Domestic violence

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Domestic violence
Classification and external resources
eMedicinearticle/805546
MeSHD017579
 
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Domestic violence
Classification and external resources
eMedicinearticle/805546
MeSHD017579

Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, dating abuse, and intimate partner violence (IPV), is a pattern of behavior which involves the abuse by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, dating or within the family.[1] Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects, battery), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation.[1][2]

Alcohol consumption[3] and mental illness[4] can be co-morbid with abuse, and present additional challenges in eliminating domestic violence. Awareness, perception, definition and documentation of domestic violence differs widely from country to country, and from era to era.

Domestic violence and abuse is not limited to obvious physical violence. Domestic violence can also mean endangerment, criminal coercion, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, trespassing, harassment, and stalking.[5]

Laws on domestic violence vary by country. While it is generally outlawed in the Western World, this is not the case in many developing countries. For instance, in 2010, the United Arab Emirates's Supreme Court ruled that a man has the right to physically discipline his wife and children as long as he does not leave physical marks.[6] The social acceptability of domestic violence also differs by country. While in most developed countries domestic violence is considered unacceptable by most people, in many regions of the world the views are different: according to a UNICEF survey, the percentage of women aged 15–49 who think that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances is, for example: 90% in Afghanistan and Jordan, 87% in Mali, 86% in Guinea and Timor-Leste, 81% in Laos, 80% in Central African Republic.[7] Refusing to submit to a husband's wishes is a common reason given for justification of violence in developing countries:[8] for instance 62.4% of women in Tajikistan justify wife beating if the wife goes out without telling the husband; 68% if she argues with him; 47.9% if she refuses to have sex with him.[9]

Traditionally, in most cultures, men had a legal right to use violence to "discipline" their wives. Although in the US and many European countries this right was removed from them in the late 19th/early 20th century, before the 1970s criminal arrests were very rare (occurring only in cases of extreme violence), and it was only in the 1990s that rigorous enforcement of laws against domestic violence became standard policy in Western countries.[10][11]

Definitions[edit]

The definition of the term "domestic violence" varies, depending on the context in which it is used.[12] It may be defined differently in medical, legal, political or social contexts. The definitions have varied over time, and vary in different parts of the world. Traditionally, domestic violence was mostly associated with physical violence. For instance, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition, domestic violence is: "the inflicting of physical injury by one family or household member on another; also: a repeated / habitual pattern of such behavior."[13] However, domestic violence today, as defined by international conventions and by governments, has a much broader definition, including sexual, psychological and economic abuse.

The Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence states that:

" “domestic violence” shall mean all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence that occur within the family or domestic unit or between former or current spouses or partners, whether or not the perpetrator shares or has shared the same residence with the victim".[14]

The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women classifies violence against women into three categories: that occurring in the family (DV), that occurring within the general community, and that perpetrated or condoned by the State. Family violence is defined as follows:[15]

"Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non- spousal violence and violence related to exploitation".

The term "intimate partner violence" (IPV) is often used synonymously with domestic abuse or domestic violence. Family violence is a broader definition, often used to include child abuse, elder abuse, and other violent acts between family members.[16]

Broad definitions of domestic violence are common today. For instance the Act XX on Domestic Violence 2006, in Malta, defines DV as follows:[17]

"domestic violence" means any act of violence, even if only verbal, perpetrated by a household member upon another household member and includes any omission which causes physical or moral harm to the other"

Terms such wife abuse, wife beating, and battering are descriptive terms that have lost popularity recently for several reasons:

"Domestic violence" may also be the name of a specific criminal offense, in a Criminal Code of a jurisdiction, describing various criminal acts. It may also appear in the context of legislation that is not necessary criminal, but rather civil (providing for civil remedies, protection orders etc.). See, for example, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005.

The definition of a "domestic violence" is dependent upon the relationship between the perpetrator and victim. Depending on jurisdiction, they may be considered to be in a "domestic relationship" if they are married, cohabiting, immediate family member, blood relation, parents of a child/children, or two people who date, or have been engaged to be married.[21]

Government definitions[edit]

The US Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) defines domestic violence as a "pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner". The definition adds that domestic violence "can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender", and can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse.[22]

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service in the United Kingdom in its "Domestic Violence Policy" uses domestic violence to refer to a range of violent and abusive behaviours, defining it as:

Patterns of behaviour characterised by the misuse of power and control by one person over another who are or have been in an intimate relationship. It can occur in mixed gender relationships and same gender relationships and has profound consequences for the lives of children, individuals, families and communities. It may be physical, sexual, emotional and/or psychological. The latter may include intimidation, harassment, damage to property, threats and financial abuse.[23]

Dynamics classification[edit]

Violence by a person against their intimate partner is often done as a way for controlling their partner, even if this kind of violence is not the most frequent.[24] Many types of intimate partner violence occur, including violence between gay and lesbian couples,[25] and by women against their male partners.[26]

Intimate partner violence types[edit]

Domestic violence

Michael P. Johnson argues for four major types of intimate partner violence, which is supported by subsequent research and evaluation.[27][28][29][30] as well as independent researchers.[31][32][33]

Distinctions are made among the types of violence, motives of perpetrators, and the social and cultural context based upon patterns across numerous incidents and motives of the perpetrator. Types of violence identified by Johnson:[26][28][34][35]

Types of male batterers identified by Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994) include "family-only", which primarily fall into the CCV type, who are generally less violent and less likely to perpetrate psychological and sexual abuse.[46]

Other[edit]

Others, such as the US Centers for Disease Control, divide domestic violence into two types: reciprocal, in which both partners are violent, and non-reciprocal violence, in which one partner is violent.[47][48]

Physical[edit]

Azim Azimzade. "Husband beating his wife", 1937.

Physical abuse is abuse involving contact intended to cause feelings of intimidation, pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm.

Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, punching, choking, pushing, burning and other types of contact that result in physical injury to the victim. Physical abuse can also include behaviors such as denying the victim of medical care when needed, depriving the victim of sleep or other functions necessary to live, or forcing the victim to engage in drug/alcohol use against his/her will. If a person is suffering from any physical harm then they are experiencing physical abuse. This pain can be experienced on any level.[49] It can also include inflicting physical injury onto other targets, such as children or pets, in order to cause psychological harm to the victim.[50]

Sexual[edit]

Sexual abuse is any situation in which force or threat is used to obtain participation in unwanted sexual activity. Coercing a person to engage in sexual activity against their will, even if that person is a spouse or intimate partner with whom consensual sex has occurred, is an act of aggression and violence.

Sexual violence is defined by World Health Organization as:

Categories of sexual abuse include:

  1. Use of physical force to compel a person to engage in a sexual act against his or her will, whether or not the act is completed;
  2. Attempted or completed sex act involving a person who is unable to understand the nature or condition of the act, unable to decline participation, or unable to communicate unwillingness to engage in the sexual act, e.g., because of underage immaturity, illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or because of intimidation or pressure.

Marital rape[edit]

  Marital rape is criminalized
  Marital rape is criminalized only if the couple is legally separated
  Marital rape is a form of non-criminal domestic violence
  Marital rape is known not to be criminalized

Marital rape, also known as spousal rape, is non-consensual sex in which the perpetrator is the victim's spouse. It is a form of partner rape, of domestic violence, and of sexual abuse. Once widely condoned or ignored by law, spousal rape is now repudiated by international conventions and increasingly criminalized. Still, in many countries, spousal rape either remains legal, or is illegal but widely tolerated and accepted as a husband's prerogative.

