Domestic violence is an epidemic in the United States. Domestic violence victims and domestic violence perpetrators can be anyone. In domestic violence not only does it involve two people it involves the entire family. The people involved can be of any gender. Unlike our stereotypes, domestic violence happens to the wealthy, educated, and even soccer moms. “Violence is inflicted primarily by men; most men have been socialized into masculine identities.” (Wood, 2009). “In the United States, every twelve to eight seconds a woman is beaten by a man; four women each day are reported beaten to death; and women are six hundred percent more likely to be brutalized by an intimate partner than are men.” (Wood, 2009). Statistically, domestic violence knows nothing about socioeconomic, educational, racial or religious boundaries. Domestic violence is learned and can be unlearned; it is important to identify the forms of abuse, why women stay, programs available and changes that can be made to lower rising statistics for our future generations, because contrary to child abuse and elderly abuse domestic violence is not mandated by law to report in Illinois.How is domestic violence learned? “Most domestic violence is caused by learning and reinforcement rather than by biology or genetics.” (Farmer, 2007).
The behavior is learned by observing others who have abused someone in their presence or they themselves have been abused. “Studies have found that nearly one half of abusive men grew up in homes where their father or step father was violent.” (Farmer, 2007). A boy can learn to be aggressive as a child. For instance, in competing in sports activities boys who play football play rough, endure physical pain and injuries and confront their opponents. (Woods, 2009). Also, showing emotion is frowned upon. This can be linked to violent behavior against women, children, animals, as they become more mature. According to Turning Point, Inc., “male violence against women in intimate relationships is a social problem condoned and supported by the customs and traditions of a particular society. Pornographic videos, magazines and websites are learning grounds which teach that women are unworthy of respect and valuable only as sex objects for men. Most videos and computer games have become an important training source for children and teens. Many of the sex-role messages present men as aggressive males and in control with the value of females restricted to their sexual allure. Boys often learn they are not responsible for their actions. Aggression in boys is increasingly being treated as a medical problem. Boys are being diagnosed and treated with medications instead of identifying that they have been possibly traumatized and exposed to violence and abuse at home.
Domestic violence is repeated because it works and because there are frequently no legal consequences. The fact that domestic violence is learned means that the perpetrators behavior can be changed. Most individuals can learn not to batter if there is sufficient motivation for changing that behavior.” (Farmer, 2007, page 2). In our society there are many forms of violent behavior which include “physical, verbal, emotional, sexual and visual brutality they are inflicted disproportionately or exclusively on members of one sex.” (Wood, 2009, page 285). The first form of abuse is physical. Men physically abuse woman by hitting, biting, stabling, pushing or sexual force. The female victim is viewed by society as the weaker and more deserving of being abused whereas the male perpetrators are considered to be strong, aggressive and controlling. The second form of abuse is verbal. This type of violation can be done by a man by intimidating his female partner. Verbally intimidating can include belittling, demeaning, ignoring, disrespecting, “being told what to do,” or by saying “you are fat, ugly, or stupid.” Or other words used can be “nobody will ever want you,” “and you will never amount to anything.”
The third form of abuse by men is emotional. This can include the male partner making poisonous remarks that leave the female feeling guilty, wounded or traumatized and very afraid to take any steps to get out of the situation. For example the use of tone of voice and body language to indicate the female is stupid, ignorant, incompetent or defective. One statement that is often used is “Just who do you think you are?” According to Julia T. Wood on page 289 of Gendered Lives, “at least twenty eight percent and possibly as many as fifty percent of women suffer intimate partner violence, which is physical, mental, emotional, verbal or economic power used by one partner against the other partner in a romantic relationship.” (Wood, 2009, page 289).
Why do women stay in any relationship when abuse is present? There are reasons so numerous as to why women choose to stay in their relationships while being abused. For instance, lack of income and education. The husbands have total control by not letting the spouse work or have money. Women will be isolated and have no outside relationships including family. The abusive spouse will call several times questioning where their spouse is at and to account for their whereabouts every moment of the day. Most women feel trapped into staying in the relationship feeling like there is no way out. Women stay because they are afraid of the repercussions and do not know where to go to feel safe. They feel like without a new identity they will be found. This is especially true when children are involved.
Women will feel guilty by taking away the child from the father. Finally, women will justify the abuse by saying, “I deserved it,” “if only I had not made him mad,” or “if only I did what he asked me to do,” I might not of been beaten. Many women also feel that it is their duty to stay because of their religion to “be submissive,” to their spouse. Some women are raised in the environment to be a people pleaser especially to their parents. They do not know any better than to marry and submit to their spouse. In Chapter twelve of Gendered Lives on page 284, “four million American women experience a serious assault by a partner during an average twelve month period, and at least three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.” (Woods, 2007, page 284). Western society recognizes domestic violence with having at least four stages of violence. In Gendered Lives by Julia T. Woods on page 293 it talks about the cycle of intimate partner violence and the four stages. They are identified as tension, explosion, remorse, and the honeymoon stages. The two stages that help victims stay is because of the remorse and honeymoon stage. In the remorse stage the abuser will say anything to keep the relationship such as “I am so sorry” and I promise never to “do it again,” or desperately say “I will get help,” and never follow through. In the honeymoon stage the abuser will feel guilty about their actions and usually buy the victim a gift to make up for their behavior.
The startling number of gendered violence is a nationwide epidemic that needs to be taken more seriously by society. Today, domestic violence against women is still on the rise along with the concern of women’s health issues. Thirty years ago battered women had no options such as a place to go or no places that would offer help and assistance. Today, there are more places to go such as shelters, churches and agencies to help victims of domestic violence. These shelters not only offer a place to stay but assistance with restraining orders, money, lawyers, and new lease on life. Society needs to address abuse by men, and help educate the public, especially the future generation in order to prevent more violent attacks. The solutions sound rather simple but we as a nation need to re-evaluate how we treat offenders in our society, and how we define it and prevent it.
We must learn how to be effective parents, spouses, and teachers without resorting to violent behavior in resolving disputes with our loved ones and those we are communicating with. In order to be able to reduce the statistics of gendered violence it is important to identify the stages, characteristics, and types of abuse. Only by voicing our opinions can we make a difference by either stopping the abusive person in the home or by reporting it or when someone you know is being abused. Each community can contribute by volunteering in their town or by raising awareness by speaking out against violence.
All women are subject to becoming a victim of domestic violence; unless society as a whole chooses to speak out. Can statistics be changed in today’s current rise against domestic violence? Yes, speaking out on the laws can help because if the laws and the punishment against the perpetrator become more strict it can prevent further domestic violence overall. In today’s culture domestic violence against women is not just subject to any economic class; it is up to each person and as a society to make changes that will make current statistics a lower number.
Farmer, J. (2007). McHenry County Turning Point, Inc. Retrieved May 29, 2008, from Causes of Domestic Violence.
Hertz, S. K. (2006, SEPT/OCT). Trapped. Retrieved May 15, 2008 From EBSCOhost (Academic Search Premier)
Christian Science Monitor. (1/31/2007, Vol. 99 Issue 45, p18-18, 2/5p). What we can do about domestic violence. Retrieved May 15, 2008 from EBSCOhost (Academic Search Premier)
Pioneer Development Resources, Inc. (1994-2008). Women’s Rural Advocacy Programs. Retrieved May 27, 2008
Wood, J.T. (2009, 2007). Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture, Eighth Edition. North Carolina: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.