Cristina is a business professional who has a degree in art and a degree in psychology. A mother of two, community volunteer and writer.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence, which is also known as intimate partner violence (IPV), is a great concern in society as it presents itself in a great amount of families and partnerships.
When people experience violence by their partners, it often has harmful effects on not only their mental and physical health but also their ability to live healthy, productive lives. Violence not only affects the victim but also the people in their lives. The children, the families, the friends are all going to be affected one way or another.
Gathering information on domestic violence
When we try to define domestic violence it is important to remember that it is a pattern of behavior in any sort of relationship that is used in order to gain and hold power and control over an intimate partner.
Physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, economic actions and threats of those actions are all forms of abuse when used influence, frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, or injure another person.
Remember that domestic violence can happen to any race, age, sexual orientation, religion and gender, all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels, anyone who is married living together or just dating.
Indications of an emotionally abusive relationship could be any of the following:
- name calling,
- insults and criticism,
- lack of trust,
- jealousy and possessiveness,
- being isolated from family and friends,
- monitoring of activities,
- keeping from phone calls and friends,
- keeping from seeking employment,
- controlling the finances
- refusing to share money,
- withholding affection as a form of punishment,
- demanding that permission be asked for things,
- threats to hurt the individual, the children, family members or pets
- humiliation in any form.
A physically abusive relationship is recognized by factors such as: damaged property when angry, pushing, slapping, biting, choking, abandoning in a dangerous or unfamiliar place, scaring by driving recklessly, using a weapon to threaten, forcing to leave the house, trapping inside the house, prevention of calling the police or seeking medical attention, hurting the children, and using physical force in sexual situations.
Sexually abusive relationships are also something to be considered and in these circumstances often times one had experiences such as these examples: viewing women as objects and believing in rigid gender roles, accusing one of cheating and being jealous of outside relationships, wanting the partner to dress up in a sexual way and insulting in a sexual way or calling of sexual names, forcing sex or sexual acts, holding down during sex, demanding sex while the partner is sick or tired, hurting with weapons during sex, involving other people in private sexual activities and ignoring a partners feelings regarding sex.
How to recognize the signs.
The following is a list of signs that alert healthcare professionals to possible domestic violence.
- Patients presenting with choking or attempted strangulation injuries; these are ‘red flag’ indicators of high-risk abusive situations.
- Patients making light of their injuries.
- Patients exhibiting extreme panic, fear and apprehension.
- The constant presence of overly attentive spouses or partners.
- Patients giving inaccurate or incomplete explanations for injuries.
- Frequent presentations to emergency departments (EDs). These may not be injury related but involve substance or alcohol abuse, para-suicide, anxiety, chronic pain, deterioration of or poor compliance with long-term medical problems.
- Delays between when patients sustained injuries and when they present to EDs. These delays can be calculated by assessing bruises, which change from a red or purple color to blue, green and yellow.
- Signs of sexual violence.
- X-rays showing old, healed fractures and fractures at various stages of healing.
- The presence of injuries to sites such as the head, face and neck, chest, breasts or abdomen that are associated with domestic violence.
- The presence of injuries, such as forearm fractures, bruising, marks to the back of shoulders or neck, or those of a defensive nature
Unfortunately, the anti-domestic violence movement has not had the wanted success with one of its primary goals of making intimate partner violence a problem of the community instead of just a problem between two individuals.
Social networks are often a central aspect in the daily lives of the victims of domestic violence and therefore pushes the issue of using the social networks to promote domestic violence services. Domestic violence is a social concern and should be addressed by the community, as the community really is affected in that both the abuser and the victim are connected to outsides through their relationships with family, friends, and neighbors.
Because it is mostly the battered women who turn to their informal social support instead of domestic violence services, informal community members are crucial to a victims long-term safety, emotional health and overall well being. Typically a domestic violence victim has natural tendencies to look for support from informal counseling support systems.
One factor to take into consideration is that often times the abuser is likely to cut off the victims contact with their social networks of friends and family members who serve as vital sources of support. Statistics do show however that in the United States, gain informal social support for their domestic violence issues from family or friends.