The criminalization of rape in marriage is recent, having occurred during the past few decades. The legal and social concept of marital rape, has developed, in most industrialized countries, in the mid to late 20th century; and in many parts of the world it is still not recognized, socially and legally, as a form of abuse. Several countries in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia made spousal rape illegal before 1970, but other countries in Western Europe and the English-speaking Western World outlawed it much later, mostly in the 1980s and 1990s. In many parts of the world the laws against marital rape are very new, having been enacted in the 2000s.

In the US spousal rape is illegal in all 50 states.[52] In Canada, spousal rape was outlawed in 1983, when several legal changes were made, including changing the rape statute to sexual assault, and making the laws gender neutral.[53] Criminalization in Australia began with the state of New South Wales in 1981, followed by all other states from 1985 to 1992.[54] New Zealand outlawed spousal rape in 1985, and Ireland in 1990.[54] In England and Wales, spousal rape was made illegal in 1991, when the marital rape exemption was abolished by the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords, in the case of R v R.[55]

Emotional[edit]

Emotional abuse (also called psychological abuse or mental abuse) can include humiliating the victim privately or publicly, controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family, implicitly blackmailing the victim by harming others when the victim expresses independence or happiness, or denying the victim access to money or other basic resources and necessities. Degradation in any form can be considered psychological abuse.

Emotional abuse can include verbal abuse and is defined as any behavior that threatens, intimidates, undermines the victim’s self-worth or self-esteem, or controls the victim’s freedom.[56] This can include threatening the victim with injury or harm, telling the victim that they will be killed if they ever leave the relationship, and public humiliation. Constant criticism, name-calling, and making statements that damage the victim’s self-esteem are also common verbal forms of emotional abuse.[57]

Often perpetrators will attempt and may succeed in alienating (parental alienation), a child from a parent or extended family member, and in doing so also victimize the child when the child is engaged in emotional abuse by encouraging, teaching or forcing them to harshly criticize another victim.[57] Emotional abuse includes conflicting actions or statements which are designed to confuse and create insecurity in the victim. These behaviors also lead the victims to question themselves, causing them to believe that they are making up the abuse or that the abuse is their fault.[50]

Emotional abuse includes forceful efforts to isolate the victim, keeping them from contacting friends or family. This is intended to eliminate those who might try to help the victim leave the relationship and to create a lack of resources for them to rely on if they were to leave. Isolation results in damaging the victim’s sense of internal strength, leaving them feeling helpless and unable to escape from the situation.[57]

People who are being emotionally abused often feel as if they do not own themselves; rather, they may feel that their significant other has nearly total control over them. Women or men undergoing emotional abuse often suffer from depression, which puts them at increased risk for suicide, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse.[58]

Verbal[edit]

Verbal abuse is a form of emotionally abusive behavior involving the use of language. Verbal abuse can also be referred to as the act of threatening. Through threatening a person can blatantly say they will harm you in any way and will also be considered as abuse.[59] It may include profanity but can occur with or without the use of expletives.[citation needed]

Verbal abuse may include aggressive actions such as name-calling, blaming, ridicule, disrespect, and criticism, but there are also less obviously aggressive forms of verbal abuse. Statements that may seem benign on the surface can be thinly veiled attempts to humiliate; falsely accuse; or manipulate others to submit to undesirable behavior, make others feel unwanted and unloved, threaten others economically, or isolate victims from support systems.[60]

In Jekyll and Hyde behaviors, the abuser may fluctuate between sudden rages and false joviality toward the victim; or may simply show a very different "face" to the outside world than to the victim. While oral communication is the most common form of verbal abuse, it includes abusive communication in written form.[citation needed]

Economic[edit]

Economic abuse is a form of abuse when one intimate partner has control over the other partner's access to economic resources.[61] Economic abuse may involve preventing a spouse from resource acquisition, limiting the amount of resources to use by the victim, or by exploiting economic resources of the victim.[61][62] The motive behind preventing a spouse from acquiring resources is to diminish victim's capacity to support his/herself, thus forcing him/her to depend on the perpetrator financially, which includes preventing the victim from obtaining education, finding employment, maintaining or advancing their careers, and acquiring assets.[61][62][63]

In addition, the abuser may also put the victim on an allowance, closely monitor how the victim spends money, spend victim's money without his/her consent and creating debt, or completely spend victim's savings to limit available resources[61][62][63]

Specific forms in parts of the world[edit]

In some parts of the world, specific forms of domestic violence, such as honor killings, acid attacks and dowry violence, are common.

Honor killings[edit]

An honor killing is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or community. Although these crimes are most often associated with the Middle East, they occur in other places too.[64]

Human Rights Watch defines "honor killings" as follows:

Honor killings are acts of vengeance, usually death, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by (individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce—even from an abusive husband—or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that "dishonors" her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life.[65]

Acid throwing[edit]

An acid attack victim in Cambodia

Acid throwing, also called an acid attack [66] or vitriolage is defined as the act of throwing acid onto the body of a person "with the intention of injuring or disfiguring [them] out of jealousy or revenge".[67] Perpetrators of these attacks throw acid at their victims, usually at their faces, burning them, and damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones.[68] The long term consequences of these attacks include blindness and permanent scarring of the face and body.[69][70][71]

Acid attacks are often connected to domestic disputes in places such as Pakistan and Bangladesh.[72][73][74][75] In India, these attacks also happen in connection to dowry murders.[76]

An anti dowry poster in Bangalore, India.

These attacks are most often associated with South and Southeast Asia (especially Cambodia,[77] Afghanistan,[78] India,[79] Bangladesh,[69][70] Pakistan,[69]) but are also common in other places, such as Colombia,[80] and have also occurred in Europe.[81] In the UK, the case of Katie Piper, who had acid thrown in her face by her ex-boyfriend and an accomplice, was highly publicized.

Dowry violence and bride burning[edit]

In parts of the world, such as South Asia, the custom of dowry is related to severe forms of violence, including murder. Bride burning is a form of domestic violence in which a bride is killed at home by her husband or husband's family due to his dissatisfaction over the dowry provided by her family. The act is often a result of demands for more or prolonged dowry after the marriage.[82] It is a major problem in countries such as India. Dowry death refers to the phenomenon of women and girls being killed or committing suicide due to disputes regarding dowry.

Violence against victims of rape[edit]

In many cultures, victims of rape face severe violence, including honor killings, from their families and relatives. In many parts of the world, women who have been raped are considered to have brought 'dishonour' or 'disgrace' to their families.[83] This is especially the case if the victim becomes pregnant.[84]

Violence related to female virginity[edit]

Female virginity is the trigger of many forms of violence against women. Sex outside marriage is illegal in many countries, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan,[85] Afghanistan,[86][87][88] Iran,[88] Kuwait,[89] Maldives,[90] Morocco,[91] Oman,[92] Mauritania,[93] United Arab Emirates,[94][95] Qatar,[96] Sudan,[97] Yemen.[98]

In many parts of the world, the social expectation for a bride to be a virgin is extremely strong, and if the husband has sex with his wife after marriage and she does not bleed (it is possible for a woman to not bleed when she has sex for the first time [99]), this can end in extreme violence, including an honor killing.[100][101]

Social views on domestic violence[edit]

Woman wearing burqa in Afghanistan. A survey in Afghanistan showed that a majority of women agree that a husband is justified to beat his wife if she wears inappropriate clothes.[102]

The social views on DV vary from person to person, and from region to region, but in many places outside the West, the concept in very poorly understood. This is because in most of these countries, the relation between the husband and wife is not considered one of equals, but instead one in which the wife must submit herself to the husband. This is codified in the laws of some countries - for example, in Yemen, marriage regulations state that a wife must obey her husband and must not leave home without his permission.[103]

