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Intimate Relationship Violence
Jackson State University
Table of Contents……………..2
Victims of Crime………………4
Particular Case Study………….5
Assessment of Case……………6
Ethical and Value Issues………8
This paper discusses the types of intimate relationship violence (IVP) and the likely victims of this particular type of violence. A specific case of intimate relationship violence is discussed and assessed. It also dissects the different aspects of working in the field of social work with the victims of IVP in including ethical and political issues.
Intimate Relationship Violence
Intimate relationship violence (IPV) refers to the physical, sexual, or psychological harm caused by a previous or current intimate partner. Physical violence is described as the intentional use of physical force. This can include slapping, shoving, punching, burning, or restraining the victim. Sexual violence is defined as either: the use of physical force to compel a victim into performing or engaging in sexual acts, an attempted or completed sexual act that a person cannot condone because of the influence of drugs and alcohol or disability of some sort, or sexual contact that is abusive. Psychological abuse is defined as repeated traumatic events or coercive behavior with the intent of controlling a person’s behavior (Howard, Agnew-Davies, Feder & Howard, 2013).
Victims of Crime
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one in every four women in the United States has been victims of severe physical violence where an intimate partner was the perpetrator in their lifetime (Breiding, Smith, Basile, Walters, Chen, & Merrick 2011). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that between eighty-five and ninety percent of victims of intimate domestic partners are women. It is safe to say, then, that being a woman definitely puts a person at risk for IPV. If you add the statistic of one of every four women is the victim of sexual battery, a conclusion can be drawn that violence against women is rampant in the United States (Breiding, et. al, 2011). African Americans and Hispanics are twice as likely as their Caucasian counterparts to be the victim of intimate relationship violence, as well (Whitaker & Reese, 2007).
Particular Case Study
As we look at the impact on intimate relationship violence in a person, family and community, the fact that forty-five percent of all homicides occurring are at the hands of either a previous or current intimate partner of the victim is glaring. Take the case of John, for instance. John is a thirty-two year old white male. He has a high school diploma and works as a car mechanic. He has a long history of and has been convicted of domestic violence against his wife, Jane. Jane is a thirty year old white female who has been married to John for eleven years. They met in high school and Jane has never dated anyone else. Jane has a high school diploma and does not work outside of the home. John and Jane live in Dallas, Texas with their two daughters aged seven and three. John is currently being arraigned for six counts of murder. He allegedly killed six members of Jane’s family while he was in a rage searching for Jane, who had recently gathered the strength to leave John. Jane had a restraining order at the time alleging that when she left John, he said that if she left, he would kill her and their two daughters. Her mother, one of the deceased, had also petitioned the courts for a restraining order alleging John had choked her and threatened to kill her and others in her family a week earlier when she refused to tell him where Jane was. Jane’s mother did not have a restraining order against John at the time of her death. John allegedly went over to Jane’s sister’s house with a pistol and asked where Jane was. When Jane’s mother said they would not tell him, John shot her in the head. She died instantly. Then, John shot both of Jane’s nephews in an effort to coerce Jane’s sister and brother-in-law into telling him where Jane and his two children were and then killed Jane’s sister and brother-in-law. He was arrested less than a block away from Jane’s grandparent’s home where Jane was staying.
When assessing Jane’s case of intimate partner violence, we see a history of violence that goes back ten years. Jane stated that John started abusing her during their first year of marriage. He was also psychologically abusive by controlling her behavior and constantly degrading her. He also forced Jane to engage in sexual acts with him regularly. Jane stated although she tried to hide the abuse from her children, John would frequently degrade her in front of the children. Once, she said she was forced to perform sexual acts while the children were in the same room sleeping. She stated she stayed with John because “who else would have her?” She finally left John for the last time when he hit her seven year old daughter. She obtained a restraining order thirty days before the death of her family.
Assessment of Case
On a micro level, Jane was isolated from her family. She was constantly degraded and humiliated. Her shame did not allow her to be open with anyone about the consistent abuse she faced at home. Jane’s sense of self and well-being was eviscerated during the abuse. She did not think she was worth any better than what she was getting from John and thus suffered years of abuse. Coercive control is thought by some to be the defining feature of intimate partner violence (Howard et. al, 2013). After John allegedly murdered Jane’s family members, she now has feelings of guilt on top of the other issues she was already dealing with. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, the long-term effects on Jane’s physical, emotional, mental, and economic well-being can be affected. Jane’s injuries can cause her reproductive and sexual health issues. John’s constant verbal abuse could have affected Jane in ways that she does not even realize. She may think that the verbal abuse was not as bad as it was. If she accepts any part of John’s abusive behavior as normal, she is at high risk of becoming a victim again in other intimate relationship (Kaur & Garg, 2008).
