Moore 1 G’Anna Moore Rothacker English 101 13 June 2008 Domestic Violence: A Life Threatening Issue That Should Be Taken Seriously or Just an Exaggerated Problem? Every girl growing up, including me, dreamed of the day when she would be married. My fantasies of marriage would include financial stability, a big house with a garden, and at least two children that I would raise along with my image of a perfect husband.
Realistically, of course, nothing is perfect, especially marriage. There will be times when arguing may occur or both partners may have financial problems. Even arguments about the children within the home may become apparent; however, these problems can be worked out just like in any other marriage. But what happens when the one you care about, the very one that you vowed to love forever and spend the rest of your life with, turns violent and dangerous? Domestic violence is not just a private matter between a husband and wife anymore, but a serious crime that needs to be corrected.
Domestic violence is a crime that is often unreported to the police. Maria Hong states that “[d]ue to the embarrassment associated with being a victim, pressures from family and society, and fear of retaliation [from their abusers], many victims do not report acts of domestic violence” (47). What makes it worse is that many officials do not consider domestic violence as a crime. There are no solid based statistics on domestic violence because of this, but plenty of “figures based on police and hospital reports, surveys, and studies indicat[ing] the persuasiveness of the problem” (47).
According to a 1998 study by the U. S. Department of Justice that was conducted Moore 2 for the Family Violence Prevention Fund, there are approximately 960,000 acts of violence against their former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend per year (1), while another survey by The Common Wealth Fund conducted that same year stated that three million women are physically abused by their husband or boyfriend each year (U. S. Department of Justice 1).
The FBI also says that “a woman is battered by her husband or boyfriend every fifteen seconds in the United States” and “every year more three million children witness domestic violence” (Hong 47). Unfortunately, thousands of women are beaten to death by their abusers. So apparently, domestic violence is nothing to be taken lightly. As Senator Bill Bradley quotes in a 1994 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer, “[t]he truth is that violence comes closer to many families than we would like to admit. Domestic violence is America’s dark little secret” (qtd. n Hong 45). What is domestic violence? It is where spouses, intimate partners, or dates use physical violence, threats, emotional abuse, harassment, or stalking to keep their partners under their control. Usually with domestic violence, the man is the abuser and the woman is the victim. The abuse can consist of kicking, punching, slapping, name calling, burning, and even rape. Since this is the case, it is a wonder why so many women stay with their husbands or boyfriends, the very ones that hurt them.
In many cases, the men do not start out as being an endangerment to their wives and children. Many of them are perceived as charming and kind when many of the victims first meet their spouses. They may get married and for a while, things may seem fine. Then, the relationship suddenly turns violent and the women are left wondering where it came from. Before further knowledge on the subject, my heart just would not understand why a man, who claims that they love their woman and would never put a finger on her, would hurt her anyway.
Some of the signs for upcoming domestic violence are unemployment, different backgrounds such as religion, increased alcohol or drug use, wanting sexual intercourse for the Moore 3 wrong reasons, complaints of you not doing anything his way, keeping you from family and friends, and stalking (Hong 61; Milano 38). Recognizing any one of these factors may be the difference between life and death.
To understand how serious this epidemic is, it is best to learn from those who have had their own experiences with domestic violence. In her book Defending Our Lives, Susan Murphy-Milano talks about her mother’s constant battle with her father, a detective, and how it affected everyone in the family. When Milano’s mother, Roberta Sharpe, was pregnant with her at seventeen, her father, Philip Murphy, married her in Illinois during 1959. For Milano, things seemed okay for a while. People thought of Philip as a good detective and a good man, but around age nine she started to view changes.
One incident occurred when the author continued to wet her bed. Her mother tried to hurry and remove the dirty sheets before her father came, but he found out and was furious. Unfortunately, he had been drinking that night and was mad that Roberta would always keep changing the sheets. With this, he locked the door and the sound of something crashing could be heard in the arguing couple’s bedroom. Susan tried to get out to see what was happening, but her father locked the door from the outside of her room. The next morning her mother was in the hospital (7-8).
This continued on and on and though her mother was finally about to divorce the abusive father, it ended in tragedy. Both Roberta and Philip were found dead in their own home. Susan’s father had shot her mother and himself. Under a chair, she found a gun and her father’s wallet containing a note. Dated January 17, 1989, it read, “[t]o whom this may concern. This is business only. I did what I had to do. No one leaves me and gets away with it, so I’m taking care of business” (32). Reading this, one could be disgusted with Philip’s tone in the letter.
It was as if the life of his wife meant nothing to him. It was like he did not see her as a living being, but just Moore 4 “business” (32). In an effort to empower women and give them hope for a better life, Milano formed Project: Protect to help women who have been battered by their loved ones. In another book, When Men Batter Women, two men, Neil S. Jacobson, Ph. D. , and John Gottman, Ph. D. , are researching the causes and effects of domestic violence and how to stop it. One couple that participated in their study was Martha and Don.