"Disobeying" a husband can often result in violence. These violent acts are not considered a form of abuse by society (both men and women) but are considered as being provoked by the behavior of the wife who is seen as being at fault herself. While beatings of wives are often a response to "inappropriate" behaviors, in many places extreme acts such as honor killings are approved by a high section of the society. In one survey, 33.4% of teenagers in Jordan's capital city, Amman, approved of honor killings. This survey was carried in the capital of Jordan, which is much more liberal the other parts of the country; the researchers said that "We would expect that in the more rural and traditional parts of Jordan, support for honour killings would be even higher".[104]

In a 2012 news story, The Washington Post reported, "The Reuters TrustLaw group named India one of the worst countries in the world for women this year, in part because domestic violence there is often seen as deserved. A 2012 report by UNICEF found that 57 percent of Indian boys and 53 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 think wife-beating is justified."[105]

In conservative cultures, a wife dressing in attire deemed to be not sufficiently modest can result in serious violence by her husband or relatives, with such violent responses being seen as appropriate by most of the society: in a survey, 62.8% of women in Afghanistan said that a husband is justified to beat his wife if she wears inappropriate clothes.[102]

In many places, sex in marriage is constructed as the right of the husband, who can claim it by force, if "necessary".[106] For instance, in Lebanon, while discussing a proposed law that would criminalize marital rape, Sheik Ahmad Al-Kurdi, a judge in the Sunni religious court, said that the law "could lead to the imprisonment of the man where in reality he is exercising the least of his marital rights."[107]

In many countries, women are instructed before marriage that sex with the husband is their absolute duty, that they do not have the right to ever refuse it, even if they don't want it; and as a result it becomes impossible to understand the concept of marital rape - for example one survey found that 74% of women in Mali said that a husband is justified to beat his wife if she refuses to have sex with him.[108]

Religion[edit]

The relation between DV and religion is often discussed. There are several passages in the Bible which are subject to debate in regard to gender relations, such as Ephesians 5:22-33 (wives subordination to their husbands) or 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, interpreted by some religious figures as to render the concept of marital rape impossible.[109][110]

In Islam, many interpretations of Surah, An-Nisa, 34 in the Qur'an find that a husband hitting a wife is allowed.[111]

Taj Hashmi states in the book Popular Islam and Misogyny: A Case Study of Bangladesh:

[T]hanks to the subjective interpretations of the Quran (almost exclusively by men), the preponderance of the misogynic mullahs and the regressive Shariah law in most “Muslim” countries, Islam is synonymously known as a promoter of misogyny in its worst form. Although there is no way of defending the so-called “great” traditions of Islam as libertarian and egalitarian with regard to women, we may draw a line between the Quranic texts and the corpus of avowedly misogynic writing and spoken words by the mullah having very little or no relevance to the Quran.[112]

Relation to forced and child marriage[edit]

Shafilea Ahmed (14 July 1986 – 11 September 2003) was a 17-year-old British Pakistani girl who was murdered by her parents, in an honor killing. The trigger for the killing, as established by the authorities, was her refusal of an arranged marriage.

A forced marriage is a marriage where one or both participants are married without their freely given consent.[113] In many parts of the world, it is often difficult to draw a line between 'forced' and 'consensual' marriage: in many cultures (especially in South Asia, the Middle East and parts of Africa), marriages are prearranged, often as soon a girl is born; the idea of a girl going against the wishes of her family and choosing herself her own future husband is not socially accepted - there is no need to use threats or violence to force the marriage, the future bride will submit because she simply has no other choice. As in the case of child marriage, the customs of dowry and bride price contribute to this phenomenon.[114] A child marriage is a marriage where one or both parties are younger than 18.[115]

Forced and child marriages are associated with a high rate of domestic violence.[116][117][118][119] These types of marriages are related to violence both in regard to the spousal violence perpetrated inside marriage, and in regard to the violence related to the customs and traditions of these marriage: violence and trafficking related to the payment of dowry and bride price, honor killings for refusing the marriage.[120][121][122]

Effects[edit]

On children[edit]

3.3 million children witness domestic violence each year in the US. There has been an increase in acknowledgment that a child who is exposed to domestic abuse during their upbringing will suffer in their developmental and psychological welfare.[123] During the mid 1990s, the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study found that children who were exposed to domestic violence and other forms of abuse had a higher risk of developing mental and physical health problems.[124] Because of the awareness of domestic violence that some children have to face, it also generally impacts how the child develops emotionally, socially, behaviorally as well as cognitively.[125]

Some emotional and behavioral problems that can result due to domestic violence include increased aggressiveness, anxiety, and changes in how a child socializes with friends, family, and authorities.[123] Depression, emotional insecurity, and mental health disorders can follow due to traumatic experiences.[126] Problems with attitude and cognition in schools can start developing, along with a lack of skills such as problem-solving.[123] Correlation has been found between the experience of abuse and neglect in childhood and perpetrating domestic violence and sexual abuse in adulthood.[127]

Additionally, in some cases the abuser will purposely abuse the mother or father[128] in front of the child to cause a ripple effect, hurting two victims simultaneously.[128] It has been found that children who witness mother-assault are more likely to exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).[129] Consequences to these children are likely to be more severe if their assaulted mother develops post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and does not seek treatment due to her difficulty in assisting her child with processing his or her own experience of witnessing the domestic violence.[130]

Family Violence prevention in Australia and other countries has begun to focus on breaking intergenerational cycles, according to the National (Aust) Standards for Working with Children Exposed to Family Violence it is important to acknowledge that exposing children to Family Violence is child abuse.[131] Some of the effects of Family Violence on children are highlighted in the Queensland Government and SunnyKids awareness raising campaign.[132]

Physical[edit]

Bruises, broken bones, head injuries, lacerations, and internal bleeding are some of the acute effects of a domestic violence incident that require medical attention and hospitalization.[133] Some chronic health conditions that have been linked to victims of domestic violence are arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain, pelvic pain, ulcers, and migraines.[134] Victims who are pregnant during a domestic violence relationship experience greater risk of miscarriage, pre-term labor, and injury to or death of the fetus.[133]

Psychological[edit]

Among victims who are still living with their perpetrators high amounts of stress, fear, and anxiety are commonly reported. Depression is also common, as victims are made to feel guilty for ‘provoking’ the abuse and are frequently subjected to intense criticism. It is reported that 60% of victims meet the diagnostic criteria for depression, either during or after termination of the relationship, and have a greatly increased risk of suicidality.[135]

In addition to depression, victims of domestic violence also commonly experience long-term anxiety and panic, and are likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. The most commonly referenced psychological effect of domestic violence is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD (as experienced by victims) is characterized by flashbacks, intrusive images, exaggerated startle response, nightmares, and avoidance of triggers that are associated with the abuse.[136] These symptoms are generally experienced for a long span of time after the victim has left the dangerous situation. Many researchers state that PTSD is possibly the best diagnosis for those suffering from psychological effects of domestic violence, as it accounts for the variety of symptoms commonly experienced by victims of trauma.

