The family, which is the basic unit of society, is an institution that is always vulnerable to abuse; that can either be physical, psychological, financial or sexual in nature (Shipway 1). For the most part, it entails violence perpetrated by a male family member against a female one or vice versa.
Physical violence on the other hand incorporates all those acts, that tend to inflict pain on any family member, and is not limited to violence on children. Psychological violence is a scenario where emotional pain, is inflicted on a victim; by the shouting of harsh and piercing words at an individual, which may remain indelible in the mind, especially in children. Emotional violence tends to arouse feelings of worthlessness in the victim, whose long term effects may include withdrawal from society.
Incidentally, domestic violence can exhibit a financial facet; when individuals who are mandated with the task of providing basic needs of food, shelter and clothing in the home, default on their duties either willingly, or due to unemployment. Victims who bare the brunt of this form of abuse are the children, who look up to their parents for survival.
Whereas domestic violence happens within the confines of a home, it has become a public concern because it affects the entire society (McCue 7). This has prompted scholars to formulate some theories, which try to demystify the true cause of violence within the family circles. There are those scholars who are of the opinion that domestic violence; is a type of oppression which takes place in the society against an oppressed group, that gladly condones it and even makes it something desirable (McCue 5).
In a nutshell, we seem to be living in a society where women are perceived as an oppressed group, and lack institutional power to cushion themselves against men, who are considered the aggressors (McCue 5). Seemingly, the male gender has capitalized on the weakness of a woman, and has for centuries used this as a weapon against her.
This has been achieved by overworking and paying her less, for the same services she renders as a man in the job market. Incidentally, society seems to be gender biased, and relegates the woman to a mere afterthought; by making her play second fiddle to a man in the home, at work and in leadership positions.
Domestic violence traces its roots from the right of men to batter their wives; in an old age tradition that gave men a blank check to do as they pleased with their wives, who they considered to be assets (McCue 5). Even with the abolishing of wife battery in the early 1900’s, the modern day violence re-emerged again in the 1970’s.
The unprecedented rejuvenation of such a vile act, prompted the formation of factions within society, that are sensitive to the plight of women, and fight for the cognizance of their rights in society (McCue 5). The rights of women have hitherto been highlighted, through affirmative action by governments and community based organizations.
It is important to describe how the four types of domestic abuse, present themselves in society. Arguably, all the four can occur in the same relationship and go on for a very long time, with the degree of severity differing from one victim to another (McCue 6). Incidentally, physical abuse is always flanked by emotional abuse, and many women agree that it is one of the hardest type of abuse to overcome (McCue 7).
A victim would require several sessions of therapy, in order to overcome the physical and emotional scarring that he or she has been subjected to. In emotional abuse, the aggressor resorts to totally disregard the victim’s feelings, and deems it fit to hold back compliments that could have been directed at the victim, as a punitive measure (R. Segal and J. Segal par. 3) Other aggressors may choose to hurl insults at their victims, most of which are said where there is an audience in the family, in order to rub it in deep.
There is a general misconception that sexual violence is just rape; where a man savagely pounces on an unsuspecting woman and defiles her (McCue 7). According to McCue, sexual violence involves the solicitation of sex from a partner who is not in the mood (7). Furthermore, when a spouse is sexist and perceives women as mere objects for sexual gratification, and casts aspersions on the partner’s sexual fetishes, he sets the stage for the proliferation of suppressed feelings of unworthiness.
It is women and children, who always find themselves on the receiving end of most of these antisocial acts. According to Summers and Hoffman, “women represent 91% of domestic violence cases and 79% of sexual assault victims” (3).
Most of the women choose to keep quiet, as their male counterparts subject them to one form of abuse or the other, fearing that broadcasting what really happens in the house, will break up their families. It is because of the myriad women who choose to make their suffering clandestine, that the above mentioned statistics are considered an understatement (Summers and Hoffman 3).
Children tend to be oblivious of what they are going through; most of them are of the opinion that life ought to be that way, yet they are just innocent victims. Such children tend to grow up, emotionally scarred and end up hating their parents. Additionally, it has been noted that most of the causes of domestic violence, are associated mostly with men than women, and are attributed to substance abuse and financial constraints (Summers and Hoffman 4).
The law has for long been weak when it comes to dealing with cases of domestic violence, giving men a leeway to oppress women (Stevens and Bolston par. 7). It is therefore important for legal institutions, to implement these laws with a lot of emphasis.
Women have either no faith in the law or are unaware of the existing measures to curb domestic violence, which necessitates the sensitization of women on their rights; especially those from least developed countries (Shipway 5). Children should also be taught about different forms of domestic violence, and how they can report them in order to reduce cases of violence against them.
Much as we emphasize the vulnerability of women and children to domestic violence, it should not be forgotten that there are scores of men who are literaly battered by women. These go unnoticed because men feel ashamed to report, and also know that no action will be taken (S.Buzawa and G. Buzawa 7). The legal system should therefore, come up with a mechanism to save these men who suffer silently in various homes.
Violence of whatever form should be expressly shunned by members of society. Vulnerable groups such as women, children and the disabled, should always be protected from abuse by the government; through enactment of laws that enforce stricter penalties to be meted out on the sadistic perpetrators. Ultimately, people should learn to live with each other peacefully, in a move to bring domestic violence to a halt.
Buzawa, S., Eve, and Buzawa, G., Carl. Domestic Violence: The Criminal Justice Response. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. Print.
McCue, L., Margi. Contemporary World Issues: Domestic Violence, A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2008. Print.
Segal, Robert, and Segal, Jeanne. Domestic Violence and Abuse: Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships. 2011. Web. 7 December 2011.
Shipway, Lyn. Domestic Violence: A Handbook of Health Professionals. New York: Routledge, 2004. Print.
Stevens, A., James, and Bolston, R., Adria. U.S. “Domestic Violence Awareness Book”. Department of Agriculture, Safety Health and Employee Welfare Division. n. d. Web. 7 December 2011.
Summers, W., Randal, and Hoffman, M., Allan. Domestic Violence: A Global View. Westport: Greenwood Publishing, 2002. Print.