What is Domestic Violence?

 

Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, child abuse or intimate partner violence (IPV), can be broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, friends or cohabitation.  Domestic violence has many forms including physical aggression (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, throwing objects), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation.  Domestic violence may or may not constitute a crime, depending on local statues, severity and duration of specific acts, and other variables. Alcohol consumption and mental illness have frequently been associated with abuse.

 

Awareness, perception and documentation of domestic violence differs from country to country, and from era to era.  Estimates are that only about a third of cases of domestic violence are actually reported in the United States.  According to the Center for Disease Control, domestic violence is a serious, preventable public health problem affecting more than 32 million Americans, or over 10% of the U. S. population.

 

Violence between spouses has long been considered a serious problem. The United States has a lengthy history of legal precedent condemning spousal abuse.  In 1879, law scholar Nicholas St. John Green wrote, "The cases in the American courts are uniform against the right of the husband to use any [physical] chastisement, moderate or otherwise, toward the wife, for any purpose." Green also cites the 1641 Body of Liberties of the Massachusetts Bay colonists - one of the first legal documents in North American history - as an early de jure condemnation of violence by either spouse.

 

Popular emphasis has tended to be on women as the victims of domestic violence.  Many studies show that women suffer greater rates of injury due to domestic violence, and some studies show that women suffer higher rates of assault.

 

Definitions

The term "intimate partner violence" (IPV) is often used synonymously with domestic abuse/domestic violence.  Family violence is a broader definition, often used to include child abuse, elder abuse, and other violent acts between family members.  Wife abuse, wife beating, and battering are descriptive terms that have lost popularity recently for at least two reasons:

  • Acknowledgment that many victims are not actually married to the abuser, but rather cohabiting or other arrangement.
  • Abuse can take other forms than physical abuse and males are often victims of violence as well. Other forms of abuse may be constantly occurring, while physical abuse happens occasionally.

These other forms of abuse have the potential to lead to mental illness, self-harm, and even attempts at suicide.

 

The U. S. Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) defines domestic violence as a "pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner".  The definition adds that domestic violence "can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender", and that it can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse.

 

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service in the United Kingdom in its "Domestic Violence Policy" uses domestic violence to refer to a range of violent and abusive behaviors, defining it as:

Patterns of behavior characterized by the misuse of power and control by one person over another who are or have been in an intimate relationship. It can occur in mixed gender relationships and same gender relationships and has profound consequences for the lives of children, individuals, families and communities. It may be physical, sexual, emotional and/or psychological. The latter may include intimidation, harassment, damage to property, threats and financial abuse.

 

In Spain, the 2004 Measures of Integral Protection against Gendered Violence defined gendered violence as a violence that is directed at women for the very fact of being women. The law acknowledges that women are considered by their attackers as lacking the basic rights of freedom, respect, and decision making capability. The law established Courts of "Violence against Women" and suspended presumption of innocence for men accused of domestic violence. Spanish Courts are empowered to hold closed door hearings before trial and evict men from their homes; suspend parental rights, child custody, or visitation rights; and bar men from possessing weapons.

 

Classification

All forms of domestic abuse have one purpose: to gain and maintain total control over the victim. Abusers use many tactics to exert power over their spouse or partner: dominance, humiliation, isolation, threats, intimidation, denial and blame.

The form and characteristics of domestic violence and abuse may vary in other ways. Michael P. Johnson (1995, 2006b) argues for three major types of intimate partner violence. The typology is supported by subsequent research and evaluation by Johnson and his colleagues, as well as independent researchers.

Distinctions need to be made regarding types of violence, motives of perpetrators, and the social and cultural context. Violence by a man against his wife or intimate partner is often done as a way for men to control "their woman".  Other types of intimate partner violence also occur, including violence between gay and lesbian couples, and by women against their male partners.

