Understanding Domestic Violences causes and effects

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According to the U.S. Department of Justice, almost 50% of violent crimes are committed against domestic partners (Durose, 2005). Many people in America do not understand what domestic violence is, how to identify warning signs of domestic violence, or how to help prevent domestic violence.  In my opinion domestic violence is a very important issue that if controlled could help keep crime down in our communities and allow law enforcement to focus their time and efforts on stopping crimes such as murder, robbery, etc. The three articles below touch on these matters in depth.

Domestic violence is known as a violent altercation between family or household members. This violence includes but is not limited to, physical abuse and sexual assault. Most of the domestic violence crimes reported is against women. Domestic violence is also known as asspousal abuse (Domestic Violence and Abuse). Asspousal abuse is when one partner within the relationship attempts to control or dominate the other.

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Intimate partner abuse deals with physical and mental abuse among partners within a relationship (spouse, boyfriend, girlfriends, lovers.) Marital rape is the unwanted sexual intercourse obtained by force, threat of force, or when the partner is unable to consent (Bergen, 1996). Most people view marital rape as when a husband forces his wife, through threats, intimidation or physical violence, to engage in sexual activity against her will. Before July 5, 1993, marital rape was considered legal within the United States. However, the law was changed July 5, 1993, making marital rape illegal in the United States by at least one section of the laws that regulate sexual misconduct. Marital rape usually includes acts of violence physical assaults, threats, and isolation of the victim and any children that are involved. "Women who have been sexually assaulted by their partners experience many of the same feelings as other rape victims, such as shame, confusion, and depression. Additionally, she may feel trapped in the situation because of threats, economic dependence, religious beliefs and fear of retaliation from her partner (National Institute of Justice and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1998)

Battered women are women who are physically and mentally abused over a period of time by a spouse or boyfriend. There are four general characteristics of the syndrome: the woman believes that the violence was or is her fault, fears for her life and/or her children's lives, believes her abuser is omnipresent and omniscient and has an inability to place responsibility for the violence elsewhere (Walker, 1994) There are also four general stages in the battered women's syndrome. Denial is the first stage in which the woman refuses to admit there is a problem. These women often make excuses for the physical and mental violence and convince themselves it will never happen again. The spouse or boyfriend usually blames the woman for his actions. Guilt is considered the second stage and is when the women realize she's not the problem but the victim. However, during this stage there are some women who see themselves as the problem and try to do everything in their power to make the abuser happy in order to avoid the abuse. Enlightment is the third stage and is when the women finally acknowledge the abuse is unacceptable and no one should have to suffer this sort of abuse from a partner. Even though the woman realize the abuse is a problem, she stays in the relationship hoping the abuse will stop and her partner will change. The final stage of the battered women's syndrome is responsibility. The woman finally realize that her partner has the except responsibility for his actions and be willing to change. The woman begins taking the necessary steps in order to get away from the abuse.

Same-sex couples suffer domestic violence issues just like heterosexual couples. "In same-sex abuse, a pattern of violence or behaviors exists where one seeks to control the thoughts, beliefs, or conduct of their intimate partner, or to punish their partner for resisting their control (Fisher, 2006) Domestic abuse within same-sex couples usually goes unreported. Victims of same-sex domestic violence are often afraid and ashamed, so they fail to report or seek help from outside sources. Victims of same-sex abuse go through the same abuse as the victims in heterosexual relationships. Emotional bullying, physical aggression, threats to harm the victim or other loved ones, social isolation, control of finances, and extreme jealousy are forms of physical and mental abuse suffered within these couples (Fisher, 2006) However, same-sex victims of abuse have to worry about their abuser "outing" them out to family and friends, if they haven't come out and disclosed they are gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

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According to an article written by Hutchison and Pesackis domestic violence crimes take up a lot of time from the police force. The stop or reduction in domestic crimes committed could reduce the work of our law enforcement officials. More time could be spent investigating or even preventing other major criminal activity. In fact most of the domestic violence phone calls received by police are not truly domestic violence crimes at all. Contrary to popular opinion, calls to the police involving domestic violence situations are not overwhelmingly about husbands and, moreover, involve a brutal physical attack a minority of the time. Police can do little in the majority of domestic call situations precisely because they are empowered to act officially only if there has been either a misdemeanor or felony committed. Due to this reason it is very important that people truly understand the meaning of domestic violence.

Truth be told actual phone calls for police assistance in domestic violence is not major. Nationwide it has been estimated that domestic violence calls constitute a significant minority of all calls for police assistance, although only about one half of domestic violence victims report calling the police (Langan & Innes, 1986). Even among those who ever call the police for a domestic violence situation, few make such calls every time there is an abusive incident Although police are the most utilized of any public agency, their utilization is not an accurate reflection of the total abuse that occurs within families. Basically it is not the quantity of the calls received for police assistance it is the quality of the calls received for domestic violence help.

Police are the only public agency on hand in nearly every community to victims of domestic violence during all times of the day and also at night. Once a call for help has been received, it is dispatched using one of the three response-time codes used by the police force. The response time codes are immediate, emergency or routine. Once police arrive at the scene, the responding officers must make a determination on whether a misdemeanor crime has taken place, no probable cause exists at all, or a felony has been committed at the scene. If there was no probable cause, police are not authorized to take any official action. At that time all the police can do is paperwork at a maximum. If the circumstances involve a misdemeanor crime, police in general have the power to make an on-the-scene arrest. Lastly, if the officers in response decide that a felony took place, and responding officers do possess that authority, they can and most often do make an immediate arrest. In some cases, arrest is mandatory even if the domestic violence incident is not a criminal felony.

The point is not to discourage people from reporting domestic violence crimes. However Amy Coha wrote an article to help discuss what domestic violence really is. Most crimes reported to the police are not domestic violence crimes therefore police can not do anything once on the scene of the crime. Nonetheless some people maybe a victim of domestic violence and not know it. Most domestic violence crimes are never even reported until it is o late if even at all. This is why understanding domestic violence is very important not only for a victim but for the person doing the crime. The more people understand about domestic violence the more we as a community are able to stop, prevent, and even report when necessary.

The big question asked is whose responsibility is domestic violence? Domestic violence is everyone's responsibility. This type of criminal activity is killing our communities and the families that we are trying to build across the world. Everyone across the globe should do their part in protecting people from domestic violence. However, a good start is right within your family home environment. How someone is treated at home and through out their life is essential to how they will treat others as they continue to grow.

The family element is expected to be made up of love, support, and happiness. However, that element is often broken and filled with physical and emotional abuse suffered by millions of people worldwide every year. Intimate partner abuse, child abuse, elder abuse and sibling-to-sibling abuse are types of violence that often occur within the family element. This type of family violence sets the tone for domestic violence abuse to carry on. Therefore it is important to look at the nature of this sort of abuse and find ways to protect our family members. We have to work together as a community to bring awareness in order to help prevent violence within the family, while providing services for victims.

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There are indeed a few practices that we all can use to help prevent domestic violence crimes from occurring. The most obvious one being of course knowledge of what domestic violence is. One could also encourage the community to establish help centers for domestic violence. Even though we want to take all of our problems to law enforcement officials, most of them could be solve right in our communities by the community.

In conclusion, domestic violence is a very serous crime that takes up a lot of law enforcement time and effort. Understanding and preventing domestic violence activity and situations could go a long way to reducing wasteful law enforcement activity. Furthermore the education involved with community help could actual help the others whom actually are victims of domestic violence situations understand and come forth with there situation before it is to late and a more serous crime is committed.