On a mezzo level, we think of the effect on Jane’s two daughters. They repeatedly saw their father abusing their mother. Children of abused women are at a higher risk for suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, developmental delays, attention problems, and many other behavioral and emotional difficulties (Bancroft, Lundy, Ritchie, Daniel, Silverman & Jay G., 2012). They are also more likely to be involved in violent behaviors. They are more likely to either be a perpetrator or victim of domestic violence themselves as an adult (Bancroft et. al., 2012).
In John’s case, there is apparent upset on a macro level. The murders of family members of the abused are not the norm, but are becoming more frequent according to the CDC (Breiding, et. al, 2011). During the years of abuse, Jane was isolated from her family, but they were more than likely aware that abuse was occurring even if they did not realize the extent of the abuse. Feeling helpless in these circumstances are frustrating and overwhelming. Referring to the statistics stated earlier, a safe assumption would be that everyone living in the United States knows someone who is currently or has previously been in an abusive relationship. Women are seen as weak and vulnerable by society (Kaur & Garg, 2008). Because of this view, even if society disagrees with violence against women both inside and out of the household, it has become accepted as something that just happens to women.
Ethical and Value Issues
As a social worker working with victims of intimate partner violence, there are a variety of ethical issues and value conflict that could occur. In Jane’s case, why would she stay and allow her children to be exposed to violence year after year? My values state that a child’s physical and emotional well-being should always be a high priority. Jane had a number of reasons to stay and without taking away her right and determination to make her own choice, a social worker’s responsibility is to protect and advocate for people that cannot do so.
This ethical dilemma pits self determination against the well-being of the children. Legally, social workers have an obligation to protect individuals from harm if they can by reporting the abuse to law enforcement individuals. Towards the end of Jane’s story, it is easy to see the children are in imminent danger. It is not as easy to see that in the years prior, however. When the abuse was focused on Jane, if she had wanted to stay and not press charges against her husband, there is not very much that could have been done. The state can press charges on her behalf but it is hard to prove domestic violence if the victim does not speak out against her abuser.
Legally speaking women’s rights in a marriage have come a long way from where we started. Being married was actually an exemption stated in the criminalization of rape until the 1993 here in America. This was based on the English common law stating that when women were married, they gave up themselves to their husbands and that cannot be retracted as long as the two people remain married. The idea of society was what happened inside of a home was the personal business of the family.
Although we have progress in the United States, there is still the problem of one of every four women being the victim of severe violence within their home. As with the case of Jane, women who receive a restraining order may not be fully protected from their abuser. It is true that Jane did not perish at the hands of her abuser, but six members of her family was shot because in the state of Texas, where she lives, it is still legal for a person with a restraining order to own and carry a gun. Obviously, if a person wants to hurt someone bad enough, there is no stopping them, but according to womanslaw.org, John was still able to own and legally carry a gun during this volatile time obviously exacerbated the situation (2013).
Intimate relationship violence is a widespread problem that is not limited by race, religion, ethnicity, education level, or sex (Baker, 2010). Even though this crime is so far reaching, it is still referred to as the “hidden crime” because victims suffer in silence. Initially, intimate relationship violence affects the individuals and family that are experiencing it, but over time, the entire community is affected by the violence. To grow up in such a war zone or to suffer as Jane did is unimaginable to me. To not be able to help every Jane out there would be morally trying for me because it is human nature to protect and nurture. No one wants to see a situation like Jane’s continue for her and her children. To further prevent these situations, we need to address the policy that we have in place to prevent it. If violence is so widespread within our homes across America, we need to wage a war on the violence. Enact harsher penalties. Make it unacceptable to abuse a partner. The challenge to this is the secrecy behind intimate relationship violence. All of these policies sound good but until we as a society begin looking at intimate relationship violence as something that is unacceptable, we will continue having the problem that we do.
Baker, L. M. (2010).Counseling Christian Women on How to Deal with Domestic Violence. Bowen Hills, Qld: Australian Academic Press.
Breiding, M. J., Smith, S. G., Basile, K. C., Walters, M. L., Chen, J., & Merrick, M. T. (2011). Prevalence and characteristics of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence victimization — national intimate partner and sexual violence survey, United States, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6308a1.htm?s_cid=ss6308a1_e
Howard, L., Agnew-Davies, R., Feder, G., & Howard, L. (2013).Domestic Violence and Mental Health. London: RCPsych Publications.
Kaur, R., & Garg, S. (n.d.). Addressing domestic violence against women: An unfinished agenda. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2784629/
National intimate partner and sexual violence survey—2010 summary report [Fact sheet]. (2011). Retrieved November 18, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/ summary_reports.html
State law overview [Fact sheet]. (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2014, from http://www.womenslaw.org/laws_state_type.php?statelaw_name=State Law Overview&state_code=TX
Whitaker, D. J., & Reese, L. (Eds.). (2007). Preventing Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Violence in Racial/Ethnic Minority Communities: CDC’s Demonstration Projects [Lecture notes]. Retrieved November 18, 2014, from http://stacks.cdc.gov/view/cdc/11488/cdc_11488_DS1.pdf
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