Domestic Violence: The Deadly Virus
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Isn’t domestic violence like a deadly virus that’s spreading globally? Why is abuse at home on the rise even in the developed countries?
Domestic abuse has become sort of a disease now, so much so that we need an awareness month to address it just as we do for breast cancer.
Yes, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in America. I find it the perfect time to write on this topic as it really touches my heart and deserves attention by men and women alike.
Why is this sickening behavior getting out of proportion and what stops us from taking control over this man-made cancer?
There might be many reasons for why domestic violence is on the rise, but there’s one personal quality that can act as a deterrent and an antidote – self control.
What you also need is LUCK – love, understanding, compassion, and kindness.
May be that’s too easy to say because the situations that lead to violence aren’t that simple. And, self-control isn’t a child’s play either. Love too either ceases to exist or loses its magic with time.
How else can we deal with domestic abuse, which makes one out of three women suffer around the world? That’s really too much, isn’t it?
You’d be surprised to know that it’s not only women who’re the victims, but even men report being abused by women!
However, the number of men as victims is much lower and their cases are mostly not as severe as those of women who’re abused by men.
Well, in either case, there are injuries and casualties, and many more lives including children – who are greatly affected. If we call ourselves civilized, we need to put an end to domestic violence.
Let’s understand the what, who, and why of this deadly virus that has severely infected the world. And, in this post, we’ll only take up the issue of violence against women.
“All marriages are sacred, but not all are safe.” ~ Rob Jackson
What is Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior, which involves the abuse by one partner against another in an intimate relationship. It can include violence in marriage, courtship, or cohabitation.
In one of my earlier posts – 9 Early Signs Of An Abusive Relationship – I’ve mentioned about what is abuse and how is an abusive relationship.
An abusive relationship is marked with physical, emotional, mental, verbal, sexual, and even financial forms of abuse as explained in the above-mentioned post. I hope you’ll read it to understand abuse better.
All these abuses also happen in domestic violence against women. Do you have any idea what abused women go through?
It sends a shiver down my spine even as I write this – women and even young girls are subjected to forced rape, sexual assault, and even murder!
Women are also burned or killed in the name of dowry and honor killing in some Asian countries.
Else, they are brutally attacked with acid. The acid attack victim suffers with burns and scars on the face and body throughout the rest of her life, IF she survives.
Besides these severe physical abuses, women also are subject to biting, kicking, hitting, pushing, punching, slapping, and choking.
For that matter, even denying medical aid when needed, and depriving the partner of food and sleep causes physical harm.
But domestic abuse is not limited to physical abuse.
Some other forms of domestic violence are dominance, forced isolation, humiliation, harassment, intimidation, blaming, endangerment, stalking, and kidnapping.
Domestic violence also includes dating violence. It’s sad to see how the dating valentines transform their loving relationships to domestic violence!
Remember that domestic violence can happen to anyone. But not everyone is an abuser.
Who is a Domestic Abuser
A domestic abuser is no stranger.
The domestic act of violence are always committed by either the spouse, boy friend, family member, or any known person having intimate relations.
Mostly the abusers are:
- Youth in the age group 18 to 30 years
- Persons from low-income socioeconomic group
- Unemployed and frustrated
- Uneducated or having lower levels of education
- Employees with low job satisfaction
- Abusers of alcohol and other substances
- Persons with past history of violence
- Those who grew up in an abused and violent family
- People with antisocial personality disorders
- People with attitudes and beliefs that accept gender inequality
However, exceptions are always there.
The abuser can also be an adult or senior, a person with high-income background – one who’s well-placed in career, and even the one who’s not a substance abuser in any form.
One aspect that may surprise many is that most abusers are often charming and loveable in their other relationships. Thus, people might never suspect them of being aggressive and violent.
Yet, just like the Jekyll and Hyde personality, these charming abusers unleash hell when at home or in privacy.
Further, the domestic abusers are equally prevalent in all types of caste, creed, and race. They all probably have the same types of reasons for domestic violence.
Why Does Domestic Violence Happen
Arguments, differences, and disputes do occur occasionally in relationships. An intimate relationship is no different in this respect.
But when things go to extremes, where one or both partners try to establish supremacy – the fair playground gets muddier.
Here are some basic reasons why partners abuse or are abused.
1) Domestic violence is a learned behavior. Mostly you do what you see and experience. You’re most likely to use violence in intimate relationships if you encounter it in your family and around yourself.