Financial[edit]

Once victims leave their perpetrator, they can be stunned with the reality of the extent to which the abuse has taken away their autonomy. Due to economic abuse and isolation, the victim usually has very little money of their own and few people on whom they can rely when seeking help. This has been shown to be one of the greatest obstacles facing victims of DV, and the strongest factor that can discourage them from leaving their perpetrators.[137]

In addition to lacking financial resources, victims of DV often lack specialized skills, education, and training that are necessary to find gainful employment, and also may have several children to support. In 2003, thirty-six major US cities cited DV as one of the primary causes of homelessness in their areas.[138] It has also been reported that one out of every three homeless women are homeless due to having left a DV relationship. If a victim is able to secure rental housing, it is likely that her apartment complex will have "zero tolerance" policies for crime; these policies can cause them to face eviction even if they are the victim (not the perpetrator) of violence.[138] While the number of shelters and community resources available to DV victims has grown tremendously, these agencies often have few employees and hundreds of victims seeking assistance which causes many victims to remain without the assistance they need.[137]

Long-term[edit]

Domestic violence can trigger many different responses in victims, all of which are very relevant for any professional working with a victim. Major consequences of domestic violence victimization include psychological/mental health issues and chronic physical health problems.[139] Some long term effects on a child who comes from an abusive household, or have been abused themselves are guilt, anger, depression/anxiety, shyness, nightmares, disruptiveness, irritability,and problems getting along with others. Although they may have not been the ones being abused it still affects them because they had to experience and witness their loved ones being abused, which takes a toll on them as well. Domestic violence also teaches poor family structure. A child who grows up being abused thinks of that as a way a family functions, and will grow up and repeat the cycle because that is all they know. Some other long term affects include but are not limited to poor health, low self-esteem, difficulty sleeping, drug and alcohol abuse risk, isolation, suicidal thoughts, and extreme loneliness and fear. A victim’s overwhelming lack of resources can also lead to homelessness and poverty. A person who has suffered abuse is at risk for a lot of negative consequences that can put them on a destructive path for their future. [140][141]

On responders[edit]

Vicarious trauma[edit]

Due to the gravity and intensity of hearing victims’ stories of abuse, professionals (social workers, police, counselors, therapists, advocates, medical professionals) are at risk themselves for secondary or vicarious trauma (VT), which causes the responder to experience trauma symptoms similar to the original victim after hearing about the victim’s experiences with abuse.[142] Research has demonstrated that professionals who experience vicarious trauma show signs of exaggerated startle response, hypervigilance, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts although they have not experienced a trauma personally and do not qualify for a clinical diagnosis of PTSD.[142]

Researchers concluded that although clinicians have professional training and are equipped with the necessary clinical skills to assist victims of domestic violence, they may still be personally affected by the emotional impact of hearing about a victim’s traumatic experiences. Iliffe et al. found that there are several common initial responses that are found in clinicians who work with victims: loss of confidence in their ability to help the client, taking personal responsibility for ensuring the client’s safety, and remaining supportive of the client’s autonomy if they make the decision to return to their perpetrator.[142]

It has also been shown that clinicians who work with a large number of victims may alter their former perceptions of the world, and begin to doubt the basic goodness of others. Iliffe et al. found that clinicians who work with victims tend to feel less secure in the world, become "acutely aware" of power and control issues both in society and in their own personal relationships, have difficulty trusting others, and experience an increased awareness of gender-based power differences in society.[142]

The best way for a clinician to avoid developing VT is to engage in good self-care practices. These can include exercise, relaxation techniques, debriefing with colleagues, and seeking support from supervisors.[142] Additionally, it is recommended that clinicians make the positive and rewarding aspects of working with domestic violence victims the primary focus of thought and energy, such as being part of the healing process or helping society as a whole. Clinicians should also continually evaluate their empathic responses to victims, in order to avoid feelings of being drawn into the trauma that the victim experienced. It is recommended that clinicians practice good boundaries, and find a balance in expressing empathic responses to the victim while still maintaining personal detachment from their traumatic experiences.[142]

Burnout[edit]

Vicarious trauma can lead directly to burnout, which is defined as "emotional exhaustion resulting from excessive demands on energy, strength, and personal resources in the work setting".[143] The physical warning signs of burnout include headaches, fatigue, lowered immune function, and irritability.[144] A clinician experiencing burnout may begin to lose interest in the welfare of clients, be unable to empathize or feel compassion for clients, and may even begin to feel aversion toward the client.[143]

If the clinician experiencing burnout is working with victims of domestic violence, the clinician risks causing further great harm through re-victimization of the client. It should be noted, however, that vicarious trauma does not always directly lead to burnout and that burnout can occur in clinicians who work with any difficult population – not only those who work with domestic violence victims.

Causes[edit]

There are many different theories as to the causes of domestic violence. These include psychological theories that consider personality traits and mental characteristics of the perpetrator, as well as social theories which consider external factors in the perpetrator's environment, such as family structure, stress,and social learning. As with many phenomena regarding human experience, no single approach appears to cover all cases.

Whilst there are many theories regarding what causes one individual to act violently towards an intimate partner or family member there is also growing concern around apparent intergenerational cycles of domestic violence. In Australia where it has been identified that as many as 75% of all victims of domestic violence are children[145] Domestic violence services such as Sunnykids are beginning to focus their attention on children who have been exposed to domestic violence.[146]

Responses that focus on children suggest that experiences throughout life influence an individuals' propensity to engage in family violence (either as a victim or as a perpetrator). Researchers supporting this theory suggest it is useful to think of three sources of domestic violence: childhood socialization, previous experiences in couple relationships during adolescence, and levels of strain in a person's current life. People who observe their parents abusing each other, or who were themselves abused may incorporate abuse into their behaviour within relationships that they establish as adults. (Kalmuss & Seltzer 1984)

Biological[edit]

These factors include genetics and brain dysfunction and are studied by neuroscience.[147]

Psychological[edit]

Psychological theories focus on personality traits and mental characteristics of the offender. Personality traits include sudden bursts of anger, poor impulse control, and poor self-esteem. Various theories suggest that psychopathology and other personality disorders are factors, and that abuse experienced as a child leads some people to be more violent as adults. Correlation has been found between juvenile delinquency and domestic violence in adulthood.[148] Studies have found high incidence of psychopathy among abusers.[149][150][151]

For instance, some research suggests that about 80% of both court-referred and self-referred men in these domestic violence studies exhibited diagnosable psychopathology, typically personality disorders. "The estimate of personality disorders in the general population would be more in the 15–20% range [...] As violence becomes more severe and chronic in the relationship, the likelihood of psychopathology in these men approaches 100%."[4] Dutton has suggested a psychological profile of men who abuse their wives, arguing that they have borderline personalities that are developed early in life.[152][153]

However, these psychological theories are disputed: Gelles suggests that psychological theories are limited, and points out that other researchers have found that only 10% (or less) fit this psychological profile. He argues that social factors are important, while personality traits, mental illness, or psychopathy are lesser factors.[154][155][156]

Mental illness[edit]

Psychiatric disorders are sometimes associated with domestic violence, such as borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, drug abuse, and alcoholism.[2] It is estimated that at least one-third of all abusers have some type of mental illness.[157]

Marital conflict disorder[edit]

The American Psychiatric Association planning and research committees for the forthcoming DSM-5 (2013) have canvassed a series of new Relational disorders which include Marital Conflict Disorder Without Violence or Marital Abuse Disorder (Marital Conflict Disorder With Violence).[158] Couples with marital disorders sometimes come to clinical attention because the couple recognize long-standing dissatisfaction with their marriage and come to the clinician on their own initiative or are referred by an astute health care professional. Secondly, there is serious violence in the marriage which is "usually the husband battering the wife".[159]

In these cases the emergency room or a legal authority often is the first to notify the clinician. Most importantly, marital violence "is a major risk factor for serious injury and even death and women in violent marriages are at much greater risk of being seriously injured or killed (National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women 2000)".[160] The authors of this study add that "There is current considerable controversy over whether male-to-female marital violence is best regarded as a reflection of male psychopathology and control or whether there is an empirical base and clinical utility for conceptualizing these patterns as relational."[160]

Recommendations for clinicians making a diagnosis of Marital Relational Disorder should include the assessment of actual or "potential" male violence as regularly as they assess the potential for suicide in depressed patients. Further, "clinicians should not relax their vigilance after a battered wife leaves her husband, because some data suggest that the period immediately following a marital separation is the period of greatest risk for the women. Many men will stalk and batter their wives in an effort to get them to return or punish them for leaving. Initial assessments of the potential for violence in a marriage can be supplemented by standardized interviews and questionnaires, which have been reliable and valid aids in exploring marital violence more systematically".[160]

