Domestic violence, in which an adult male abuses their female partner, is the only form of family violence that forensic psychologists should be concerned about". Critically evaluate this statement with regards to the existing literature on partner violence, family violence, and stalking.
Domestic violence includes behavior used by one person in order to control other person. Person may be married or not married. Victim can be of any age, sex, race culture etc. hence it cannot be said that male abusing their female partners is the only form of family violence. Children may be abused by their parents or may be neglected which will constitute one kind of domestic violence. In-laws may also abuse their daughter in law for dowry reason. It is not necessary that only women will always be the victim, men can also be harassed mentally as well as physically.
Traditionally, domestic violence was associated with physical violence, for instance, a physical injury by the male member of a household on the female partner, and also a repeated behavior of the same. As the time changes now, the term “domestic violence” is more broadly defined. We say that it not only includes physical harassment but also all acts of sexual and psychological pressures including verbal abuse, marital rape, dowry related acts which are harmful to women in a short as well as long run. Along with these issues, child abuse, and violent acts among the family members have also become major perspectives of Family violence. (Johnson, (2008))
When we talk about violence, first thing comes in mind is physical assault. Yes, the cases like acid attacks seen in recent years, where acid is thrown in anger or vengeance at the victims, usually at their faces, burning them, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones. (Shipway, (2004))This may result in long-term blindness and permanent scarring of the body. Denying the fact that the victim needed medical care, depriving them of sleep or other necessary functions, forcing the victim to engage in drug or alcohol use against their will, or creating any physical harm are all forms of physical abuse. It can also include inflicting physical injury onto other targets, such as children or pets, in order to cause emotional harm to the victim. All such matters need to be considered seriously in order to stop such incidents.
“Family violence theory “is a broader context. Apart from cases of abuse by a male on the female partner, it includes cases of child maltreatment, the negligent behavior and exploitation in the family, verbal violence between the family members leading to mental harassment. (Nolan, (2008)) Marital rape may be experienced through patterns of physical abuse, force, or demeaning sexual behavior.
If we talk about rape cases, the victims of rape have been subject to violence majorly from their family and relatives. (Fife & Schrager, (2011))Based on “Violence as Trauma” theory it can be concluded that the effects and consequences of rape can include both physical trauma and psychological trauma. However, physical force is not necessarily used in rape, and physical injuries are not always a consequence. They are seen as brought disgrace to the family and are forced to take extreme steps of ending their lives out of family pressure. The time when these victims look for support and affection from their near ones are exploited and left alone, or being looked down upon, especially in the case when they become pregnant. The feelings of unhappiness and sadness instill in their lives, which could be a sign of depression. Self-blame is among the most common of both short- and long-term effects. They feel that they should have done something differently, and therefore feel at fault. (Lombard & McMillan, (2013))
Sometimes apart from male - female issues, the mental and verbal pressures done by other family members on the female appears to be a major constituent of family violence. Even though there is no established definition for emotional abuse, emotional abuse can possess a definition beyond verbal and psychological abuse. (Kenney, (2011))Based on “Control theory” emotional abuse and controlling another‘s behavior, telling the victim that they will be killed if they ever leave the relationship, giving the threat of public humiliation of victim and victim’s family members, restricting their access to the financial resources, education or medical help, constant criticism of victim’s behavior and actions, or passing on devaluing statements leading to undermining victim’s self esteem and then they believe that all this abuse and harassment if their fault. The victim may experience severe psychological effects. (Davis, (1998))This would involve the tactics of brainwashing, which can fall under psychological abuse as well, but emotional abuse consists of the manipulation of the victim's emotions. The victim may feel their emotions are being affected by the abuser so much that the victim may no longer recognize what their own feelings are about issue/s the abuser is trying to control. The emotional abuse and stalking acts my not leave any physical scars, but it leaves a major impact on one’s confidence and esteem. In addition, the abuser may also put the victim on an allowance, closely monitor how the victim spends money, spend victim's money without his/her consent or completely spend victim's savings to limit available resources. (Cafrey, (2008)) When an allowance is broken or there is a disagreement about the justification for any money spent, the abuser may punish the victim with physical, sexual or emotional abuse. In a family, the husband yell, insults his wife, though violence does not end here. His other family members also indulge in controlling his wife’s actions, limiting her freedom of movement or repeatedly doing hurtful acts, even controlling her money resources and causing situations to feel threatened…..this all makes a broader definition of “family violence”. I believe that the impact of this abuse has a major long lasting impact on the victim leading to suicides, depression and zero level confidence.
