Domestic abuse in the United States is a large-scale and complex social and health problem. Domestic violence has become a major health threat to this nation, costing America thousands of lives and millions of dollars (Moore, Zaccaro, & Parsons, 1998).
Domestic violence is known by many names including spouse abuse, domestic abuse, domestic assault, battering, partner abuse, and so on. McCue (1995) maintains that domestic abuse is commonly accepted by legal professionals as the emotional, physical, psychological, or sexual abuse perpetrated against a person by that person s spouse, former spouse, partner, former partner, or by the other parent of a minor child, although several other forms of domestic violence have become increasingly apparent in today s society.
This threat has no prejudice, it spans all socioeconomic classes, professions, cultures, religions, ages, and gender; however, research shows that 95 to 98% of victims are women (Ellis, 1999). As many as one in ten women are abused each year in the United States (Attala, McSweeney, Mueller, Bragg, & Hubertz, 1999).
It is inadequate to view domestic violence as an aspect of the normal interpersonal conflict, which takes place in most families. According to McCue (1995), many families experience conflict, but not all male members in families inevitably resort to violence. It is not the fact of family disputes or marital conflicts that generate or characterize violence in the home.
Violence occurs when one person assumes the right to dominate over the other and decides to use violence or abuse as a means of ensuring that (Currie, 1988). According to McCue (1995), many of the men who present most violently in the household portray themselves quite differently to the rest of society. They are generally not lawbreakers, but rather appear to be charming, often handsome law-abiding citizens outside of their own homes who maintain an image as friendly and devoted family men.
In fact, it is likely that many such aggressors are not even aware of the major impact their actions have upon their partners. The abuser assumes control over a woman s activities and prevents or limits interaction with friends, family, and service from health care providers to decrease her access to information and support (Attala et al., 1999).
The frequency and severity of abuse increases in frequency and severity and unless stopped will continue to severe acts of violence (Landenburger, 1998). The longer the abuse progresses the more powerful the batter becomes. The batterer perceives a feeling of no accountability if the abuse occurs while under the influence of alcohol. This provides a socially acceptable excuse for violence. Therefore, a higher risk of domestic violence occurs if the abuser uses drugs or alcohol (Hightower & Gorton, 1998).
Domestic violence remains a hidden problem because it occurs within the privacy of the home and those involved are usually reluctant to speak out (Healey, 1993). However, if one is aware of and screens for the warning signs, a successful intervention can be achieved.
Commonly, abuse results in multiple health problems. Besides the direct injuries from physical violence; increased substance abuse, chronic pelvic and abdominal pain, headaches, and gastrointestinal disorders are common (Moore, Zaccaro, & Parsons, 1998). Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms can develop and finally, homicide may result (Landenburger, 1998).
In fact, one in five of all murder victims is a woman killed by her partner or ex-partner (Frost, 1999). Of all female homicide victims, 31% were murdered by a boyfriend, spouse, or ex-spouse (Glass & Campbell, 1998). As the frequency and severity of abuse increases, the victim becomes isolated, fearful for their lives or those of her children, and experience increased feelings of desperation and depression (Landenburger, 1998).
Abuse is more likely to start or worsen when the woman becomes pregnant. In fact, 20% of all pregnant women are abused. Moreover, the leading cause of death among pregnant women was due to partner abuse (McFarlane, Parker, Soeken, Silva, and Reel, 1997).
Complications such as low weight gain, anemia, infections, 1st and 2nd trimester bleeding, and greater risk for late entry into prenatal care are significantly higher in abused women. The effects on the fetus from abuse include a higher incidence of fetal distress and low birth weight. In addition, abuse during pregnancy is associated with significantly higher maternal depression rates, suicide attempts, and substance abuse (McFarlane et al., 1997).
Research indicates that approximately 3-10 million children witness their mothers being treated violently each year. These children are at a risk for cognitive, behavioral, and emotional delays (Glass and Campbell, 1998). Not only are they at risk for abuse, but posttraumatic stress disorder, sleep disturbance, separation anxiety, hyperactivity, emotional disorders, and eventually they may imitate such aggressive behavior (Moore, Zaccaro, Parsons, 1998).
These children are also at risk of being abused themselves are becoming an abuser. In addition, the cost to society is great, due to the fact that children of battered women use health services 6 to 8 times more than other children (Glass & Campbell, 1998). These children are often neglected and live in a world surrounded by fear. However, the likelihood that a woman gets help is increased if she has children. Children play a major role in notifying others that the abuse occurs. In addition, the scars that form and grow in these children and they fear for their safety influence the woman s decision to leave (Landenburger, 1998).
What has to occur for the woman to break the cycle of abuse and seek help? Research indicates a window phase in the cycle of abuse as the ideal time for adequate and sincere interventions to be successful. The cycle of abuse has three phases: the tension-building phase, the acute battering incident, and the honeymoon phase. The tension-building phase starts with a moody and hostile batterer who is overly critical of his partner. This phase is followed by the actual assault on the woman.
Lastly, the honeymoon phase involves desperate pleas of forgiveness and promises of never again by the batterer. The open window of opportunity for healthcare members to be successful in their interventions is in between the second and third phases (Matar-Curnow, 1997). Research shows multiple barriers in this process, both in the woman s lack of disclosure and healthcare workers failing to ask (Shea, Mahoney, & Lacey, 1997).
Patterns of Morbidity and Mortality
Domestic violence is the mistreatment of one family member by another. Most often perpetrators of abuse and battering are spouse, ex-spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, ex-girlfriend/boyfriend, or lover. Domestic violence occurs in one of five forms: physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, and economic (Chez, 1994). It is more prevalent than most people are aware of.
Annually, females experience over 10 times as many incidents of violence by an intimate than men. On average each year, 1.8 million women are battered by their husbands. Experts suggest a violent act occurs against a woman every 12 seconds (Straus and Gelles, 1990).
Domestic violence accounts for at least 20% of all medical visits by women and 22-30% of all women seeking emergency treatment. Reported injuries include contusions; abrasions; fractures; injuries to the head, neck, chest, breasts, and abdomen; as well as injuries during pregnancy.
Reported medical findings include symptoms related to stress, chronic posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and other anxiety disorders. However, most women choose not to discuss the abuse with their health-care professional and over half do not discuss the abuse with anyone due to the fear that the revelation will cause the violence to (National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women [NCDBW], 1991).
According to the latest available FBI statistics, in 1990, 30% of female murder victims were killed by their husbands or boyfriends. This statistic represents approximately three thousand women (Knall, 1992). In a study of females killed by intimate partners between 1980 and 1982, it was found that the majority of women killed were married (57.7%). Girlfriends were the next highest percentage (24.5%), followed by common-law wives (8%), ex-wives (4.8%), and friends (4.6%).
Seventeen percent of workplace homicides were committed by a male intimate (Stout, 1993, p. 3). The number one risk factor for actual and attempted suicide in adult women is spouse abuse. She may kill herself or her abuser to escape because she sees no other way out (Radford and Russell, 1992).
In the United States, the average annual medical expense resulting from domestic violence is four billion dollars. In the workplace, domestic violence accounts for 175,000 days of absenteeism and 25% of excessive medical (NCDBW, 1991).
