Issues that are commonly thought to be the precipitating factors of domestic violence
Arguments that propose that domestic violence is not restricted to some susceptible social groups identified earlier Steps to prevent the malady
Domestic violence is one of the greatest threats to the life and health of women and to a lesser extent, men throughout the world and is a despicable phenomenon that is witnessed in all cultures and nations irrespective of the amount of social progress that a country has to its credit. In fact, it may be seen that the incidents of domestic violence is seen more in advanced countries than less developed nations. Studies which had been carried through many years suggest that there are many predisposing factors that precipitate domestic violence. Factors like lack of education, alcohol abuse, poverty, cultural restrictions etc. were thought to be factors that induced people to commit domestic crimes.
However, recent studies and surveys seem to indicate that domestic violence is not an occurrence that is limited to those cultures, which does not have a higher level of social order. In fact it was seen that domestic violence is equally predominant in those families which have a higher standard of living. This paper will try to prove that domestic violence is a common occurrence in the modern society and that it is not entirely restricted to families with lower social status. It is seen even in those families that have better access to education and socially enviable luxuries.
Domestic violence seems to be the biggest and gravest social problem in our society in the recent times. This is mainly because it is ubiquitous in occurrence and almost all types of societies, right form the poorest to the richest has been affected by it. While the modern world has considered women as equal to men at least in theory, it has also used that excuse to comfortably forget the chivalry and decency with which men were supposed to behave to women. Conversely, women also at times indulge in violence against men. It is not difficult to identify domestic abuse. When spouses, intimate partners use physical violence, threats, emotional abuse, harassment, or stalking to control the behavior of their partners, they are committing domestic violence. Battering, or the use of physical force, is part of a system of behavior used to establish and maintain power and control over another
Many experts believe that it is the animal instincts and hundreds of years of conditioning that have caused man to use violence to try and control women. Man is a power hungry animal. Both as an animal and as a social being the basic instincts of the male ego are to strive for power, dominance and recognition. As a nomadic food gatherer and later as a food producer, man has been the principle source of food and security for the family. Women always enjoyed only a secondary position as far as the social stature was concerned. Since thousand of years of conditioning, cannot be undone in a few years of effort however determined it may be, it is only natural that man still has a tendency to dominate his female counterparts. From mediaeval times to the middle of this century the social structure of the family and the relationships within it changed very little. It wasn't until the latter part of the 20th century that urbanization and the transformation of an agrarian economy into a service economy had a profound effect on the conservative family [Howell, 1998].
In the modern times women are also expected to work while the controls on them are still exercised by men. Women, who were until now trading the protection they enjoyed in a traditional family environment for economic equality, find themselves burdened with a dual role as mother and housewife and as a competitor in the labor market. [Author not known, 2002]. This proves that the male tendency to control his female counterpart is ingrained in him in most cases and so makes him prone to submit to an ego that may be easily hurt when women tries to assert their independence. This makes every household susceptible to domestic violence.
Many extrinsic factors have been blamed for domestic violence. A lot of literature proves that alcoholism is a very important factor that causes domestic discord in families [Lemert, Edwin M. (1972); Giancola, P.R. (2002] However, a deeper look into alcoholism will prove that alcoholism in the first place was prompted by a host of other social factors. Hence alcoholism alone cannot be blamed for domestic violence.
A lot of literature is available that examines whether economic prosperity is a factor that encourages or discourages domestic violence. In fact many of the studies do prove that domestic violence and poverty are related and that poverty precipitates domestic violence. Studies by Metraux, S. & Culhane, D.P. (1999) prove beyond doubt that poverty and domestic violence are indeed related. The authors have noted that violence and poverty are part of a vicious cycle, each precipitating the other. In some cases women or men who cannot earn are often discarded by their family because the increased costs in sustaining a person who does not add to the financial worth of the family. Often they are discarded after intense maltreatment at home.
It has also been seen by the authors that homelessness and domestic violence is correlated in studies on homeless women. What is important in this observation is that financial insecurity can happen within a very short time in a family, and so any family that is not financially secure for the future can experience incidents of domestic violence.
Even in families that are well to do financially, there is a chance for domestic violence to rear its head [Howell, 1998]. Brown, (2000) comes up with some very interesting facts about the reasons why even a financially sound family member would resort to domestic violence. Men often resort to beating their wives in order to contain their spending of resources. However it was seen that men in most cases do not resort to violence for the welfare of the whole family but only to satisfy their personal need for money. They believe that restricting their wife's spending will leave them with more money to spend for themselves
There are many other factors that cause domestic violence to be ubiquitous. Many successful people in life bear psychological wounds of their tormented childhood where they would have witnessed their mothers being battered by male abusers. Such psychological exposure to violence it is believed, can cause adults to resort to violence when tense situation gets out of control. Socially important factors like power and position adds to the ego of such people who may commit more violence [Seymour, 1996]. Such behavior from adults can only be solved if children are made aware that domestic violence is wrong and is not a rightful method of exercising power [Stoesz and Karger, 1986] Studies indicate that children are the most tormented victims of domestic violence and so they must be the first ones who must be cured of the ill effects of domestic violence. Similarly, children who are exposed to violence in their early years are more predisposed to committing violence when they grow up [Seymour, 1996]
Psychological manifestation of abuse is also a serious problem in the U.S. society that often leads to domestic violence. In fact, it was seen in many cases that the domestic abusers often committed violence against their most loved ones [Bryant, 1994]. This highlights the fact that domestic violence can also stem from over possessiveness and fanatical love.
Whatever be the cause of violence, it is seen that in almost all cases, women are the ones who bear the most due to domestic violence. Surveys in the U.S. show that between two million and four million women are victims of abuse, each year [Minnesota center against violence and abuse, 2004]. However, the fact that women are at the receiving end of violence usually means that the incidents of violence are not reported to the authorities. Estimates point out that only six percent of women abused by their spouse or boyfriends reported the matter to the police.
Lack of a sympathetic social system, lack of sympathetic legal systems and law enforcers who shy away from indulging themselves in family affairs etc. are some of the factors that causes the perpetuators of domestic violence to go free. The need of the hour is stringent laws against domestic violence, higher social commitment, and the empowerment of women to come out openly against domestic violence. In addition, the government needs to allocate more resources in terms of cash and kind to rehabilitate domestic violence victims. The society needs to assert the views that violence in the family is not acceptable and that anyone who does that is acting in gross violation of the accepted laws of the society [Minnesota center against violence and abuse, 2004]