent behavior (Wolfe and Jaffe 134). Individual Psychopathology Theory Individual psychopathology is also known as dysfunctional personality structure of a person. This is caused by biological factors experienced during childhood. It happens when an individual witnesses domestic violence which causes him or her to experience difficulties in trusting the people around him.
The traumatic experience may also affect the way he or she deals with other people and prevent him or her to develop healthy relationships. This causes anxiety, depression, insecurity and some criminal indicators like being antisocial (Wolfe and Jaffe 134). Couple and Family Interactions Theory Family relationship plays a great role in shaping the behavior of a person. Thus, this theory is traced from the family system. Domestic violence can also be caused by faulty interactions among family members (Wolfe and Jaffe 134). Social Learning and Development Theory
Violence is used by some people as a method of discipline. Hence, this theory suggests that behaviors are formed based on observations from other people. When children witnesses adults who are fighting and hurting each other, they may think and believe that it is acceptable to hurt others because it solves the conflict and misunderstanding. Thus, when they grow up, they may use violence to deal with conflict (Wolfe and Jaffe 135). Social Structure Theory The stereotypical notion of male dominance makes domestic violence more available. This theory views society’s way of treating men and women.
Male domination causes abuse over women and children on the aspects of physical, economical and political control (Wolfe and Jaffe 135). Effects of Domestic Violence on Victims Domestic violence really causes traumatic effects on the victims. But aside from the trauma, there are health injuries and physical injuries made by the abuser on their victims. There are instances that medical attention is needed to cure those injuries made through physical attacks. Effects of domestic violence in the form of physical attack result in bruises and minor scratches. Worse physical effects are fractured bones and diseases from sexual contacts (Bragg 26).
Emotional traumas are also at hand because of domestic violence. It causes anxiety, depression, substance abuse, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder. The victims may also commit suicide and develop mental illnesses. A child who is exposed to domestic violence is more likely to experience psychiatric disorders. Going to school will also be difficult as well as dealing with other people (American Psychiatric Association [APA]). The harmful effects of domestic violence are also reflected in the ability of the parents to raise their children. It affects the parent’s behavior negatively by experiencing stress and depression.
The parent-child relationship often ends up broken. Victims of domestic violence wanted to avoid repeating history which explains why they are trying their best to become the greatest parents. However, such effort to provide the right support, nurturance and guidance to their children is not easy since they did not experience care and affection from their parents who previous abused them. There are also situations wherein parents do not know how to give emotional and physical support to their children because of emotional exhaustion and depression (Bragg 27).
There are also studies showing that most victims of domestic violence maltreat their children in the future. Some parents use physical force as form of punishment and disciplinary measures. In return it affects the children behavior because it causes a child to rebel against the parents who hurt them (Bragg 27). Conclusion Domestic violence is one great problem among families in the society. It destroys relationship and hinders personal growth of family members. It is an act that if not prevented immediately can lead to criminal cases.
Awareness and safety will aid everyone about domestic violence. The aforementioned causes of domestic violence can be use as signs to predict the occurrence of domestic violence. When a person experiences being domestically abused, there are ways to get out of the regretful experience. Victims can seek for help from other family members and friends. At the same time, there are organizations and 24-hour hotlines that will rescue them from their abusers. Family is where the heart is and there is no better way to settle things than having honest communication constantly.
This will avoid domestic violence and at the same time develop good and harmonious family relationship. Works Cited American Psychiatric Association. “Let’s Talk Facts About Domestic Violence. ” HealthyMinds. org. 18 April 2008 <http://www. healthyminds. org/multimedia/domesticviolence. pdf Bragg, H. Lien. “Child Protection in Families Experiencing Domestic Violence. ” U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families Children’s Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect.
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