While American society has progress by tremendous leaps in areas such as technology, defense, and the economy, some social problems continue to plaque its citizens. One such problem is that of domestic violence. While domestic violence can affect anyone, male or female, young or old, it is still a primary conflict in which a male is abusing a woman. The United States must take drastic measures to end this terrible bane of society. Domestic violence is a type of violence that occurs within a home between family members.
It may be parents abusing their children, a husband abusing his wife, or a wife abusing her husband, although it is usually a male abusing his female partner. Abuse occurs when one person physically, verbally, or sexually manipulates or hurts another person. Violence affects people in all races, social classes, ages, sexes, and situations (Domestic Violence, 2006). Learning more about it is the only way to stop it or prevent it. Luckily, ninety percent of adults regard it as an important issue and 89 % of those regard it as a form of domestic terrorism (Family Violence Prevention Fund, 2006).
It is estimated that one in four women will experience domestic abuse during her lifetime, with four million experiencing it each year. Two thousand of these women will die from these injuries It is also estimated that each year, 8. 8 million children are a witness to domestic violence. Most of these domestic violence cases are never reported, because women think that police won’t believe them. Many adults these days acknowledge that cases are not reported, and 90% of them believe domestic violence is a bigger problem than most people think it is.
Actually, domestic violence causes the most injury to 15 to 44 year old women in the US which is more than robberies, car wrecks and rapes added together, creating one of the most urgent health problems in the US for women. Even more devastating is the fact that this violence is carried out by someone who is supposed to love the woman, such as a boyfriend or husband (Domestic Violence, 2006). While it is possible for domestic abuse to occur in a variety of different circumstances, the way the violence occurs rarely varies. There is a cycle that the abuse falls into.
First, everything is fine; then, one person’s anger escalates out of control, and abuse occurs (physical, sexual, verbal, or a combination; usually a combination). After, the person apologizes and promises it will never happen again. However, it almost always does. Most situations of abuse are combinations of physical, sexual, and verbal. For example, a man might try do the following things: isolate his partner from family and friends, blame her, denial of abuse, threaten her, make major decision about house and money and family without consulting his partner, and more.
This happens because abuse is about power, not about whatever form the abuse takes (for example, sexual abuse doesn’t occur because a man feels especially sexual; it occurs because he wants to have power over another person). A man who has severely belittled his partner will find he can hit her and she won’t fight back as much, which is why abuse happens in combination. Sadly, 8. 8 million children witness domestic abuse (Mother Jones, 2005). Children are especially vulnerable to witnessing abuse, and research shows that this can have devastating effects on them.
Some of these children show signs of stress, even of post traumatic stress disorder, which could include insomnia, bedwetting, acting out, withdrawal, poor grades in school, and overwhelming feelings of guilt. In addition, research proves that living with domestic violence increases the likelihood of the child becoming involved in juvenile crime, up to six times as likely of to commit sex or personal injury crimes and fifty percent as likely to abuse alcohol and drugs (Domestic Violence, 2006).
Children who grow up in homes where domestic violence occurs are also more likely to abuse others or become victims of abuse as adolescents or adults. At a very early age, male children who have witnessed their fathers’ abusive behavior may begin behaving similarly toward their mothers and female siblings. By age five or six, some children are disrespectful of the victim for her perceived weakness and begin identifying with the batterer. Female children learn early on that their mothers are subjugated through the abusiveness of their partners.
Unfortunately, those perceptions are normalized and children actually begin to believe that their experiences are no different from the experiences of their friends or class-mates. Some parts of the cycle are very common to most situations of domestic abuse. The abuser may threaten to hurt the victim or her children. He will blame the victim for the abuse, saying that she provoked him. Later he may apologize profusely for the abuse and promise it won’t happen again. The abuser will insult his victim in public and try to isolate her from family and friends.
The abuse may take the forms of pushing, hitting, choking, kicking, slapping or forcing sexual intercourse or other activity (Domestic Violence, 2006). If anyone recognizes these symptoms in herself or in others, he or she should call for help immediately, even if the victim is unwilling to do so. There is help for domestic violence. First, a person who is in an abusive situation can establish a code word with trusted family members so they know when to call for help.
The victim should always attempt to separate herself from the abuser whenever possible until the situation has been diffused. Women’s shelters and twenty-four hour hotlines exist for women (and men) who are being abused. These can be found in most cities, and are just a phone call away. They will prevent abusers from finding a person who is being abused, and will keep them safe by preventing that person access and calling the police if necessary If someone suspects a case of domestic violence, they should report it to the authorities and help the person.
Most of the time, however, the woman is the primary person who can stop the cycle. The National Coalition against Domestic Violence recommends the following steps for women who find themselves in an abusive relationship: • Think of a safe place in your home to go if you are threatened. Avoid rooms with no exists, such as bathrooms, and rooms with weapons, such as the kitchen. • Think about and make a list of safe people to contact and make sure that you have a cell phone to contact them. • Keep an amply amount of money (at least $20) with you at all times.
• Memorize all important numbers, such as the hospital, police, and even neighbors • Establish a “code word” or “sign” so that family, friends, teachers or co-workers know when to call for help. • Think about what you will say to your partner if heshe becomes violent. • Remember, you have the right to live without fear and violence (National Coalition against Domestic Violence, 2005). They also offer a list of things to do after the victim has left the abuser to minimize his negative influence on her:
• Change your phone number and only give it to people you absolutely trust. • Screen calls and do not answer your abusers calls. • Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving the batterer. • Change your locks if you suspect your batterer has obtained a key. • Avoid staying alone. Stay with family or other trusted individuals. • Plan how to get away if confronted by an abusive partner. • If you absolutely MUST meet your partner, do it in a public place. • Vary your routine, so that you will not become predictable.
• Notify school and work contacts about your situation so that they know when and how to contact you. • Call a shelter for battered women for additional tips • Make sure you have all your important papers with you such as your drivers license, you and any children’s birth certificates, social security and medical cards, insurance documents, marriage license, leases or deeds to property you rent or own, all income and bank information including checkbook and credit cards, and any photos or documentation of abuse (National Coalition against Domestic Violence, 2005).
Domestic violence can be stopped, if people are educated about the signs of it and how to stop it. Nobody wants to suffer abuse of any kind. Domestic violence is a product of control and fear. Both abusers and their victims need the support of their families and communities to get the help they need. With hope, the next ten years will bring a great reduction of these types of behaviors that so damage this country. Works Cited Family Violence Prevention Fund (2005). Accessed October 25, 2006. Website: http://www. ncdsv.
org/images/9in10AdultsSayFamilyViolenceMuchBiggerProble. pdf Domestic Violence. (2006). Medline Plus (2006). Accessed October 25, 2006. Website: http://www. nlm. nih. gov/medlineplus/domesticviolence. html. Mother Jones: Smart, Fearless Journalism (2005). Accessed October 25, 2006. Website: http://www. motherjones. com/news/featurex/2005/07/dv_stats. html National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2005). Safety Plan. Accessed October 25, 2006. Website: http://www. ncadv. org/protectyourself/SafetyPlan_130. html