Domestic abuse also referred to as asspousal abuse happens where in a marriage or an intimate relationship one partner tries to take control and dominate over the other. Where physical violence is involved, such domestic abuse is called domestic violence. An abuser uses intimidation, shame, fear and guilt to wear the other down so that the abused can be kept under the thumb. Abusers may threaten, hurt you and even those around you. There is no discrimination in domestic violence and thus it may happen among same-sex partners and heterosexual couples. Moreover, domestic violence may happen irrespective of our ethnic backgrounds, age and economic backgrounds. Women appear to be the common victims but in modern day society, men are also falling victims especially emotionally and verbally.
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Different approaches have been used by theorists to show that there are specific characteristics associated with individuals who abuse their partners. These approaches have shown that such abusive characters have inability to cope with stress, possess low self-esteem, they have desire to have control and power over others, once had social support isolation, are dependent on their victims, feelings of jealousy and they may also have some psychological and mental disorders. This indicates that there are different risk factors of domestic violence from economic to biological ones.
Thesis: irrespective of what causes a particular domestic violence incident be it economical or biological, domestic violence is a social problem that affects our quality of life. This is an abusive behavior which is never acceptable and it doesn’t matter whether it comes from a woman or a man, an adult or a teenager. Every one of us deserves to be safe, respected and above all valued.
Ideas (risk factors)
There appears to be a statistical correlation between domestic violence and substance abuse. Several studies on domestic violence indicate that there are high rates of substance abuse by perpetrators. Regular use of alcohol is documented as one of the leading risk factors in intimate partner abuse. There is evidence that drug and alcohol addiction and domestic violence are things that usually occur together. This indicates that most families where there is a parent who abuses alcohol or any other drugs have high rates of domestic violence.
There are several statistical evidences that show substance abuse increases the risk of domestic violence in homes. For example, around 87% of program directors in the field of domestic violence assert that intimate partner violence increases in a family where both partners are drugs or alcohol addicts. The U.S. Departments of Justice in its records show that around 61% of domestic violence offenders are addicts of alcohol or any other types of drugs. Moreover, a study conducted by the same Department in 2002 on murders in U.S. families indicated that more than half of those accused of murder of their intimate partners had abused alcohol and other drugs at the time of the murder. This is enough statistical evidence linking alcohol abuse and other drugs to domestic violence (Schechter, 2000).
People who abuse alcohol and especially men argue that they normally engage in domestic violence because at that time they were under the influence of alcohol. In some other instances, those batterers living with women who abuse alcohol or drugs justify their domestic violence as one of the best ways in which they can control their spouses the moment they come home drunk. In such instances, risks associated are high because the woman who is being battered may not have control to seek help since she is not sober. Studies on domestic violence in U.S. population shows that in cases where the man is the batterer and frequently abuses drugs and alcohol, such men have the tendency to rid themselves of the violence responsibility by stating that they did so since they were under the influence of alcohol (Kenneth and Elizabeth, 2000).
Substance abuse not only affects the intimate partner in the household but also the children. Children brought up in such a family experience more sexual, emotional and physical abuse than those in non-substance abusing families. Surveys conducted by National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse shows that around 80% of cases of child abuse are associated with parents who abuse drugs and alcohol. This problem may be translated into the later life stages of such children and thus reports indicate that there is high probability that they also abuse alcohol and other drugs and also result in the same domestic violence (Jeffrey and Abigail, 2007).
Idea #2: a major piece to battering of wives is rooted in most cultures especially in the African traditional society. Most men who batter their wives have rigid rules and views on their gender roles. Most batterers have sexist attitudes towards their intimate partners and this has been a consistent cultural issue causing domestic violence. Majority of our societies have trained men in a way that they see women in objectified and disrespectful ways. This makes most men to see their intimate partners as their possession. It was not long ago when in most cultures, women were always considered as properties of men. This is an attitude that actually still lives in the culture of United States. Today, only several years have passed since most states in the U.S. changed their laws regarding rape that occurs among married couples. There before, the laws in most states stated that a man could not be convicted in jail because of raping his wife. This is an implication that this woman was the property of her husband. Thus men in such cultures could do anything with the wife and the only thing that was required of her was just to cooperate. Even if such laws have been changed today, there are still churches where ceremonies are performed for the wife to rake oath that she is going to honor, love and obey her husband.
In most cultures, when a woman gets married, she has to take the name of her husband. The main idea here is that it becomes simpler than to add middle names or even to hyphenate names. This follows from the fact that in marriage and in all societies, a woman has to leave her father’s house and join the husband in his house. There is no time women belonged to themselves but they only belonged to their husband or father. This is what represented the woman’s last name. We can liken this to African slaves who would always take the name of their master or the slave holder. Even in matters of political choices, women started voting the other day and they were taken as individuals who could not take any stand on political matters. The underlying theme is that the general attitudes men have towards women affect people’s willingness to hurt them physically.