The authors conclude with what they call "very recent information"[161] on the course of violent marriages which suggests that "over time a husband's battering may abate somewhat, but perhaps because he has successfully intimidated his wife. The risk of violence remains strong in a marriage in which it has been a feature in the past. Thus, treatment is essential here; the clinician cannot just wait and watch".[161] The most urgent clinical priority is the protection of the wife because she is the one most frequently at risk, and clinicians must be aware that supporting assertiveness by a battered wife may lead to more beatings or even death.[161]

Jealousy[edit]

Many cases of domestic violence occur due to jealousy when one partner is either suspected of being unfaithful or is planning to leave the relationship. It can also be seen in a situation where one partner is doing better than the other. For example: the woman being more successful than the husband.[162][163] An evolutionary psychology explanation of such cases of domestic violence against a woman is that they represent male attempts to control female reproduction and ensure sexual exclusivity through violence or the threat of violence. [162] [163] Though often jealousy is used as an excuse for the abusers behavior, most often it is just an excuse in order to exert more control over their partner and a blaming technique in order to isolate the victim further from friends and family. Violence related to extramarital relations is seen as justified in certain parts of the world. For instance, a survey in Diyarbakir, Turkey, found that, when asked the appropriate punishment for a woman who has committed adultery, 37% of respondents said she should be killed, while 21% said her nose or ears should be cut off.[164]

Behavioral[edit]

Behavioral theories draw on the work of behavior analysts. Applied behavior analysis uses the basic principles of learning theory to change behavior. Behavioral theories of domestic violence focus on the use of functional assessment with the goal of reducing episodes of violence to zero rates.[165] This program leads to behavior therapy. Often by identifying the antecedents and consequences of violent action, the abusers can be taught self control.[166] Recently more focus has been placed on prevention and a behavioral prevention theory.[165]

Social theories[edit]

Looks at external factors in the offender's environment, such as family structure, stress, social learning, and includes rational choice theories.[167] Though these external factors may heighten the frequency and severity of violence, ultimately it is not the cause, but merely fueling the abusers need to seek control in their life else where and enacting that need for control in the only way that they can, which is against their partner.

Resource theory[edit]

Resource theory was suggested by William Goode (1971).[168] Women who are most dependent on the spouse for economic well being (e.g. homemakers/housewives, women with handicaps, the unemployed), and are the primary caregiver to their children, fear the increased financial burden if they leave their marriage. Dependency means that they have fewer options and few resources to help them cope with or change their spouse's behavior.[169]

Couples that share power equally experience lower incidence of conflict, and when conflict does arise, are less likely to resort to violence. If one spouse desires control and power in the relationship, the spouse may resort to abuse.[170] This may include coercion and threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, economic abuse, isolation, making light of the situation and blaming the spouse, using children (threatening to take them away), and behaving as "master of the castle".[171][172]

Social stress[edit]

Stress may be increased when a person is living in a family situation, with increased pressures. Social stresses, due to inadequate finances or other such problems in a family may further increase tensions.[173] Violence is not always caused by stress, but may be one way that some people respond to stress.[174][175] Families and couples in poverty may be more likely to experience domestic violence, due to increased stress and conflicts about finances and other aspects.[176] Some speculate that poverty may hinder a man's ability to live up to his idea of "successful manhood", thus he fears losing honor and respect. Theory suggests that when he is unable to economically support his wife, and maintain control, he may turn to misogyny, substance abuse, and crime as ways to express masculinity.[176]

Social learning theory[edit]

Social learning theory suggests that people learn from observing and modeling after others' behavior. With positive reinforcement, the behavior continues. If one observes violent behavior, one is more likely to imitate it. If there are no negative consequences (e. g. victim accepts the violence, with submission), then the behavior will likely continue. Often, violence is transmitted from generation to generation in a cyclical manner.[vague] [177][178][179]

Power and control[edit]

In abusive relationships, violence is posited to arise out of a need for power and control of one partner over the other. An abuser will use various tactics of abuse (e.g., physical, verbal, emotional, sexual or financial) in order to establish and maintain control over the partner.

Abusers' efforts to dominate their partners have been attributed to low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy, unresolved childhood conflicts, the stress of poverty, hostility and resentment toward women (misogyny), hostility and resentment toward men (misandry), personality disorders, genetic tendencies and sociocultural influences, among other possible causative factors. Most authorities seem to agree that abusive personalities result from a combination of several factors, to varying degrees.

A causalist view of domestic violence is that it is a strategy to gain or maintain power and control over the victim. This view is in alignment with Bancroft's "cost-benefit" theory that abuse rewards the perpetrator in ways other than, or in addition to, simply exercising power over his or her target(s). He cites evidence in support of his argument that, in most cases, abusers are quite capable of exercising control over themselves, but choose not to do so for various reasons.[180]

An alternative view is that abuse arises from powerlessness and externalizing/projecting this and attempting to exercise control of the victim. It is an attempt to 'gain or maintain power and control over the victim' but even in achieving this it cannot resolve the powerlessness driving it. Such behaviours have addictive aspects leading to a cycle of abuse or violence. Mutual cycles develop when each party attempts to resolve their own powerlessness in attempting to assert control.

Questions of power and control are integral to the widely utilized Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project. They developed a "Power and Control Wheel" to illustrate this: it has power and control at the center, surrounded by spokes (techniques used), the titles of which include: coercion and threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, minimizing, denying and blaming, using children, economic abuse, and male privilege.[181] The model attempts to address abuse by challenging the misuse of power by the perpetrator.

The power wheel model is not intended to assign personal responsibility, enhance respect for mutual purpose or assist victims and perpetrators in resolving their differences. Rather, it is an informational tool designed to help individuals understand the dynamics of power operating in abusive situations and identify various methods of abuse.

Critics of this model argue that it ignores research linking domestic violence to substance abuse and psychological problems.[182] Some modern research into the patterns in DV has found that women are more likely to be physically abusive towards their partner in relationships in which only one partner is violent,[47][48] which draws the effectiveness of using concepts like male privilege to treat domestic violence into question; however, it may still be valid in studying severe abuse cases, which are mostly male perpetrated.[48] However, modern research into predictors of injury from domestic violence suggests that the strongest predictor of injury by domestic violence is participation in reciprocal domestic violence.[183]

Gender aspects of abuse[edit]

The relationship between gender and domestic violence is a controversial topic. There continues to be debate about the rates at which each gender is subjected to domestic violence. Reasons for mixed findings include the limitations of existing survey tools (e.g., conflict tactics scale) to measure all relevant aspects of domestic violence and the use of disparate samples in studies.[184] Sociologists Michael P. Johnson and Kathleen J. Ferraro argue that the rate of domestic violence against men is often inflated due to the practice of including self-defense as a form of domestic violence.[185][186]

Gender differences in reporting violence have been cited as another explanation for mixed results.[184] A 2011 review article by Chan found evidence of gender-specific reporting patterns: men tended to under-report their own perpetration of domestic violence while women were more likely to under-report their victimization. Factors which according to the reviewed studies can lead women to under-report their partner's violence include financial or familial dependence on the abusive partner, the tendency to excuse or normalize the partner's violence with the reasoning that their partner really loves them, and self-blaming. By contrast, men who under-report their own violence may be influenced by the fear and avoidance of legal consequences, the tendency to blame their partner, and a narrative focus on their needs and emotions during reporting. Furthermore, cultural factors can influence men's under-reporting of their own violence. In cultures where machismo is prevalent and where men are considered the head of households in control of their family, wife battering may be not perceived as a serious behavior that needs to report.[184]

