Between 2001 and 2012, a total of 6,488 American troops were killed during war in Afghanistan and Iraq. During the same period, 11,766 women were murdered by current or past male partners. The figure reflects almost double the casualties of war. Women are the most probable victims of domestic violence: with 85% reported cases involving women as victims compared to 15% men (Safe Horizon, 2015). The media is overwhelmed by stories of domestic abuse, from athletes assaulting significant others in public or private, celebrities beating their girlfriends and many more along the same lines. This issue of domestic violence is not one that will quietly disappear. A lot of women have been made captives of domestic violence; either through physical, financial or emotional abuse, or a combination of all three (Jogerst et al., 2003).
Domestic violence is a treacherous and recurrent problem that has its foundations deeply embedded in our culture. Domestic violence involves behavioral patterns that are used to enforce power and control over another person. The power and control are established through creation of fear and intimidation which include threatening or using violence. Other terms used to refer to domestic violence include: spousal abuse, family violence, or relationship abuse (Jogerst et al., 2003). It is important to note that domestic violence or abuse can happen to any person; without regard to their gender, income, sexual orientation, race or other factors. Both women and men have been victims of domestic violence; with men leading as perpetrators, and women leading as victims (Cook, 2009).
Victims are not to be blamed for any incidence of domestic violence. While there isnt an outright explanation for the occurrence of domestic violence, its incidence is attributed to the perpetrator. Over 60% of incidents related to domestic violence occur at home (Browne, 2012). Data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development suggests that domestic violence is third in causing of homelessness among families. Not less than of families in the City of New Yorks family shelter system are victims of homelessness due to domestic violence.
To understand the impact of domestic violence, it is important to trace its origns. Domestic violence has been described as a pattern of behaviors that are used to create a hold of power or control on another person using intimidation (Dutton, 2011). The perpetrators of domestic violence usually use fear as a weapon to gain hold of the victim. Domestic violence has also been described by other terms such as intimate partner violence, battering, relationship abuse, spousal abuse, or family violence (Dutton, 2011). According to a State of the World Fathers report, on average globally, one in three women fall victim to domestic violence in their lifetime (Dutton, 2011). The same report asserts that men and children are also victims of domestic violence. However, children suffer more than men who are the leading perpetrators of domestic violence. Domestic violence can take place to anyone, anywhere, at any time regardless of his or her gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, or other factors. Women and men have the capability of falling victim to domestic violence. Perpetrators of domestic violence can learn and acquire the habit from their lifestyle decisions.
Why it is Important
There are many facets of domestic violence that people do not understand in the present day. Mental, emotional, sexual, financial, physical and verbal abuse all fall within the scope of domestic violence (Johnson, 2010). In the present day, many believe that there are some types of abuse that cause less damage. It can be presumed that these types of abuse are those that do not leave scars or bruises on the victim. Additionally, some people believe that it is acceptable to control your spouses behavior or choices in some instances. Domestic violence has risen to be a serious problem affecting society and a national health concern with serious negative effects on national health (Johnson, 2010). Domestic violence has disturbing negative effects on individuals and whole communities. Domestic violence has been attributed with being the leading cause of injury for women in the United States (Johnson, 2010). Domestic violence is a serious national issue that needs the combined efforts of the government, legislators and private citizens to curb.
The aspect of domestic violence as a learned and intentional habit will be examined using quantitative research methods that are mainly descriptive. Secondary research will be carried out to investigate the core theories posed to explain the prevalence or expression of domestic violence in society. Independent factors that are associated with domestic violence will be studied and their impact assessed. The main independent factors that will be considered are socioeconomic factors and alcohol abuse.
Theories Related to Domestic Violence
Majority of domestic violence cases are directed towards women from men. Many theories have been put forward over time and evolved in a bid to understand the reasons behind unrestrained (and many times cannot berestrained) violence in human society. Among these theories, the most discussed are the feminist, evolutionary, ecological and culture of violence theory.
Theory 1 (Culture of Violence Theory)
The culture of violence theory is based on the premise that in enormous pluralistic societies, some subcultures cultivate customs that allow for the use of physical violence to a greater extent than the main culture (Harne& Radford, 2008). Subsequently, in violent societies, there will be more prevalence of domestic violence than in peaceful societies. Relationships between peers that back patriarchal dominance in the family and employment of violence to sustain it are typical examples of this subculture. This theory has led to production of theories that things such as pornography and violent images portrayed on television can encourage a culture of violence aimed towards women (Harne& Radford, 2008).
