Domestic Violence

 

Domestic Violence towards women is a problem in the United
States that is usually over looked and almost always not
noticed by Society today. Violence is defined by the
Riverside Webster's Dictionary (p.755) as: 1. Physical
force employed so as to damage or injure. 2. As an instance
of violent action. If this is the case than why is it that
so many women are beaten by loved ones each year and little
or nothing is done to correct this violent and hostile
situation? In this paper I will attempt to answer this
question along will a slue of others which pl aque women in
these war zones each day.
 
"The battered women is pictured by most people as a small,
fragile, haggard person who might once have been pretty.
She has several small children, no job skills, and is
economically dependent on her husband. It is frequently
assumed that she is poor and from a minority group. She is
accustomed to living in violence, and her fearfulness and
passivity are emphasized above all. Although some battered
women do fit this description, research proves it to be
false stereotype.''(Walker p.18) In fact most batte red
women have highly lucrative jobs such as doctors or
lawyers, Corporation executives and nurses. Most are heavy
set women whose assets are controlled by there husbands and
cannot defend themselves physically. Battered women are
found in all racial, rel igious and ethical backgrounds as
well as age groups and educational levels. ''Who are
battered women? If you are a women, there is a 50 percent
chance it could be you!''(Walker p.19)
 
Statistical data on battered women is difficult to find
because most records are buried in medical records,
domestic disturbance calls to the police or the records of
social service agencies. During my research I found that
characteristics in numerous c ategories for both the
batterer and battered were the same. Here is a list of
those categories that were the same or in a similar fashion
the same for both individuals. Commonly shared
characteristics between Battered and Batterer. 1. Has low
self-esteem. 2. Believes all myths about battering
relationships. 3. Is a traditionalist about the home,
strongly believes in family unity and his or her roles in
the family unit. As with the women all racial, religious,
educational levels equally represent the men, cultures
socioeconomic groups. "Batterers typically deny that they
have a problem, although they are aware of it; and they
become enraged if their women should reveal t he true
situation." (Walker p.36)
 
"Researchers Eisenberg and Micklow found 90 percent of the
batterers in their study had been in the military. Twenty
five percent received dishonorable discharges." (Walker
p.37) These are some alarming facts and characteristics
about both the battered a nd the batterer. I was unable to
collect any data on the cause for this percentage of
violence by men of the military. Although it being a school
of violence might have some weight on the effects of this
violence on women. Some of the reasoning behind the se acts
of physical and mental neglect may be societies acceptance
of such violence. We as a society are always calling for
more violence on television in the theater and on other
individuals. We pay for these sorts of entertainment, ask
the government to apply force on other nations and as the
saying goes "sex and violence sell." It is glorified in all
forms of the media.
 
Why do battered women stay with there significant others?
The answer has many different angles; some stay for
financial reasons others for the traditional reasons. The
fact is that they stay, but when is enough? "After you live
so many years, and you wak e up one day, and your body has
just about had it, you say, 'My God, I just can't take
another punch.' That's what happened to me. I just reached
a point where I said, 'No more. Nothing is worth it.' I
decided I would rather struggle and see if I couldn't make
it, so I just up and left, and that's been it." (Langley
and Levy p.111) This was the victim of spouse abuse for
seventeen years. In another case a women from Maryland
described her experience. "Being beaten up is the most
degrading, humiliating, cr ushing kind of thing that could
happen to a person." (Langley and Levy p.116) in most cases
the women feel that they are the ones to blame for there
battering and also apologize for being beaten. "A women's
decision to stay or go to seek help or suffer in silence is
often determined by the frequency of her beatings."
(Langley and Levy p.122)
 
When women do come to the end of the line and have finally
worked up enough courage to do it, to leave the one she
loves so dear where does she go? Well I would like to tell
you that she calls for help via the police or local
athorities and receives the compassion and understanding
that she so deserves and needs in this time of uncertainty
and doubt. But, all too often she is meet with hostility
and cynicism. "Usually, the police, attorneys, prosecutors,
public defenders, and even judges feel they should not get
involved in so called family problems." (Langley and Levy
p.153)
 
