While it is difficult to create a concrete definition of family violence or blame anyone involved in it, no one will disagree with the fact that it can be disastrous for all members of any family. The inherent complexity of such situations makes it difficult to blame any single person of the family or to underpin a particular gender as the sole guilty behind such occurrence. Therefore this study briefly explores why this issue looks so complicated and whether such complication would help to solve the situation.
According to Levesque et al. (2001), family violence involves family members’ acts of omission or commission that result in physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, or other forms of maltreatment, which eventually hampers healthy development of humans. The above definition fairly indicates that there are many faces of family violence and it can be difficult for an outsider to identify if there is any violence ongoing in a family.
However, American Academy of Family Physicians (2009), explains family violence as the “intentional intimidation or abuse of children, adults or elders by a family member, intimate partner or caretaker to gain power and control over the victim.”
While the first definition mostly emphasizes on action, the second one stresses on intention. This adds to the complexity by highlighting the fact that family violence can take place even without the knowledge of most of the members in a family (Lau et al., 1999).
For example, a father may find spanking as an effective tool to intimidate his daughter, and may intentionally does that off and on, which may not be considered as violence by her mother or other members of that family and thus such practice might continue to ruin the victim’s future. This is very much possible, since many acts are considered as “socially accepted violence”, such as spanking, and which are not considered as “abusive violence,” which according to the researchers an “act which has a high potential for injuring the person being hit” (Straus et al, 1980, pp. 21-22).
The above state of affairs shows that there is much ambiguity in pinpointing family violence which in turn points at the fact that how difficult it could be to redress it or to eliminate its occurrence.
This signifies the importance of spreading awareness about the damaging potential of family violence and promoting the adoption of behavioral processes that can effectively eliminate such occurrences in a family. For example, encouraging parents to abstain from using corporal punishment to their children could be a way to lessen the instances of child abuse – because the intention behind corporal punishment, i.e., to cause pain but not injury for purposes of coercion and control (Strauss et al., 1980) may be lost with raised temper and loss of control.
In all, any injury has the potential to leave a scar on human mind and thus can considerably influence the actions of the victims, which may create further problems to the society. It is from this angle, the hidden niches of family violence need to be identified and redressed, and from that perspective, humans have to go through complex discussions and debates in way of finding its solution.
It is not that family violence is a new phenomenon of the society, since instances of it are spread all over in the literature of all times, and earning several sobriquets in different periods, like “battered child syndrome” (Kempe et al., 1962), “granny bashing” (Burston, 1975) or “battered woman” (Walker, 1979).
Therefore, it is the pressing lifestyle of modern times have given it some more dimensions and accordingly, the educated minds of modern times are trying to deeply investigate its root as well as its intrinsic effects on human mind. Consequently, the perception about family violence is also gradually changing, where the earlier concept of focusing on the violence on women, children as the potential victims is making way to a newer concept that includes all humans and considers any act detrimental to human development as family violence (Pleck, 1987).
The apparent complexity in defining or determining family is actually an outcome of the honest search of the researchers that has brought forth many hidden niches of family violence. This is the right process, because the more the mechanism of family becomes clear before all, the more humans will be able to eradicate it and move towards a prosperous and happy future.
American Academy of Family Physicians. (2009). Family and intimate partner violence and abuse. Retrieved July 19, 2009, from http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/policy/policies/f/familyandintimatepartner- violenceandabuse.html
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Lau, J. T. F., Liu, J. L. Y., Tong, C. K., and Tan, P. M. E. H. (1999). Conceptualizations, reporting and under-reporting of child abuse in Hong Kong. Child Abuse & Neglect, 23, 1159-1174
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Pleck, E. (1987). Domestic tyranny: The making of social policy against family violence from colonical times to the present. New York: Oxford University Press.
Straus, M. A., Gelles, R.J., and Steinmetz, S.K. (1980). Behind closed doors: Violence in American families. Doubleday, NewYork.
Walker, L. E. (1979). The battered woman. New York: Harer Colophon Books.