Domestic Violence


Domestic violence is violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation. It may be termed intimate partner violence when committed by a spouse or partner in an intimate relationship against the other spouse or partner, and can take place in heterosexual or same-sex relationships, or between former spouses or partners. Domestic violence can also involve violence against children, parents, or the elderly. It takes a number of forms, including physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religious, reproductive, and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms to marital rape and to violent physical abuse such as choking, beating, female genital mutilation, and acid throwing that results in disfigurement or death. Domestic murders include stoning, bride burning, honor killings, and dowry deaths. Globally, the victims of domestic violence are overwhelmingly women, and women tend to experience more severe forms of violence. They are also likelier than men to use intimate partner violence in self-defense. In some countries, domestic violence is often seen as justified, particularly in cases of actual or suspected infidelity on the part of the woman, and is legally permitted. Research has established that there exists a direct and significant correlation between a country's level of gender equality and rates of domestic violence, where countries with less gender equality experience higher rates of domestic violence. Domestic violence is among the most underreported crimes worldwide for both men and women. Due to social stigmas regarding male victimization, men who are victims of domestic violence face an increased likelihood of being overlooked by healthcare providers.

Forms Of Domestic Violence :

Physical:

Physical abuse is that involving contact intended to cause fear, pain, injury, other physical suffering or bodily harm. In the context of coercive control, physical abuse is to control the victim. The dynamics of physical abuse in a relationship are often complex. Physical violence can be the culmination of other abusive behavior, such as threats, intimidation, and restriction of victim self-determination through isolation, manipulation and other limitations of personal freedom. Denying medical care, sleep deprivation, and forced drug or alcohol use, are also forms of physical abuse. It can also include inflicting physical injury onto other targets, such as children or pets, in order to cause emotional harm to the victim. Strangulation in the context of DV has received significant attention. It is now recognized as one of the most lethal forms of DV; yet, because of the lack of external injuries, and the lack of social awareness and medical training in regard to it, strangulation has often been a hidden problem. As a result, in recent years, many US states have enacted specific laws against strangulation.

Sexual:

Sexual abuse, is defined by World Health Organization as any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person's sexuality using coercion. It also includes obligatory inspections for virginity and female genital mutilation.  Aside from initiation of the sexual act through physical force, sexual abuse occurs if a person is verbally pressured into consenting, unable to understand the nature or condition of the act, unable to decline participation, or unable to communicate unwillingness to engage in the sexual act. This could be because of underage immaturity, illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or due to intimidation or pressure. In many cultures, victims of rape are considered to have brought 'dishonour' or 'disgrace' to their families and face severe familial violence, including honor killings.  This is especially the case if the victim becomes pregnant.
Emotional:
Emotional abuse (or psychological abuse) is a pattern of behavior that threatens, intimidates, dehumanizes or systematically undermines self-worth.  According to the Istanbul Convention, psychological violence is "the intentional conduct of seriously impairing a person's psychological integrity through coercion or threats". Emotional abuse includes minimising, threats, isolation, public humiliation, unrelenting criticism, constant personal devaluation,repeated stonewalling and gaslighting. Stalking is a common form of psychological intimidation, and is most often perpetrated by former or current intimate partners. Victims tend to feel their partner has nearly total control over them, greatly affecting the power dynamic in a relationship, empowering the perpetrator, and disempowering the victim. Victims often suffer from depression, putting them at increased risk of eating disorders, suicide, and drug and alcohol abuse.

Economical:
Economic abuse (or financial abuse) is a form of abuse when one intimate partner has control over the other partner's access to economic resources. Marital assets are used as a means of control. Economic abuse may involve preventing a spouse from resource acquisition, limiting what the victim may use, or by otherwise exploiting economic resources of the victim. Economic abuse diminishes the victim's capacity to support themselves, increasing dependence on the perpetrator, including reduced access to education, employment, career advancement, and assets acquirement. Forcing or pressuring a family member to sign documents, to sell things, or to change a will are forms of economic abuse. A victim may be put on an allowance, allowing close monitoring of money is spent, preventing spending without perpetrator consent, leading to the accumulation of debt or depletion of the victim's savings. Disagreement about money spent can result in retaliation with additional physical, sexual or emotional abuse. In parts of the world where women depend on husbands' income in order to survive (due to lack of opportunities for female employment and lack of state welfare) economic abuse can have very severe consequences. Abusive relations have been associated with malnutrition among both mothers and children. In India, for example, the withholding of food is a documented form of family abuse.

