Domestic Violence Awareness
“On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, equating to more than 10 million women and men” (“National Statistic”, n. d.).
“1 in 4 women (24.3 percent) and 1 in 7 men (13.8 percent) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime” (“Get the Facts”, n. d.).
“Nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime (48.4 and 48.8 percent, respectively)” (“Get the Facts”, n. d.).
“Worldwide, 40 to 70 percent of all female murder victims are killed by an intimate partner” (“Facts about Domestic Violence”, n. d.).
“Worldwide, almost one-third (30 percent) of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner” (“Violence Against Women”, 2016).
During the month of October, Domestic Violence Awareness is observed in the United States. Although the statistics aforementioned are lengthy, they provide insight into a global phenomenon that education can help prevent.
I have on good authority, that domestic violence is not only traumatic for women, but also children who witness domestic abuse or live in households where it occurs. I know of an individual, a faithful friend, Mike (a pseudo-name) who is unable to forget the frightening sounds of furniture moving and breaking as his mother was assaulted by her boyfriend in his youth. The angry shouts and screams of pain, particularly from his mother as she was assaulted will forever be etched in Mike’s mind. The sounds and images made it difficult for Mike to sleep, because he constantly thought about what could possibly happen next. Mike disclosed to me that he often thought of his mother’s boyfriend dead if it meant that the arguments and fighting would stop. Inside Mike was a growing pit of sickness and anger towards her boyfriend, and to this day, the feeling much remains.
In his teen years, Mike “physically” intervened, combating his mother’s boyfriend for her own protection. The police were called in the aftermath, and Mike’s mother on occasion, told him that he needed to apologize to her boyfriend for attacking him. Such is the impact of domestic abuse on the cognition of victims, for the perpetrator often exudes some measure of control over the victim. The victim is linked to the abuser through varying degrees of dependency that include but are not limited to: financial support, shelter, shared parental responsibility, emotional support, and intimacy. The abuser maintains the dominant role in the relationship, serving as the “provider” and this is where they derive their control. This was the type of dynamic existing within my friend’s mother and her boyfriend’s relationship. It served as a basis for the mother’s excuses as to why she was unable to leave the boyfriend. She was in every way conceivable, dependent upon him.
Although domestic abuse disgusts Mike, and he would not perpetrate abuse on anyone else, he has strong views pertaining to self-defense and protection. He has vowed that he will not allow himself to be harmed. Mike also battles low self-esteem, self-confidence and high anxiety on a continual basis. These are some of the psychological outcomes that children encounter as they mature from youth to adult. Some children reach adulthood and replicate the same behaviors their parents demonstrated when they were a child. This is one reason among many contributing to domestic abuse becoming a family legacy, as children grow up and demonstrate the same types of aggressive behaviors they witnessed at younger ages.
The fact that child behavior is primarily influenced by the observance and modeling of others within their household, should inform us of the measures necessary to ensure they are reared in healthy and stable environments. Males typically identify with their fathers while girls emulate their mothers (assuming that the children are raised by biological parents), or those oldest with corresponding gender, whichever is present. (Of course there are other factors pertaining to gender identification, but that is not the focus of this blog.)
Mike’s case is one that sheds light on the potential outcomes of a youth living in an environment where domestic abuse is prevalent. Low self-esteem and lack of confidence can make children susceptible to domestic abuse in intimate relationship as teenagers and adults. Male children who witness their fathers abusing their mothers have the potential to be abusers as they grow older. Females who witness their mothers being abused can in turn, fall victim to men who are abusive later on in life. No situation is absolute, but the commentary does emphasize linkages in human development and outcomes. Furthermore, explanations for why the predictions mentioned fail to occur, may be consequent to interventions and mediating variables that affected the children at some point in their development.
Nonetheless, it is a parent’s (the mother in most cases) duty to prioritize the welfare and safety of themselves and their children. If they are severely injured or killed, how can they ensure the protection of the children? It is a situation that can potentially transition children to foster homes where possibilities are random. As a global community, it is necessary to be more responsible as parents, family members, friends and helping professionals. To break a cycle or pattern, the source of the problem must be uprooted. Programs are needed to educate people all over the world to recognize the signs of abuse and characteristic traits of potential abusers in others.
Assessing the situation from an alternate perspective, it seems that some people are uninvolved in domestic abuse situations, given the victim’s redundant circumstances. What I mean by this statement is that oftentimes, those who have been victimized by domestic violence refuse to withdraw themselves from the environment and the perpetrator. Over time, loved ones give up and ultimately detach themselves from the victim, which only increases the danger surrounding the victim. Women in low income households and poverty do not have the financial resources necessary to relocate elsewhere unless they move into a shelter. And if they are estranged from their own family (i.e. father, mother, siblings, etc.), the advantages of separating from their abuser are even less. Therefore, the problem is systemic and an effective approach to resolution consists of addressing multiple layers of a larger dilemma.
Facts and Domestic Violence Around the World. (n. d.). Retrieved October 16, 2016 from http://www.overcomingviolence.org/en/resources/campaigns/women-against-violence/week-6-stories-from-around-the-/domestic-violence-facts.html.
The National Domestic Violence. (n. d.).Retrieved October 16, 2016 from http://www.thehotline.org/resources/statistics/.
National Statistics. (n. d.). Retrieved October 16, 2016 from http://ncadv.org/learn-more/statistics.
Violence Against Women. (2016). Retrieved October 16, 2016 from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/.