Having decided to investigate this type of crime, one which I consider to be emotional and sensitive, I hope that by looking into it in more depth, I can satisfy my own curiosity, and be more aware and educated about something I consider to be an important issue for both women and men in society.In this study I will be covering definitions of domestic violence, views on why this happens (other than my own) the movements against violence, including government policy’s and women’s aid.Domestic violence is one of the most common crimes. It is present throughout society. It seems that it occurs in almost all cultures and countries, across all known divisions of wealth, race, caste and social class. There may never have been a time when it did not exist, and it certainly stretches back deep into history. Centuries, indeed even millenniums are filled with millions of assaults, attacks, violations, psychological abuses, rapes, maiming’s and killings.There are many views on why domestic violence occurs, maybe by looking into it we will be able to understand why violence seems to be increasing.In the British context, domestic violence is usually regarded as violence between adults who are in an intimate or family relationship, most often a sexual relationship between a woman and a man.The definition according to the home office 2000 is that domestic violence is not a specific statutory offence. The term is often used to describe a range of criminal offences occurring in particular circumstances.Nationally the 2 most significant definitions are: first “the term domestic violence shall be understood to mean any violence between current or former partners in an intimate relationship, wherever and whenever it occurs. The violence may include physical, sexual emotional or financial abuse” (1)Second “Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender.” (1)(1) extract from www.homeoffice.gov.ukThe three main types of abuse are physical, sexual and emotionalPhysical violence towards a victim can entail many types of physical attack and injury. Commonly, it starts with a single slap or blow, followed by disbelief and shock, and promises from the attacker that it won’t happen again. Researchers from all schools of thought on domestic violence agree that it is rarely a one-off occurrence. Incidents often occur more frequently and will start to become more severe.Women who are physically abused are very often also subjected to a range of sexual humiliations and assaults, or the use of threats of violence in order to make a woman submit to sex. A British research study found that a third of the women asked who had been attacked physically, had also been raped by their partners. Many women in the movement Women’s Aid (which we will talk more about later) believe that day-to-day harassment can be linked to, and is very often part of, the same parcel of domestic violence.In all forms of abuse, emotional and psychological issues are involved. It is very rare for women to experience no emotional abuse along with physical and sexual abuse. In fact, the use of intimidating threat is one of the most common forms of domestic violence.What is actually threatened can vary from injury, murder, or sex, and women who have suffered from this treatment know that these threats are normally made with real intent. Emotional abuse can also involve degradation and humiliation. For example being persistently belittled, criticized and insulted, or being subjected continually to intimidation or aggressive verbal abuse. All of these forms of emotional abuse contribute to the good old-fashioned term ‘mental cruelty’.And so now we understand that domestic violence can extend beyond just physical beatings. Threats can be systematic and long term and it can occur anywhere, however the home is still the most common. After all, the home is behind closed doors, away from the public eye, protected by the unspoken rule that what happens in the house is private; “an Englishman’s home is his castle”.One important view of domestic violence would be that of the feminist. Their theory of domestic violence focuses on the importance of male dominance, but they see that as precisely the problem to overcome, rather than an ideal to be restored.In the feminist view, domestic violence arises from mans power over women within the family. This male power has been built into family life historically, through laws which assume that men have the right to authority over both women and children. For example, in “violence against wives” Dobash and Dobash describe the historical position of women in British and American society, and the laws and customs which excluded women from public life and placed them under the authority of their husbands or father within the private circle of the family.Many feminists would use this view that stresses the need to examine the historical position of women in a particular society.As Susan Schecher has pointed out in ‘women and male violence’ this does not mean that feminists are “dismissing psychology or ignoring violent individuals” But they are stressing the need for a psychology that analyses wife beating in its proper contexts, accounts for power differentiations, and asks why women have been traumatised.Most feminists would also draw attention to the economical position of women. They point to the fact that society assigns women the responsibility of looking after children and so this places them in a position of enforced financial dependency on their partners, a situation which is reinforced in Britain by the child support