Gender Differences:

There continues to be some debate regarding gender differences with relation to domestic violence. Limitations of methodology, such as the conflict tactics scale, that fail to capture injury, homicide, and sexual violence rates,context (e.g., motivations, fear), disparate sampling procedures, respondent reluctance to self-report, and differences in operationalization all pose challenges to existing research. Normalization of domestic violence in those who experience covert forms of abuse, or have been abused by multiple partners, for long periods of time, reduces the likelihood of recognizing, and therefore reporting, domestic violence.Many organizations have made efforts to use gender-neutral terms when referring to perpetration and victimization. Findings indicate that the main or a primary motive for female-on-male intimate partner violence (IPV) is self-defense or other self-protection (such as emotional health). A 2010 systematic review of the literature on women's perpetration of IPV found that the common motives for female on male IPV were anger, a need for attention, or as a response to their partner's violence. It also stated that while self-defense and retaliation were common motivations, distinguishing between self-defense and retaliation was difficult. Family violence research by Murray A. Straus concluded that most IPV perpetrated by women against men is not motivated by self-defense.Other research supports Straus's conclusion that most female-perpetrated IPV is not in self-defense. Straus's research was criticized by Loseke et al. for using narrow definitions of self-defense.
Women:
The United Nations Population Fund found violence against women and girls to be one of the most prevalent human rights violations worldwide, stating that "one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime." Violence against women tends to be less prevalent in developed Western nations, and more normalized in the developing world.  Wife beating was made illegal nationally in the United States by 1920. Although the exact rates are disputed, there is a large body of cross-cultural evidence that women are subjected to domestic violence significantly more often than men. In addition, there is broad consensus that women are more often subjected to severe forms of abuse and are more likely to be injured by an abusive partner, and this is exacerbated by economic or social dependence.
Men:
Domestic violence against men includes physicalemotional and sexual forms of abuse, including mutual violence. Male domestic violence victims may be reluctant to get help for various reasons. One study investigated whether women who assaulted their male partners were more likely to avoid arrest even when the male contacts police, and found that, "police are particularly unlikely to arrest women who assault their male partners." The reason being that they "assume that the man can protect himself from his female partner and that a woman's violence is not dangerous unless she assaults someone other than her partner". Another study concluded there is "some support for qualitative research suggesting that court personnel are responsive to the gendered asymmetry of intimate partner violence, and may view female intimate violence perpetrators more as victims than offenders.

Adolescents & Young Adults:

Among adolescents, researchers have primarily focused on heterosexual Caucasian populations. The literature indicates that rates are similar for the number of girls and boys in heterosexual relationships who report experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV), or that girls in heterosexual relationships are more likely than their male counterparts to report perpetrating IPV. Ely et al. stated that, unlike domestic violence in general, equal rates of IPV perpetration is a unique characteristic with regard to adolescent dating violence, and that this is "perhaps because the period of adolescence, a special developmental state, is accompanied by sexual characteristics that are distinctly different from the characteristics of adult." Wekerle and Wolfe theorized that "a mutually coercive and violent dynamic may form during adolescence, a time when males and females are more equal on a physical level" and that this "physical equality allows girls to assert more power through physical violence than is possible for an adult female attacked by a fully physically mature man."  Sherry Hamby stated that horseplay and joking among adolescents and young adults is common and that "a small but growing body of research indicates that females may be more likely to include this sort of joking around in responses to IPV questionnaires than males.
Children:
There is a strong link between domestic violence and child abuse. Since domestic violence is a pattern of behavior, these incidences may increase in severity and frequency, resulting in an increased probability the children themselves will become victims. The estimated overlap between domestic violence and child abuse ranges from 30 to 50 percent.  Today, corporal punishment of children by their parents remains legal in most countries, but in Western countries that still allow the practice there are strict limits on what is permitted. The first country to outlaw parental corporal punishment was Sweden (parents' right to spank their own children was first removed in 1966), and it was explicitly prohibited by law from July 1979. As of 2016, parental corporal punishment is banned in 51 countries.

Same-sex Relationships:

Historically, domestic violence has been seen as a heterosexual family issue and little interest has been directed at violence in same-sex relationships,but domestic violence can occur in same-sex relationships as well. The Encyclopedia of Victimology and Crime Preventionstates, "For several methodological reasons – nonrandom sampling procedures and self-selection factors, among others – it is not possible to assess the extent of same-sex domestic violence. Studies on abuse between gay male or lesbian partners usually rely on small convenience samples such as lesbian or gay male members of an association." One study focusing on Hispanic men indicated that gay men are less likely to have been perpetrators or victims of domestic violence than heterosexual men but that bisexual men are more likely to have been both. By contrast, some researchers commonly assume that lesbian couples experience domestic violence at the same rate as heterosexual couples, and have been more cautious when reporting domestic violence among gay male couples.