If we talk in regard to children, an emotional abuse of a child can be defined as pattern of behavior based on “Behavioral theory”by parents and guardians that can seriously interfere with a child’s emotional, psychological or social development. Some parents may emotionally and psychologically harm their children because of stress, poor parenting skills, social isolation, and lack of available resources (McGee, (2000))or inappropriate expectations of their children. They may emotionally abuse their children because the parents were emotionally abused during their own childhood. Even babies or infants with less severe emotional deprivation can grow into anxious and insecure children who are slow to develop and who have low self-esteem, poor development of basic skills, and difficulty in forming relationships. This psychological aggression cannot be overlooked when we talk about family violence. The social views on domestic violence always vary from person to person, from region to region.
Local traditions have also played a pivotal role in maintaining violence domestically. They majorly include the desire of a family to have a boy and not girl child leading to abuse and harassment of the mother and neglect of girl child by disappointed family members, which is still strongly prevalent in Asian countries. Generally, male babies were preferred because they provided manual labor and succeed the family name (Buzawa & Buzawa, (2003)). The sons are expected to take care of their parents in their old age and a daughter is a "liability" since she will be married off to another family, and so will not contribute financially to her parents. These factors complicate the victim’s life adversely and give a mental pressure to abide by the wishes of the family irrespective of damaging ill effects on her health, mind and feelings.
Also, adding on the child and forced marriages. This has the high rate of domestic violence, not only the spousal violence inside the marriage (Cook, (2009)) but also the violence related to the customs and traditions of these marriages, mainly the payment of bride price and killings for refusing the marriage( as honor killings these days).
Child marriage affects both boys and girls, though the overwhelming majority of those affected are girls, most of whom are in poor socioeconomic situations. Poor parents may have few alternatives they can afford for the girls in the family; they often view marriage as a means to ensure their daughter's financial security and to reduce the economic burden of a growing adult on the family. They feel that they are providing their daughter a sense of protection from this male dominated world, however in reality; young girls tend to marry older men, placing them at an increased risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. Moreover, the health consequences of child marriage in girls are more severe. This may be driven by factors like poverty, illiteracy, fear of remaining unmarried and inability of women to work for money but it leaves a long lasting negative consequence on the health, education and social development perspectives of the girl, even leads to death for girls aged 15 to 19 years due to pregnancy and child birth. Larger age gaps between the child and her spouse makes her increasingly vulnerable to domestic violence and nonconsensual sexual intercourse. (Surbhi, (2013)) Early marriage places young girls in a vulnerable situation of being completely dependent on her husband. Domestic and sexual violence from their husbands have devastating mental health consequences for young girls because they are at a formative stage of psychological development. How can this be rated or ignored when we talk about family violence or domestic violence.
Dowry gave, at least in theory, women economic and financial security in their marriage in the form of movable goods. This helped prevent family wealth break-up and provided security to the bride at the same time. In addition to marriage customs that may influence dowry, social customs or rituals, and parents expectations of dowry are important factors to consider.
Even after marriage, some brides are tortured and forced to bring more and more dowry from their parents' house. If they fail, they are tortured and finally killed. The problem of dowry has reached the climax. Most dowry deaths occur when the young woman, unable to bear the harassment and torture, commits suicide. Most of these suicides are by hanging, poisoning or by fire.
In some cases, dowry is used as a threat or hostage type situation, in order to extract more property from the bride’s family. This type of situation can occur with the threat of violence, so that the bride’s family is left with no choice but to give more dowry to protect their daughter The reason many parents don't want to have daughters is because of the dowry they will have to shell out at her marriage, and the stress they go through due to never ending demands from her in-laws. (Unicef, (2014))This system has become an insult to our education and culture as many educated families are demanding dowry.
