Unraveling Domestic Violence: Control, Impact, and Societal Response
Cycle of Abuse: Forms, Impact, and Gender Dynamics
Domestic violence has one purpose and one purpose only: to dominate the victim through control. The North Carolina General Statute 50B-1 states the definition of domestic violence as “attempting to cause bodily injury or placing a victim or a member of the victim’s family in fear of serious bodily injury or continued harassment resulting in significant emotional distress (Chapter 50B Domestic Violence). Domestic violence has several forms of control and abuse.
This can include physical, economic, verbal, and emotional. Domestic violence stems from a simple argument to violence that can result in homicide. This is a continuous cycle that can escalate quickly. As you will read, this topic hits many homes and many families and affects more than just the victim. This topic is very personal and the reason why this subject was chosen. Victims feel the effect of the consequences of this violence for several days, weeks, or even years.
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They become overwhelmed with fear and distrust of others, which can change their ability to be productive and emotionally able to live properly. Many of these forms of domestic violence can also lead to psychological distress, including severe depression and other anti-social disorders. This violence can attack any race, religion, background, or profession, and there is no age preference or preferred sexual orientation. Most victims are women, although men have also been victims.
Women are victims of the most physically violent outcomes, and men are more victims of emotional and psychological abuse. This subject is the reason for pursuing more education to eradicate violence or at least open more awareness. Domestic violence does not just occur once and done. If an incident occurs once, in time, there will be another occurrence. One in every four women will experience some type of violence at least once in one relationship in their lifetime.
Consequences and Complex Phases of Domestic Violence
More than three million children will be witness to domestic violence each year. These numbers are startling. Through study and research, it was found that children who experience violence in their homes are more apt to feel the repercussions and may show a change in behavior and emotional patterns through their actions. Domestic violence is a choice, but it is also a social issue that affects not only the households of its victims but also the community, public health services, the criminal justice system, and economic stress for all.
Domestic violence can also account for family homelessness in large cities (Bograd and Yllo). Often, more women are killed by their abusers while attempting to leave. On average. A woman who experiences abuse will leave seven
times before she makes the decision to never return. Many women fear the consequences of leaving more than the violence to stay. It has also been reported that more than four thousand women a year are killed by their abusers; nearly seventy-five percent of those are murdered after they have left (Bograd, Strengthening Domestic Violence Theories: Intersections of Race, Class, Sexual Orientation, and Gender).
The Phases of Domestic Violence There are phases of domestic violence that many people may not know. Each phase, or cycle, has a degree of severity and occurrence. The Tension-building phase is described as the victim trying to reduce the abuser’s anger by catering to his/her needs to not entice a reaction to cause an incident. The Acute-battering phase is described as the Jekyll and Hyde phase. With this phase, the abusers are often unpredictable yet can change from raging violence to becoming pleasant and gentle and vice versa.
The Calm “Honeymoon” phase is often the phase that changes the victim’s mindset on whether to stay or leave. During this phase, the abuser often begs for forgiveness, promising never to hurt her again if she does not leave. He becomes very charming and even begins to convince herself that the abuser has changed (Benokraitis).
Evolution of Domestic Violence: From Historical Permissiveness to Modern Advocacy
The History of Domestic Violence and the Change It Has Caused Since the dawn of time and the change of the ages, the abuse of women has occurred. Some laws have legally allowed such an act, while others have seen the outcome and the seriousness of such incidents and vowed to change. In 753 B.C. in Rome, a husband was given the right to physically discipline his wife. This law is called “The Law of Chastisement”. The saying “The Rule of Thumb” allowed the husband to beat his wife with a switch or rod no greater than the base of his right thumb.
In the Middle Ages (900-1300), the husband was given permission to “beat her for correction….”. In the late 1500s, it was legal for a husband to kill his wife in Russia for disciplinary purposes. However, women were also fighting back by burying their husbands alive with only their heads above ground and left for dead. In 1824, Bradley v. State2 Miss (Walker) 156(1824), the Mississippi Supreme Court allows “moderate chastisement in cases of emergency……” History has a way of revealing itself, and in 1867, a man was acquitted for giving his wife three licks with a switch.
The NC Appellate Court ruled, claiming there should be no interference of the court within a family environment. Hence, after many laws, rights, and legal chastising of women, the Battered Women’s Movement was organized in the 1970s, changing how many laws were seen and changed. This movement led to advocacy, the clemency of victims who killed their abusers, and the Violence Against Women Act in 1994. Through all this change, women are still being victims. However, they are learning to fight back.
Many women are now getting into self-defense classes, taking classes to help them and finding alternatives to help when they do choose to leave. There are so many resources available to help women get back on their feet and away from their abuser’, especially for those who have children. Women would often blame themselves, and some still do. Women are supposed to be caregivers and maternal nurtures, giving the feeling of embarrassment and guilt even stronger for being abused. Some women may even feel they deserve some type of discipline due to what they did, said, or did not do as was expected.
Exploring Theoretical Frameworks: Post-Structural Analysis of Domestic Violence
Theories Suggested of Domestic Violence Several theories fall into play with domestic violence. Choosing one or the other can be somewhat pivotal, as they each play a certain part. The one theory that would most describe this dilemma could play a major part in Post-Structural theory. Using this approach is much more satisfying and can show more evidence that this is not only a family household issue but also a social society dilemma. Such an approach to domestic violence opens an opportunity to view how power may be exercised and deployed differently from a traditional feminist perspective of patriarchal top-down forms of power.
People are absorbed by social connections and power. They watch society behave through television, communication with others, social media, and word of mouth. They negotiate their tactics and often do not account for the consequences. Men exercise violence in domestic abuse as a form of patriarchy, and women only resort to violence as a form of self-defense. This theory could be argued by many, as we all have our own thoughts and ideas about domestic violence and the cause and effect (Swan).
- North Carolina General Statute 50B-1.
- Bograd, M., & Yllo, K. (Eds.). (2018). Strengthening Domestic Violence Theories: Intersections of Race, Class, Sexual Orientation, and Gender.
- Benokraitis, N. V. (2018). Marriages & Families: Changes, Choices, and Constraints (9th ed.).
- Swan, S. C. (2019). Partner Violence: Societal Causes and Consequences.