According to a 2004 survey in Canada, the percentages of males being physically or sexually victimized by their partners was 6% versus 7% for women. However, females reported higher levels of repeated violence and were more likely than men to experience serious injuries; 23% of females versus 15% of males were faced with the most serious forms of violence including being beaten, choked, or threatened with or having a gun or knife used against them. Also, 21% of women versus 11% of men were likely to report experiencing more than 10 violent incidents. Women who often experience higher levels of physical or sexual violence from their current partner, were 44%, compared with 18% of men to suffer from an injury. Cases in which women are faced with extremely abusive partners, results in the females having to fear for their lives due to the violence they had faced. In addition, statistics show that 34% of women feared for their lives, and 10% of men feared for theirs.[53]

A problem in conducting studies that seek to describe violence in terms of gender is the amount of silence, fear and shame that results from abuse within families and relationships. Another is that abusive patterns can tend to seem normal to those who have lived in them for a length of time. Similarly, subtle forms of abuse can be quite transparent even as they set the stage for further abuse seeming normal. Finally, inconsistent definition of what constitutes domestic violence makes definite conclusions difficult to reach when compiling the available studies.

Violence against women[edit]

Campaign against domestic violence in Uganda

Although the exact rates are widely disputed, especially within the United States, there is a large body of cross-cultural evidence that women are subjected to domestic violence significantly more often than men.[186][187][188][189] In addition, there is broad consensus that women are more often subjected to severe forms of abuse and are more likely to be injured by an abusive partner.[188][189][190]

According to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, a survey of 16,507 Americans by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30.3% of women and 25.7% of men reported being slapped, pushed, or shoved by a current or former intimate partner in their lifetime, while 24.3% of women and 13.8% of men reported being the victims of severe physical violence.[191] A 2012 survey of over 21,000 residents of England and Wales by the UK Office for National Statistics showed that 7% of women and 5% of men were victims of domestic abuse (defined to include non-physical abuse such as emotional and financial abuse, as well as physical violence) in the last year.[192] A study in the United States found that women were 13 times more likely than men to seek medical attention due to injuries related to spousal abuse.[193]

Women are more likely than men to be murdered by an intimate partner. Of those killed by an intimate partner about three quarters are female and about a quarter are male. In 1999 in the United States 1,218 women and 424 men were killed by an intimate partner,[194] and 1181 females and 329 males were killed by their intimate partners in 2005.[195][196] In England and Wales about 100 women are killed by partners or former partners each year while 21 men were killed in 2010.[197] In 2008, in France, 156 women and 27 men were killed by their intimate partner.[198]

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) states that "violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which has led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men".[199][200] However, more recent research has called into question the notion that sexism and patriarchy are the sole or even primary causes of domestic violence. A 2013 review of studies from five continents examined the correlation between a country's level of gender inequality and rates of domestic violence. When DV rates were measured by general population or community studies, there was no correlation. When DV rates were measured by samples of dating couples, gender inequality explained the variance for only 17% of male abuse and 19% of female abuse. The authors conclude that "partner abuse can no longer be conceived as merely a gender problem, but also (and perhaps primarily) as a human and relational problem, and should be framed as such by everyone concerned."[201]

In their study of severely violent couples, Neil Jacobson and John Gottman conclude that the frequency of violent acts is not as crucial as the impact of the violence and its function, when trying to understand spousal abuse; specifically, they state that the purpose of domestic violence is typically to control and intimidate, rather than just to injure.[202]

A recent study in South Asia, done in from 2010 to 2013, interviewed 10,000 men from a variety of countries. The study found that "...overall nearly half of those men interviewed reported using physical and/or sexual violence against a female partner, ranging from 26 percent to 80 percent across the sites. Nearly a quarter of men interviewed reported perpetrating rape against a woman or girl, ranging from 10 percent to 62 percent across the sites." [203]

Violence against men[edit]

Kalighat painting, "Woman Striking Man With Broom," Calcutta, India, 1875

Domestic violence against men refers to abuse against men or boys in an intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, dating, or within a family.

Determining how many instances of domestic violence actually involve male victims is difficult. Male domestic violence victims may be reluctant to get help for various reasons.[204] Some studies have shown that women who assaulted their male partners were more likely to avoid arrest even when the male victim contacts police.[205] Another study examined the differences in how male and female batterers were treated by the criminal justice system. The study concluded that female intimate violence perpetrators are frequently viewed by law enforcement and the criminal justice system as victims rather than the actual offenders of violence against men.[206]

Research has suggested that gay men are at higher risk of domestic violence than their heterosexual counterparts.[207]

Same-sex relationships[edit]

Domestic violence occurs in some same-sex relationships. Gay and lesbian relationships have been identified as a risk factor for abuse in certain populations.[2] In an effort to be more inclusive, many organizations have made an effort to use gender-neutral terms when referring to perpetratorship and victimhood.

Historically, domestic violence has been seen as a heterosexual family issue and little interest has been directed at violence in same-sex relationships.[208] It has not been until recently, as the gay rights movement has brought the issues of gay and lesbian people into public attention, when research has been conducted on same-sex relationships. A 1999 analysis of nineteen studies of partner abuse concluded that "[r]esearch suggests that lesbians and gay men are just as likely to abuse their partners as heterosexual men,"[209] although the study also noted the uncertain nature of much of the contemporary research in the area.

People in homosexual relationships, however, face special obstacles in dealing with the issues that some researchers have labeled "the double closet". A recent Canadian study by Mark W. Lehman[210] suggests similarities include frequency (approximately one in every four couples); manifestations (emotional, physical, financial, etc.); co-existent situations (unemployment, substance abuse, low self-esteem); victims' reactions (fear, feelings of helplessness, hypervigilance); and reasons for staying (love, can work it out, things will change, denial). At the same time, significant differences, unique issues and deceptive myths are typically present.[210]

Lehman points to added discrimination and fear gay and lesbian people can face. This includes potential dismissal by police and some social services, a lack of support from peers who would rather keep quiet about the problem in order not to attract negative attention toward the gay community, the impacts of HIV status or AIDS in keeping partners together, due to health care insurance/access, or guilt; outing used as a weapon, and encountering supportive services that are targeted and/or structured for the needs of heterosexual women and which may not meet the needs of gay men or lesbians. However Lehman himself noted that "due to the limited number of returned responses and non-random sampling methodology the findings of this work are not generalizable beyond the sample" of 32 initial respondents and final 10 who completed the more in-depth survey.[210]

Cycle of abuse[edit]

Frequently, domestic violence is used to describe specific violent and overtly abusive incidents, and legal definitions will tend to take this perspective. However, when violent and abusive behaviours happen within a relationship, the effects of those behaviours continue after these overt incidents are over. Advocates and counsellors will refer to domestic violence as a pattern of behaviours, including those listed above.

Lenore Walker presented the model of a Cycle of abuse which consists of three basic phases:

Tension Building Phase
Characterized by poor communication, tension, fear of causing outbursts. During this stage the victims may try to calm the abuser down, try to not do anything that would set the abuser off, and to avoid any major violent confrontations.
Violent Episode
Characterized by outbursts of violent, abusive incidents. During this stage the abuser attempts to dominate his/her partner(victim), with the use of domestic violence.
Honeymoon Phase
Characterized by affection, apology, and apparent end of violence. During this stage the abuser feels overwhelming feelings of remorse and sadness. Some abusers walk away from the situation, while others shower their victims with love and affection.

Although it is easy to see the outbursts of the Violent Episode Phase as abuse, even the more pleasant behaviours of the Honeymoon Phase serve to perpetuate the abuse.

