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Domestic Violence

Essay by   •  October 31, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  1,169 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,038 Views

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Domestic Violence

Domestic violence in the United States has become a major problem that affects nearly 2/3's of all people. It can affect wives, the elderly, and even men. This paper will discuss the violence toward both women and children.

It is widely understood that most estimates of the commonness of domestic violence are understated. Even large population surveys cannot provide accurate estimates of the amount of domestic violence. This is partly because many victims feel unable to speak out about domestic violence. The pressures of negative society attitudes toward victims, feelings of shame, and fear of retribution from the person responsible for add to low levels of disclosure of domestic violence. Also, because domestic violence often occurs in the privacy of the home, there are few outside witnesses.

Statistics from public agencies such as police, courts, counseling and accommodation services are another source of information. However, these can only provide information about people who come to public attention, many victims never contact such agencies. Some agencies do not collect statistics on domestic violence, and those that do define and record domestic violence in different ways. The Women's Safety Survey in 1996 surveyed approximately 6,300 women about their experience of actual or threatened physical and sexual violence. Based on the survey results (fig. 1), they estimated these results. Of women who had been physically assaulted in the 12-month period, 58% spoke to a friend or neighbor, 53% spoke to a family member, 12% spoke to a counselor, and 4.5% spoke to a crisis service organization. Only 19% reported the incident to police, and women who experienced violence by a current partner were least likely to have reported the assault, while women who were assaulted by a stranger were more likely to report to police. 18% had never told anyone about the incident.

Now we pose the question, why would a woman been brutally beaten, maybe even crippled, whose pregnancy is lost, or many other effects remain with a "loved one" who might beat her to death? For some women, there is no way out. It is like the door is open but she cannot leave. She has no resources of her own, she needs to provide for her children, she is terrified of the police, and social workers are people who can declare you an unfit mother. The perpetrator has threatened to kill her if she leaves or if she tells and she knows no safe haven from him. There is also no federal witness protection program for domestic assault victims. Some women hold onto hope for the chance of better times. The cycle of tension, abuse, relief, tension, abuse, relief has periods in which optimism is rewarded. Hope for the ending of battering is realized and the relief experienced in the periods of peace is strong. We know there is nothing as powerful as relief from torture as a positive reward for desired behavior. For some battered women the thin thread of hope and the brief experience of relief reinforces her decision to stay.

Child abuse can be physical -- shaking, hitting, beating, burning, or biting a child; emotional -- constantly blaming or putting down a child; excessive yelling, shaming; sexual- incest, any forced sexual activity, exposure to sexual stimulation not appropriate for the child's age; neglect-- a pattern of failure to provide for the child's physical needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical care; a pattern of failure to provide for the child's emotional needs, such as affection, attention, and supervision.

In an abusive environment, children are often expected to behave as if they are much older than they are. Children are often "punished" for behavior they are too young to control. Abusive parents often do not know they have to teach the behavior they want the child to have. Sometimes punishing unwanted behavior is not enough, parents and guardians often abuse children in response to their own anger and unhappiness and it may have no relationship to what the child is doing at the time. Some common traits of abused children include: believing that they have no value, believing that they cannot affect the world around them with good behavior, and feelings angry and/or depression. In homes where violence occurs, children are at high risk of suffering psychological and emotional abuse, whether or not they are physically abused themselves. Recent evidence clearly shows that living in a family where a parent is being abused has a significant traumatic effect on children.

Even when they do not observe the violence, children are usually aware that it is occurring. They are alert to the obvious tension, fear and distress in their parents. Their home, instead of being a place of security, is characterized by cruelty and fear. The longer the situation goes on the harder it is to undo its damaging

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