Domestic Violence has been proven to have an unhealthy impact on the victims exposed to the violence. Most people do not realize the scope of the potential adverse affects that domestic violence has on adult victims, pregnant victims, children and adolescents that are exposed to the type of behavior. When a woman is pregnant and becomes a victim of domestic violence, she is not the only one affected, but her fetus is as well. Domestic violence has been linked to physical, mental and emotional damage to its victims which can result in the development of significant disorders that linger throughout their life. The prevention and assessment for domestic violence is very essential in order to stop the adverse affects that it has on the victims and society as a whole.
Domestic violence has been given several names throughout history which includes: intimate partner violence (IPV), partner abuse, abuse, marital abuse, spousal abuse and battering to name a few (Breiding & Ziembroski, 2010). Domestic violence is considered to be an event, multiple or pattern of abusive behavior that includes verbal, physical and sexual abuse towards an intimate partner or family member (Breiding & Ziembroski, 2010). Domestic violence is not an issue that is associated with any single population. Domestic violence can involve individuals of any gender, race economic status. Domestic violence happens in all socioeconomic statuses, but it has been more of an increased risk when associated with women in a lower socioeconomic status. Women are considered to be the more commonly abused victims, but males can also be victims of abuse. Males are exposed to psychological, verbally and sometimes even physical abuse.
Domestic violence can also occur in same sex relationships as well as heterosexual relationships. Most batterers in a relationship are generally very manipulative and controlling. They usually attempt to have power over their partner. There are usually signs that are present when abuse is involved within a relationship. The most common sign is when one partner is afraid of the other. This fear is manifested in an individual’s belief that they must accommodate their partner for apprehension of how their unhappy, abusive mate may retaliate against them. The abusers tend to use this type of violence to facilitate intimidation and to foster compliance from their victims. Minority women and younger single women who are not yet married are usually considered at increased risk as potential victims of domestic violence. The large number of domestic violence relationships usually starts off as what appears as a promising and stable union. Then everything seems to take a turn for the worse and the abuse begins. The abuser attempt to have their partners think that they are the only individuals that will ever be there for them and that they are the only person that they can trust. These victims are systematically isolated and removed from family and friends and their support system goes from some to one.
When the victims let their guard down and become increasingly comfortable with this situation the abuse then starts. Unfortunately the victims usually stay in the abusive relationship because they are hanging on to the promises of what once was, but what will never return. After explosive abusive episodes that are directed towards the victims the batterer often starts to be remorseful and apologizes. That is followed by the abusive mate making promises and excuses for the inappropriate behaviors that has been displayed. Those promises generally revolve around the wonderful memories that were had in the beginning of the relationship. Battering usually doesn’t just start off by a partner physically beating an individual. It often starts off with verbal abuse and if the behavior is not contested or addressed it can escalate to physical abuse. The physical abuse may start as something considered to be small or insignificant; a pinch, grab or a shove. If that behavior is not corrected it will lead to more harsh abuse in every subsequent episode.
Many times victims are abused as a result of being made to participate in unwanted sex. Emotional abuse can be just as severe or in some cases more brutal than physical abuse. Physical abuse may leave a victim with visible scars, but sometimes emotional abuse has lingering lifelong effects. When a person is emotionally abused it can affect their confidence and perception of the world. The abusive partner will usually identify and focus on things that they perceive to be valuable to the victim in order to control them. One way of controlling a victim is by withholding access to things like money and basic essentials. The goal is to make the victim to feel and in essence become totally dependant upon their mate. No individual should ever be subjected to verbal, emotional, psychological or physical abuse on any level. This is why it is so important for victims to seek help that can remove them from a potentially hostile relationship before it gets violent and someone eventually loses their life. There are laws in place in several states that will prosecute abusers and the state will usually pick up the case and only use the victim as a witnesses.