Many domestic violence advocates believe that the cycle of abuse theory is limited and does not reflect the realities of many men and women experiencing domestic violence.

Management[edit]

The management of domestic violence differs between societies, and has a very important role in ensuring the well being of the victims and preventing their re-victimization.

The response to domestic violence in Western countries is typically a combined effort between law enforcement, social services, and health care. The role of each has evolved as domestic violence has been brought more into public view.

Domestic violence historically has been viewed as a private family matter that need not involve the government or criminal justice.[211] Police officers were often reluctant to intervene by making an arrest, and often chose instead to simply counsel the couple and/or ask one of the parties to leave the residence for a period of time. The courts were reluctant to impose any significant sanctions on those convicted of domestic violence, largely because it was viewed as a misdemeanor offense.[citation needed]

The modern view in industrialized countries is that domestic violence should be viewed as a public matter and all criminal authority should be involved; that once the violence is reported it should be taken seriously.

Medical response[edit]

Medical professionals can make a difference in the lives of those who experience abuse. Many cases of spousal abuse are handled solely by physicians and do not involve the police. Sometimes cases of domestic violence are brought into the emergency room,[212] while many other cases are handled by a family physician or other primary care provider.[213] Subspecialist physicians are also increasingly playing an important role. For example, HIV physicians are ideally suited to play an important role in managing abuse given the association between abuse and HIV infection as well as their often lifelong relationships with patients.[2]

Duluth model[edit]

The Duluth Model or Domestic Abuse Intervention Project is a program developed to reduce domestic violence against women.[214] The Duluth model was developed by Minnesota Program Development, Inc., a nonprofit agency in Duluth, Minnesota. The program was largely founded by social activist Ellen Pence. The Duluth Model is featured in the documentary Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America.[215]

The Domestic Abuse Intervention Project was the first multi-disciplinary program designed to address the issue of domestic violence. This experimental program, conducted in Duluth, Minnesota in 1981, coordinated the actions of a variety of agencies dealing with domestic conflict. The program has become a model for programs in other jurisdictions seeking to deal more effectively with domestic violence.[216]

According to the Duluth Model, "women and children are vulnerable to violence because of their unequal social, economic, and political status in society".[217]

The Duluth Model is based on a "violence is patriarchal" model. The model focuses solely on the men's use of violence in abusive relationships, rather than on the behavior of all parties concerned. This helps the men to focus on changing their personal behavior in order to be nonviolent in any relationship.

Law enforcement response[edit]

Law enforcement response to intimate partner violence has varied over time and across jurisdictions. Until the 1980s, U.S. law enforcement policies and practices emphasized not using arrest, prosecution or other legal sanctions. In most U.S. jurisdictions, law enforcement officers were not even authorized to make arrests for any misdemeanor assault, unless it occurred in their presence. In addition, it was widely believed that domestic disturbance calls were the most dangerous type of call for responding officers. This belief was based on FBI statistics which turned out to be flawed, in that they grouped all types of disturbances together with domestic disturbances, such as brawls at a bar.[218][219] This false belief led to development of programs that trained police officers to first separate intimate partners and to counsel them. The objective of this program was to reduce assaults against and injuries to law enforcement officers.

Based on legal suits, social research and changing attitudes about the role of women and the social acceptable of the use of violence, law enforcement policies and practices in the U.S. have changed toward encouraging and, in some cases, mandating the use of legal sanctions for intimate partner violence. Many U.S. states have adopted legislation mandating the use of arrest for at least some types of intimate partner violence. In addition, the Federal Violence Against Women Act, first adopted in 1994, promotes the use of arrest and prosecution of intimate partner violence by state and local agencies.

Counseling for person affected[edit]

Due to the extent and prevalence of violence in relationships, counselors and therapists should assess every client for domestic violence (both experienced and perpetrated). If the clinician is seeing a couple for couple’s counseling, this assessment should be conducted with each individual privately during the initial interview, in order to increase the victim’s sense of safety in disclosing DV in the relationship.[220] In addition to determining whether DV is present, counselors and therapists should also make the distinction between situations where battering may have been a single, isolated incident or an ongoing pattern of control. The therapist must, however, consider that domestic violence may be present even when there has been only a single physical incident as emotional/verbal, economic, and sexual abuse may be more insidious.[220]

Lethality assessment[edit]

A lethality assessment is a tool that can assist in determining the best course of treatment for a client, as well as helping the client to recognize dangerous behaviors and more subtle abuse in their relationship.[221] In a study of victims of attempted domestic violence-related homicide, only about one-half of the participants recognized that their perpetrator was capable of killing them, as many domestic violence victims minimize the true seriousness of their situation.[222] Thus, lethality assessment is an essential first step in assessing the severity of a victim’s situation.

Safety planning[edit]

Safety planning allows the victim to plan for dangerous situations they may encounter, and is effective regardless of their decision on whether remain with their perpetrator. Safety planning usually begins with determining a course of action if another acute incident occurs in the home. The victim should be given strategies for their own safety, such as avoiding confrontations in rooms where there is only one exit and avoiding certain rooms that contain many potential weapons (such as kitchens, bathrooms, etc.).[50]

Counseling for offenders[edit]

The main goal for treatment for offenders of domestic violence is to minimize the offender’s risk of future domestic violence, whether within the same relationship or a new one. Treatment for offenders should emphasize minimizing risk to the victim, and should be modified depending on the offender’s history, risk of reoffending, and criminogenic needs.[223][224] The majority of offender treatment programs are 24–36 weeks in length and are conducted in a group setting with groups not exceeding 12 participants.[225]

Prevention and intervention[edit]

There are many community organizations which work to prevent domestic violence by offering safe shelter, crisis intervention, advocacy, and education and prevention programs. Community screening for domestic violence can be more systematic in cases of animal abuse, healthcare settings, emergency departments, behavioral health settings and court systems. Tools are being developed to facilitate domestic violence screening such as mobile apps.[226][227]

Pregnancy[edit]

Pregnancy, when coupled with domestic violence, may amplify health risks. Abuse during pregnancy, whether physical, verbal or emotional, produces adverse effects for both the mother and fetus. Domestic violence during pregnancy is categorized as abusive behavior towards a pregnant woman, where the pattern of abuse can often change in terms of severity and frequency of violence. Abuse may be a long-standing problem in a relationship that continues after a woman becomes pregnant or it may commence during pregnancy.[228] Although female-to-male partner violence occurs in these settings, the overwhelming form of domestic violence is perpetrated by men against women.[229]

Domestic abuse can be triggered by pregnancy for various reasons. Pregnancy itself can be used a form of coercion and the phenomenon of preventing an intimate partner’s reproductive choice is referred to as birth control sabotage, or reproductive coercion. Studies on the birth control sabotage performed by males against female partners have indicated a strong correlation between domestic violence and birth control sabotage.[230] Pregnancy can also lead to a hiatus of domestic violence when the abuser does not want to harm the unborn child. The risk of domestic violence for pregnant women is greatest immediately after childbirth.[231]

In 2010, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 4.8% of women reported having had an intimate partner who tried to get them pregnant against their wishes, while 8.7% of men reported having had an intimate partner who tried to get pregnant against their wishes or tried to stop them from using birth control.[232]

Prognosis[edit]

New research illustrates that there are strong associations between exposure to domestic violence and abuse in all their forms and higher rates of many chronic conditions. The strongest evidence comes from the Adverse Childhood Experiences' series of studies which show correlations between exposure to abuse or neglect and higher rates in adulthood of chronic conditions, high risk health behaviors and shortened life span.[233] Evidence of the association between physical health and violence against women has been accumulating since the early 1990s.[234]

Studies have indicated that it is important to consider the effect of domestic violence and its psychophysiologic sequelae on women who are mothers of infants and young children. Several studies have shown that maternal interpersonal violence-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can, despite traumatized mother's best efforts, interfere with their child's response to the domestic violence and other traumatic events.[235][236] Thus, practitioners and service agencies addressing the needs of domestic violence victims should assess the victim-as-parent and evaluate the safety and well-being of children in the home.