Some of the brilliant and smart girls remain unmarried as they are poor and their parents cannot spend handsome amount on their marriages. This also brings a sense of rejection and discrimination in the females, might leading to depression as well. Can’t we also call this a major part of psychological violence being done by the families, the mental trauma of the girl parents to satisfy the undue wants and wishes of the boy’s family irrespective of minimal financial sources. The impact of dowry can leave a woman helpless and desperate, which can cumulate in emotional trauma and abuse. From history till date, the dowry system has majorly led to abuses and deaths of females.
Women face violence by the family members which includes strong requirement of female virginity before the wedding and violence related to non-conforming women and girls; myths about menstruation leading to females being isolated and shunned during the time of menstruation. (Irian, (2014))
Historically, domestic violence has been seen as a heterosexual family issue and little interest has been directed at violence in same-sex relationships but domestic violence can occur in same-sex relationships as well. For several methodological reasons – it is not possible to assess the extent of same-sex domestic violence. People in same-sex relationships face special obstacles in dealing with the issues, for instance, potential dismissal by the police and some social services, a lack of support from peers, fear of attracting negative stigma towards the community, the impact of HIV/AIDS status in keeping partners together, and encountering supportive services that are targeted, or structured for the needs of heterosexual women, and may not meet the needs of gay men or lesbians. (Fernandez, 2013))This service structure can make these victims feel even more isolated and misunderstood than they may already because of their minority status. (John & Delisi, (2008))
There has always been controversy regarding the influence of religion on domestic violence. Generally, no religion sanctions violence against women, but there are some religious scriptures that have been "taken out of context" to support discrimination against women within a community like Christianity and Islam have traditionally supported male-dominant households and the Catholic Church has been criticized for opposing divorce, and therefore trapping victims of violence in abusive marriages. Fear of negligence and opposition from the society make the victim stay in the marriage and subsequently handle all kinds of stress and trauma on a routine basis. (Power, (2008))
Couples that share power equally experience lower incidence of conflict, and when conflict does arise, are less likely to resort to violence. If one spouse desires control and power in the relationship,
The spouse may resort to abuse. This may include threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, economic abuse, isolation, making light of the situation and blaming the spouse, using children (threatening to take them away), and behaving as the "master of the castle". As per “Resource Theory”Stress may be increased when a person is living in a family situation with increased pressures. Social stresses, due to inadequate finances or other such problems in a family may further increase tensions. Violence is not always caused by stress, but may be one way that some people respond to stress. Families and couples in poverty may be more likely to experience domestic violence, due to increased stress and conflicts about finances and other aspects. Sometimes, one person seeks complete power and control over their partner and uses different ways to achieve this, including resorting to physical violence. The person attempts to control all aspects of the victim's life, such as their social, personal, professional and financial decisions. When we talk about family violence, it is arising from all aspects….be it male to female, or towards children, or other family members and society as a whole. Each aspect is leaving a significant effect on victim’s life.
Some long-term effects on a child based on “Reactive aggression theory” who comes from an abusive household, or have been abused themselves, are guilt, anger, depression/anxiety, shyness, nightmares, disruptiveness, irritability, and problems getting along with others. Although they may have not been the ones being abused (Cannor, (2012)), it still affects them because they had to experience and witness their loved ones being abused, which takes a toll on them as well. (Fite, (2006)) A child who grows up being abused thinks of that as a way a family functions, and has a high risk to grow up and repeat the cycle because that is all they know. A victim’s overwhelming lack of resources (Morgan, (2005))can also lead to homelessness and poverty. A person who has suffered abuse is at risk for a lot of negative consequences that can put them on a destructive path for their future.
After studying about various kinds of domestic violence it can be concluded that male abuse to female partner is not the only kind of violence that should be concerned. After effects of rape cases, children getting abused at home by parents, women getting tortured by their in-laws etc. are required to be considered seriously as they may lead to death of victim. If no one will bother what the victim is going through it will affect them & they may take serious steps like suicide.Survivors who experience this self-blame feels that there is something inherently wrong with them which have caused them to deserve to be assaulted. (Faan., (2010))There are a number of reasons that victims report using substances like alcohol and drugs as they cannot be reassured enough that what happened to them is "not their fault." This helps them fight through shame and feel safe, secure, and grieve in a healthy way. On the other hand, if at this time their family confers in victim that you are strong and we will help you out, nothing like this, but no support and devaluing statements makes their life even worse.
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