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The purpose of my research is to show how to empower domestic violence victims to prevent them from or remaining becoming victims. I satisfy this purpose by recognizing the signs of domestic abuse by the abuser, examining the history of domestic violence and, statistical data; I also address the enabling friends, family to recognize the symptoms of the abused.
Domestic Violence is an assault on an intimate partner with most violence committed against women by their male partner (ABA, 2010). Many programs have been introduced to communities as well as states to protect victims of domestic violence and their children. Women are forced to leave their lives behind taking the children with them to shelters or Child Protective Services take them, due to the abuse and instability in the home. Battered women shelters have been opened in an attempt to keep the women and children in hiding from their abuser. Often the victims and their children will move to another state in an attempt to be safe from the abuser. Children receive counseling and often suffer depression, aggressive behavior, and development of adult health problems (APA, 2010).
Domestic violence seems to be more focused on the victims than the batterer, resulting in having programs to protect the victim. Some examples are battered women’s shelters, and receiving assistance from programs to protect victims from the batterer. For the batterer, abusive acts are a control issue and batterers are determined to keep that control over their victims sometimes, leading to stalking and murdering their victim for the ultimate control and power (NCJRS 2005).
American society exerts a lot of time and money into programs to assist battered women and children who are witnesses of the violence. Society needs to look at the offender in an attempt to
understand the offenders’ reason for the violence, to study their main objective and why the abusers ultimately have no control over themselves.
Devaney (2008) reported a study conducted on children who were in long-term and complex needs because of experiencing domestic violence. His research revealed that professionals have an awareness of domestic violence, and that younger children with younger parents are most likely to experience prolonged periods in the child protective system. Devaney contended that government policy and professional practice should primarily be concerned with assessing the risk that men present, rather than the risk children and families experience. By reframing professional interventions, men are more likely to be challenged to accept responsibility for their behavior.
The domestically violent patients are more unstable from psychological viewpoint but not more inclined to anger than the average male. When comparing domestically violent patients with generally violent patients, domestically violent patients’ score lower on anger disposition and on aggressive behavior than the generally violent patients did (Kraaimaat, 2008).
According to the American Psychiatric Association (2010), abusers use many ways to isolate, intimidate, and control their partners. Abuse starts slow and may be difficult to
EMPOWERING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS 5
recognize. Initially the abuse is manifested in isolated incidents for which partner’s expresses remorse and promises never to abuse again. The abusers justify their actions because of stress or claims the abuse was something the victim did or did not do. Domestic Violence can lead to other common emotional traumas such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, substance abuse, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Abuse can trigger suicide attempts, psychotic episodes, homelessness, and slow recovery from mental illness (APA, 2010).
Uncovering battering men’s attributions are important in understanding domestic violence, and these attributions are the key to curtailing domestic violence. What is common to these attribution styles is the evasion of responsibility for commission of, and for the need to take action to stop the violence. These attributions styles have been found to increase battering men’s hostility and stress, their risk of engaging in violent behavior, as well as enabling the batterer to continue their violence unchecked (Wallach, 2008).
National Criminal Justice Reference Service (2005) reports power and control are fundamental concepts in the patriarchal family structure and in the relationship between violent men and their female companions; power-control theory may explain the response of the criminal justice system to woman battering. Power-control theory suggests that men batter
women because unless they are in control of their production sphere, and consumption sphere, the potential upset of the family’s balance of power is a real threat to the batterer.
Bostock (2009) reports that situations of domestic abuse can be prolonged by limited options available to victims of support and protection, and a lack of active public
acknowledgement that domestic abuse is unacceptable. Some women felt that the police still adopted and attitude of “it’s just a domestic” and that they did not take the matter seriously or offer effective help and protection.
Stoops (2010), study explores the existence and predictive ability of a behavior-based typology of men who were adjudicated for domestic violence crime in an urban criminal justice system. Results revealed that preliminary support for the development of typological assessment in criminal justice and early settings for early identification of men who may need additional intervention. Early intervention could prevent further escalation of violence from the batterer.
McCloskey (2004) presents information on the characteristics of a clinical population of male perpetrators of intimate partner violence court-ordered for batterer’s treatment, and how those characteristics co-varied with treatment attrition. When treating male batterers who were court-ordered to receive treatment, findings suggested that batterers’ self-reports of their own violent behavior were found to vary by data collection technique, with face-to-face interviews eliciting greater admission of violent behavior than paper-and-pencil questionnaires.