More recently work by such researchers as Corso[237] have begun to quantify the economic impact of exposure to violence and abuse. A recent publication, Hidden Costs in Health Care: The Economic Impact of Violence and Abuse, [238] makes the case that such exposure represents a serious and costly public health issue that should be addressed by the health care system.

Domestic violence around the world[edit]

In Iraq husbands have a legal right to "punish" their wives. The criminal code states at Paragraph 41 that there is no crime if an act is committed while exercising a legal right; examples of legal rights include: "The punishment of a wife by her husband, the disciplining by parents and teachers of children under their authority within certain limits prescribed by law or by custom".[239]

In Jordan, part of article 340 of the Penal Code states that "he who discovers his wife or one of his female relatives committing adultery and kills, wounds, or injures one of them, is exempted from any penalty."[240] This has twice been put forward for cancellation by the government, but was retained by the Lower House of the Parliament, in 2003: a year in which at least seven honor killings took place.[241] Article 98 of the Penal Code is often cited alongside Article 340 in cases of honor killings. "Article 98 stipulates that a reduced sentence is applied to a person who kills another person in a 'fit of fury'".[242]

In Russia, according to Russian interior ministry estimates, there are 600,000 women victims of domestic abuse every year and 14,000 die from injuries inflicted by husbands or partners each year. Domestic violence is not a specific criminal offense, but it can be charged under various crimes of the criminal code (e.g. assault), but in practice cases of domestic violence turn into criminal cases only when they involve severe injuries, or the victim has died.[243] For more details see Domestic violence in Russia.

A UN report compiled from a number of different studies conducted in at least 71 countries found domestic violence against women to be most prevalent in Ethiopia.[244]

A study on Bedouin women in Israel found that most have experienced DV, most accepted it as a decree from God, and most believed they were to blame themselves for the violence. The study also showed that the majority of women were not aware of existing laws and policies which protect them: 60% said they did not know what a restraining order was.[245]

In the European Union, DV is a serious problem in the Baltic States. These three countries - Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania - have also lagged behind most post-communist countries in their response to DV.[246] The problem in these countries is very severe, and in 2013 a DV victim won a European Court of Human Rights case against Lithuania.[247][248]

United States[edit]

Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.[249] In the United States, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44.[250]

Victims of DV are offered legal remedies, which include the criminal law, as well as obtaining a protection order. The remedies offered can be both of a civil nature (civil orders of protection and other protective services) and of a criminal nature (charging the perpetrator with a criminal offense). People perpetrating DV are subject to criminal prosecution, most often under assault and battery laws. [12][251][252]

Epidemiology[edit]

A map of the world showing countries by level of women's physical security, 2011

Domestic violence occurs across the world, in various cultures,[253] and affects people of all economic statuses.[18] According to one study, the percentage of women who have reported being physically abused by an intimate partner vary from 69% to 10% depending on the country.[254]

Europe[edit]

A 1992 Council of Europe study on domestic violence against women found that 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence over their lifetimes and between 6 and 10% of women suffer domestic violence in a given year.[citation needed]

In Turkey 42% of women over 15 have suffered physical or sexual violence.[255]

North America[edit]

In the United States, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 1995 women reported a six times greater rate of intimate partner violence than men.[256][257] The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) indicates that in 1998 about 876,340 violent crimes were committed in the U.S. against women by their current or former spouses, or boyfriends.[258] According to the Centers for Disease Control, in the United States 4.8 million women suffer intimate partner related physical assaults and rapes and 2.9 million men are victims of physical assault from their partners.[259]

In Canada, the Assembly of First Nations evaluation of the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program conducted by CIET offers an inclusive and relatively unbiased national estimate. It documented domestic violence in a random sample of 85 First Nations across Canada: 22% (523/2359) of mothers reported suffering abuse in the year prior to being interviewed; of these, 59% reported physical abuse.[260]

Asia[edit]

Fighting the prevalence of domestic violence in Kashmir has brought Hindu and Muslim activists together.[261] Additionally, aspects of Islamic law have been criticized for promoting domestic violence[262]

One study found that half of Palestinian women have been the victims of domestic violence.[263]

The Human Rights Watch found that up to 90% of women in Pakistan were subject to some form of maltreatment within their own homes.[264] Honor killings in Pakistan are a very serious problem, especially in northern Pakistan.[265][266] In Pakistan, honour killings are known locally as karo-kari. Karo-kari is a compound word literally meaning "black male" (Karo) and "black female (Kari).

Domestic violence in India is widespread, and is often related to the custom of dowry.[267] Although not as common as in other parts of Asia, honor killings do occur in some regions of India, particularly in northern regions of the country. Honor killings have been reported in the states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar, as a result of people marrying without their family's acceptance, and sometimes for marrying outside their caste or religion.[268][269]

Africa[edit]

Up to two-thirds of women in certain communities in Nigeria's Lagos State say they are victims to domestic violence.[270]

80% of women surveyed in rural Egypt said that beatings were common and often justified, particularly if the woman refused to have sex with her husband.[271]

Oceania[edit]

Statistics published in 2004, show that the rate of domestic violence victimisation for Indigenous women in Australia may be 40 times the rate for non-Indigenous women.[272]

History[edit]

An illustration from JJ Grandville's Cent Proverbes (1845) captioned "Qui aime bien châtie bien" (Who loves well, punishes well).

Prior to the mid-1800s, most legal systems accepted wife beating as a valid exercise of a husband's authority over his wife.[273][274] One exception, however, was the 1641 Body of Liberties of the Massachusetts Bay colonists, which declared that a married woman should be "free from bodilie correction or stripes by her husband."[275]

Political agitation during the nineteenth century led to changes in both popular opinion and legislation regarding domestic violence within the United Kingdom and the United States.[273][276] In 1850, Tennessee became the first state in the United States to explicitly outlaw wife beating.[277][278] Other states soon followed suit.[274][279] In 1878, the Matrimonial Causes Act made it possible for women in the UK to seek separations from abusive husbands.[280] By the end of the 1870s, most courts in the United States were uniformly opposed to the right of husbands to physically discipline their wives.[281] By the early twentieth century, it was common for police to intervene in cases of domestic violence in the United States, but arrests remained rare.[282]

Modern attention to domestic violence began in the women's movement of the 1970s, particularly within the contexts of feminism and women's rights, as concern about wives being beaten by their husbands gained attention. The first known use of the expression "domestic violence" in a modern context, meaning "spouse abuse, violence in the home" was in an address to the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1973. A few months later the world's first domestic violence services federation (Women's Aid) was set up in 1974, providing practical and emotional support as part of a range of services to women and children experiencing violence in England.[283][284] With the rise of the men's movement of the 1990s, the problem of domestic violence against men also gained significant attention.

Until quite recently, children had very few rights in regard to protection from violence by their parents, and still continue to do so in many parts of the world. Historically, fathers had virtually unlimited rights in regard to their children and how they chose to discipline them. In many cultures, such as in Ancient Rome, a father could legally kill his children; many cultures have also allowed fathers to sell their children into slavery. Child sacrifice was also a common practice.[285] Today, corporal punishment of children by their parents remains legal in most countries, but in Western countries that still allow the practice there are strict limits on what is permitted. The first country to outlaw parental corporal punishment was Sweden (parents' right to spank their own children was first removed in 1966,[286] and it was explicitly prohibited by law from July 1979).

See also[edit]

Religion:

General:

International human rights law

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