Domestic violence a serious social issue

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A social issue is a problem that influences a considerable number of the individuals within a society. Domestic violence is definitely a serious social problem which affects a large population of the United States. Domestic violence can be defined as a traumatic experience faced primarily by women all over the world mostly from their partners (Orkide, 2011). More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Moreover, around 16,800 homicides and $2.2 million (medically treated) injuries take place in the United States of America every year due to intimate partner violence. The annual cost of domestic violence is around $37 billion to America (NCADV, 2009).

With those kinds of numbers, domestic violence is definitely a serious social issue. The problem with domestic violence is that most of the time it goes unreported. Especially in cases of domestic violence towards men, men do not tend to report abuse as our society is fixated on the social construct of masculinity. Not only does it go unreported but much of the time when it does get reported the victim must go to trial and relive the pain repeatedly, while the perpetrator is in the same room. This topic is important to me because it is very misunderstood and there are many misconceptions. Many people blame the victim for not leaving the perpetrator, but what they do not understand is that in most cases it is safer to stay in the current situation over leaving. The abuser usually has control of every aspect of the victim’s life like finances, children, decisions, and even autonomy. The victim’s life is being manipulated and controlled while also being abused; it is a situation that no one should have to go through. Apart from not being able to think for themselves, victims are usually manipulated and brainwashed so that they do not believe that they can leave. Thus, domestic violence is a serious social issue, which involves women, men, and children as well.  This paper analyses different perspectives on domestic violence.

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Different perspectives from which domestic violence may be viewed

Domestic violence can be viewed through different perspectives such as social, psychological, family etc. According to the findings of a 2002 survey conducted in larger cities of the USA, by the US conference of mayors, domestic violence is the primary cause of homelessness among women (Roberts, 2002). Domestic violence may result in loss of interest for husbands and wives in staying together. Lack of caring and continuous ill-treatment from partners, usually force married women in America to leave their home. Another social problem associated with domestic violence is the trouble and disturbances occurred to the people who live near the troubled family.  In some cases, neighbors will be forced to interfere in such matters and may make the problem even worse. For example, a suspicious husband may accuse a neighbor of having an illegal relationship with his wife, if the neighbor tries to justify her.

Guilt feeling is usually associated with many of the domestic violence incidents taking place in the world. Guilt contributes directly to shame and low self-esteem (McCaig and Kubai, 2004). The feeling of guilt may often result in domestic violence in order to hide the crime from the partner or other family members. For example, a husband with an illegal relationship with another lady may act violently if his wife asks him about that lady. He may accuse the same thing about his wife also in order to hide his illegal relationship. The feeling of betrayal may cause many mental problems to the wife. A wife usually will not tolerate any illegal relationships with her husband. She always likes to have the full love and caring from her husband. It the husband tries to share his love with another person, the wife may not tolerate it. The same principle is applicable in the case of wives cheating their husbands. “It is common in an abusive relationship for the abuser to isolate the victim from friends and family. This allows the abuse to continue until the victim becomes brave enough to speak up and get help” (Martin, 2007, p.1). Only physically and mentally stronger victim would overcome such situations. It should be noted that socializing is necessary for all humans to keep their mental strength intact. Social isolation may create depression and anxiety-like psychological diseases.

Children are the worst affected ones as far as the family perspectives of domestic violence are concerned. Domestic violence can affect the personality developments of the children. The love and care of the mother and the protection of the father are important things for the mental development of children. In the case of children in a troubled family, neither lover or care nor protection is received from the parents.  Children brought up in a violent atmosphere or environment will always tend to follow the same pattern in their future life because of the influence of heredity and environment in the personality development. “The abuse of women sends shockwaves through the lives of children as well. Estimates suggest that 5 million children per year witness an assault on their mothers, an experience that can leave them traumatized” (Bancroft, 2003, p.8). Children may not have the ability or temperament to adjust to the tensions and frustrations developed as part of the domestic violence incident. They wanted to see loving parents rather than fighting parents.