Domestic Violence Awareness Handbook (2010) reports that too many people continue to believe that domestic violence is a private matter between a couple, rather than a criminal offense that merits a strong and swift response. Even today, the victim of a domestic assault runs the risk of being asked, “What did you do to make your husband angry?” This question implies the victim is to blame for this abuse. People in the criminal justice system Ã¯¿½ police, prosecutors, judges, and jurors Ã¯¿½ need to be educated about the role they can play in curbing acts of domestic violence.
MayoClinic (2010) reports that even if a child is not abused, simply witnessing the domestic violence can be harmful. Children who grow up in abusive homes are more likely to be abused and have behavioral problems than are other children. As adults, child witnesses are more likely to become abusers or think abuse is a normal part of a relationship. Victims worry that seeking help will further endanger them and the child, or that treatment may break up the family. It was stated that treatment is the most effective measure to protect the child.
During the research, my goal was to try to understand the actions and attributes of the batterer, in an attempt to make victims recognize the signs of a batterer before abused women become a victim. Another goal was to recognize the symptoms of the victim. The gathering of information provides an understanding of the abuser, and recognizing the warning signs of an abuser before they become a victim. Education of younger adults assists and informs families and friends of the trend of an abusive relationship.
Recognize Patterns of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a serious threat for many women. To be empowered, the victim must recognize the signs of an abusive relationship and how to leave a dangerous situation to achieve empowerment. Threats, including violence, suicide, or taking away the children are common tactics employed by the batterer. The existence of emotional and verbal abuse, attempts to isolate, and threats of and intimidation within a relationship may be an indication that physical abuse is to follow (MayoClinic, 2010). Knowing the signs of an abusive relationship is not only imperative for the victim, but is also an important weapon against violence for the victim’s
family, friends, and co-workers. The more people that are aware of the attributes of an abuser the less likely the relationship will develop into a domestic violent relationship. The victim is not alone and will not have the feeling of helplessness, or the shame of blaming herself, and will not deny the abuse if the ones that are close to the victim can recognize the signs. Victims will not feel alone, and will break the cycle early.
Education of Community Family, and Friends
Strict new laws are one way to reduce domestic violence, but education could prevent it violence or abuse from starting or escalating to the point of the victim being battered. Education should begin in the high schools for all students on domestic violence awareness to ensure that all members of the community are aware that domestic violence is not a private matter between a couple, rather a criminal offense that merits strong and swift response. Communities must take an interest to promote and educate on the programs that are available to the victims, such as hot lines, police, social workers, and battered women’s shelters.
Awareness needs to be brought to medical professionals who see the victims of violence who ask them about the crime, and seek more information rather than allowing the victim to fabricate an excuse for the batterer. Neighbors must contact the police when they hear violent fights in their neighborhoods. Teachers should be alert to signs that students have witnessed violence at home, or by a partner. Friends need to be educated that it is not the victims fault and assist in anyway, recognizing that abuse is unacceptable. The friends and family of the victims need to understand the needs of someone experiencing abuse. The longer a victim stays in
an abusive relationship, the greater the toll on the victim’s self-esteem, resulting in depression or anxiety. The victim may begin to doubt their ability to take care of themselves or wonder if the abuse is their fault and feeling helpless or paralyzed to act.
Break the Cycle
The longer an abusive relationship continues, the greater toll it takes on the victim’s self-esteem, but the cycle must be broken before the batterer gains total control. The cycle can be broken by telling friends, family or calling a domestic violence shelter, but must be done in a safe location. Victims should be prepared to leave, pack an emergency bag that includes items that the victim needs when they leave, and know exactly where to go and how to get there. The only way to break the cycle of domestic violence is to take action and the sooner the better.
Too many people continue to believe that domestic violence is a private matter between a couple, rather than a criminal offense. Even today, the victim of a domestic assault runs the risk of being blamed for the abuse, as if she is the one that brought on the assault. People in our criminal justice system Ã¯¿½ police, prosecutors, judges, and jurors need to be educated about the role they can play in curbing domestic violence. Nearly thirty percent of all female homicide victims were killed by their husbands, former husbands or boyfriends (Domestic Violence Awareness Handbook, 2010).
Strict new laws are one way to reduce domestic violence but nothing sends a clearer message to a batterer than prosecuting and jailing other batterers. New laws are not the answer if people are not educated in the system to enforce the laws. The victim often feels alone in the
situation, and as a society members must let victims know that they are not alone. American society must take action to let the victims know they are not alone.
Even when cases are brought to court, domestic crimes are difficult to prosecute. All too often victims are so terrorized that victims fear for their lives if they call the police. Silence is the batterer’s best friend. Members of the community, needs to end their silence and change the attitudes toward domestic crime.
EMPOWERING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS 11
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