A huge reason why this is beneficial to survivors of domestic violence is that it erases the stigmatization that could be associated with seeking outside help from a professional service and cut the chances of being pushed to leave their partner and also create less of a change of retaliation from their partner.
Seeking help through a social network can also be beneficial in that a friend or family member can provide comfort and personal instances to show a victim their self-worth which is often times stripped away by the dehumanizing that an abuser often puts the victim through.
Options of formal help for victims of domestic violence include things like therapists, crisis hotlines, emergency shelters and community-based services like peer-support groups. The key is linking these services with the support given through social networks.
A Domestic Violence Services Practitioner would be someone who becomes trustworthy to a victim and works to tie together formal systems and informal social networks so that a victim can be successful in accessing effective support.
Domestic violence services should work to help survivors engage their networks, help network members support the survivors, and help survivors develop new forms of support. This is vital because although victims do utilize formal help, research shows that informal social networks are being sought out sooner, more often and for longer periods of time than formal assistance programs.
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PTSD, The Aftermath of Domestic Violence
Hurt people, hurt people.
Studies show that witnessing violent acts will oftentimes have an effect on a child’s adaptive ability, emotional well-being, social functioning and physical health and witnessing parental violence is a significant predictor of post-traumatic stress disorder in children.
History repeats itself.
There is a particular podcast called Domestic Violence: A survivor’s story which explores several of the issues brought up in the previous articles that we have reviewed and shows how one individuals account can exhibit so many factors we have learned. This podcast involves an interview with a woman named Jenissee who is a survivor of domestic abuse. This is her personal account with violence. Jenissee explains that she had experienced abuse in her household as a child and when she left home at 17 she entered into an abusive relationship right away. This story explains the classic situation where growing up with abuse can lead an individual to believe that abuse is normal and that person will be less likely to recognize warning signs because the cycle of violence has taught them that it is normal behavior.
The podcast, although it describes a personal account also explains how much abuse can be a learned behavior. One specific instance that is also touched on is during the cycle of abuse where the abuser exhibits sorrow and remorse and the victim is often manipulated by this. Another key experience that Jenissee had is something experienced by many victims of domestic abuse and that is the fact that often times a victim leaves many times before they are really gone.
The podcast is somewhat bias because it is one persons account, however she does answer questions asked by the interviewer and goes into detail about her experience, her emotions, her therapy, and her healing. For someone listening to this, it is easier to relate to Jenissee because they can hear her and the voice of a real person is certainly more human than just reading words on paper, or a screen. In this podcast, several important issues are brought up pertaining to the cycle of violence and types of violence endured. Economic abuse is even brought into light here, being where a person is put in a situation where they are unable to support themselves because the abuser take all of their money and independence from them.
The podcast also includes how children are affected by domestic violence within the household as Jenissee raised her children in two separate violent relationships before she finally broke free of the cycle. Children’s perceptions of relationships are always influenced by their parent’s behaviors and violent behavior is often conditioned when a child grows up surrounded by violence. Although exposure to domestic violence doesn’t always affect children the same way, many of children who are exposed to it do develop physical and mental health problems, deficits in social skills as well as cognitive and academic difficulties. Jenissess’s interview can help people who are suffering from abuse consider how it is also affecting any children who might be involved and that might be the extra push they need to get out of the situation.
Knowledge IS Power
Knowledge gained by all of these resources can greatly benefit society on a global scale. Community awareness is a key factor in any social concern and thanks to technology and the internet, the word “community” can include people from all over the world not just in ones backyard. As more knowledge is gained and made available, the more individuals it will reach. Someone from Africa can learn about experiences, gain insight and even receive help through the knowledge of someone experiencing the same thing in Ireland.
Research studies done on domestic violence such as one conducted regarding the male batterers readiness to change, look for solutions to things like domestic violence by examining the Transtheoretical Model of Change which predicts that matching interventions with a person’s readiness to change should improve treatment outcomes. Findings from studies such as this provide solutions like using contemplation; reducing physical aggression and manipulative parenting styles to increase the change an abuser will take action to stop the violence.
By working together and actively approaching the topic of domestic violence, society may successfully be able to make a dent in the number of domestic violence instances in the near future.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Cristina Cakes