These laws have been implemented to save people that have been repeated victims of abuse. When victims are in repeated situations of abuse it usually only gets more serious which may ultimately lead to their death. The laws that are in place in most states will help eliminate those cases of repeat offenders because after a certain amount of arrests they will go to prison. Law Enforcement officials consider this to be a serious concern because it has taken the lives of so many innocent people. Some offenders are charged fines and are required to attend anger management counseling. There have been methods implemented in order to screen for individuals who are involved in domestic violence relationships. One of the most common methods of screening often takes place during physician visits. Even though this practice is not considered to be universal when actually utilized it has been found to discover more case of domestic violence.
Some victims have stated that they chose not to disclose their abuse because fear of being blamed, lack of understanding from others, losing their family, their economic dependency of the abuser and lack of confidentiality within the medical home (Bailey, 2010). This simply proves that there is a very urgent need for victims to be provided with more interventions and assistance when dealing with this type of problem. Victims require compassion, sensitivity and confidentially from other individuals including health care providers. It is through this type of support that victims will feel more comfortable disclosing domestic violence within their relationship. This is an area that requires much sincerity and empathy therefore more health care providers may need to be trained in order to accurately assess domestic violence victims. It is evident that more prevention methods need to be implemented in order to teach individuals the negative associations tied to domestic violence.
People that are abusers are usually trying to intimidate their victims in some way. Domestic violence should never be considered just a secret family issue. Individuals need to realize that domestic violence does not only affect the victim or the family unit in which it occurs, but it affects the society as a whole. It is a very costly matter for society when you consider social service workers, shelters, police officers that are involved in those situations in various capacities. The most important thing that needs to be focused on in all is the lives that have been lost as well as those that can potentially be lost. For example, a potential case of a domestic violence situation would be where a man beats on a pregnant woman with other children in the home witnessing the behavior. The potential harm that can be had by the fetus inside the mother could lead to short term or long term problems. The woman is at-risk for suffering greatly from psychological problems therefore being potentially unfit to raise her children. There is also the possibly having the children pushed into the homes of other family members or the foster care system for the state to cover the bill. The children witnessing the violence can be affected psychologically as well.
The children may have to see a psychologist to work out the issues from being exposed to the negative environment. They could suffer from adjustment problems such as behavioral or mental issues. Children that suffer from behavioral or mental issues as a result of being exposed to domestic violence are predisposed to repeat that type of behavior in their future relationships. They will most likely require more skill and on-going mental health counseling to be productive citizens. These individuals may have perceived this type of violence as a learned behavior and feel that it is appropriate as it was commonplace in their upbringing. Unfortunately domestic violence can cycle through many generations of a family. Generally because this is the behavior that has been displayed and possibly condoned in the earlier generations it may continue as part of the family dynamic. This deep rooted dysfunction is very hard to break or change once it has become ingrained in the socially acceptable view of an individual or their family.
This cycle of violence will regrettably continue to destroy the lives of other innocent people. When domestic violence occurs it requires a lot of adjustments and it is ultimately an unnecessary strain on society. This type of violence has been going on throughout history, but it can be stopped. This is an issue that can be prevented through education and appropriate assessment. Individuals can be taught that this behavior is not acceptable. Individuals can be educated on how this behavior affects everyone from their immediate family to society as a whole. A health care professional’s ability to screen for cases of domestic violence can be more productive in identifying victims with proper training. Most social service agencies have resources for the victims to utilize. This is helpful so that he or she feels comfortable about making the transition of leaving the abusive home without fears of being homeless or if their basic essential needs would be met.
Although pregnancy can seem to some the most exciting time, that is sadly not the case for some pregnant women. A woman that is pregnant is more at-risk for becoming a victim of domestic violence. It is reported that 1 in 5 pregnant women will be experience domestic violence (Bailey, 2010). There are several pregnant women per year have reported to have suffered from domestic violence. Pregnant women are a lot more likely to be abused compared to non-pregnant women. Abuse during pregnancy is not only dangerous to the women, but it is also very harmful to the fetus as well. Insensitive and cruel abuse that is perpetrated upon a woman during pregnancy can cause a number of emotional, physical and psychological issues and concerns. There are several consequences caused by domestic violence during pregnancy. Domestic violence can cause low birth weight and preterm delivery which are the highest causes of mortality (Bailey, 2010). Some of the potential consequences associated with domestic violence includes: immediate and long term developmental delays, cerebral palsy, academic problems, language delays, attention problems, behavior issues, sudden infant death syndrome, and respiratory problems (Bailey, 2010).