One Detroit police officer is even quoted as saying, "there
are no rewards for refereeing a family fight." (Langley and
Levy p.153) One of the problems is the offense can be both
criminal and civil matters. There are in fact only three
states that have l aws that deal directly with spouse
abuse, California, Hawaii, and Texas which make it an
automatic felony for a husband to beat his wife. The system
however does not work in the favor of the battered but
rather in the favor of the batterer. "Assault is a crime in
every state. Since wife beating is a form of assault, then
wife beating is a crime in every state. In practice,
however, wife beating is not treated as a crime but as a
civil matter. Prosecutors deliberately look the other way
even when a man adm its to wife beating." (Langley and Levy
p.154)
 
When the judicial system fails to help the abused, the
abused must turn elsewhere. Places such as crisis centers,
church, or shelters. But in many places there are no such
places or organizations to help the abused, then the abused
must depend on communi ty help as well as family and
friends to help. Mostly with support groups and just by
giving the abused the compassion and support once sot by
the abused in the judicial system.
 
One example of this disappointment in the system was found
in the Detroit Free Press, in an article headlined "
Emergency Number Still Has Kinks," reported: "
near-breathless women, beaten by her husband, dialed 911 to
ask for police assistance. 'Does he have a weapon?' the
operator asked.
 
" She answered he did not. "Then I am sorry. We won't be
able to help you,' the operator said to the dismayed
women." (Langley and Levy p.160) This lack of confidence in
the judicial system in return sends women a message of
desperation, fear and frustration. Many women in turn take
the law into there own hands, in a study done by the U.S
Department of Justice between 1987 and 1991. "Approximate
ly one in four attacks involved the use of a gun or knife,
according to the study. Young, black and Hispanic women
were especially vulnerable, as were poor single women with
low education levels who lived in inner cities. The
findings were drawn from more than 400,000 interviews." The
Acting Bureau Director Lawrence A. Greenfeld stated that
"the number of women attacked by spouses, former spouses,
boyfriends, parents or children is more than 10 times
higher than the number of males attacked by such people ."
It is clear to me that all of us living in this great
nation need to join hands in the fight against Domestic
Violence in the home, not just against women but children
and men as well. But for the purpose of this paper I would
like to focus mainly on the women of the American
household. We as a society should take action and compose
social as well as political laws to rectify this situation.
There are no set standards, in fact police officers are
told to not arrest in cases of domestic violence calls. The
reasoning is once again the civil matter of domestic
violence being a "family problem".
 
In concluding this simply alarming and terrifyingly eye
opening subject matter I would like to suggest five areas
in which we as a society and human beings could help in
altering the violence. Not just on women but on women,
children and minorities as w ell. 1. The expression of
violence is most commonly seen in the context of
relationships 2. Current policies to address personal
violence are outdated and superficial. 3. Violence does not
effect everyone equally-it is ingrained in cultural
expressions of power and inequality. 4. Prevention of
violence entails on the positive in the context of the
relationships, not just focusing on individual weaknesses
or deviance. 5. Youth are important resources and are part
of the solution. I strongly believe in these five seemingly
simply and yet necessary areas. Not as a way of solving the
domestic problems of society today but as a way of
depleting the number of cases of domestic violence each
year until a suitable set of guidelines or st andards can
be developed.
 
Works Cited 
 
U.S Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau
of Justice Statistics Box 6000 Rockville, Maryland 20850
 
David A. Wolfe Christine Wekerle Katreena Scott
Alternatives to Violence Empowering Youth to Develop
Healthy Relationships Sage Publications 2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, California 91320
 
Evan Stark, Ph.D., M.S.W. Anne Flitcraft, M.D. Women At
Risk Domestic Violence and Women's Health Sage Publications
2455 Teller Road Thousand Oaks, California 91320
 
Roger Langley Richard C. Levy Wife Beating: The Silent
Crisis A Sunrise Book E.P. Dutton 201 Park Avenue South New
York, N.Y. 10003
 
Lenore E. Walker The Battered Women Harper & Row,
Publisher