Multicultural contexts related to domestic violence

In civilized countries like the USA, the victim of the domestic violence mostly gets justice from the courts. In such countries, the legal system views both men and women equally. On the other hand in some of the uncivilized countries or patriarchal countries, culture plays a definite role in the outcome of the domestic violence cases considered by the courts. In most of the Islamic countries, women failed to get justice from the courts because of the cultural reasons. For example, domestic violence in the UAE is on the rise. Around 63 cases of domestic violence were recorded in 2009 in the UAE (Al Sadafi, 2011). In most of these cases, women were the victims and the men were the abuser or culprit. However, most of the women victims in these cases failed to receive any justice from the UAE courts because of cultural reasons. In fact, the findings of the UAE courts are often controversial and it prevents women from approaching the courts for justice. For example, a recent decision by the United Arab Emirates Federal Supreme Court upholding a husband’s right to “chastise” his wife and children with physical abuse has caused many criticisms. Social service agencies such as the Human Rights Watch called on the UAE government urgently to repeal all discriminatory laws, including any that sanction domestic violence (Human right watch, 2010). UAE judiciary is not free from the influence of religion. It should be noted that Islamic administration is prevailing in the UAE. Therefore, UAE courts are following the Sharia laws. According to Schreck (2010), the influence of Sharia is extremely strong in the case of family law relating to marriage, divorce and sexual relations in the UAE (Schreck, 2010).  Islamic scholars believe that Quran specifically gave the authority of females to the males. In other words, they believe that females are below to the status of males. As a result of the above misinterpretation of Quran and Sharia laws, UAE women may not get justice either from the government or from the courts as far as domestic violence is concerned. The case is not much different in other Islamic countries as well.

According to Campbell (1993), the major reason for domestic violence in African culture is the social and environmental strains to which African men are subjected. In his opinions, African men failed to fulfill the traditional male “provider and protector” roles. Moreover, the status difference between men and women is more in African culture than in many other cultures. The African tradition is such that women should rely on personal resources and inner strengths rather than seeking assistance from their male counterparts (Sleutal, 1998). This cultural norm is causing many problems in the family life of African women. The concept of extended family is another important cultural norm which forces African women to face domestic violence large in magnitude. Moreover, African women are mostly reluctant in engaging in an activity which threatens family cohesion (Campbell, 1993). All these factors increase the possibility of domestic violence in African culture.

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In the case of Latinas, the influence of Catholic Church is instrumental in increasing domestic violence. The Catholic Church emphasizes the need of couples staying together despite the problems in the family. In other words, the Catholic Church teaches that it the duty of the couples to stay together until their death since the God has united them. As a result of that, the ability to respond to a battering relationship may be extremely weak among the victims of domestic violence among Latina community (McCloskey et al., 1995).

Asian community sees domestic violence as a personal issue rather than a social or family issue. They usually are reluctant in discussing such issues publicly. They are afraid of the stigma associated with domestic violence. Domestic violence may cause social isolation among Asian people (Chan and Leong, 1994). In short, cultural factors such as language, the degree of acculturation, religious beliefs and traditions can contribute to domestic violence in one way or another.

Global contexts related to domestic violence

In all societies, irrespective of whether they belong to Western, Middle Eastern, or anywhere else on Earth, women are treated as inferior to men. It should be noted that America, arguably the most civilized country in the world, still does not have a woman president because of the ill-treatment received by the women in that country. The case is not much different in other countries as well. The general perception across the world is such that women are inferior to men. This perception still continues even in the twenty-first century. That is why the atrocities against women increase every day, everywhere in the world. Some of the reasons for the increased atrocities against women are: lack of physical and social autonomy, discrimination, health issues from maternal care to fistulas, poverty, infanticide, lack of access to education, child marriage, etc. (Kalpan, 2017)

Different countries all over the world have already implemented different laws and regulations for controlling domestic violence incidents. For example, The Family Law Act 1996 (FLA 1996) as amended by the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004 (DVCVA 2004) enables UK women to seek protection from domestic violence (Rights of Women, n.d.). The FLA divides domestic violence into two categories; non-molestation orders and occupation orders. The non-molestation order prevents the abuser from committing any violent crimes against the victim whereas occupation orders help the victim to keep the abuser certain distance away from the home. In other words, these laws are intended to prevent the abuser from intruding into the territories of the victim without permission.