Domestic violence knows no boundaries. It persists in every level of society. From 1983 to 1991, the number of domestic violence reports received increased by almost 117% (Domestic Violence Myths, n. d.). Some experts theorize the battered woman syndrome can characterize the effects of battering.
“Battered woman syndrome” is defined by a common set of symptoms which include emotional reactions (fear, anger, sadness); changes in beliefs and attitudes about self, others, and the world (self-blame, distrust, belief that the world is unsafe); and psychological distress (depression, flashbacks, anxiety, sleep problems, substance abuse) to name a few (Dutton, 1996).
The characteristics of the batterer vary widely. Battering men come from all ages, ethnicities, and educational backgrounds. Batterers are traditionalists and have unrealistic expectations of marriage, believing in male supremacy and stereotypical gender roles. Many have a high incidence of substance abuse and violence in their backgrounds. Other common characteristics include low self-worth, difficulty trusting people, difficulty forming relationships, and extreme reactions to emotions.
Of all the factors that characterize the background of abusers, the most predictably present is previous exposure to some form of violence (Straus and Gelles, 1990). As children, abusers have often beaten themselves or witnessed the beating of siblings or a parent. Children raised in this way may detest violence, but they have had no experience with other models of family relationships (Stanhope and Lancaster, 1996).
Women remain with the abuser because of psychological, economic, and social reasons. Guilt, fear, self-blame, low self-esteem, and feelings of helplessness are all psychological reasons that make it difficult for them to conceive of leaving. Fear of losing their children due to lack of resources and finances is a major determinant for staying.
There are half as many shelters for battered women in this country as there are for stray animals, and most do not accept children. For every two women sheltered, five are turned away. For every two children sheltered, eight are turned away. Approximately half of all homeless women and children are on the streets because of violence in the home.
Socially, women stay to avoid the stigma of domestic violence (Landenburger, 1989). Violence is the reason stated for divorce in 22% of middle-class marriages. Lastly, another major determinant for staying is fear. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that women who leave their batterers are at a 75% greater risk of being killed by the batterer than those who stay (Lowery, 2000).
Women of all cultures, races, occupations, income levels, and ages are battered by husbands, boyfriends, lovers, and partners. Just like the victims, there are no typical abusers. Anyone can be an abuser. On the surface, abusers may appear to be good providers, loving partners, and law-abiding citizens. Approximately one-third of the men counseled for battering are professionals who are well respected in their jobs and communities. These men are doctors, psychologists, lawyers, ministers, and business executives ( Domestic Violence Myths, n. d.).
Domestic violence is self-perpetuating because it is a learned behavior. It is used to establish control and fear. The batterer uses violence, intimidation, threats, isolation, and psychological abuse to coerce and control the other person. Even if the violence does not happen often, it remains a hidden, constant, and terrorizing threat. Unfortunately, abuse tends to escalate in frequency and severity over time, and the man’s remorse tends to lessen (Walker, 1984).
Domestic violence has a positive correlation with drug and alcohol abuse. The substance abuse problems must be addressed along with the abusive behavior to reach a successful resolution.
Battering during pregnancy has serious implications for the health of both women and their children. These women are at risk for spontaneous abortion, premature delivery, low birth weight infants, substance abuse during pregnancy, and depression (Bullock and McFarlane, 1989).
Public services play an important role in providing services for the battered population. Examples of public services include crisis intervention, counseling services, and abuse intervention (YWCA Crisis Services, 2000).
The private sector is very limited in the services provided to the battered population. An example would be private counseling or counseling within the church. The church would also lend spiritual support, provide positive role models, and reinforcement for peaceful behavior (Stanhope and Lancaster, 1996).
Domestic violence is not prevalent in any one culture or religion. It is found in all cultures and all religions. However, some faiths uphold the victimization of people with their disapproval of divorce. Family members stay together, although they are at emotional or physical war with one another, because of religious commitments (Lancaster, 1980).
Other women give up religion in disillusionment, feeling that a just and merciful God would not let them suffer so (Brown, Finney, Jestis, Johnson, McCorkel, Roach, Schlinke, Smith, Snook, & Warning, 1998).
In our culture, the media has brought attention to the problem of domestic violence. This has lessened the stigma associated with domestic violence and publicized services available to this population. However, the media also brings violence into our homes on a daily basis through television and newspaper reports of violence. This has caused our society to become somewhat desensitized to and the acceptance of violence (Stanhope and Lancaster, 1996).
Domestic violence affects all ages from before birth to the elderly. From the abuse of the pregnant female to the battering of the elderly in the nursing home, violence does not discriminate based on age.
In the community, there are facilities available to assist and empower battered women. They provide women with safety and security against the abuser. Referrals to these facilities are most often made by the police department or by a social worker in the hospital.
In Oklahoma City, the Domestic Violence Victim Assistance Program (DVVAP) is a cooperative effort through the city and the YWCA, providing support and assistance to victims of domestic violence. The YWCA provides safety by providing emergency shelter and care for battered women who are in immediate danger, and their children (YWCA Crisis Services, 2000).
The YWCA’s program, Passageways, is a nonprofit organization. Passageways are funded by the Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, and the United Way. This facility accepts single women and women with children. The maximum stay is sixty days. Women are assisted in obtaining housing, medical care, legal counsel, and transportation. Women staying in the shelter are required to attend classes addressing domestic violence, anger management, and parenting.
Education and support help their children avoid further victimization, verbalize feelings, and learn appropriate ways to express emotions. The school they attend is confidential and aids in helping them understand what is occurring in their family. Additionally, the YWCA provides a structured re-education and counseling domestic violence program for men who are violent and/or abusive in interpersonal relationships. (YWCA Crisis Services, 2000)
The DVVAP provides onsite assistance at the Oklahoma City Municipal Court building to aid the victim in filing a Victim Protection Order (V-PO) and/or exploring other options. The DVVAP advocate will accompany the victim to court when appropriate. In addition, referrals are made for Legal Aid of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma Housing Authority, mental health counseling, and job training.
The cost of these services is based on a sliding scale (YWCA Crisis Center, 2000). The YWCA is committed to ending domestic violence through social change and empowering those who have been violated. To this end, the YWCA assists victims through referrals to community outreach programs that provide education and support for individuals who have experienced domestic violence and/or sexual abuse.
Referrals to domestic violence groups, sexual assault groups, and individual counseling are also available. Finally, a structured, re-education program called “Third Phase” is available for men who are violent and/or abusive in interpersonal relationships. The YWCA is building brighter futures through support and education (YWCA Crisis Center, 2000).
Values and Beliefs of the population
The definition of battered women according to Walker, as cited in Grant (1995), describes battered women syndrome as a group of psychological symptoms occurring in a recognizable pattern, in women who report physical, sexual, and or psychological abuse by their partner.
The results of this abuse are often manifested as a post-traumatic stress disorder. Most victims of abuse are able to identify their first encounter of violence with their partner, but they describe the escalating occurrences as a blur, one event blending into the next. Many of the women voiced their concerns for their partner’s needs and describe their efforts to subdue the violence (Grant, 1995). Some of the beliefs of this population include:
- The violence and abuse is somehow their fault.
