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Although domestic violence includes sibling abuse and elder abuse, and child abuse the focus of my essay is on spouse abuse. Domestic violence has many names; family violence, battering, wife beating, and domestic abuse. All these terms refer to the same thing, abuse by a marital, common law, or a dating partner in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence is not limited to physical beatings. It is any behavior that is intended to subjugate and control another human being through the use of humiliation, fear, and physical or verbal assaults.
Domestic violence is very important issue in today’s society because it has such a profound negative affect on the abused, mentally and physically, and more needs to be done to help the abused and prevent it from happening further. Even though Domestic violence can be caused by either the male or the female it is usually caused by the male due to their controlling nature and physical advantage.
History and Causes
Since the dawn of time physical force has been used to keep subordinate groups in their place by dominant people in society. Men have always been physically larger than women and since most societies are male dominated, too no surprise the woman has almost always been the most common victim. In Roman times, a man was allowed to divorce, chastise, or even kill his wife for adultery, attending public games, or public drunkenness. All of which the husband was allowed to freely partake in. During the middle ages it was man’s right to beat his wife or kill her for so much as giving her husband a dirty look. The first recorded advocates against domestic violence were two authors by names of Christian Pizan and Mary Wollstonecraft. Even though the issue was being publicized, no action was ever taken until the 1840’s when the American women’s movement brought up the issue while fighting for the right to vote. No state in the U.S. actually passed a law making wife beating illegal until 1883. Although laws were passed to make it illegal, none were strictly enforced. Even up until the 1970’s, wife beating was still fairly acceptable. The police most often would attend calls of domestic violence but would leave things to be resolved by the family. This ease and lack of enforcement allowed for the continuation of the abuse. The 70’s became a period of protest and change for the women’s rights movement. By the 1980’s major changes started to take place. Police no longer ignored calls of domestic violence and more people were being convicted and punished for crimes of domestic violence. The acceptance of domestic violence is still seen today. It’s acceptance is reflected in popular culture through the expression “rule of thumb” which comes from and old English rule that a man could beat his wife with any reasonable instrument as long as it was no thicker that his thumb. Even in today’s society domestic violence is still very common and more needs to be done to stop it.
Finding the reasons or causes of domestic violence is a very difficult. There is never one reason for domestic violence but it usually begins with a controlling nature and the need the need to control one’s spouse. It begins with verbal insults and degradation then over time escalates into physical violence. The abuser has usually been involved in domestic violence cases before. More than likely during child hood. There is usually many different stressors and factors that cause these inherent or learned abusers to begin the abuse; unemployment, drugs and alcohol, different religious back rounds, low income levels, and lower education levels and simply different points of view.. None of these factors are not meant to be excuses, they are simply factors that come up in domestic violence cases time and time again.
Types of Abuse/Psychology of domestic violence
When domestic violence occurs there is several different types of abuse that take place. The first is physical violence. Physical violence includes slapping, kicking, burning, punching, choking, locking a person out of the home, restraining, and other acts designed to injure, endanger, or cause physical pain. The second type is emotional abuse which consists of consistently doing or saying things to shame, insult, ridicule, embarrass, demean, belittle, or mentally hurt another person. The third type is sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is when someone is forced to have sex when he/she does not want to. Forcing someone to engage in sexual acts that he/she does not like or finds unpleasant, frightening, or violent. Because someone is married to or has been seeing their partner for a long time does not require that there must have sexual intercourse with them. No one type of abuse is worse than another and they all have very emotionally damaging effects.
When it comes to domestic violence the most perplexing question is why? Most people in today’s society agree that domestic violence is wrong and think that it should be stopped. We know that it is dangerous and emotionally destructive for children to grow up in a violent home. We know that it is very emotionally destructive to the abused. Most societies have condemned it, we praise the efforts to help the abused and stop the violence but we still wonder why it does not go away. The first reason is the cycle of violence which can be very hard to break. First tension builds due to stress. The abuser becomes critical, edgy and irritable. The abuser gradually becomes more abusive and more severe incidents of abuse start to occur. Both parties can sense the loss of control which only fuels the tension. With the second stage of the cycle comes the violent outbursts with acute battering. The abuser will fly off into a rage for no apparent reason and there is total loss of control. The third stage comes after the violence has stopped. The abuser becomes remorseful and apologetic. They often beg for forgiveness and swear it will never happen again. They go out of their way to be kind and loving and they swear that they will change. This phase explains why the abused comes back and lets the abuse cycle begin again. The abused wants to believe the abuser and wants to try and make things work. They are often reluctant to leave the abusive relationship because of a feeling of dependency. The second reason why this problem does not go away is the abused person’s dependency on their partner and their “learned helplessness”. Learned helplessness is a psychological term first identified by psychologist Martin Seligman. People who are abused tend to tend to think that there is no way out because they are so dependent on their partner. They continue to put up with the abuse and learn ways of dealing to cope with it. The third reason why this problem does not go away is because of the history of domestic violence. It has been acted out for thousands of years so there is still that acceptance and view that it is not a major problem.
So what makes an abuser? Abusers usually share common traits, back round factors, and behavior patterns. It has been completely agreed upon that the goal of the abuser is power and control over their partner. These same people usually depend on their partner for emotional support since they are lacking in emotional skills. The abuser also tend to conform the stereotypical view of the man and the women. The man goes out and makes the money to support the family while women stays home to cook, clean, and look after the kids. These people often have trouble accepting responsibility for their behavior abusive and otherwise. They usually feel guilt or shame for their actions but they try to justify or deny their behavior. It has been found that many abusers share the same personality disorders such as lack of empathy, depression, general hostility, and feeling of victimization. They tend to lack social skills and they envelope themselves with their work and their family. They tend to interpret innocent situations that arouse their jealousy as having been done with hostile intent. Those who abuse adult partners often grew up in homes marred by violence between adults, against children, or both. However, it is important to remember that growing up in a violent home does not guarantee that a person will become abusive. I think that it is very important to understand and recognize people with abusive personalities so that they can be stopped and treated for what some would call a disease.
Many psychologists believe that teaching our children that violence is inappropriate and teaching them better methods of problem solving, is the first step in ending domestic violence. One of the key components to making the teaching of our children work is leading by example by example and setting a positive example. Educating society as a whole also a very important key to ending domestic violence. Educating society as a whole is accomplished through changes in public policy and practices. Much tougher laws are needed since most abusers are given a slap on the wrist, it gives them and other people like them, the message that domestic violence is not a major crime and they can get away with it. When communities establish mandatory arrest and prosecution policies, a message is sent from the police and the courts that domestic violence is a crime that society will not tolerate. When they join with counseling programs for abusers, the message will also be that those who want to change will be given a chance. It has been agreed upon by all those trying to end domestic violence that not only the individual abusers, but society itself needs help. Domestic violence is still subtly allowed, even encouraged some say, by various groups. Our media and entertainment industry still glamorizes and tones down the seriousness of domestic violence. There are still police that ignore and trivialize domestic violence. And judges that give weak punishment or simply let the abusers off are all problems that are plaguing our society and making it more difficult to end domestic violence. I think that we are on the right track to ending domestic violence but our effort is just not strong enough. Our message that domestic violence is a crime is not strong enough either. What are these abusive people supposed to think when they are arrested, given a slap on the wrist, and then released the next day. My research has opened my eyes and made me aware of what is going on and what needs to be done. In the future I will do what is in my power to help get the message across and prevent it if possible.
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