More than 10 million cases of domestic violence are reported in the United States every year. A great majority of victims are, of course, women, usually aged between 16 and 34. They are raped, physically abused or stalked by their intimate partner.
Domestic violence is a form of abusive behavior committed by an individual over his/her intimate partner. Its forms include emotional, psychological, physical or sexual abuse or threats of abuses to enable the perpetrator to gain control and power over his/her partner. This abusive or threatening behavior is meant to terrorize, frighten, injure, hurt, humiliate or intimidate a partner until he/she loses his/her sense of self-respect and self-confidence. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence regardless of religion, age, race, nationality, economic status and educational background.
Forms of violence or abuses in the home include:
- Psychological abuse –this is committed through intimidation, threat of harming or hurting one’s self or children, partner or those close to the partner, like family or friends, and destruction of property, all for the purpose of instilling fear in the victim.
- Economic abuse– one’s complete control over financial resources by withholding or greatly limiting the other partner’s access to money, prohibiting attendance at school or reporting for work to create in him/her total financial dependence;
- Emotional abuse– committed through repeated criticism, name-calling or taking no notice of one’s abilities, to undermine the other’s sense of self-worth / self-esteem;
- Sexual abuse – this type of abuse is usually committed by treating the other partner in a sexually humiliating way or forcing sexual act after physically mistreating him/her; it may also be a case of marital rape or attacks on a victim’s sensitive or private parts;
- Physical abuse – this is the most common type of abuse committed. It includes slapping, hitting, pinching, hair pulling, grabbing, shoving, biting, forcing intake of alcohol / use of drug upon the other and denying the other the medical care he/she needs.
The effects of domestic violence can be lifetime psychological trauma. However, it also has immediate effects, like injuries or an illness, which can lead to absenteeism which, in turn, usually results to termination from work. It also causes the abused to withdraw from family, friends or other people who may be capable of providing help, due to loss of self-esteem and embarrassment.
Violence against one’s partner (usually the wife), does not only hurt the victim, though, for whatever hurts the wife, can and will hurt the children too. And since children cannot protect their mother from being abused, they are burdened with the feeling of guilt. Mixed feelings of shame, fear, stress and confusion are developed in children too, feelings which can lead to emotional and school problems that may make them withdraw and shy away from others.
According to the law firm Horst Law, ‘When the police respond to an incident of alleged domestic violence, state law mandates that the preferred response of officers is to arrest the primary aggressor. Though this law is intended to protect victims of domestic violence, it may also force the hand of the police to make arrests that they may not have to. That being said, regardless of the events that led up to your arrest, you will need to do everything you can to defend your rights and protect your future as you work your way through the coming legal process.”