Lulu Martinez and Brittany Wethington
No one wants to hear that someone has intentionally caused harm to a person, but every year at least six million cases of domestic violence are reported in the United States alone and this is not including the millions of cases that are suspected to go unreported each year.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Although we do recognize men are also victims of domestic violence it is more commonly known to happen to women. In most cases of domestic violence they are never reported, however those cases that are reported show that 85% of domestic violence victims are women, comparatively, one in seven men have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner.
Not only are the women being affected but, the children are also being severely affected. Thirty to sixty percent of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the home. Children who witness violence in the home have a higher risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. Research has found that men who witnessed abuse as young children are twice as likely to abuse their own partner and children. Children who grow up in violent homes have much higher risks of becoming drug or alcohol abusers or being involved in abusive relationships, as a batterer or a victim. Children do not have to be abused themselves in order to be impacted by violence in the home.
Domestic violence is defined as one person in an intimate relationship dominating and controlling the other person. Domestic violence is an insidious evil that creeps into the home and destroys not only the victim, but the family as a whole. Forms of domestic abuse include physical and emotional abuse. In a physical domestic relationship physical abuse is when physical force injures or endangers the other person. This is a crime in any situation and should not happen to anyone inside or outside the family.
When a partner forces their spouse to do unwanted, unsafe or degrading sexual activity it is considered another form of physical abuse. Emotional abuse aims to the other person’s feelings of self-worth and independence. This form of abuse is often far worse than physical abuse in the sense that it last longer as it runs deep in the victims mind and in many cases has longer lasting effects than physical abuse.
Abuse can be a continuous, vicious cycle. According to University of Michigan the cycle goes as following. There is a build-up of tensions and a breakdown in communication. A trigger occurs that sets off the batterer. A violent event occurs. The “honeymoon” period follows, this is where the batterer apologizes, asks, forgiveness, and swears it will never happen again. He “courts” the partner. The survivor wants to believe the batterer will change and they make up. Life returns to “normal” until tensions begin again and the cycle continues.
The roots of domestic violence can be attributed to a variety of cultural, social, economic, and psychological factors. As a learned behavior, domestic violence is modeled by individuals, institutions, and society, which may influence the perspectives of children and adults regarding its acceptability. Abusive and violent behaviors can be learned through: Childhood observations of domestic violence; One’s experience of victimization; Exposure to community, school, or peer group violence; Living in a culture of violence (e.g., violent movies or videogames, community norms, and cultural beliefs.
When you think of the results that may ensue from domestic violence, the first and most obvious result is physical damage to the victim. Physical damage can range from bruises to sexually transmitted diseases. Other lesser known results of domestic violence include poverty isolation, homelessness, emotional injury, unemployment, lack of confidence, lack of self-esteem, anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, difficulty establishing trust in new relationships.
It’s easy to think that because the issue may not be directly affecting our families that it’s not a big issue and that we don’t need to worry about it affecting our families or children, but that is a fallacy that is spreading across the nation. Domestic violence not only affects the survivor, but the survivor’s children, the person who is abusive, the health care system, the criminal justice system, businesses, families and friends of the survivor and the abuser, and society.
There are many things that the public can do in order to help stop or prevent domestic violence from seeping into the home. The first thing that people can do is to learn about domestic violence and understand the symptoms and reasons that abuse occurs. You can let the young people in your life know early on that violence in a relationship is never acceptable under any circumstances. You can invite community leaders to speak out about domestic violence at town meetings and other places where the public gather. You can consider bringing these issues to the forefront at your workplace, at your kids’ school, through your local media outlets and social media. You can work with your local domestic violence agency to be sure the places in your community have information about domestic violence and where to go for help.
The most important thing that you can do when suspecting domestic abuse it to report it. Every human being has an obligation to report abuse. If someone has information about an abusive situation that is occurring and chooses to remain silent then they are making the situation worse and they are enabling further harm to come to that victim. As hard as it is to report an abuse, it is far harder to realize too late that you could have prevent the abuse from escalating further had you spoken up.
Brittany Wethington and Lulu Martinez are graduates of Brigham Young University Idaho with a Bachelors of Science in Child Development and a minor in Professional Preschool Education. Brittany plans to pursue work as a habilitative interventionist and will remain in Idaho. Lulu is returning to her home in George where she plans to work in pre-school education.