DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: AN OVERVIEW
WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
What is domestic violence, and why does it persist? Domestic violence, partner abuse, battering, family violence, and wife beating refer to abuse committed by one adult against another with whom the abuser has or has had an intimate or romantic relationship. Most domestic violence is committed by men against women. According to the Department of Justice, women are victims of domestic violence eleven times more often then men. Although, some sources suggest that women use violence against males as frequently as men do against female partner, most evidence shows that the violence inflicted by men is much more severe.
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The other two third would be identified as simple assaults, with up to half of them involving serious bodily injury. Not surprisingly, domestic violence can have harmful and long-lasting consequences on victims and their children.
HOW COMMON IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
There is no denying that the statistics on domestic violence in families paint a grim picture. Some experts believe domestic violence is increasing. Others believe that there has been a slight decrease, but that more women are reporting abuse. Either way, the numbers prove that it still happens far, and far too often.
Consider the following statistics complied by sociologists, psychologists, scientists, private research organization, law enforcement agencies, and government agencies:
A. It is estimated that over three to four million women are severely battered by a husband, boyfriend, or ex-partner each year. According to the FBI, a woman is battered every fifteen seconds in the United States.
B. Women who have divorced or separated from their abusers report being battered fourteen times as often as those still living with their partners. It is estimated that seventy-three percent of emergency room visits, and up to seventy-five percent of calls to the police for domestic violence incidents occur after separation.
C. According to the American Medical Association, family violence kills as many women every five years as the total number of Americans who died in the Vietnam War.
D. Every year more than three million children witness domestic violence.
Despite the vast increase in attention to the problem of domestic violence through hotlines, shelters, and public awareness, the number of assaults has remained about the same over the last decade.
WHAT CAUSES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
People who study and work with victims and abusers have many theories about what factors are often associated with domestic violence. However, these theories vary and sometimes contradict one another. For example, some sources state that risk factors for abuse includes: unemployment, lack of education, poverty, youth, pregnancy, isolation, alcohol, drug abuse, and abusive family background. Yet other studies note that the relationship of alcohol and drug abuse to domestic violence is unclear and that most batterers and victims did not grow up in home that they considered violent.
Another controversial issue is whether partner abuse is more common among people with lower incomes. According to official records, domestic violence appears to be more prevalent among lower income groups than in higher income groups. Some studies note that the stress caused by poverty and lack of alternative resources for dealing with crises may account for higher prevalence of abuse among lower-income people. However, other researchers point out that victims with lower income are more likely to get help from public agencies like battered women’s shelters and hospital emergency rooms...