Domestic Violence in America vs. That of Other Nations Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1642 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 12  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports - Women

Domestic Violence in United States vs. Other Nations

Every day, women are subjected to extreme acts of physical violence by an intimate partner, in fact, domestic violence is a phenomenon that stretches across borders, nationalities, cultures and race (Meyersfeld).

Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of coercive control that may consist of physical, sexual, and/or psychological assaults against intimate partners, whether current or former (Hart). Domestic violence claims multiple victims. Not only does it have devastating consequences for the direct recipients of the abuse, but it can have a traumatic effect on those who witness it, especially children (WHO). Although domestic violence can occur against men in homosexual and heterosexual relationships, it overwhelmingly occurs against women (Hart). In fact, it is estimated that a female is 13 times more likely to be injured and 30% more likely to be killed than a male (Hart). Domestic violence is considered a violation of basic human rights that must be prevented by political, legal and civil actions within all areas of society (WHO). To break the cycle of abuse, experts recommend the need for improving the identification of victims, effective intervention, and better education (Hart).

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The United States recognizes domestic violence as a major growing public health concern. Roughly 95% of all reported domestic violence cases involve women as victims (Hart). According to one 1996 study, some "$44 million in medical costs, 40,000 physician visits, and over 100,000 hospital days per year are attributed to physical violence against women" (Hart). According to the American Medical Association, more than 4 million women were beaten by their partners in 1995, and one in four will be beaten by a male at some point during her lifetime (Hart).

TOPIC: Term Paper on Domestic Violence in America vs. That of Other Nations Assignment

Since the days of the Puritans at Massachusetts Bay, wife abuse has been acknowledged in the United States, and up until after the Civil War, domestic law actually allowed the male to beat his wife and children (Hart). Legal scholars note that "spousal privilege" founded in ancient English common law permitted a man to use "moderate correction" to maintain domestic tranquility (Hart). State appellate courts began to reject this theory around 1871, and continued to work toward eroding this view as women were given more rights by society (Hart). However, it was 1976 before the first state, Pennsylvania, enacted the nation's first domestic restraining law (Hart).

Domestic violence is different from other forms of interpersonal violence because family members, usually the woman, more often than not, return to the same violent environment, knowing that they are at risk for repeated injury (Hart). Aside from the physical injuries, these women are high risk for "stress-related conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and sexually related conditions" (Hart). Moreover, in addition to physical abuse, a batterer generally uses economic abuse, isolation, and intimidation to exert power over the woman, and studies indicate that frequent violence does not stop even if the woman leaves the environment (Hart). Unfortunately, research demonstrates that many domestic violence victims who choose to seek legal support, are "typically treated as criminals themselves and given little recognition for their recent history of abuse" (Hart).

Violence is a learned behavior that is usually passed on from one generation to the next, unless efforts are made to interrupt the dysfunctional pattern (Hart). Intervention not only teaches the partners more positive ways to resolve conflicts, but it teaches the children more appropriate interaction patterns, thus the cycle of abuse can be stopped (Hart).

In the first stage of domestic violence, tension builds as small incidents of verbal and physical abuse begin, then during the second stage, episodes become more violent and more frequent, resulting in serious injury to the female (Hart). The cycle is reinforced during the third and final stage by the partner's remorse and assertions that the abuse will end (Hart). This behavioral pattern promotes the victim's passivity and submission to future abuse. Many researchers suggest that victims of domestic violence are not truly capable of acting in their own best interests due to fear and low self-esteem, however, others believe that the vast majority of victims are indeed capable of making rational decisions (Hart). Author Sandra Hart writes, "Perpetuating the stereotype of battered women as passive and helpless, yet controlling the dynamics of violence is not helpful," and actually robs them of the prerogative to act on their own behalf, thus in effect, victimizes them again and becomes another potential risk of mandatory reporting (Hart).

Only recently have governments and policy makers considered domestic violence as a major social problem, thanks in large part to the efforts of women's organizations, experts and committed governments that have brought about public awareness on a global scale (WHO).

Prior to 1999, studies from 35 countries indicated that 10-52% of women reported being physically abused by an intimate partner at some point during their lives, and 10-30% reported they had been sexual abused by an intimate partner, while another 10-30% of women and girls reported being sexually abused, either as children or adults (WHO).

The WHO study collected data from over 24,000 women in ten countries representing such diverse cultural settings as Brazil, Japan, Peru, Thailand, and the United Republic of Tanzania. The incidents of injury among "ever-abused" women ranged from 19% in Ethiopia to 55% in Peru, while in Brazil, Peru, Samoa, Serbia, and Thailand over 20% of "ever-injured" women reported they had been injured more than five times (WHO).

Although most of the injuries were minor, such as bruises, cuts, and bites, more serious injuries, such as broken bones and injuries to the ears and eyes were common in some settings. In Peru, Samoa, Namibia, urban Thailand, and the United Republic of Tanzania, more than 20% of "ever-injured" females reported injuries to the eyes and ears (WHO). In Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Samoa, and provincial Peru, more than 25% of "ever-injured" females reported they had lost consciousness due to partner violence (WHO).

The vast majority of women surveyed who had experienced physical and/or sexual partner violence were more likely to report poor or very poor health than women who had never experienced partner violence (WHO). Abused women were more likely to have problems with: "walking and carrying out daily activities, pain, memory loss, dizziness, and vaginal discharge in the 4 weeks prior to the interview" (WHO). Moreover, recent experiences of ill-health were associated with lifetime experiences of violence, thus suggesting that physical effects of violence may continue long after the actual abuse has ended, or that cumulative abuse strongly affects health (WHO). Researchers note that in the countries reporting no significant association between violence and health problems, the findings may be been affected by low reporting of health problems (WHO). For example, in Ethiopia, Japan, Namibia and Samoa, less than 3% of non-abused women reported poor health, indicating cultural variations in how health/ill-health are viewed (WHO). However, in all setting, women who had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner reported higher levels of emotional distress than non-abused women (WHO). Moreover, abused women were more likely to have had thoughts of suicide or to have attempted suicide, compared to non-abused women (WHO).

Culture has much to do with how domestic violence is dealt with in a particular country. For example, in Singapore, the father of an abused woman stated that he wished that his daughter would be killed by her husband rather than to live with the stigma of a divorcee (Ganapathy).

Thus, it is easy to see that many women lack the support system to end a violent relationship, and stand to lose friends and family should they choose to involve the criminal justice system (Ganapathy). This general reluctance by various ethnic groups to involve the police in "family affairs" is illustrated in findings which found some 45% of respondents… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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