What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is the use, or threatened use of physical force, violence, a deadly weapon, sexual assault, or the intentional destruction of property. It is behaviour that has the intent or impact of placing a victim in fear of physical injury, and a pattern of behaviour resulting in emotional and psychological abuse, economic control, and/or interference with personal liberty that is directed towards the following: a current or former spouse, or a person with whom the abuser shares a child in common, or a current or former intimate partner.
Domestic violence is behaviour – emotional, psychological, physical, or sexual abuse – that one person in an ...view middle of the document...
After it all happened he would return back to normal, take me to the hospital, and make up some reason as to why I got so hurt, this time saying that I got drunk and fell over. This wasn’t the first time that he had done this to me, and he told me that he would try not to do it again, providing that I stuck to the rules. I knew in his heart that he really did love me, which is why I decided to stay, like every other time he abuses me.
Why don’t women leave from abusive relationships?
All too often the question “Why do women stay in violent relationships?” is answered with a victim-blaming attitude. Women victims of abuse often hear that they must like or need such treatment, or they would leave. Others may be told that they are one of the many “women who love too much” or who have “low self esteem”. The truth is that no one enjoys being beaten, no matter what their emotional state or self image.
A woman’s reasons for staying are more complex than a statement about her strength of character. In many cases it is dangerous for a woman to leave her abuser. If the abuser has all of the economic and social status, leaving can cause additional problems for the woman. Leaving could mean living in fear and losing child custody, losing financial support, and experiencing harassment at work. Although there is no profile of the woman who will be battered, there is a well-documented syndrome of what happens once the violence starts. Abused women experience shame, embarrassment and isolation. A woman may not leave battering immediately because:
- she realistically fears that the abuser will become more violent and maybe even fatal it she attempts to leave.
- Her friends and family may not support her leaving.
- She knows the difficulties of single parenting in reduced financial circumstances.
- There is a mix of good times, love and hope along with the manipulation, intimidation, and fear.
- She may not know about or have access to safety and support.
Domestic violence is not new. Victims of this crime have been speaking out and naming the abuse perpetrated against them for a long time. Stereotypically, the victims are primarily referred to as woman, and the abusers referred to as men. This is because at least 95% of the victims are women and 98% of batterers are men. But it is important to recognise that violence also occurs in gay and lesbian relationships, men are victims of domestic violence, and women sometimes abuse heterosexual relationships. Regardless of gender, the pattern of behaviours that a batterer uses to gain control is always the same.
My wife – in one of her drunken rages – took our daughter’s baseball bat and used it to smash the locked door to my study, where I was trying desperately to meet a deadline. And since I’m over 6 feet tall and muscular, I wouldn’t get much sympathy posing as a ‘abused man’! I had thought of calling the police that night. When I recalled this incident to my divorce lawyer some time...