Don was on the verge of being laid off like just like many others at his job and was tired of doing hard work for nothing. Later when he was driving his car to see if it had been worked on properly from the garage, he became angry at his wife, Martha, because she was the one that picked up the car. When Martha talked back, Don punched her in the face, took her to the hospital, and did not say a word at dinner later that night. The next day, he returned to his normal self (17-18). Learning from the experiences of these relationships could possibly help many women who are being abused right now.
Apparently, domestic abuse does not only affect the spouses, but their children, as well. In her book What to Do When Love Turns Violent, Marian Betancourt claims that “[e]ven if your children do not see the attack, they will see the results. They see bruises, torn clothing, broken glass, splintered furniture, and holes punched in walls” (171). Thinking that little children do not know what is going on is the worst mistake the victim can make. Just because they are young does not mean that they are stupid. Children like things to have a certain order. It provides comfort for them.
However, if that order has been disturbed, such as broken items, chairs that have been thrown out of place, or even their mother’s face damaged and bleeding all over, then they will sense that something is wrong. “It is also dangerous to think that the abuser won’t put their hands on children, too. The abuser could use the children to turn on their mother or even threaten to take them away for trying to escape from the batterer” (172). Children can be easily confused when they see their father beating on their mother, especially if the abuser immediately reverts back to being kind and loving.
In many cases, they will feel it is necessary to keep their Moore 5 father happy so that he will not hurt them or their mother. Not only that, they may blame themselves for their mother being battered because they are almost always the main topic in an argument. “They see their mother accused of not being a good mother, of not keeping the kids quiet, [and] of spending too much time with the children when the abuser wants attention” (173).
Imagine the psychological damage that can be done to a young child if he or she witnesses domestic violence within the home. Whenever possible, it is important that the children be assured that it is not their fault, but the abuser’s. The most frequently asked question is: Why do the women stay in these abusive relationships? The truth is that the women do not want to stay. They either stay because of the children, fearing for their safety, or the women are so afraid of their abusers that they will not leave, unaware of what their batterers might do.
Sadly, this is the reason why the women that do want to leave cannot do so right away. If the battered woman makes the decision to leave without further thought, it is likely that the man will find her and beat her worse than usual for attempting to leave. If a woman has kids with the abuser, it is especially important that she carefully plan their escape from the violence. There must be a long interval between the decision to leave and actually leaving so that all factors, risks, and even set backs are considered during planning.
Women have to make sure that wherever they go, the attacker will not find their hiding spot, make sure their finances will be secure, and must realize that they deserve better than to be beaten continuously. Whenever a woman decides to leave her abusive husband, she must never look back. On the other hand, the batterers will often panic when they think the women are about to leave them. They feel as if they are losing control and need to regain it by any means necessary, such as escalating the abuse. Even if a woman gets a divorce and puts out a restraining order against the husband, he may still find ways to torment her.
Some things the batterer may do to feel he still has control over the situation are stalking, sending threatening Moore 6 letters and/or phone calls, or even kidnapping the children, if the battered woman has any. He may even decide that the only way to get his leash back on the woman is by killing her and then himself. Before this ever happens, the woman must get away from her abuser as far away as possible. If not, then the relationship could only end in catastrophe.
Obviously, domestic violence is very real and is not just something you only see in the movies. There are too many women losing their lives, physically and mentally, over these abusive relationships. No one deserves to be treated like they are nothing. No one deserves to be beaten numerously for no reason at all. If more women learned about how to tell when they are about to get into an abusive relationship and how to avoid them, then there would be less heartache, less violence, and a significant decrease in the death of women caused by their abusive spouses.
If any woman who has had experiences dealing with domestic violence is reading this, then I only hope that she has gained something by reading this paper. Everyone must do what they can to help stop this form of terrorism. Then maybe those who have been abused and have survived will learn how to live without fear. Moore 7 Works Cited Betancourt, Marian. What to Do When Love Turns Violent: A Practical Resource for Women in Abusive Relationships. New York: HarperPerennial, 1997. Family Violence Prevention Fund.
Domestic Violence is a Serious, Widespread Social Problem in America: The Facts. 2008. 3 Jun. 2008<http://www. endabuse. org/resources/facts/>. Hong, Maria. Family Abuse: A National Epidemic. Springfield: Enslow, 1997. Jacobson, Ph. D. , Neil, and John Gottman, Ph. D. When Men Batter Women: New Insights into Ending Abusive Relationships. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998. Murphy-Milano, Susan. Defending Our Lives: Getting Away From Domestic Violence and Staying Safe. New York: Doubleday, 1996.