Rights and obligations of citizens in relation to domestic violence

Domestic violence is not suitable for a civilized society like ours. It is the duty of every person to make sure that domestic violence incidents never be happened. Ultimately the progress of a society rests on the shoulder of families and the progress of the family depends on the members of the family. Therefore, each and every member of a family has the obligation to work for the betterment of a family life. Most of the domestic violence incidents result in the breakup of the family. Children brought up in a violent family environment may become problematic while they grow up. It is the duty of every person to work hard for the betterment of the family and the society.

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It is necessary for social service agencies to increase the awareness about the importance of prevention of domestic violence among the people. Better preventive measures such as mandatory reporting and establishment of hotlines may help victims to come out openly now with domestic violence cases. If a person is aware of the domestic problem in a family, he should report it immediately to the authorities instead of staying away from such matters. A small domestic problem can attain the proportion of a big social problem. It is the duty of every one to work for the prevention or reduction of domestic violence incidents.

Domestic violence is a crime which can affect not only the body but also the mind or soul. The decision whether to continue with the abuser or not should be taken only after the correct assessment of the damage done. There are many individuals who break the relationship immediately after the first occurrence of a conflict with his/her partner. It is necessary to analyze all the dimensions of the conflict before taking a decision to stay together or stay apart. Most of the domestic violence cases are happening because of a momentary lapse of mental control. It is quite possible that the abuser may regain his control immediately after the incident. He may feel repentance also. If the victim responds emotionally and takes a decision to leave the company of the abuser, the vengeance of the abuser could be increased and more serious problems may arise later.

Opportunities for civic engagement related to domestic violence

Civic engagement is necessary for the prevention of domestic violence. Civic engagement refers to the participation of people in order to fight against social issues or problems. Domestic violence is a social problem and hence the participation of people is inevitable for the prevention of this problem. The core aspect of a democratic state is the ability of the people to participate in the decision making processes. Any decisions for the prevention of domestic violation should be taken only after the consultation with the people. Ultimately, the people are the victims of domestic violence and therefore, they know this problem better than the government. Therefore, policymakers should make policies after the consultation with the victims of domestic violence.

Social service agencies can use social media and other online platforms for the prevention of domestic violence. It should be noted that a vast majority of the people all over the world have at least one social media account. They use such platforms for sharing their views, opinions, and experiences. As per the modern theories, social media is the most effective publicity channel. Many business groups use this channel effectively for marketing their products and services. It is possible for social service agencies to use the possibilities of social media effectively to spread the messages against domestic violence. According to Legget (2017), feminist groups and other social activity groups can facilitate discussion around formal and informal institutional reform, and thereby influence social attitudes against domestic violence (Legget, 2017).

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Conclusion

Domestic violence is a global phenomenon rather than a local phenomenon. No country seems to be free from the evil effects of domestic violence, irrespective of whether the country is civilized or uncivilized. The thirst for dominance is inherited in the blood of every human. The efforts taken by dominating others may end up incidents of domestic violence. Domestic violence has many social, family, cultural and individual dimensions. It can cause many problems not only to the abuser and the victim but also to the immediate family members as well as the neighbors. Children are the most vulnerable community as far as domestic violence is concerned. Problems in the family prevent children from proper mental development.  One of the major reasons for homelessness among women all over the world is domestic violence. It is necessary to implement strong measures to prevent domestic violence. The government and the social service agencies should combine well in their fight against domestic violence. The possibilities of digital media such as social networks can be used effectively to counter the domestic violence problems.

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  1. Al Sadafi, M. (2011). Domestic violence in UAE rises: Dr Al Hamadi Retrieved from  http://www.emirates247.com/news/emirates/domestic-violence-in-uae-rises-dr-al-hamadi-2011-11-21-1.429341
  2. Bancroft, L. (2003).  Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. Publisher: Berkley Trade (September 2, 2003)
  3. Campbell, D.W. (1993). Nursing Care of African American Battered Women: Afrocentric Perspectives. Association of Women’s Health Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses’ Clinical Issues. 1993. Vol. 4. P.407-415.
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