Domestic violence remains one of the most controvesial and best social studies topics to discuss in any type of academic paper (e.g. Critical Thinking Essay, etc.). For a lot of people, the family serves as caregiver, provider of needs, and protector against all kinds of danger. Indeed, it can be said that the family is the single most important figure in a person’s life during the formative years and even beyond. But while the family is meant to be a source of nourishment, comfort, and affection, this is not always the case. Ironically, for many people, danger preys upon them right inside their home. This is the case with domestic violence. Millions of cases of domestic violence are reported every year; many more go undetected and unreported. While much has been done to address domestic violence, this remains a significant problem. This essay provides an overview of domestic violence including its definition, current statistical data, causes and effects, and possible solutions.
Domestic Violence Defined
The United Nations defines domestic violence as “a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.” Domestic violence involves the perpetrator’s abuse of the victim. Abuse in this context comes in various forms, such as sexual, physical, emotional, psychological, and even economic. Actions and behaviors that constitute abuse include but are not limited to hurting, threatening, humiliating, harassing, and intimidating the victim. Domestic violence takes place across all demographics. It can happen to people regardless of sex, gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion, socioeconomic background, and educational levels. Domestic abuse is not confined to married couples; rather, it may also take place among dating and cohabiting couples. Broader definitions of domestic violence, however, go beyond abuse committed against an intimate partner. In some definitions, domestic violence may involve abuse of a child by a parent or guardian, abuse of an elder by a younger person, and abuse between siblings among others. In other words, domestic violence may involve abuse taking place between members of the same household.
Domestic Violence Statistics
Available statistical data reveals that domestic violence is a widespread social problem. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, around 24 people fall victim to physical abuse, rape, or stalking by a partner every minute. This translates to around 12 million individuals per year. Statistics also reveal that domestic violence disproportionately affects more women than men. Around 3 in 10 women (29%) and 1 in 10 men (10%) aged 18 years old and above experience domestic violence at the hands of an intimate partner. Severe domestic violence affects 1 in 4 women (25%) and 1 in 7 men (14%). The highest rates of domestic violence committed by an intimate partner affect the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups. Every year, around 1,500 people die from domestic violence.
There are also statistical data available on domestic violence in relation to children. Records show that in 22% of intimate partner violence filed in court were witnessed by children. Furthermore, 30-60% of people who abuse intimate partners also abuse children. Children living in households where intimate partner violence takes place are also 15 times more likely to suffer abuse themselves than children living in homes without domestic violence. Around 3 million cases of child abuse are also referred to child protection agencies every year. The mortality rate for child abuse is 2 in every 100,000 children.
While these statistical figures are already alarming, it must be noted that the real numbers are likely higher. One of the challenges in addressing domestic violence is that many victims do not report the abuse, which means there are cases that do not receive the attention of authorities and agencies. There are a number of reasons why people do not report abuse. For one, a person may be unaware that he or she is a victim of abuse. It is a common misconception that domestic violence only comes in the form of physical abuse. However, violence can also be in the form of threats, humiliation, coercion, and forced financial dependence among other means of controlling a person. For another, abuse may go unreported because the victim is afraid of the consequences of going to the authorities. Many perpetrators use threats to keep their victims silent. Others resort to blackmail. Finally, abuse may also go unreported because the victim is financially dependent on the abuser. For example, the victim may be unemployed, which means that reporting the abuse will result in losing financial support.
Causes and Effects of Domestic Violence
There are a number of reasons why domestic violence takes place. First, many perpetrators of domestic violence have anger management issues. Second, jealousy may also prompt people to commit violence against their partners. Third, low self-esteem and a sense of inferiority may cause people to act on their frustrations by abusing their partners. There are also risk factors involved. Studies show that cultural beliefs that allow people to exercise control over their partners play a role in legitimizing abuse. For example, in some cultures it is acceptable for men to exercise control over women and children through the use of force and coercion. A history of domestic violence is another risk factor. Children who suffered domestic abuse have a higher chance of becoming perpetrators of abuse in adulthood. Education level has also been identified as a factor. Lower educational attainment is correlated with higher rates of domestic violence. Finally, studies show that domestic violence is more likely to occur in households with substance abuse problems than households that do not have the same issues.
Being subjected to domestic violence has many effects. Among the most immediate effects is physical injury. Victims of domestic violence often sustain injuries severe enough to require medical attention. In some cases, extreme injury may result in permanent disability or even death. Domestic violence also causes psychological distress and mental health conditions. It is not unusual for victims to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and depression. Domestic violence also puts victims at higher risk for self-harm and suicide. This problem is also responsible for stunted personal and professional development. Many victims lose their jobs as a result of being controlled by their abusers. Finally, also victims are more likely to suffer from substance abuse and homelessness.
Although domestic violence remains a pressing social issue, there are ways to reduce the number of cases. One solution is to enhance prevention programs. Programs that aim to change social and cultural perceptions can help raise a generation of children who are against domestic violence. Experts believe that preventing young individuals from becoming abusive adults is a more effective approach. Secondly, enhancing the penalization system can help deter domestic violence. Ensuring that perpetrators are swiftly, consistently, and seriously penalized can dissuade abusers from committing domestic violence. Increasing the funding for government agencies and nongovernmental organization is also a key to reducing the cases of domestic violence. With enough funding, these agencies and organizations will be better equipped to address the needs of victims. These entities can also help in changing perceptions on domestic violence and encourage reporting. Finally, promoting the economic independence of women can lower their risk of becoming victims. Domestic violence affects more women than men, and many women are unable to escape the cycle of abuse due to economic dependence on their partners. When women are independent, they are more likely to leave abusive relationships as they can remain stable even without support from their partners.
Domestic violence is a serious issue that continues to plague millions of people not just in the United States but around the world. Defined as abusive behavior intended to control another person, domestic violence causes its victims physical injuries, impaired emotional and psychological health, and increased risk for self-harm, substance abuse, and poverty. While ending this problem remains a complicated challenge, several solutions can be effective. Ending domestic violence is to everyone’s interest, as it ensures that homes stay true to their purpose of being safe and nurturing places for everyone.