Women that are victims are more likely to start with prenatal services later in the pregnancy. Smoking has also been associated with violence during pregnancy, because it is used a stress relief and a coping mechanism for depression. Smoking also then adds to the increased risk factors for low birth weight and other potential health problems. Other children in the home being battered can also be a form of abuse towards the mother in the home. An unfortunate result of the parent being abused is the potential damage that can be caused on the child psychologically. It is estimated that 3.3 to 10 million children have been exposed to domestic violence every year, and 15.5 million children live in homes with violence (Kelly & Klostermann, 2009). Children that have witnessed violence among their parents often have feelings of fear, helplessness, and fear for safety, anxiety and sleep disorders (Kelly & Klostermann, 2009).
The exposure of domestic violence has been known to be associated with many other problems in children. Some of these problems include: “poor peer relationships, higher loneliness levels during school, less likely to get along with other children, more likely to get into fights, more likely to be disliked by peers and showing more aggression towards the same sex peers” (Hunter, Katz & Klowden, 2008). Some of the stress associated with being exposed to domestic violence can lead to health issues. Women victims who report having previously experienced or currently experiencing domestic violence have more likely to have had children that had been diagnosed with asthma and were more to have children that will be diagnosed with asthma in the future. There is research to conclude that a chronically elevated stress response can lead to attenuation of stress hormones that counteract the inflammatory response that causes asthma (Breiding & Ziembroski, 2010).
A child’s types of maltreatment, gender, age and support systems are all additional factors that affect a child’s response to the exposure of domestic violence (Overlien, 2009). Children that are younger are more vulnerable to be affected by the abuse because they are more likely to view the abuse in the home visually as opposed to older children (Overlien, 2009). Adolescents are also affected by the exposure of domestic violence. Normally adolescence is a time that teenagers are already faced with a lot of issues and it really does not help to expose them to violence. Teenage girls and boys that are violent were more likely to have been exposed to domestic violence. Teenage girls exposed to this behavior may feel that this abuse is acceptable and accept this type of behavior in relationships that she is involved in. “Majority of the adolescent boys exposed to domestic violence are more likely than unexposed boys to believe aggression is acceptable in intimate relationships, and behave more aggressively with intimate partners within a relationship” (Kelley& Klostermann, 2009).
One issue of concern is that the perception of the abusive parent is almost identical to those of non-abusive parents regarding the effect of their violence on children. The unsuitable behaviors that are displayed by these individuals can have a very severe impact on the entire family but especially the children. Even though in some cases the children are not the ones that are directly abused they may still display some of the same problems as the identified victim. The victim’s often times suffer from stress and fear from being subjected to abuse. As a result they tend to develop anxiety and other forms of issues and problems. Children are very likely to have these same problems after witnessing a parent commit an act of violence on the other parent. Thankfully there are some children that are able to handle the turmoil and chaos that takes place in the home and continue to have normal childhoods. There is a lot of research that suggests that fathers who are abusive often times appear to be indifferent with the effects of their actions on their victims or even their children (Rothman, Mandel and Silverman, 2007).
These abusive fathers rarely report that their children are having any problems. Children are generally abused by a step-father who has less of a biological incentive to ensure the child’s well-being. Biological fathers are thought to be more likely to be abusive towards their spouse than a step father would be. Abusers that participate in intervention programs generally will show more or less remorse dependent upon their role in the family unit. Compared to step-fathers, biological fathers are thought to be more aware of the negative results of their actions, express more concern about the negative long term effects that result from their abuse, and are more likely to express intentions to change their unacceptable behavior (Mandel, Rothman & Silverman, 2007). Additionally, biological fathers are also more likely than step-fathers to have genuine concerns for both male and female children alike. Their fear is that female children will be predisposed to suffering the same type of abuse that they witness at the hands of their abusive parents. In regards to male children, the fear is that they will become abusers based on learned behaviors that they have witnessed.