- They have done something to deserve the abuse.
- There is something they can do to stop the abuse.
- An intact family is better for the children.
- Abuse is normal in a relationship (because of previous family learning).
- If they ask for help, the violence may increase.
- Help resources are temporary, and they will have no place to turn when services are discontinued.
- Mistrust for the medical community to supply beneficial and empathetic services.
A possible explanation of the value and belief system of the battered woman is the profile addressed by Linda Poirier (1997). This profile includes social isolation, feeling trapped in the marriage or relationship, low self-esteem, having witnessed abuse as a child, depression and/or suicidal feelings, financial dependence on a spouse, abuse of drugs and alcohol, a trusting nature, and a non-aggressive and traditional attitude.
These values and beliefs lead to their patterns of seeking health care. Health care professionals must be aware of the need for an increase in screening for domestic abuse. Studies estimate one-fifth to one-third of women are abused during their lifetime (Thurston, Cory, & Scott, 1998). Policies need to be developed concerning uniform screening of all women to ensure their safety (Langford, 1996).
Reliance on Local, Regional, and Federal Funding
It is estimated that domestic violence leads to 28,700 emergency room visits per year, 39,000 physician office visits, $44 million in total annual medical costs, and 175,000 lost days of work (Poirier, 1997). Funding for services is provided through state and federal appropriations, as well as private donations. Our state office is funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Violence Against Women Act, and the Victims of Crime Act (OCADVSA, n. d.).
The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OKDMHSAS) controls funding. The services provided to battered women include safe shelter, crisis hotlines, emergency transportation, legal advocacy, sexual assault advocacy, child advocacy, counseling, educational training, transitional living, and a variety of outreach, prevention, and educational activities (OCADVSA, n. d.).
One of the medical services provided to victims of domestic violence includes coverage of emergency services. In the case of sexual assault, the Oklahoma Sexual Assault Exam Fund can cover most, if not all, of the cost for a physical exam. If this fund is unable to cover the cost completely, the victim may file a claim with the Victim s Compensation Board. One stipulation of these funds is that the victim must file a police report in order for expenses to be covered (OKADVSA, 1993).
Another fund that helps with medical expenses is the Oklahoma Crime Victims Compensation Program. This program covers out of pocket expenses for victims or the families of victims. This can cover medical and dental care, prescriptions, counseling and rehabilitation, work loss or loss of financial support, caregiver work loss, homicide crime scene clean-up, and funeral and burial expenses (District Attorneys Council, n. d.).
Requirements for eligibility include reporting the crime within 72 hours, filing a claim for compensation within one year, full cooperation with investigation and prosecution, compensation cannot benefit the offender, and the claimant cannot have contributed to the injury. The total amount of compensation cannot exceed $20,000 (District Attorneys Council, n. d.).
Another service provided for the victims is legal assistance. This is a new program provided through a grant from the Department of Justice. It provides an attorney for protective hearings or other civil cases that assist women in breaking the cycle of domestic violence. Legal Services of Eastern Oklahoma has volunteered to provide services through this grant (OKCADVSA, 1999).
Patterns of Resource Allocation
Funding for domestic violence programs in Oklahoma is channeled through the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OKDMHSAS). The OKDMHSAS is responsible for the nearly 30 statewide resource centers’ annual budgets. Funding is distributed yearly based on previous years’ spending and services provided (Campbell-Fife, 2000).
Theannual operating budget for the entire state for the fiscal year 2000 was $4,502,936.00. This money is divided based on a base pay contract agreed upon individually by each center and the state. Monies allocated above the total of the contracts are divided based on the following formula: 75% based on population served by the center and 25% based on the area (in square miles) covered by the center (Campbell-Fife, personal communication, Feb 1, 2000).
The total number of victims served in the fiscal year 1998 was 16,995, while the centers totaled 383,611 volunteer service hours. Each center that provides services has the right to determine their own resource priorities (Campbell-Fife, personal communication, Feb 1, 2000).
Patterns of Insurance Coverage
The battered women population is a very diverse group. Members of this population range from those living in poverty to those who are members of our highest economic class. For the members of the higher economic status accessibility to insurance coverage and health care is not a major factor due to their abundance of financial resources.
Resources are not as readily available for those in the middle and lower classes. For those who have insurance, counseling services may not be covered. For those of the lower class who cannot afford insurance coverage, many are not aware of the services available to them. Consequently, they may delay seeking medical care and counseling due to their lack of resources (Rodriguez, Quiroga, & Bauer, 1996).
Another barrier in insurance coverage relates to the doctor s reluctance to report abuse. Insurance companies may deny coverage to victims of domestic violence by calling it a preexisting or high-risk condition. Physicians may be reluctant to compromise a vulnerable patient s health care coverage (Gremillon & Kanof, 1996, p.772). A disadvantage of insurance coverage is HMO s require patients to see their primary care provider. This may cause victims to be reluctant to seek health care to prevent the discovery of the abuse (Plitsas, 1996).
Once the victim is identified by health care providers counseling services are available. Counseling services are provided on a needs basis through the YMCA. These services are available to anyone in need of assistance, regardless of their insurance coverage. The YMCA bills insurance companies for allowable services and the remainder of the cost is funded through grants and legislation (Pierce, personal communication, Feb 8, 2000).
Expectations of the Public for Care
Victims of domestic violence view healthcare providers as an ineffective source of help. Once identified, battered women, were, treated insensitively and had their abuse minimized or ignored, and (healthcare providers) subtly blamed women for their abuse. (Langford, 1996, p. 39). Due to this treatment, the subject of abuse has become an area of silence between victims and healthcare providers.
Some contributors to the silence may be the patient s inability or unwillingness to seek medical help, the patient s withholding of information from the health care provider, and the health care provider s failure to ask the patient about battering. (Rodrigues, Quiroga & Bauer, 1996, p. 155). Other areas of concern for victims are police who are hesitant to get involved, prosecutors who minimize charges, and judges who are effected by the myths and stereotypes of abuse. (Family Violence Prevention Fund, n. d.; Flitcraft, Hadley, Hendricks-Mathews, McLeer & Warshaw, 1992).
Abuse victims desire for these officials to address the issue of abuse and be an advocate for them. Members of this population are entitled to respect of their confidentiality, our belief and validation of their experiences, our acknowledgment of the injustice, our respect of their autonomy, our help in planning for their future safety, and promoting access to community services (Domestic Violence Project, Inc., n. d.). Cultural issues are also of concern related to language and value barriers (Family Violence Prevention Fund, n. d.).
Diagnostic Statements about the Population
- The actual or potential risk for an impaired individual coping among women related to disruption of emotional bonds secondary to abuse, dysfunctional relationships, unsatisfactory support system, and inadequate knowledge of psychological and community resources as manifested by verbalization of the inability to cope or ask for help, difficulty with life stressors, and ineffective coping strategies (Carpenito, 1996).
- The actual or potential risk for powerlessness (physical and psychological) among battered women related to feelings of loss of control and lifestyle restrictions secondary to abusive relationships (verbal, physical, and sexual) and fear of harm and violence as manifested by expressions of dissatisfaction over the inability to control the situation, depression, inability to leave the abusive relationship, bruises and contusions with varying states of healing, a victim of rape assault, and unsatisfactory dependency needs upon the abuser (Carpenito, 1996).