Religion:

There is controversy regarding the influence of religion on domestic violence. Judaism, Christianity and Islam have traditionally supported male-dominant households and "socially sanctioned violence against women has been persistent since ancient times." The Catholic Church has been criticized for opposing divorce, and therefore trapping victims of violence in abusive marriages. Views on the influence of religion on domestic violence differ. While some authors, such as Phyllis Chesler, argue that Islam is connected to violence against women, especially in the form of honor killings, others, such as Tahira Shahid Khan, a professor specializing in women's issues at the Aga Khan University in Pakistan, argue that it is the domination of men and inferior status of women in society that lead to these acts, not the religion itself. Public (such as through the media) and political discourse debating the relation between Islam, immigration, and violence against women is highly controversial in many Western countries.

Forced & Child Marriage:

forced marriage is a marriage where one or both participants are married without their freely given consent. In many parts of the world, it is often difficult to draw a line between 'forced' and 'consensual' marriage: in many cultures (especially in South Asia, the Middle East and parts of Africa), marriages are prearranged, often as soon as a girl is born; the idea of a girl going against the wishes of her family and choosing herself her own future husband is not socially accepted – there is no need to use threats or violence to force the marriage, the future bride will submit because she simply has no other choice. As in the case of child marriage, the customs of dowry and bride price contribute to this phenomenon.  A child marriage is a marriage where one or both parties are younger than 18. Forced and child marriages are associated with a high rate of domestic violence.  These types of marriages are related to violence both in regard to the spousal violence perpetrated inside marriage, and in regard to the violence related to the customs and traditions of these marriage: violence and trafficking related to the payment of dowry and bride price, honor killings for refusing the marriage.

Cycles Of Violence:

Lenore E. Walker presented the model of a cycle of abuse which consists of four phases. First, there is a buildup to abuse when tension rises until a domestic violence incident ensues. During the reconciliation stage, the abuser may be kind and loving and then there is a period of calm. When the situation is calm, the abused person may be hopeful that the situation will change. Then, tensions begin to build, and the cycle starts again.

Intergenerational Violence:

A common aspect among abusers is that they witnessed abuse in their childhood, in other words they were participants in a chain of intergenerational cycles of domestic violence. That does not mean, conversely, that if a child witnesses or is subject to violence that they will become abusers. Understanding and breaking the intergenerational abuse patterns may do more to reduce domestic violence than other remedies for managing the abuse. Responses that focus on children suggest that experiences throughout life influence an individual's propensity to engage in family violence (either as a victim or as a perpetrator). Researchers supporting this theory suggest it is useful to think of three sources of domestic violence: childhood socialization, previous experiences in couple relationships during adolescence, and levels of strain in a person's current life. People who observe their parents abusing each other, or who were themselves abused may incorporate abuse into their behaviour within relationships that they establish as adults.
Effects:

On Children:

3.3 million children witness domestic violence each year in the US. There has been an increase in acknowledgment that a child who is exposed to domestic abuse during their upbringing will suffer developmental and psychological damage. During the mid 1990s, the Adverse Childhood Experiences study (ACE) found that children who were exposed to domestic violence and other forms of abuse had a higher risk of developing mental and physical health problems. Because of the awareness of domestic violence that some children have to face, it also generally impacts how the child develops emotionally, socially, behaviorally as well as cognitively. Some emotional and behavioral problems that can result due to domestic violence include increased aggressiveness, anxiety, and changes in how a child socializes with friends, family, and authorities. Depression, emotional insecurity, and mental health disorders can follow due to traumatic experiences. Problems with attitude and cognition in schools can start developing, along with a lack of skills such as problem-solving. Correlation has been found between the experience of abuse and neglect in childhood and perpetrating domestic violence and sexual abuse in adulthood.

Physical:

Bruises, broken bones, head injuries, lacerations, and internal bleeding are some of the acute effects of a domestic violence incident that require medical attention and hospitalization. Some chronic health conditions that have been linked to victims of domestic violence are arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain, pelvic pain, ulcers, and migraines. Victims who are pregnant during a domestic violence relationship experience greater risk of miscarriage, pre-term labor, and injury to or death of the fetus. New research illustrates that there are strong associations between exposure to domestic violence and abuse in all their forms and higher rates of many chronic conditions. The strongest evidence comes from the Adverse Childhood Experiences study which shows correlations between exposure to abuse or neglect and higher rates in adulthood of chronic conditions, high risk health behaviors and shortened life span. Evidence of the association between physical health and violence against women has been accumulating since the early 1990s.

Psychological:

Among victims who are still living with their perpetrators high amounts of stress, fear, and anxiety are commonly reported. Depression is also common, as victims are made to feel guilty for 'provoking' the abuse and are frequently subjected to intense criticism. It is reported that 60% of victims meet the diagnostic criteria for depression, either during or after termination of the relationship, and have a greatly increased risk of suicide. Those who are battered either emotionally or physically often are also depressed because of a feeling of worthlessness. These feelings often persist long-term and it is suggested that many receive therapy for it because of the heightened risk of suicide and other traumatic symptoms.

