Write an essay on the topic domestic violence is a global issue that negatively impacts mental health and wellbeing. Examine how socioeconomic and psychological factors influence the incidence of domestic violence.
Your essay should address the following:
• domestic violence & socioeconomic factors - a discussion that includes reference to international and Australian sources;
• domestic violence & psychological factors — a discussion that includes factors affecting psychological development in infancy and childhood, psychological trauma and stress, fear and control.
• your discussion may include evaluation of these factors for the perpetrator or victims of domestic violence.
The Problem of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence occurs away from the public eye and remains hidden from us. But, unfortunately it is a common form of violence and is now recognised as a global public health issue. It is an insidious form of violence and violates human rights. The impact on health and wellbeing of the victims is enormous and the economic implications for nations and communities are immense. The socioeconomic reasons for domestic violence include crowded homes, low education, poverty, unemployment, alcohol abuse and cultural biases that consider women to be the weaker gender. The psychological impact of domestic violence on women and children is enormous. Depression, anxiety, low self esteem and delayed cognitive development are often deleterious consequences. Even in affluent societies where male dominance is prevalent domestic violence is a problem.
The problem of domestic violence has been recognised as a public health issue all over the world. Victims include women and children but men may also suffer from violence at home. Also called intimate partner violence, 35% of women around the world have experienced violence in homes. Such women are twice as likely to suffer from depression than women who have not experienced domestic violence. And over 50% of women have not been able to seek help from formal services. (WHO). Violence in homes occurs across age groups and across social groups. The consequences on the mental health, physical health of the victims are detrimental.
Studies have reported that there may be some impact of the socioeconomic background on the extent of domestic violence. Unemployment and low per capita income in a neighbourhood increase the risk of domestic violence. Lower household income, poverty, education, households with larger number of children are also known to increase the risk of intimate partner violence (Beyer, Wallis, & Hamberger, 2015). In a Vietnamese study, ageing population, better economic level and building awareness against domestic violence have changed attitudes towards domestic violence, but a lot remains to be done (Trinh, Oh, Choi, To, & & Van Do, 2016). The impact of patriarchal ideology discourages women to report the incidence of violence by the husbands because they must cover-up his misdeeds in order to fit the role of a 'good wife'.
An Australian study found that people who are socially disadvantaged, economically dependent on their partners, belong to Asian or African ethnicities and young, are more likely to encounter domestic violence. Social norms also shape a person's attitude towards the incidence of violence at home. Support for gender equality is more likely among migrants to Australia if they are of European descent rather than Asian descent. In Asian culture the dominance of the male gender, and status of men as the head of the household makes them more likely to be perpetrators of violence. And sadly, domestic violence is a recognised but accepted form of violence (Vichealth, 2013). In many cultures in Asia, the belief systems of practising harmony and self-restraint by women actually facilitate intimate partner violence rather than discourage. Women are perceived as submissive and vulnerable and this leads to both genders treating violence in homes against women as legitimate action (Do, Weiss, & Pollack, 2013).
Socioeconomic Factors and Domestic Violence
In Australia, domestic violence among the indigenous community is high. In a study the correlation between high degree of alcohol consumption followed by violence in homes. Alcohol related domestic abuse is also a cause of homicides in indigenous people's homes and a high incidence of domestic violence is reported as compared to that in urban areas (Ramamoorthy, Jayraj, Notaras, & Thomas, 2014). The women and children in indigenous homes bear the brunt of alcohol consumption induced violence and trauma. More than 1800 hospital admissions per 100,000 women were reported from among indigenous women in the Northern Territory because they were assaulted by drunk husbands. The rate of violence against these women is 40 times higher than non-indigenous women. Overcrowding of women and children often makes them easy targets of domestic violence. Reporting by the victims is rare because of their social value systems.
The prevalence of economic abuse in Australia and elsewhere is also a form of violence that severely impacts the wellbeing of women. It is easy to hide economic abuse because there is a smaller chance of finding evidence (Kutin, Russell, & Reid, 2017). It usually involves taking away the partner's earnings or savings and not providing money for household expenses. Those with low levels of education and without employment are more likely to be victims due to their economic dependence (Mahenge, Stöckl, Abubakari, Mbwambo, & Jahn, 2016). A multicountry review agrees that while physical, emotional and mental abuse are widely recognised, the recognition of economic or financial abuse is still in its infancy, but its deleterious effects on the health of victims are being widely recognised and understood (Postmus, Hoge, Breckenridge, Sharp-Jeffs, & Chung, 2018).
When the violence perpetrated is sexual in nature, the victims suffer from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and are more likely to attempt suicide. Depression is consequence of physical emotional and economic abuse also but the victims of sexual intimate partner violence are more depressed (Trinh, Oh, Choi, To, & & Van Do, 2016). Even minor incidents of violence, such as pushing or shoving impact mental health and the victims can become depressed Depression is known to reduce appetite, causes low energy and a reduced ability to function. Inability to sleep well is also common (Karakurt, Smith, & Whiting, 2014). 34.7% battered women suffered from depression, 27.3% of them were anxious and 10.7% of them had suicide ideation (Dillon, Hussain, Loxton, & Rahman, 2013). Many women display symptoms of major depressive disorder. Social stigma and the inability to report violence or seek treatment due to poor mental health aggravates the problems of women who do not even think about leaving an abusive partner.
Post traumatic stress disorder is commonly diagnosed among women who have been subjected to violence in homes. The constant fear about safety and the inability to control the situation cause additional trauma. The replay of the violence through nightmares and flashbacks in their minds, avoiding recall of events, emotional numbing and increased startle response and having difficulty while sleeping are symptoms of PTSD (Karakurt, Smith, & Whiting, 2014). If the nature of abuse, violence and control experienced by women is severe and chronic the impact on their mental health is grave.