- Increased risk of a self-esteem disturbance among women related to feelings of failure secondary to dysfunctional relationships, history of abusive relationships, and feelings of helplessness secondary to repeated episodes of abuse as manifested by self-negating verbalizations of I deserve to be treated like this and/or I am a terrible person, expressions of shame or guilt in regards to abusive partner or self, possible denial of problems obvious to others, ineffective use of defense mechanisms, and poor body presentation (posture, eye contact, movements) (Carpenito, 1996).
1. The community will initiate programs within the schools that focus on the exploration of gender roles and expectations, personal safety, legal statutes, and teen dating violence.
2. The community will acknowledge the prevalence and possibility of abuse and will provide resources to women at risk, in terms of community resources, safe shelters, and legal assistance to ensure safety for all involved parties, which is the highest priority.
1. The nurse will help initiate and spread awareness of abuse in order to promote healthy and positive lifestyles for victims of abuse (Stanhope & Lancaster, 1996).
2. The nurse will become a resource person and address the knowledge gaps to improve services for victims and perpetrators (Stanhope & Lancaster, 1996).
3. The nurse will initiate home visitations services for adolescent mothers, early adult age women, and women with family incomes below ten thousand dollars per year (Stanhope & Lancaster, 1996).
The nurse will need to strengthen battered women and family members so that they can cope more effectively with various life stressors and demands. The nurse will need to help reduce the destructive elements in the community that support and encourage the use of human violence (Stanhope & Lancaster, 1996).
Teenage mothers, young adult women (19-29), and women with family incomes of less than ten thousand dollars per year carry the highest risk for actual or potential abuse (CDC web page, 1999).
1. The nurse will help to direct women and their abusers towards discussing their problems and seeking alternatives for dealing with the tension that led to the abusive situation (CDC web page, 1999).
2. The nurse will be able to recognize abuse, ask suspected victims about possible abuse, and refer battered women to temporary or permanent safe locations (Stanhope & Lancaster, 1996).
3. The nurse must radiate caring, acceptance, understanding, compassion, and a non-judgmental and non-authoritative attitude in regards to the abuser and the battered woman. The behavior, not the person, must be condemned (Stanhope & Lancaster, 1996, p.746).
Nursing interventions are directed towards the early diagnosis of abuse and prompt treatment. The nurse needs to be perceptive to the cues of possible abuse and intervene early to prevent further physical or psychological damage (Stanhope & Lancaster, 1996).
1. The nurse will care for the battered women and their families experiencing abuse by developing an open and honest relationship with all family members, establishing safety as the number one priority, and ensuring measures to promote a safe environment (Stanhope & Lancaster, 1996).
2. The nurse will need to recognize and capitalize on the violent family s strengths, as well as to assess and deal with its problems (Stanhope & Lancaster, 1996, p.747).
3. The nurse needs to give the victim reassurance that their feelings and responses are normal, they are not alone in their dilemma, and they do not deserve to be abused (Stanhope & Lancaster, 1996).
4. The nurse needs to be a resource person and offer continual support for positive individual and family decisions that ensure the safety of the victim (Stanhope & Lancaster, 1996).
Nursing interventions need to be geared towards rehabilitation for the abused victim and their families. Ensuring safety is a crucial aspect of this level of intervention. Psychological recovery is an important factor and the nurse needs to teach and to explore with the victims and families, how to deal with their problems in nonviolent ways in order to decrease the incidence of abuse (Stanhope & Lancaster, 1996).
Battered women are instinctive in regards to potential abuse or oncoming violence. They are capable of understanding the non-verbal cues and they are very resilient. Battered women are usually devoted to their husbands and children and fear leaving their families. They are determined to stay in the relationship because deep down they love their partners and do not want to be apart from them (CDC web page, 1999).
Battered women tend to be more passive than their male counterparts and they have a weaker stature. Battered women tend to have low self-esteem and they become stereotyped to social norms that tolerate violence. Female victims of abuse are more likely than men to need medical attention, take time off work, spend more days in bed, and suffer from more stress and depression. Battered women are more likely to have shame and humiliation in regards to abuse and they are more likely to fear that the revelation of the abuse will further jeopardize their safety (CDC web page, 1999).
Responding to domestic violence should involve an interrelationship between the health, legal, and social sectors so, women are not continually referred to various agencies (Getting help: Support web page, 1999, p. 1). Support is the main component involved in an interdisciplinary care team’s plan of care.
Crisis intervention is the first thing that takes place. This involves the following: crisis hotlines, shelters, medical services, transportation networks, and laws that allow victims or perpetrators to be removed from the home (Getting help: Support web page, 1999, p. 1). Emotional support is another critical intervention, which includes self-help groups, assertiveness training, self-esteem, and confidence-building sessions, and parenting skill courses.
Finally, legal assistance may also be needed for custody of children, property matters, financial support, or restraining orders. Many different people and services come together to form an interdisciplinary team to provide safety, emotional, physical, and psychological treatment for battered women.
An American football hero racing on the freeway in a white Ford Bronco, finally stopping in front of his luxurious home. Six years or more ago this scenario would have sounded like a clever advertisement campaign. Replay the same scenario from 1994 forward and almost all Americans will vividly recall the death of Nicole Simpson and her ex-husband (0.J. Simpson) fleeing the police with a gun to his head. This single event thrust the serious and deadly topic of domestic violence awareness into the spotlight of the world.
There are numerous dynamics that make up the deviant nature of domestic violence. I will summarize five articles that discuss some of the aspects of domestic violence and some of the ways society in the United States combats it.
Although domestic violence touches all walks of life, government and academic studies consistently demonstrate that the majority of victims in heterosexual relationships are female and that batterers in heterosexual relationships are overwhelmingly male. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997) Battering also occurs in lesbian and gay relationships, and the use of gender-specific language should not be construed to mean that domestic violence exists only in heterosexual relationships.
Victims may be doctors, business professionals, scientists, or judges, among others. Perpetrators may be police officers, sports heroes, CEOs, or college professors. Unlike victims, perpetrators do have at least two common traits — the majority of perpetrators (1) witnessed domestic violence in their family, and (2) are male. (Hotaling & Sugarman, 1986; Stratus, 1980).
There are many other staggering statistics pertaining to domestic violence, too many to list them all. a woman is beaten every nine seconds in the United States. Domestic violence is the most under-reported crime in the country, with the actual incidence 10 times higher than is reported. By the most conservative estimate, each year 1 million women suffer nonfatal violence by an intimate partner.
Nearly one in three adult women experiences at least one physical assault by a partner during adulthood. Forty-seven percent of men who beat their wives do so at least three times per year. Domestic violence also has immediate and long-term detrimental effects on children.
Each year, an estimated 3.3 million children are exposed to violence by family members against their mothers or female caretakers. In homes where partner abuse occurs, children are 1,500 times more likely to be abused. Forty to sixty percent of men who abuse women also abuse children. A study in 1997 showed 27 percent of domestic homicide victims were children and when children are killed during a domestic dispute, 90 percent are under age 10; 56 percent are under age 2.