Financial:

Once victims leave their perpetrator, they can be stunned with the reality of the extent to which the abuse has taken away their autonomy. Due to economic abuse and isolation, the victim usually has very little money of their own and few people on whom they can rely when seeking help. This has been shown to be one of the greatest obstacles facing victims of DV, and the strongest factor that can discourage them from leaving their perpetrators. In addition to lacking financial resources, victims of DV often lack specialized skills, education, and training that are necessary to find gainful employment, and also may have several children to support. In 2003, thirty-six major US cities cited DV as one of the primary causes of homelessness in their areas. It has also been reported that one out of every three homeless women are homeless due to having left a DV relationship. If a victim is able to secure rental housing, it is likely that her apartment complex will have "zero tolerance" policies for crime; these policies can cause them to face eviction even if they are the victim of violence. While the number of shelters and community resources available to DV victims has grown tremendously, these agencies often have few employees and hundreds of victims seeking assistance which causes many victims to remain without the assistance they need.
Management:
Management of domestic violence may take place through medical services, law enforcement, counseling, and other forms of prevention and intervention. Participants in domestic violence may require medical treatment, such as examination by a family physician, other primary care provider, or emergency room physicians. Counseling is another means of managing the effects of domestic violence. For the victim of abuse, counseling may include an assessment of the presence, extent and types of abuse.  A lethality assessment is a tool that can assist in determining the best course of treatment for a client, as well as helping the client to recognize dangerous behaviors and more subtle abuse in their relationship. In a study of victims of attempted domestic violence-related homicide, only about one-half of the participants recognized that their perpetrator was capable of killing them, as many domestic violence victims minimize the true seriousness of their situation.  Another important component is safety planning, which allows the victim to plan for dangerous situations they may encounter, and is effective regardless of their decision on whether remain with their perpetrator. Counseling may be used by offenders to minimize the risk of future domestic violence,  or to stop the violence and repair the harm it has caused.  Most commonly, to date, convicted or self-referring offenders undertake programmes for perpetrators of intimate partner violence. These are delivered in a group format, one or two hours per week, over a set time period. Programme facilitators guide participants through a curriculum of adult-education style modules, which draw on a variety of therapeutic approaches, but predominantly cognitive behavioural therapy and psycho-education. A debate on the effectiveness of these programmes is on-going. While some (ex-) partners of offenders have experienced improvements in their situation, others have not, and there also appears to be a risk of doing harm.  Along with using group work, there are other approaches that incorporate individual and conjoint conversations to help stop the violence and restore the victims' safety and respect. Prevention and intervention includes ways to prevent domestic violence by offering safe sheltercrisis intervention, advocacy, and education and prevention programs. Community screening for domestic violence can be more systematic in cases of animal abuse, healthcare settings, emergency departments, behavioral health settings and court systems. Tools are being developed to facilitate domestic violence screening such as mobile apps.  The Duluth Model or Domestic Abuse Intervention Project is a program developed to reduce domestic violence against women,  which is the first multi-disciplinary program designed to address the issue of domestic violence by coordinating the actions of a variety of agencies dealing with domestic conflict.
Prevention:
There exist several strategies that are being used to attempt to prevent or reduce DV. It is important to assess the effectiveness of a strategy that is being implemented. Reforming the legislation in order to ensure that domestic violence falls under the scope of the law is important. This may imply repealing existing laws which discriminate against women: according to the WHO, "when the law allows husbands to physically discipline wives, implementing a programme to prevent intimate partner violence may have little impact". Marriage laws are also important, "They [women] should also be able to enter freely into a marriage or to leave it, to obtain financial credit, and to own and administer property." Abolishing or restricting the offering and receiving of dowry and bride price and scrutinizing the impact of these transactions on the legislative decisions regarding DV is also important. UN Women has stated that the legislation should ensure that "a perpetrator of domestic violence, including marital rape, cannot use the fact that he paid bride price as a defence to a domestic violence charge". Gender norms that promote the inferiority of women may lead to the abuse of women by intimate partners. The WHO writes that, "Dismantling hierarchical constructions of masculinity and femininity predicated on the control of women, and eliminating the structural factors that support inequalities are likely to make a significant contribution to preventing intimate partner and sexual violence". According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "A key strategy in preventing domestic violence is the promotion of respectful, nonviolent relationships through individual, community, and societal level change."  Early intervention programs, such as school-based programs to prevent dating violence are also effective. Children who grow up in violent homes may be led to believe that such behavior is a normal part of life, therefore it is important to challenge such attitudes when they are present among these children.

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