Emerging African literature on different causal theories shows there is power of norms and tradition in African cultures that explain the widespread domestic violence incidence. There are so many African societies which see that as a direct connection and as a result they argue that wife battering is normal in African traditions. According to Randall (2003), this is a proposition that is supported by several authors who have conducted several interviews. One such good example is the interview from the Social Welfare Office of Ibadan, Nigeria. This is a region where even police officers remind women who come to report that they have been battered by their husband that Yoruba culture allows its men to beat their women. There are however other indirect cultural explanations of some concepts such as polygamy impact, male promiscuity acceptance, uneven power distribution in traditional African marriages, power of extended families on a married couple and the bride price institution as underlying causes for wives abuse. Payment of bride price to the wife’s parents after marriage makes it even more difficult to leave their battering husbands unless the amount paid is willingly returned by the families of origin.
According to Randall (2003), domestic violence studies conducted in Zimbabwe involving interviews on twenty-five male abusers and seventy-five female victims of domestic violence in Shona-speaking community showed that cultural factors are a major cause for domestic violence. In this study, it was reported that most domestic quarrels emerged out of jealousy and money. A good example is in the Shona community where quarrels between a husband and his wife emerge because the wife has asked for money. This is taken as a challenge on the traditional absolute male control of the household on family finances. There is also a similar dynamic in domestic violence which is initiated by jealousy. Even if male promiscuity in Africa is traditionally accepted, the sexuality of the females is zealously controlled by the family or the husband. Not only in African traditional societies but also in other earlier civilized ones in Americas, Asia and Europe where a wife may be seen as challenging the husband’s prerogatives and authority the moment she demands explanations on his extramarital involvements. In most cases violence erupts if the wife asks her husband where he has been and with whom or in other cases showing threat for addition of other wives. Addition of multiple wives is today seen as a big threat to economic survival for the first wife, the children and a source for HIV/AIDs scourge and thus wives may be tempted to question their husbands. But this questioning is seen as a challenge to the traditional man’s rights and a threat to the culturally prescribed position and this automatically provokes violence.
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Idea #3: absolute poverty is considered one of the fundamental basis of domestic violence against women in most households (Inter-American Development Bank, Biehl and Morrison, 1999). Relative violence may also play a role though complementary in generating domestic violence since such families have difficulties in attaining “standards of consumption” apart from food and this may be a potential source of violence.
Studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between domestic violence and poverty. One of the common opinions is based on the fact that poverty comes with frustrations which normally may tend to unleash violent behavior. There are numerous aggravating problems for this and they include high consumption of alcohol, low schooling levels, poor living conditions, few entertainment opportunities, poor jobs and failure to improve conditions of living, large family burden and lack of adequate basic services in life (Rachel, 2000). These are potential circumstances that might predispose marginalized and poor family members to result to domestic violence. The major domestic violence in such cases occurs between the husband (provider) and his wife who takes over the management of the household. On the man’s side, source of conflict is the deficit to materially provide for the household while on the side of the woman; the source may be her inability to manage the little they have which is always “never enough.” In such a standpoint, domestic violence has come as a result of poverty in the household.
According to Schechter (2000), there were so many studies on domestic violence among low-income that were conducted in the 1990s when most families lost guarantee on income supports. The results were pervasive. After low-income people in Chicago were examined, the studies found that 25% of low-income non-recipients and 33% of welfare recipients experienced “severe aggression” in their adulthood via their partners. There were also results that 8% of non-recipients and 19% of recipients experienced serious aggression within the previous twelve months. The same studies found that in Worcester, Massachusetts low-income and homeless mothers reported 32% positive cases of physical violence within the previous two years. Moreover, a study by the National Family Violence Survey showed that domestic violence on women who have annual income less than $10,000 were 3.5 times likely if compared to those who had more than $40,000 annual salary.
There must be a misconception that domestic violence is caused by substance abuse, cultural factors or even poverty. The fact is that equal numbers of drunken and sober men are equally violent. Where studies have been conducted on this they have not been able to explain in detail why almost 80% of heavy and binge drinkers never abuse their partners be it the wife or the husband. Alcohol or any other stimulant substances are used by men so that they can use them as the excuses or the permissions for them to act violently. Many stop taking alcohol and they still continue being violent. Also not every child who grows up in a violent home will grow up to become a violent adult in his/her home. Domestic violence is a choice. Sometimes people react violently because they have been provoked by others and this may act just as the normal self-defense.
By the time one gets provoked, its because he/she has in one way or the other tried to exert control over his/her partner. It is a fact that irrespective of whether the domestic violence resulted after one was provoked either due to poverty frustrations and pressures, cultural beliefs or substance abuse it has adverse effects on our victims. Children brought up in such backgrounds may develop low self-esteem and long term effects that may haunt them later in their lives. It is possible to find such children having dismal academic performances. Others have been sexually, emotionally and physically assaulted and all of us need respect, love and to be valued.
Domestic violence is live in our modern society. Women appear to be the most affected since gender inequality ahs always been there. Until the 70s women who were battered had no places to report or to seek support ands especially those who were sexually assaulted. There were few shelters for victims of domestic violence like hospitals, civil and criminal courts, law enforcement and other social service agencies. But today, there seems to be numerous community-based violence programs that provide array of quality services. These include safety planning, transportation, crisis counseling and intervention, legal advocacy, children’s services and housing and relocation services among others. In order to minimize domestic violence cases there are many programs engaging in continuous advocacy efforts and this may include collaboration with community service workers, development of public awareness campaigns and being active for political lobbying efforts that improve safety for children and victims. With such efforts, we may help to minimize adverse effects on victims.
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