Domestic violence is a complex problem requiring a multiagency response. This response should include a range of advocacy, support, engagement with the criminal and civil justice systems and with other voluntary and statutory sector agencies.
Domestic violence and emotional abuse are behaviors utilized by one person in a relationship to control the other person. Partners may be married or not, heterosexual, gay or lesbian, separated or dating.
Abuse encompasses such behaviors as name calling and putdowns, keeping a partner from contacting their family or friends, withholding money, stopping a partner from getting or keeping a job, actual or threatened physical harm, sexual assault, stalking, and intimidation.
Violence can be criminal and includes physical assault, sexual abuse, and stalking. Though emotional, psychological and financial abuses are not criminal behaviors, they can lead to criminal violence.
Domestic Violence has a long history. In early Roman society a woman was considered the property of her husband and was subject to his control. Early Roman law provided that a husband could beat, divorce, or kill his wife for offenses which brought dishonor to his reputation or compromised his property rights. These matters were considered private and were not publicly scrutinized (Swisher & Wekesser, 1994).
The Catholic Church's endorsement of The Rules of Marriage in the fifteenth century allowed the husband to stand as judge of his wife. He was to beat her with a stick upon her commission of an offense; this showed a concern for his wife's soul. The common law in England gave a man the right to beat his wife in the interest of maintaining family discipline. The phrase "rule of thumb" alluded to the English common law that allowed a husband to beat his wife as long as he used a stick no bigger than his thumb (Swisher & Wekesser, 1994). Women were not the only ones subject to abuse. In eighteenth century France if it became public that a man had been beaten by his wife he was forced to wear an outlandish costume and ride backwards around the village on a donkey (Gross, 2005).
In early America the Puritan's openly banned family violence; however the laws lacked strict enforcement. It was not until the 1870s that first states banned a man's right to beat his family. These laws were moderately enforced until the feminist movement of the 1960s started bringing the problems of domestic violence to the media. By the 1980s most states had adopted legislation addressing domestic violence (Swisher & Wekesser, 1994).
Types of Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence comes in many forms, the variations in frequency; severity, purpose, and outcome are all significant. Michael Johnson and Kathleen Ferraro (2000) contend there are five types of domestically violent relationships.
Common Couple Violence is a type of behavior that is characterized by the violence occurring within the context of a single issue. Furthermore, there are one or at the most two incidents of violence, and it is not a pattern of behavior to control the partner. The batterer is not someone who is violent outside the home and is the least likely to be sexually and emotionally abusive. 56% of these types of batterers are male, while 44% are female.
The second type, Intimate Terrorism, is a tactic of behavior aimed at control and manipulation. It is important to note that though violence may have only occurred once or twice and may be of low severity, it still involves emotional abuse. Men who demonstrate this pattern of behavior are more likely to kill their partners. This kind is more likely to use violence as a way of control. They may appear extremely distressed during violent episodes, this is an act to intimidate and control others. These batterers are more likely to engage in planned and violent revenge if the relationship ends and can be dangerous to their victims.
Violent Resistance is the third type. This occurs when one partner becomes controlling or frightening and the other partner responds with violence in self-defense. This kind of violence is a response to a perceived threat, may be a onetime event, and is not a pattern of control and manipulation.
Mutual Violent Control may be thought of as mutual combat. It may be two parties using violence to control each other in a specific setting, or be two people attempting intimate terrorism with each other. Research shows that in 31% of these couples the male initiated more violent episodes as opposed to 8% of the females initiating such. Furthermore, numerous studies show that in relationships where the violence is initiated equally women are more likely to suffer serious harm.
The fifth type is Dysphoric-Boarderline Violence. This type of batterer is a needy, dependent, and emotionally overwhelmed person who resorts to violence in frustration. This kind of abuser is more likely to show obvious emotional problems and distress, such as depression, fears of abandonment and great emotional dependence on the victim.
James Henslin (2008) notes that the family, the group we look to most for support and love, is often the source of cruelty and violence. Every year 16 of every 100 husbands and wives physically attack each other. Since men are usually physically larger and stronger than woman more woman than men need medical attention after episodes of violence. If a homicide occurs six out of seven times the wife is the victim.
Henslin (2008) also notes that although violence occurs in all social classes it is not equally distributed among them. Families with low incomes, blue collar workers, families in which the husband is unemployed or there is an above average number of children, people with less education, individuals with no religious affiliation, or under 30 years of age are more likely to engage in violent behaviors.
Another significant contributing factor to family violence is alcohol consumption. Couples who do not drink have the lowest rate of family valence while alcoholics have the highest rates. There also is a strong indication that children, who observe domestic violence growing up, especially during their teen years, will be violent in their own marriage.
Simmons, Lehmann, and Collier-Tenison (2008) report male's compromise 85% of those arrested for domestic violence. Of the 15% that are females arrested for domestic violence, many claim that they are themselves victims of violence at the hands of their male partners and are either directly or indirectly acting in self-defense. Evidence indicates that during intimate partner violence, men are more likely than women to injure their partner and men are less likely to be fearful of women who do use violence. Based on these findings it has been suggested that arresting women for these crimes re-victimizes them and serves as a deterrent to their seeking police assistance during future assaults. Furthermore, males are more likely than females to have prior arrests on record and to have substance abuse problems.
According to Moylan et al. (2010) every year an estimated 3.3 million to 10 million children are exposed to domestic violence in their home and almost 900,000 children are classified as maltreated by parents and other caretakers. Furthermore, different forms of family violence often co-occur, suggesting that many children who witness domestic violence have also directly experienced child abuse. Children exposed to domestic violence and/or child abuse are more likely to experience a wide range of adverse psychosocial and behavioral outcomes. Furthermore, children exposed to both child abuse and domestic violence fare worse with respect to later outcomes than do those exposed only to one form of violence.
Domestic violence can also come in the form of sexual abuse. Estimates are that 10% of women have had husbands use force to compel them to have sex. Henslin (2008) reports three types of marital rape, non-battering rape, battering rape, and perverted rape. The short-term effects of marital rape are anger, accompanied by grief, despair, shame and feeling of dirtiness. The most common long-term effect was the victim's inability to trust intimate relationships or to function sexually. Another form of domestic violence is incest. Figures on the frequency of cases of incest vary. The most common offenders are uncles, cousins, fathers, brothers, brothers-in-law, and step grandfathers. Victims report feeling guilt, shame, despair, and confusion. The effects may manifest themselves for years to come.
Intervention Strategies and Approaches
According to Hester and Westmarland (2005) studies indicate that a narrowly focused, single intervention approach is unlikely to work in tackling domestic violence. The programs that are most successful in reducing repeat victimization combined intensive, pro-active, tailored and holistic advocacy and support with engagement with the criminal and civil justice processes. In addition, routine enquiry and primary prevention are also necessary for a comprehensive approach to tackling domestic violence. Victims need access to a range of advocacy, support and other interventions that relate to their specific and current situation. Routine enquiry may enable individuals who have not already recognized that they are experiencing domestic violence to see that this is the case and thus to access support. Outreach may enable victims in rural…