Domestic abuse against women In her news article, the spokesperson for amnesty international describes domestic violence as a worldwide phenomenon that violates the human rights of female victims (Mite, 2005). In addition, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) described violence against women as “a global epidemic that kills, tortures, and maims – physically, psychologically, sexually and economically. It is one of the most pervasive of human rights violations, denying women and girls equality, security, dignity, self-worth, and their right to enjoy fundamental freedoms” (UNICEF, 2000).
I agree with the above assertions because violence against women is so rampant and it happens in all spheres of life, be it in homes, work places, on the streets, learning institutions, and during moments of war and peace alike. Because of the pervasiveness of domestic violence against women and its devastating physical and psychological effects, my paper will be focusing on domestic violence against women in Canada.
I believe that domestic abuse against women should be eradicated in this twenty-first century because it breeds psychic disempowerment, mental distress, and affects women’s health, wellness and self esteem. The question that this paper will address is the following: what resources should be made available to support female victims of domestic violence who are currently living with an abusive partner, or have recently left an abusive relationship? The paper will begin with a definition of domestic violence, followed by a discussion of resources and the nursing role.
According to Etter and Birzer (2007), domestic violence occurs when a partner or former partner inflicts physical harm on someone with whom they have or previously had an intimate relationship. This physical harm can result in major or minor injury, and can be inflicted with or without a weapon. Researchers have identified supportive counseling as beneficial to female victims of domestic violence (Madoc-Jones & Roscoe, 2010; McNamara, Tamanini, & Pelletier-Walker, 2008). The emotional support that counseling offers can help female victims of domestic violence identify trengths and assets that they may not have been aware they possessed because their partners’ criticisms may have left them feeling worthless and feeling incapable of taking action to alter their circumstances. Working with a counselor would enable the women to develop a healthy self-image, become aware of their resilience and personal strength, and they may begin to see themselves as survivors of domestic violence as opposed to victims. By becoming aware of their strengths, women may begin to feel empowered and capable of mobilizing their personal resources to take steps towards leaving the abusive relationship.
Counseling can also provide female victims of domestic violence with an opportunity to reduce their feelings of self-blame for the abuse they receive when they are made aware of the prevalence of domestic violence and the factors that contribute to it, such as patriarchal social structures, income differentials between men and women, and cultural norms that condone the use of physical aggression against women. This knowledge would help reduce their feelings of isolation and blame because they would understand that they are not alone in their experience of domestic violence.
Because of the economic dependency of women on their abusers (Sanders, Weaver, & Schnabel, 2007), the social structure has placed women on the receiving end by keeping them down economically through lower wages and less opportunities for employment (Sanders, Weaver, & Schnabel, 2007). As a result, it can be argued that belonging to a low income group and economic dependence, among other factors, may be linked to higher rates of spousal assault against women. Many low income female victims of domestic violence are at a high risk of developing psychological problems such as depression, stress, and low self esteem (Hare, 2010).
They are also emotionally attached to the abuser to the extent that they cannot leave a relationship for fear of being left alone in a wretched economic situation (Hare, 2010). As a result, some may be worried about child support and financial assistance, and others may be afraid of the threats of retaliation and abduction of children by the abuser. Given that economic dependence is significant in domestic abuse, there is a need for victims to create their own economic independence. In this way, women would no longer look at men as the sole bread winners of the family or providers of childcare and financial ssistance, and they would be able to support themselves financially if they were to leave their abusive partners. To implement the above, the government needs to provide access to job training and education geared towards female victims of domestic violence. This could serve as a fundamental tool that dismantles a vicious cycle of oppression, abuse and poverty of women. Given that the nursing profession plays an important role in public health, nurses can use their skills to advocate on behalf of the abused by creating awareness about the impact of domestic violence against women.
Advocacy could also involve referrals to resources for women, such as counseling services and shelters for women leaving abusive partners, as well as providing victims with information about how to protect themselves against abuse, helping them develop a safety plan, and helping to reduce their feelings of self-blame and shame by highlighting the pervasiveness of domestic violence. This paper identified some of the resources that would provide support and assistance to female victims of domestic violence, such as economic support and counseling.
The importance of economic support cannot be overlooked because financial independence can lead to improvements in psychological health and well-being, and creates the material means through which these women can escape from an abusive relationship. In addition, counseling can reduce women’s isolation, self-blame, and help them identify their assets and personal resources, which can boost their self-confidence and provide them with the strength to leave the abuser.