An article found on the American Bar Association Web page addresses the myths and facts about domestic violence. The first myth is that victims of domestic violence have psychological disorders. People who are not abused think the victims of domestic violence must be sick or they would not take the abuse. When, in reality, most victims are not mentally ill, although people with mental disabilities are not immune to being abused. Some victims of domestic violence suffer psychological effects, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression, as a result of being abused. (Dutton, The Dynamics of Domestic Violence, 1994) Another myth is batterers abuse their partners or spouses because of alcohol or drug abuse.
Alcohol and drug abuse do not cause a perpetrator to abuse the victim although it is frequently used as an excuse. Substance abuse may increase the frequency or severity of the abuse. (Jillson & Scott, 1996) another myth is that law enforcement and the court system, for instance arresting batterers or issuing civil protection orders, are useless.
Conclusions drawn from research studies in this area have brought two conflicting results. (See Buzawa & Buzawa, 1996; Sherman & Berk, 1984; Zorza, 1994) Police officers must make arrests, prosecutors must prosecute domestic violence cases, and courts must enforce orders and handout stiff sentences for criminal convictions.
The Male Batterer
In the mid-1970s battered women’s shelters were just beginning and the main focus was developing services for the victims. Providing services and looking out of the needs of the perpetrator was not a priority. It was thought that focusing on the perpetrator was just another way men took priority over women in our society.
In 1977 Dr. Daniel Jay Sonkin started calling the local battered women’s shelters. Six months later he finally got to a return call from a director of one of the shelters. After meeting with a director they realized there was a mutual need each could provide for the other. In order for Dr. Sonkin to get experience with counseling batterers, the director allowed him to attend hotline training.
The shelter needed something to do with all the male perpetrators calling their hotline looking for their partners who may have been residents of the shelter. After attending hotline training the shelter would refer all phone calls from the men to him. The phone calls started flooding into Dr. Sonkin. Most of the calls were crisis intervention counseling in nature. The phone counseling led to one-on-one counseling which, because of popularity led to group counseling and support groups.
At the same time other similar groups performing across the country. One innovative therapist was developing a court-mandated counseling program in Santa Barbara. Dr. Sonkin acknowledges during this period of time that he and other therapists were flying the seat of their pants.
Most of their knowledge came from alcohol and drug treatment and they utilized whatever behavioral and cognitive interventions seemed to fit the situation. He went on to point out that there was an important social perspective to their work that was heavily imposed by the feminist movement. It was believed the violence was not just an individual or family problem, but a social problem rooted in the devaluation of women in general.
Also during the ’70s, the battered women’s movement began to focus attention on the criminal justice system as being one solution to the problem. Until this time, mediation, counseling, and non-criminalization was the typical way these cases were handled. Law enforcement viewed domestic violence as a family problem, not a criminal problem.
Advocates turned her attention to reforming the police and the courts. California as well as other states passed pretrial diversion laws to begin addressing domestic violence as a criminal problem. The courts mandated batterers into counseling or education programs and if they successfully completed the programs their record would be expunged. Dr. Sonkin felt diversion was good for its time, primarily because battered women had almost no protection from the criminal justice system prior to this.
The diversion was good in that defendants were only offered it once every seven years and were only offered in misdemeanor cases. The downside to diversion was that it was only offered to misdemeanor defendants, and many felony charges were reduced to misdemeanors to give the batterer the option of diversion rather than jail.
In the 1980s more funding was becoming available for counseling programs aimed at the male batterers. The number of research studies focusing on the male batterer dramatically increased during this decade. During this highest point of popularity to date, providers started to fight amongst themselves on which was the “right” way to treat the male batterer.
During the ’80s there was more pressure on the criminal justice system to punish the male batterer rather than offer diversion. With guilty verdicts hanging over the defendant’s head it was thought that they would take counseling more seriously. Towards the end of the 1980s, the gap began to widen between the feminist groups and the mental health professionals and the feminists went to work at what was successful in the past — changing laws.
During the 1990s politics became more apparent than in the past. Victims’ rights groups put pressure on politicians to pass laws that counteracted the trend of defendants’ rights of the previous two decades. Many of these laws were reactionary to sensationalized crimes, which were highly publicized. The three-strikes legislation in California was a good example of this.
Dozens of laws were drafted as a result of the kidnapping and murder of a teenage girl and one was enacted. Domestic violence laws have also been reactionary in the past. Several years ago a law was passed saying that all mental health professionals must report a client who is being treated for domestic violence. The intention of this law was good however many women did not seek help from counselors for fear of their batterer being turned in.
This law was amended within one year to only include positions treating physical injuries. Dr. Sonkin says he wouldn’t be surprised if a group of battered women advocates gets a law passed to expand the special circumstances that qualify a defendant to be executed to include spousal murder. In 1995 the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 168. This new law requires the defendant to plead guilty immediately so his conviction comes before participation in a treatment program.
This way if the defendant fails to complete the treatment program the judge enters a guilty verdict and the defendant is remanded to custody. If the treatment program is completed the guilty plea is not entered into the court record. In addition to this probation departments are also given the responsibility to certify local treatment providers for batterers. Dr. Sonkin does not like this aspect of the law because the wording of the law does not specifically define providers as licensed counselors or therapists.
Although many of the providers are licensed mental health professionals, many other people such as former probation officers, retired police officers, and others offer their version of the treatment program. He believes this opens the door for commercialization and believes people developing batterer intervention programs may be doing it for a lucrative venture rather than the goal of helping people.
His opinion goes on to say that this law is based on the feminist analysis of the problem of domestic violence and, in particular, the Duluth Model of treating male batterers. This perspective sees the causes of domestic violence being social rather than psychological.
His view is the Duluth Model is narrow-minded and the person who drafted this law presumed that the model is the most effective method of treating male batterers even though there’s no empirical research to date that supports his viewpoint. He does not believe that this viewpoint will bring about a reduction in domestic violence.
Dr. Sonkin does not claim to have a solution to the problem of domestic violence. He does believe that passing legislation such as Assembly Bill 168 that inhibits people from developing new approaches is not the answer. He believes that flexibility needs to return so providers and criminal justice personnel can develop plans that make sense in each individual case.
The criminal justice system seems to like the way that the law is functioning currently because things run smoother. Dr. Sonkin says that just because the system runs smoother it does not address the complex issues of this social problem and both the criminal justice system and health providers will need to develop complex solutions.
America Wakes Up
An article in Time magazine credits the death of Nicole Simpson for exposing the brutality of domestic violence, a subject that was traditionally kept silent. As a result of the Simpson drama, Americans are confronting the violence that may occur when love goes bad. The week after Nicole Simpson’s death, phone calls to domestic violence hotlines surged to record numbers.
Women who did not have the strength to leave their batterers in the past suddenly found the strength to leave their homes and seek safety in shelters. Debbie Tucker, chairman of the National Domestic Violence Coalition of Public Policy was surprised that everybody was so shocked by Nicole Simpson’s death. She said, “this happens all the time.” In Los Angeles, where calls to abuse hotlines were up 80 percent after Nicole’s death, experts sense a sort of awakening as women relate personally to the tragedy.
Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala has warned domestic violence is an unacknowledged epidemic in our society. After the Simpson tragedy, the New York State legislature unanimously passed a bill the mandates arrest for any person who commits a domestic assault. California Legislature now has a computerized registry of restraining orders and, confiscates guns from men arrested for domestic violence.
The article criticizes law enforcement for under enforcing domestic violence laws, though many states require arrest when a reported domestic dispute turns violent. The article says police often walk away if the victim refuses to press charges, convinced that such battles are more private and less serious.
Batterers commit violence to maintain power in relationships. Men who batter believe they have the right to do whatever it takes to regain control. When a woman finally decides to leave or have the male batterer leave, he sometimes panics about losing his woman and will do anything to prevent it from happening. The man may even stalk the woman or harass her by telephone.
Women are most in danger when they attempt to end a relationship. The two most dangerous actions, which are likely to produce a deadly result, are when a woman moves out of her residence and when she starts to date another man. The article hints that restraining orders, divorce papers, etc. are often seen by the man as a licensed to kill.
Dr. Park Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist and a leading expert on homicide says, “a restraining order is a way of getting killed faster. Someone who is truly dangerous will see this as an extreme denial of what he’s entitled to, his God-given right.” He goes on to say that the paper is a threat to his own life and he may engage in behavior that destroys the source of the threat. Victims can include children, a woman’s lawyer, the judge that issues the restraining order, or the cop who comes between.
Abuse experts do not believe that a man’s obsession with love can drive beyond all control. Some researchers believe that there is a physiological factor in domestic abuse. One study conducted by the University of Massachusetts medical center’s domestic violence research and treatment center found that 61 percent of men involved in marital violence have signs of severe head trauma.
One of the most frequent questions asked when a woman killed by her partner is “why didn’t she leave?” This question reflects a societal assumption that women have the primary responsibility for stopping abuse in a relationship. It is common for women who have been abused to have self-esteem problems and feel they deserve to be battered.
Such perceptions are slowly beginning to change, again as a result of Simpson’s slaying. Peggy Kerns, a Colorado State legislator said, Simpson has almost legitimized the concerns and fears around domestic violence.
Why Does She Stay?
There are many reasons why battered women remain with their partners. One woman, Pam Butler, wrote an article attempting to answer this question. The male batterer usually sweeps his woman off her feet while they’re dating, never showing the evil side of themselves. Women fall in love with these men not knowing who they really are. The violence usually begins after the two get married.
The battered victim does not want to believe the person that she married is doing this to her. The batterer tells the woman he does not know what came over him and makes excuses for what he has done. The battered victim wants desperately to believe anything other than they meant to batter her. As long as a victim believes anything but the truth, they will stay.
The batterer changes back and forth from the man they fell in love with to the man, who beats them, keeping the victim confused. When things are good the victims do not want to leave, and when they are being battered they are too weak to fight, and they give up. The batterer wears them down to the point that they only live to make him happy so they won’t be hurt.
Eventually, the victim reaches a point where the fear of being injured or killed is too great, or they see their children being hurt, and they decide to leave. This is the time when something inside the victim changes. They are through being battered and decide to leave the situation. This could happen in seconds or could take years. This is the time when most women are killed.
After leaving the batterer continues to harass and beg the victim to stay or come home. When the victim refuses the batterer often threatens to kill her, their children, and her family. Miss Butler feels that America tolerates domestic violence and blames the victims for it. She feels the legal system is sometimes worse than the abuse she has suffered.
Why do most victims stay? Because if she leaves, the chances increase that the batterer may kill her. And if she wins in court, all she does is buy some time.
The statistics of domestic violence are shocking. Most Americans will be affected by domestic violence in their lifetime, either as a victim, a friend of a victim, the children of a victim and batterer, or the batterer himself. All of the articles reviewed in this paper have some similarities. Nobody has a perfect method to stop domestic violence.
Domestic violence has shifted from a civil family problem (the 1970s and prior) to a criminal problem. It seems that mental health professionals are the ones who truly see the abused person as the victim of this deviant behavior. The court system has traditionally treated the abused person harshly and has been lenient with the perpetrator.
The murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, although tragic, shined the spotlight on the topic of domestic violence. Her murder also opened the eyes of many other victims and gave them the courage to leave their abusers.
Politicians and persons in elected positions have created many new programs and laws since Nicole Simpson’s death. In Los Angeles County the Victim Information & Notification every day (V.I.N.E.) program was developed to help the victims of domestic violence.
When a suspect is arrested law enforcement officers are required to give the victim a pamphlet which provides information about the V.I.N.E. system as well as phone numbers for important programs and associations (shelters, counseling, etc.) V.I.N.E. is a free, anonymous, computer-based telephone program that provides victims of crime two important services: information and notification.
Victims can call the than V.I.N.E. database and will quickly be told if the inmate is still in custody and provide custody location. The victim may register for an automated notification call when the inmate is released or transferred.
The one thing that everybody agrees with concerning domestic violence, is all entities involved (mental health, law enforcement, the court system, and probation) must work together to have a realistic goal of preventing this deviant behavior. Education programs similar to D.A.R.E. should be taught to school-age children to stop patterns of abuse from being passed on from generation to generation.
Domestic Violence Persuasive Essay Final Draft “Every year, in the United States there are over 3 million incidents of reported domestic violence. Every year, 4,000 victims of domestic violence are killed.” (Domestic Violence: Disturbing Facts about Domestic Violence). Domestic violence is a crime that is not just committed in the United States, but worldwide.
This crime is committed every day, every hour, every minute, and every second. Anybody can be a victim or the abuser. This can happen to any child, man, or woman. This is a horrific crime. Women are more likely to be the victim in domestic violence than men. “Forty-five percent of all violent attacks against female victims 12 years old and older by multiple.
This act of abuse is when the victim is being touched, or a sexual act is being performed is unwanted. The abuser sometimes uses this tactic as a punishment. “Financial abuse is the use or misuse, without the partner’s freely given consent, of the financial or other monetary resources of the partner or of the partnership.” (Types of Domestic Abuse).
The abuser will keep the victim(s) away from their jobs, which will cause them to lose money and eventually get fired. The abuser will also create conflict with the victim’s coworkers. They will also take the victim’s credit cards and will also take control of their bank account(s) and control their spending.
“Identity abuse is using personal characteristics to demean, manipulate and control the partner…tactics overlap with other forms of abuse, particularly emotional abuse…comprised of the social “isms, including racism, sexism, ageism, able-ism, beauty-ism, as well as homophobia.” (Type of Domestic Abuse).
The abuser will stereotype the victims(s) by their ethnicity, race, sexuality, or gender. They will also humiliate them and judge them by their behavior and how they do things. This will also lower the victim’s self-esteem and self-confidence. These types of abuse are very dangerous, psychologically, and physically. In order to help stop this crime, people will need to be educated on domestic violence and the ways to help prevent this from happening.
Violence against family members is something women do at least as often as men. There are dozens of solid scientific studies that reveal in a startlingly different picture of family violence than what we usually see in the media. For instance, Murray Straus, a sociologist, and co-director for the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire gave some statistics that blew my mind away.