 

Distinctions are not based on single incidents, but rather on patterns across numerous incidents and motives of the perpetrator. Types of violence identified by Johnson:

  • Common couple violence (CCV) is not connected to general control behavior, but arises in a single argument where one or both partners physically lash out at the other. Intimate terrorism is one element in a general pattern of control by one partner over the other. Intimate terrorism is more common than common couple violence, more likely to escalate over time, not as likely to be mutual, and more likely to involve serious injury.
  • Intimate terrorism (IT) may also involve emotional and psychological abuse.
  • Violent resistance (VR), sometimes thought of as "self-defense", is violence perpetrated usually by women against their abusive partners.
  • Mutual violent control (MVC) is rare type of intimate partner violence occurs when both partners act in a violent manner, battling for control.
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Another type is situational couple violence, which arises out of conflicts that escalate to arguments and then to violence. It is not connected to a general pattern of control. Although it occurs less frequently in relationships and is less serious than intimate terrorism, in some cases it can be frequent and/or quite serious, even life-threatening. This is probably the most common type of intimate partner violence and dominates general surveys, student samples, and even marriage counseling samples.

Types of male batterers identified by Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994) include "family-only", which primarily fall into the CCV type, who are generally less violent and less likely to perpetrate psychological and sexual abuse. IT batterers include two types: "Generally-violent-antisocial" and "dysphoric-borderline". The first type includes men with general psychopathic and violent tendencies. The second type are men who are emotionally dependent on the relationship. Support for this typology has been found in subsequent evaluations.

Others, such as the US Centers for Disease Control, divide domestic violence into two types: reciprocal violence, in which both partners are violent, and non-reciprocal violence, in which one partner is violent.

 

Physical

Physical abuse is abuse involving contact intended to cause feelings of intimidation, pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm.

Sexual

Sexual abuse is common in abusive relationships: The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that between one-third and one-half of all battered women are raped by their partners at least once during their relationship. Any situation in which force is used to obtain participation in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity constitutes sexual abuse. Forced sex, even by a spouse or intimate partner with whom consensual sex has occurred, is an act of aggression and violence. Furthermore, women whose partners abuse them physically and sexually are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed. Categories of sexual abuse include:

  1. Use of physical force to compel a person to engage in a sexual act against his or her will, whether or not the act is completed;
  2. Attempted or completed sex act involving a person who is unable to understand the nature or condition of the act, unable to decline participation, or unable to communicate unwillingness to engage in the sexual act, e.g., because of underage immaturity, illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or because of intimidation or pressure; and
  3. Abusive sexual contact.

 

Emotional

Emotional abuse (also called psychological abuse or mental abuse) can include humiliating the victim privately or publicly, controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family, implicitly blackmailing the victim by harming others when the victim expresses independence or happiness, or denying the victim access to money or other basic resources and necessities.

People who are being emotionally abused often feel as if they do not own themselves; rather, they may feel that their significant other has nearly total control over them. Women or men undergoing emotional abuse often suffer from depression, which puts them at increased risk for suicide, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse.

 

Verbal

Verbal abuse (also called reviling) is a form of abusive behavior involving the use of language. It is a form of profanity that can occur with or without the use of expletives. While oral communication is the most common form of verbal abuse, it includes abusive words in written form.

 

Economic

Economic abuse is when the abuser has control over the victim's money and other economic resources. In its extreme (and usual) form, this involves putting the victim on a strict "allowance", withholding money at will and forcing the victim to beg for the money until the abuser gives them some money. It is common for the victim to receive less money as the abuse continues. This also includes (but is not limited to) preventing the victim from finishing education or obtaining employment, or intentionally squandering or misusing communal resources.

 

3 Out of Every 7 Females Are Abused In Their Lifetime!

Domestic Abuse and Domestic Violence are not problems that affect just females, we are all tragically affected every day and at a very high price, and not just in terms of money!

Coming together to make a difference, even save lives!

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Do you have a daughter, niece, grand-daughter, or a friend that does?

Every day, someone in your house of worship, home, local school or neighborhood is abused in some way. It's an epidemic!

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