act. Feminist also argue that factors such as class and racial oppression, unemployment, bad housing and poverty are likely to increase violence.However, the one point that unites all forms of feminist view is that domestic violence arises from the power and control that mean exercises over women, and the unequal position of women in society.A view that greatly contrasts, yet at points is quite similar to that of the feminist, is the cycles of violence theory. This suggests that there is a direct transfer of violence down the generations by learned behaviour, creating a cycle in which violence continues to reproduce itself. This can be compared to the feminist view that sees history as a cause of domestic violence. The cycles of violence theory believe that this type of behaviour can be learned from witnessing it, or, experiencing it in a wider range of life such as neighbourhoods or gangs, or even professions such as the police or the army.This view, however, cannot explain why most people brought up in these circumstances do not become violent. It also does not explain why girls brought up in these circumstances do not become violent. The theory rests on assumptions about the aggression of men and the passiveness of women (something the feminists would not agree with!). This may explain to us why violence is not decreasing, even with the new laws, because violence is a never ending cycle.Reading those two views would lead us to believe that violence will always be around as long as men are (!) and that not much can be done to prevent it, but in fact over there years much has been done. In Britain, there has been a social movement of women against domestic violencefor many years. It was evident in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and became active again in the early 1970’s. In the last 30 yrs, this movement has campaigned vigorously, its activists sustained by the vision of an end to male violence. It is mainly due to these activities that domestic violence appears to be increasing. In fact, it is not increasing, it is just more apparent to us as more women will come forward, and it is a much debated subject both in books and on TV and radio. There are now services and refuges that will help women. This is a marked contrast to the situation before the 1970’s when woman had virtually no one to turn to.”Domestic violence remained largely invisible until the mid 1980’s because of the reluctance of the police to define it as an assault. The police were responding to the dominant ideology of the time, which defined what happened in the family as a private matter and husbands were assumed to have the right to chastise their wives.” (1)The government realised something needed to be done and from 1990 many new laws and policies were introduced such as a guidance issued to the police for dealing with domestic violence in 1990 and the HASC (Home Affairs Select Committee) report on domestic violence in 1993. (See additional notes for more details).One organisation that has been particularly successful in women’s movements is Woman’s Aid. They have established a network of refuges and other related services and provide information, advice and support.Women’s aid also takes into account the effects on children.”Approximately two in every three women who come into women’s aid have young children who will almost certainly have been affected by the abuse their mother has suffered”. (2)When looking into reasons for domestic violence we must also take into account the effects of social class on violence.Social class has always been an issue for researchers, suggestions that domestic violence is concentrated among the working class men and women and should be treated with caution. Middle class women are less likely to report it, and more likely to find private solutions rather than go to social services. Middle-class men are less likely to come to the attention of the police, and most public and social agencies are less likely to intervene in middle-class lives. Most importantly middle-class families are far less likely to be researched.(1) Crime and deviance – Tony Law and Tim Heaton(2) Extract on effects of domestic violence on children from women’s aidConclusionOur main question I was trying to answer within this essay was that of ‘is violence increasing?’ It may seem that I strayed from that question, but everything I researched has helped me come to a decision about whether it is or not. We must realise that domestic violence has been around for a long time, it has just not been as publicised. As women have developed more rights, (or fought for them should I say!) it has come to our attention just how much this act will occur. In Britain, 25% of women will experience Domestic violence, and a woman will be injured every 10 seconds. However, we have to take into account those women that don’t come forward, and those that don’t actually think they’re husbands are doing anything wrong. We must also think about those women that are abused in different cultures, such as Muslim, there the statistics will not be accurate, and more than often family’s of the victims will keep quiet, or defend the attacker.The simple answer to this broad question is that no, domestic violence is not increasing, we are simply becoming more aware of it, however, we will never really know this for sure until we can find a way to universally collect accurate statistics that will have ecological validity, which is the most important thing within a piece of research.
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