He concluded saying that women were three times more likely than men to use weapons in spousal violence. He also said that women hit their male children more than they hit their female children and women commit 52 percent of spousal killings and are convicted of 41 percent of spousal murders. There are also some misleading statistics about family violence. One, men do not usually report their violent wives to the police, because they have too much pride. Two is that children do not usually report their violent mothers to the police.
A reason why we do not see many women get reported is that the media does not encourage men to report the crime. Women are the ones who are encouraged to report spousal violence by countless media reminders. The media always portray the woman to be the victim and the male to be the perpetrator. Men and children may not report when a woman injures them, but the dead bodies of the men and children who are the victims of violent women are usually reported.
There is much confusion about whom to believe in the debate about spousal violence. On one side we have the women’s feminist groups who rely on law enforcement statistics. On the other side, we have a social scientist who relies on scientifically structured studies, which do not get any media attention. America’s press is more concerned with political correctness than scientific accuracy. That is why our society is so screwed up now, because of the media.
It is important to note that there has been the same kind of studies done in many countries. There is cross-cultural verification that women are more violent than men in family settings. When the behavior has cross-cultural verification it means that it is part of human nature rather than a result of cultural conditioning.
Females are most often the perpetrators in spousal violence in all cultures that have been studied to date. That leads many professionals to conclude that there is something biological about violent females in family situations. Women see the home as their territory. Like many other species on the planet, we humans will ignore size differences when we experience conflict in our own territory. World wide, women are more violent than men in family settings.
Women usually initiate spousal abuse. That means they hit first, and women hit more frequently, as well as using weapons three times more often than men. This combination of violent acts means that efforts to find solutions to the family violence problem need to include an appropriate focus on female perpetrators. We need to recognize that women are violent, and we need nationwide educational programs that portray women are perpetrators.
Other studies show that men are becoming less violent at the same time that women are becoming more violent. Educating men seems to be working. Educating men seems to be working. Educating women to be less violent should now be the main thrust of public education programs.
Just as bad cases make bad laws, so can celebrity cases reinforce old myths. The biggest myth the O.J. Simpson case is likely to reinforce is the myth that domestic violence is a one-way street (male-to-female), and its corollary, that male violence against women is an outgrowth of masculinity. I felt violence was an outgrowth of masculinity.
But, men are responsible for most of the violence, which occurs outside the home. However, when 54 percent of women in lesbian relationships acknowledge the violence in their current relationship, vs. only 11 percent of heterosexual couples reporting violence, I realize that domestic violence is not an outgrowth of male biology.
There are some good men out there that will not hit back no matter what the woman does. This is an article that appeared in the April 20, 1997 edition of the Detroit News: He never hit back — and he never filed charges. But more shocking to Gillhepsy are the reactions she encountered telling her story. They told me I was the victim, said Gillespie, 34, of Marquette. Here’s no way any of this was his fault. …
I knew the difference between being the victim and being the perpetrator. I am ashamed of what I did. Gillespie believes most people don’t believe men can be victims. She knows they are wrong. I think it is just as serious as (violence against women) — you just don’t hear about it, Gillespie says. Maybe more men would come forward if you did. Gillespie, who wed at 16, says she began beating her husband early in their 16-year marriage. Her former husband, reached by phone, declined to comment but confirmed that abuse took place.
At the time, Gillespie was a crack user, a heroin addict, and an alcoholic. She says she beat her husband in fits of rage, usually when she wanted money or the car. I told him he was no good, and that he was a loser. I kicked him and threw things at him, she says. I used him and used him and used him. The turning point came in February 1993, when Gillhespy struck two pregnant women in Grand Rapids while driving drunk.
Gillespie received 45 days in jail and was sent to a drug treatment program in Marquette. She has gotten a divorce, finished high school, and stayed sober. In a year, she will receive a degree from Northern Michigan University.
And although Gillhespy now understands the issues that led her to violence, she says she accepts full responsibility for her actions. Her strength, she says, comes from admitting that she had a problem — and from trying to help others accept that domestic violence goes both ways. I’m the other side of the coin, she says simply. If you’re abused, you’re abused.
Strange as it sounds, some people fear that publishing a study about battered men might shift much-needed attention away from the abuse of women, the scope of which researchers agree is underestimated. But at least there have been attempts to document the battered woman problem.
For instance, a new Johns Hopkins University survey of 3,400 women published in this week’s JAMA finds that nearly four in 10 women surveyed in emergency rooms say they’ve been physically or emotionally abused in their lifetimes. Numbers like that are rare when it comes to abused men.
In fact, many people believe that battered husbands are practically nonexistent. Or they believe that they’re such a minute fraction, compared to the numbers of battered women, that they don’t represent a trend that needs attention. But family violence expert Murray Straus says that abused men do exist, in higher numbers than we care to acknowledge.
The topic I have chosen to research is how a victim of domestic violence escapes an abusive relationship, the steps they may need to go through to get out, the consequences that may occur if they leave, and the probability of staying out of a future relationship with the current partner.
I will also discuss the prevalence of domestic violence and tools that can be used to predict homicide in a domestic violent relationship. I chose to research this topic due to the widespread effects of this heartbreaking experience and that should the need arise; I could be a source of support and help.
Domestic violence is known by different names, such as intimate partner violence, battered women syndrome, or spousal abuse, but despite the name, it includes “physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and psychological aggression (including coercive tactics) by a current or former intimate partner (i.e., spouse, boyfriend/ girlfriend, dating partner, or ongoing sexual partner.
1. The prevalence of domestic violence is widely felt, with nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime. Severe physical violence is defined as being hit with a fist or other hard object, being kicked, hurt by pulling hair, being slammed against something, tried to hurt by choking, or tried to suffocate, beaten, burned on purpose, or having a knife or gun used to intimidate or hurt.
2. These are the realities that happen in this kind of relationship.During the course of researching this topic, the concept of escalation was repeated in various sources. A person in a domestic violent relationship usually doesn’t experience violence at the start of the relationship, or the abuse doesn’t reach a severe magnitude at the beginning of the relationship.
The abuse usually escalates, or increases, over time. I learned in researching this topic that the whole situation is complex. In terms of leaving and staying, it all becomes a process that may be very hard for the victim to carry out. For the victim’s safety and well being, the relationship must be terminated. The reasons victims stay in the relationship include economical concerns, emotional worries, a belief that the abuse is normal, and fear for their future without their current partner.
Although a victim’s rationale for remaining in the relationship may not seem valid to outside observers, if the abuse is even recognized, to the victim, these voices of reason are intense. The abuser has such control and power over the non-dominant partner that the victim often times does not realize the manipulation being asserted. Deciding to leave the relationship is usually a long process, with the decision often changed back and forth as things seem to improve, then worsen, and back and forth until finally, the victim leaves.