2) The kind of parenting you experience is a big factor in your becoming an abuser or victim. You subconsciously start to imitate your parents and reinforce your observations.
3) However, some even consider the effect of genetics, brain development, and biochemistry on the personality and nature of the abuser, and the acts of violence committed in close relationships.
4) Domestic violence occurs because one partner tries to gain power and control over another intimate partner.
5) The abuser hurts the victim to induce fear by intimidation and inflicting pain so that the fear of leaving become greater than the fear of staying.
6) A lot also depends on the socio-cultural status of the place where the abuser and the abused live. Some countries or cultures find the behaviors as normal, while other countries or cultures treat the same as domestic violence.
7) The social structure also matters. People from patriarchal or male-dominated families tend to subordinate and oppress women, and they don’t hesitate to use force.
8) The public depiction of women as objects through videos, movies, songs, books, computer games, and especially pornographic material make women unworthy of respect. This creates a negative impact in the young tender minds of children and teenagers, who later become abusers.
9) Boys or male children are brought up in a way that they think they’re not responsible for their actions. They think they can do what they want, and always have things their way, including mistreating their partners.
10) People who experience abuse in childhood are more likely to become abusers in their intimate relationships when they grow up.
11) Many religions have beliefs that teach and instruct women to accept male domination, and men to control women.
12) As a rule of nature, a submissive person is generally suppressed, pressurized, controlled and tortured even more by the dominant partner; this is what happens in domestic violence.
13) Certain chemicals like crack cocaine and anabolic steroids are known to cause violent behavior. Alcohol removes the ability of the brain to block aggressive behavior. Remember, substance abuse doesn’t cause, but encourages domestic violence.
14) Acts of violence against women are planned and purposely done. Men do it either because of clash of egos, feelings of insecurity, intense dislike, or because they can’t tolerate her as an equal.
15) Domestic violence happens because the abuser is not happy with himself. One who’s not happy with one’s own self can never be good and happy with others.
Can you think of more reasons? Mention them in the comments.
Whatever be the reason, abuse of any kind is neither justified nor rational – whether it is against women or men.
Effects of Domestic Violence
The victim of domestic violence is battered and shattered.
The person begins to lose self-respect, self-esteem, and self-confidence. But this is not all.
• Talking about the United States, women who’re the victim of domestic violence are more likely to become homeless.
• Many women lose their jobs being victims of intimate partner violence.
• Domestic abusers are likely to abuse even their children, besides abusing their wives.
• Children, who witness or experience domestic abuse, are more likely to do the same when they grow up. They might even become juvenile delinquents and engage in unsocial activities.
• Many young children end up in jail for murdering their battered mother’s abuser.
• Victims of domestic violence are likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, psychosomatic problems, eating disorders, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis, and even sexual dysfunction.
• The abused always fears the abuser, and this fear makes the victim dependent on the abuser. They fear that leaving the abuser may bring more harm to them.
There may be many effects of domestic violence, so break the silence and come forward to share what you’ve experienced, heard, or seen. Remember, you might be able to help a domestic violence victim through your act.
To avoid the ugly effects of domestic violence, you should be able to recognize the early signs of domestic abuse.
Warning Signs of Domestic Violence
Are you suffering from domestic abuse? If you’re not sure, then you should know these signs of abuse and treat them as warnings before they take the ugly form of domestic violence.
I’ve presented them in question form so you can answer them in “yes” or “no”.
If you come up with having many “yes”, then you probably need to talk to someone close to you, who can be your family member, friend, or you can even consult a counselor.
- Has your partner ever destroyed anything that is special to you like any objects, books, and any clothes?
- Have you been ever forced to have sex against your wish or in ways that you don’t approve of?
- Do you fear your partner in any form or for any reason? Do you fear going home?
- Do you blame yourself for the violence?
- Are you subject to frequent criticism and blame from your partner including being called names?
- Have you ever been threatened verbally or by using a weapon?
- Are you denied education and restricted access to sources of information like books and the Internet?
- Does your partner or spouse often touch you in intimidating ways?
- Are you often humiliated or insulted in public, besides in private?
- Does your partner often criticize your family or friends?
- Does your partner make you feel too lowly or unworthy or even makes you feel that you’re crazy?
- Are you treated like a servant?