The ability for the partner to effectively parent is also affected negatively. In every case this number is higher for biological fathers than it is for step-fathers. There are also children that are exposed to domestic violence that do not react negatively. A study that was done in a battered women’s shelter showed that one third of the children in this particular shelter had no particular outcomes from being exposed to abuse in the home. It was concluded that those children were members of families that avoided the negative effects of domestic violence (Hunter, Katz & Klowden, 2008). One method that parents use in order to avoid their children from being negatively affected is emotion coaching. “These parents usually use low intensity emotions within their child and themselves, view the child’s negative emotion as a chance for intimacy or a teaching moment, they then validate and label their child’s emotion.
And problem solve with the child by discussing goals and strategies for handling the situation that led to the emotional feeling” (Hunter, Katz & Klowden, 2008). The children that have experienced emotion coaching usually perform better in an academic setting, incur fewer illnesses and are better equipped to handle their emotions. Women that are subjected to this type and level of abuse generally identify doctors and nurses as a potential support system. Many times their abuse will go unnoticed as there has traditionally been little training regarding identifying and responding to abuse victims. This abuse comes in many forms and can even include emotional, sexual, financial, and physical violence. Domestic violence can result in a myriad of problems for women that can range from health problems to psychological issues. These victims usually suffer recurring health problems and seek some type of assistance in an attempt to manage those problems.
Post traumatic stress disorder and depression are the two major psychological issues that are most frequently diagnosed for victims of this level of abuse. These victims are very likely to have a higher level of anxiety than most other people. Unfortunately, if these victims cannot get the help that they need they may seek out alternative solutions to cope with their problems. These solutions may come in the form of illegal drugs and alcohol abuse. These are attempts to mask or pacify the pain and anxiety that they are dealing with. Abuse was the beginning factor for a lot of chain smokers and alcoholics. An extreme but regrettable solution to people that are dealing with domestic violence comes in the form of attempted suicides. Domestic Violence victims do not have an age limit and even the elderly can be involved in disputes. Usually when violence is instigated towards the elderly it is even more crucial because the elderly are more fragile and don’t heal quickly from attacks.
Violence towards the elderly is no more acceptable to for them as it is for the younger individuals. Violence is wrong and it is harmful for individuals from any age. Domestic violence toward the elderly maybe rare and statistics maybe appear unclear because most cases are blanketed under the term elderly abuse. Most victims don’t get the medication and the counseling treatment that they need to help them to regain their status as productive members of society. However, the reality is that these victims will receive the appropriate level of health care or have some type of intervention is highly unlikely. This is in part due to the fact that domestic violence is almost non-existent in most cases because it is not always disclosed or identified on the first office visit.
Unless it is disclosed during an office visit there may be no documentation or reports of any type of domestic violence in a victims file. Without the disclosure of the abuse from the victim there is a very slim chance that the victim will be afforded any possible type of assistance from their health care provider that can be supplied for them. There have been some improvements in identifying and asking the appropriate questions that numerous health care providers have been exposed to through training and awareness programs. This is very important as most women will often seek assistance by frequent visits to the doctor’s office for what may seem to be routine issue, all the while it may be a silent cry for help.
The education and advocacy for the prevention and assessment of abuse cases can prevent harm for individuals of all ages. Some individuals may have grown up with the assumption that abuse is appropriate and have decided as adults to continue the pattern. Some individuals may think that abuse will keep their partner scared of them and will never leave them. There are also others that choose to resort to violence when under the influence of some type of drug. Regardless of the reason domestic violence should never be acceptable in any degree. Every individual deserves to be treated with respect and allowed to feel safe at all times and in any situation.
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