Psychological Effect on Victims of Domestic Violence
The impact of violence in homes on children is particularly detrimental, they feel a sense of shame, hopelessness, fear, inability to concentrate at school due to the violence they have witnessed at home (Chepuka, Chirwa, & Tolhurst, 2014). Another study suggests that the impact of violence on young sons is so serious that they begin to imitate the father's violent ways and become violent towards the siblings (Rakovec-Felser, 2014). Exposure to violence in homes and its impact on infants is rather severe. The infants may suffer from disturbed sleep, poor food intake, delayed physical and mental development and lack of attachment towards the caregiver (Pregnancybirthbaby, 2018). The risk of physical injury during episodes of violence also affects the infants.
Older children who witness violence at home exhibit symptoms that are similar to children suffering from abuse. Their symptoms include, social withdrawal, difficulty making friends, aggressive behaviour, bed wetting, depression, anxiety, low self esteem and low school attendance (Pregnancybirthbaby, 2018).Children exposed to violence in perinatal stages also risk mental illness later in life. Through all the developmental stages, exposure to family violence during infancy, childhood and adolescence exposes the children to harm. Australian mothers have reported that 31% of the family violence occurs in the presence of children under five years of age because they have less opportunity to be away at school or day care (Bunston, Franich-Ray, & Tatlow, 2017). Socio-emotional difficulties and delayed cognitive development are serious mental health impacts on the psychology of children. Studies have reported increased levels of catecholamines and neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine that are released in response to severe stress. These can cause children to remain a state of hyperarousal that is detrimental to development and reduces cognitive function (Carrion, Wong, & Kletter, 2013). The effects of PTSD therefore affect the lives of children in the long term.
In conclusion, it is evident that domestic violence is a social menace and is endemic all countries irrespective of their economic progress. Both Eastern and western societies are affected by the malady. The reasons are often clear when we socioeconomic and cultural reasons are looked into. Poverty, crowded homes, unemployment, low education are often the causes that are understood to aggravate the problem. With women and children at the receiving end, a culture of gender bias, where women are considered to be the weaker sex appears to be the underlying cause. Consequences of the violence on the mental health of the women and children are serious. Depression, anxiety and PTSD are common. Apart from physical and mental abuse, economic abuse also compromises the well being of women. Cognitive development delays, and lack of attachment, and concentration in studies are a fallout when children in the family are forced to witness the violence in homes. The sense of shame and hopelessness that they experience compromises their childhood and growing up years. Their exposure to harm, particularly in case of younger children adds to their set of problems. Many of them grow up with wrong stereotypes and mental health issues through their adult lives.
Beyer, K., Wallis, A. B., & Hamberger, L. K. (2015). Neighborhood Environment and Intimate Partner Violence: a systematic review. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 16(1): 16–47.
Bunston, W., Franich-Ray, C., & Tatlow, S. (2017). A Diagnosis of Denial: How Mental Health Classification Systems Have Struggled to Recognise Family Violence as a Serious Risk Factor in the Development of Mental Health Issues for Infants, Children, Adolescents and Adults. Brain Sciences, 7(10):133. .
Carrion, V., Wong, S., & Kletter, H. (2013). Update on neuroimaging and cognitive functioning in maltreatment-related pediatric PTSD: Treatment implications. . Journal of family violence, 28:53–61.
Chepuka, L. T.-S., Chirwa, E., & Tolhurst, R. (2014). Perceptions of the mental health impact of intimate partner violence and health service responses in Malawi. . Global Health Action, 7:10.
Dillon, G., Hussain, R., Loxton, D., & Rahman, S. (2013). Mental and Physical Health and Intimate Partner Violence against Women: A Review of the Literature. International Journal of Family Medicine, 2013:313909.
Do, K. N., Weiss, B., & Pollack, A. (2013). Cultural Beliefs, Intimate Partner Violence and Mental Health Functioning among Vietnamese Women. International Perspectives in Psychology?: Research, Practice, Consultation, 2(3), 10.1037/ipp0000004.
Karakurt, G., Smith, D., & Whiting, J. (2014). Impact of Intimate Partner Violence on Women’s Mental Health. Journal of Family Violence, 29(7): 693–702.
Kutin, J., Russell, R., & Reid, M. (2017). Economic abuse between intimate partners in Australia: prevalence, health status, disability and financial stress. Australian and New Zealand journal of public health, 41(3):269-274.
Mahenge, B., Stöckl, H., Abubakari, A., Mbwambo, J., & Jahn, A. (2016). Physical, Sexual, Emotional and Economic Intimate Partner Violence and Controlling Behaviors during Pregnancy and Postpartum among Women in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. PLoS One, 11(10): e0164376.
Postmus, J., Hoge, G., Breckenridge, J., Sharp-Jeffs, N., & Chung, D. (2018). Economic Abuse as an Invisible Form of Domestic Violence: A Multicountry Review. Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 1:1524838018764160.
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Rakovec-Felser, Z. (2014). Domestic Violence and Abuse in Intimate Relationship from Public Health Perspective. Health Psychology Research, 2(3): 1821.
Ramamoorthy, R., Jayraj, R., Notaras, L., & Thomas, M. (2014). Alcohol-Related Violence among the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders of the Northern Territory: Prioritizing an Agenda for Prevention-Narrative Review Article. Iranian Journal of public health, 43(5): 539–544.
Trinh, O. T., Oh, J., Choi, S., To, K. G., & & Van Do, D. (2016). Changes and socioeconomic factors associated with attitudes towards domestic violence among Vietnamese women aged 15–49: findings from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys,. Global Health Action, 9: 10.3402/gha.v9.29577.
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WHO. (n.d.). /violence/sexual/en/. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/: https://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/sexual/en/
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