- Are you often made to feel guilty of things directly or indirectly related to you – whether you’ve done them or not?
- Are you never allowed to take big decisions about the family or even yourself?
- Have you been denied to lead a life of your own and take up a job?
- Is your dignity being questioned? Are you suspected of infidelity to the extent that all your moves and talks are monitored, even if you remain faithful?
- Are you totally under control of your partner and can’t do anything without your partner’s permission?
- Are your children being used against you, or are you threatened that they’ll be taken away from you?
- Is your pet being abused just to create a scare in you so that you obey your partner?
- Does your partner make you do illegal things, blackmail you, or even threaten to leave you or commit suicide?
- Are you deprived of access to family income and not allowed to have your say in important financial matters?
- Have you been troubled by your partner to arrange for money?
- Does your partner take away all your money to make you dependent on him financially?
Many of you might feel that some of these questions don’t quite relate to domestic violence.
However, you need to remember that domestic abuse is not only physical abuse, but also psychological, emotional, mental abuse. Even violation of your basic human rights is an act of violence.
I’m sorry to say that if you have any of these signs, then it’s an indication that your partner doesn’t truly love you.
Why? That’s because somebody who really loves you will give you all the freedom and never restrict you to be yourself and develop yourself.
If you’re not given your place in the family and society, then you’re being deprived of your rights, and that’s a violation.
If you feel that many of these warning signs are part of your life, then you may be in an abusive relationship or in any of the stages of domestic abuse.
Abuse is not about a single isolated incident or behavior, but frequently acting behaviors that form a pattern that becomes severe with time.
Never ignore these behaviors or patterns. These may be the signs that you’ve a controlling partner. You need to raise a strong voice against it.
“The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.” ~ Mark Caine
What Should You Do in Domestic Abuse
It’s only YOU who can and who should do something about your condition and situation.
What you should do depends on the type and level of domestic abuse that you are suffering.
I’d write a full-fledged post about how to deal with domestic violence sometime later as this post is already very long, but till then here are some general suggestions.
First, take the initiative and courage to break the silence.
Talk to someone close to you. If you can’t then try any online help resources for women suffering from domestic abuse, or call their toll free helpline numbers.
Second, if you think communication with your partner makes sense, then convey your thoughts and feelings. You will be surprised to see the things that can be resolved when you talk!
Third, if mutual dialogue doesn’t help or isn’t possible and things turn pretty bad, then don’t hesitate to seek professional help and visit a certified counselor, or even call the police if need be.
Fourth, if nothing works – walk out! Don’t stay with a domestic abuser, nor try to make-do with a person when there is nothing left between both of you.
It may happen that your partner will deny that any abuse ever happened; instead, he might only blame you.
Your partner can even go to the extent of crying and begging for forgiveness. But then you might realize that the apologies made are conditional, and he indirectly holds you responsible for the abuse.
He might say that if you hadn’t said this or acted like that, then the abuse might never have happened. Or, maybe his apology is genuine – you’ve to decide on that based on the past record of your partner.
Remember that the abuser is always in control, and his aim is to train the partner to be what and how he wants.
Call to ACTION
Abusers are people who like to abuse, and there’s no other cause to it. Don’t fall for sweet talks if you’re in a serious abusive relationship.
You need to avoid this trap and cycle of abuse.
Never allow yourself to be abused or mistreated. The choice always lies in your hands.
Before your abuser attempts to break down your sense of self-worth and make you feel helpless, you need to seek help and take important decisions of your life.
Always remember that if your partner loves you, he or she will never be abusive or violent. This should be an indication whether you want to move away or stay in a relationship.
Only an abuser will adopt the strategy and tactics of control and domination, and such behaviors are the root cause of abusive and violent behavior.
On the other hand, remember that since domestic violence is a learned behavior, it can be unlearned too.
You need to decide if you want to make amends and give your partner a second chance. But if nothing seems to be working, you should walk away from such an abusive relationship.
Don’t think twice because YOUR life is precious!
I know of my family and friends who are leading very happy lives after leaving their partners due to domestic violence. Some of them remarried to people who truly love them and are very happy now.
It’s YOUR life and you have ALL the right to live it the way YOU want to. Go live your life, and break free if you have to because you live ONLY once. 🙂
Over To You –
Have you observed any signs of or experienced domestic abuse in your life? What tips would you suggest to deal with domestic violence? Share in the comments.
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