Theory 2 (Ecological Theory)
The ecological theory tries to relate violence expressed in the family in the context of the greater social environment (Harne& Radford, 2008). The greater social environment is inclusive of the formal and informal social networks connected to the family, the closer family setting and situations, and the past of the family. The structure sets up grounds for a risk-theory of domestic violence built on the provided conditions.
Theory3 (Evolutionary Theory)
The evolutionary theory poses that over time, societies have undergone change from simple systems to more complex organizations (Harne& Radford, 2008). The family size has reduced and become nuclear. Social relations have evolved to become more structured and so more indistinct. The changes have led to appearance and adoption of different parenting styles. For instance, in close nit family networks, children are afforded less independence and it is not uncommon for physical violence to be used to instill obedience. The evolutionary theory argues that obedience is esteemed in highly structured hierarchical societies where many interactions take place in formal social encounters outside of the home.
Theory 4 Feminist Theory
Many varying ideas exist within the feminist theory of domestic violence. However, as observed by Bograd in Feminist Perspectives on Wife Abuse, there are four common strains (Harne& Radford, 2008). The strains are firstly, as the dominant class, men have more access to material and meaningful resources while women are predominantly devalued as secondary and inferior. Secondly, it is possible in many instances to predict cases of intimate partner abuse in the dimension of common family life. The third strain is that womens experiences are perceived as inferior due to male domination in all aspects of life. The fourth strain is that the feminine perspective is geared towards advocating for women, creating an antagonism with the conventional perceptions.
Other theories exist to attempt in explaining the prevalence of domestic violence in society. However, they can all be attributed to have a relationship with the four proposed by Bograd. However, one thing that is for certain is that domestic violence is carried out intentionally and is a habit that can be learned.
Women between the ages of 20-24 have the highest risk factor of becoming victims of domestic violence. Over 4 million women fall prey to physical assault and rape by their partners. One third of female homicide victims are fatalities of current or previous partners annually (Clark County Prosecuting Attorney, n.d.). 25%-45% of women who have experienced physical assaults by their partners were pregnant at the time. Domestic violence does not terminate after separation in many cases. More than 70% of women injured in domestic violence cases were attacked after separation. 1 out of 6 women have been victims of attempted or complete rape, while 1 out of 33 men have been victims of the same. 1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 males have been victims of stalking in their lifetime (Goodmark, 2012).
Children are also affected by domestic violence. Annually, over 3 million children are spectators to incidents of domestic violence in their homes (Goodmark, 2012). Consequently, neglecting rates are high for children who hail from homes suffering domestic violence (30% to 60%). In addition, children who are exposed to home domestic violence are at higher risk of experiencing health problems such as frequent sickness, headaches, coughs, stomach aches, and lethargy. Children are highly likely to get involved in cases of severe violence targeting a parent, which places them at high risk of injury or death. Moreover, witnessing domestic violence is a high risk factor for children picking up the habit in future.
Victims of domestic violence usually face a lot of depression, insomnia, anxiety and general emotional distress. Domestic violence plays a major role in contributing to poor health of many victims/ survivors. Common conditions include gastrointestinal disorders and heart disease. Most women admitted to emergency rooms as victims of domestic violence are isolated socially and possess meagre financial power (Bergen, 1998).
Economic Cost of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is reported to cost more than $37 billion annually in direct and indirect costs (Safe Horizon, 2015).. The costs involved include involvement of law enforcement, legal costs, medical costs including insurance, and loss of productivity in firms.
98% victims of domestic violence suffer financial abuse (Safe Horizon, 2015).. The main reason they stay or return to abusive relationships is their inability to be financially independent. When the abusing party is in control of the victims cash supply, the victim is usually unable to break free from the abuser. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, people with lower income averaging below $25 thousand are three times more at risk of domestic violence than those with annual income over $50 thousand (Goodmark, 2012).
Domestic violence is a vice that has been around for a long time. The cause or causes cannot be specifically pointed out; however, the impact is clearly visible. The loss to the economy and impact on personal health is not to be underestimated. The measures taken by authorities are still not sufficient to combat the vice. A lot more needs to be done by the authorities and general public to combat domestic violence to curb its prevalence.
The traditional justice system is not designed to meet the needs of the victim. It is a punitive model that emphasizes on conviction and punishment of the offender wi...
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