The 2009 research article entitled “Battered Women, Children, and the End of Abusive Relationship” reviews many reasons why many victims of domestic violence decide to leave the abusive partner. These include the fact that as stated above, the violence increases, the violence is identified by outside friends or family, the violence spreads to the victim’s children. This third reason, which the violence spread to the victim’s children, was often cited as the most compelling reason to leave the relationship. As cited in the article, one woman described her thoughts:
“Eventually, my daughter who’s the oldest, he began to treat her really badly…. At that point, I knew that I wasn’t going to allow him to continue to hurt her emotionally…. I’m sorry, you can do whatever you want to me to a point, but don’t start doing this to my daughter and to the kids.” Another woman shared a similar experience: ‘‘My greatest motivation [to get help] was my children. When he wasn’t satisﬁed hitting me, he started hitting my kids. And I didn’t like that. Not to my kids. I said ‘No’ to this. Not them.’’
Once the victim decides to leave the relationship, careful planning and preparation usually are required to ensure a safe exit, especially if children are involved.
3. A positive step toward becoming a survivor of domestic violence is taking charge of one’s life and having a personalized safety plan to help while making an exit from the relationship. It is important to have things thought out and written down to provide more confidence in following a safety plan.
4. A safety plan should include identifying the partner’s use and level of force so the risk of physical danger to the victim and children can be assessed before it occurs. Second, identify safe areas of the house where there are no weapons, and there are ways to escape and move to those areas if arguments arise. Third, do not run to where the children are, as the children may fall victim to the abuse as well. Fourth, have a phone accessible at all times and know what numbers to call for help, in addition to knowing where the nearest public phone is located.
Know the phone number to the local shelter and if the situation is life-threatening, call the police. A fifth item a safety plan should have is to let trusted friends and neighbors know of the situation and develop a plan and visual signal for when help is needed. These are some items to have written on a safety plan while a victim is planning for the best time to leave. This is not an all-inclusive list for devising a safety plan, but it is a good idea of what a plan should include.
Because violence could escalate when someone tries to leave, the following are some things to keep in mind before making that step. First, keep any evidence of physical abuse, such as pictures of injuries, a journal of all violent incidences, noting dates, events, and threats made, if possible.
Keep the journal in a safe place. Second, know where to get help and tell someone what is happening to you. Third, plan for a safe place for the children, like a room with a lock or a friend’s house where they can go for help. Reassure them that their job is to stay safe. Fourth, contact the local shelter and find out about laws and other resources available prior to having to use them during a crisis.
Try to set money aside or ask friends or family members to hold money in the event that it is needed. When leaving, a police escort or stand-by can be available. There are 3 things that should be packed away in a “preparation to leave kit”, including identification, legal papers, and emergency numbers, as well as emergency money, medications, and sentimental items.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline5 gives additional recommendations to victims of violent relationships after they leave the relationship. Locks should be changed, caller ID should be requested, and phone numbers should be changed. Additional items to consider in an effort to stay away from the abuser include changing work hours and the route taken to work, alerting school authorities about the situation, and keeping a copy of a restraining order at all times.
Changing stores and social activities can also be beneficial. Family and friends need to be notified that the victim has left and that a restraining order needs to be enforced. Contact with the abuser should be cut off entirely, as the victim may be subjected to the manipulative nature that could pull him or her back into the domestic violent relationship.
Predicting the outcome of a domestic violent relationship is challenging, given that every situation is unique. Potential outcomes include the victim staying in the relationship with a continuation of the violence at the same or escalated level, staying in the relationship and the abuser recognizing the severity of the situation and changing, leaving the relationship successfully and beginning a new life separately, and lastly, the relationship ending in the death of either of the partners.
Jacquelyn C. Campbell, Ph.D., R.N. developed a “Danger Assessment tool” 6 in 1985 that is useful in assessing battered women who may be at risk of being killed as well as those who are not. The assessment asks the respondent to use a calendar of the current year note the approximate dates that abuse occurred and rate the severity of the abuse on a scale of 1 to 5.
Additionally, the tool asks 15 yes or no questions and the total number of yes responses are tallied. A score of greater than 8 indicated the victim was in very grave danger of being murdered by her partner. Many respondents do not realize the severity of the situation they are in, and this tool can help them realize the danger they face.
The prevalence of domestic violence is felt across all economic and cultural aspects of society. It is often hidden by both the abuser and the victim, thereby delaying the opportunity for the victim to seek help. When children are involved, the situation becomes even more complex, as the abused parent must not only decide what is best for him or herself but also must factor in the well being of the children.
As the abuse escalates, the victim is at increased risk of being severely injured or killed by her partner. Researching this topic brings to light the fact that deciding to leave is not an easy decision to make and requires thoughtful planning to be successful. Planning involves what to do during times of abuse, what to prepare prior to leaving, how to execute a plan to leave, and what to do after leaving in order to make certain the relationship is over and the victim is safe.
As cited at the beginning of this discussion, one in four women and one in nine men report having been involved in an abusive relationship over the course of their life. This makes knowing someone involved in such a relationship very likely and offers knowledge that can be used to help end such a relationship.
Example #6 – interesting ideas
As an act, domestic violence is reprehensible because in these modern times, no one should fear and be abused by those they once loved and wedded. It affects not only the abused and their abuser, but also their families and friends.
The family and friends know that the abuse is happening, but they are burdened with the guilt of inaction because they feel it is not their place to intrude on the private life of the couple in question. Even for those who do take action, who do stand up for the rights of the abused, should be wary of having the abuser re-direct their rage toward the would-be rescuer.
The rescuer must also be aware that, even though they risked injury for their friend/relative, that person may return to their violent spouse as they are conditioned by the abuse to believe the ‘deserve it’ in some way.
No one ‘deserves’ to be a victim of domestic violence, but it can be difficult for that person to break what they have essentially been ‘brain-washed’ to believe. The police can do nothing to impede the free-will of the victim’s decision to return and can only hope that the next time they are called to the scene, they won’t need the coroner.
There has been an extensive sociological investigation from the 1970s onwards. Dobash and Dobash (I’ve just realised the irony of their names) were a husband and wife couple who did much of the earlier work as historical sociologists using a feminst perspective.
The various ways this issue has been approached has included these sociological questions:(mostly from a feminist conflict theory approach.)
The historical incidence of domestic violence and the culture of the early modern society( 16th-20th century) that supported mens violence towards their wives.
The reasons why the contemporary (of the 1970s) policing tended to ignore domestic violence as a crime and justice issue and the connections between the historical culture and the 1970s culture.
The range of reasons: economic, psychological, poltical – why it was difficult for women to escape fom domestic violence.
A lot of this research work was done as ‘social action’ research by sociologists who set up escape routes and ‘Shelters’ especiallly for women escaping violent households.
Their research was part , not just of a scholarly interest, but also as part of a much more action oriented schedule, providing refuge, then engaging and educating the police, and helping to represent the women in, what was in the 1970s, a very uninterested criminal justice system.
These sociologists played a major part in criminalising domestic violence and changing Western societies perception of it.The Loyola University of Chicago is still engaged in this ‘social action’ form of research into domestic violence – its located within their gender studies unit.
‘For the past three years Drs. Wright, Jasinski and Mustaine have been collecting data for the National Institute of Justice Sponsored Florida Four City Survey. This study examines the experiences of violence among a sample of approximately 800 women in four large metropolitan cities in Florida.Data from a comparison sample of about 100 men were also collected. Initial analyses have found that an extremely large proportion of the men and women in this project have been victimized in their lifetime.”