Domestic Violence Against Women Essay
Domestic Violence Against Women
Various types of relationships exist between men and women. The status of women has endured a constant change; thus changing the way they are perceived by others in relationships. Despite numerous healthy relationships experienced, there are those which have negative consequences to those involved; one such relationship is that regarding domestic violence. The term domestic violence according to Walker and Gavin refers to “an intimate relationship between two adults in which one partner uses a pattern of assault and intimidating acts to assert power and control over the other partner” (Walker & Gavin, 2011).
Within the context of this paper, domestic violence will refer to violent relationships between men and women where it is the women who are victimized. The purpose of this paper is tri-fold: (1) to address the development of domestic violence; and (2) to examine various attitudes regarding domestic violence; and (3) to discuss ways in which society is dealing with the issue of domestic violence. Emergence and Development According to feminists, strong patriarchal values held within a society are linked with increased risk of harm towards women (Watto, 2009, p. 561).
Patriarchy exists in most societies worldwide (Watto, 2009, p. 563). The term patriarchy refers to the father having full authority of his family (Romito, 2008, p. 30). Within society’s retaining this belief system, the wife and children are the father’s property (Romito, 2008, p. 146). Many findings have developed according to Totten. He found: 1) labor divided by sexual division to be normal; 2) men are to conquer women as sexual objects; 3) abusive behavior is a justified means for resolving conflict and 4) women should respect, obey and depend on men (Totten, 2003, p. ). Thus, one can conclude that family violence is linked to the ideology of patriarchy (Duffy & Momirov, 1997, p. 123). As well, it is important to note that we live in a society which religion is prevalent, the church agrees with patriarchy (L. Walker, personal communication, October 3rd, 2011). Duffy & Momiov (1997) state: Their histories are united in the longstanding moral obligation of men, as commanded by the Church, to ensure that their wives and children behave themselves properly. Male violence may be legitimately employed to ensure such behavior.
It is the patriarch’s Christian duty to “save their souls” (p. 123). Furthermore, considering society and the church agreed with the ideology of patriarchy, one can conclude that domestic violence was a private issue and was unheard or spoken of. The division of labor which has strong historical roots in society contributes to women being victimized. During the Industrial Revolution, men were seen as responsible for making the wage to support the family and the women was responsible for her role in the home as housekeeper and mother (Hutchings, 1992).
Unfortunately, according to Hutchings (1992), a man may seek to have more power by abusing his wife if he feels as though he is lacking employment in his occupation. It is the male’s financial contributions into his home that gives him the opportunity to abuse his wife (Hutchings, 1992). Contributing Factors Leading to Domestic Violence as an Issue Domestic violence against women would never have become an issue if it wasn’t for the development of feminism (Duffy & Momirov, 1997, p. 23). Feminism is divided into different waves.
The two waves which had a connection to the development of an issue of violence against women were one and two. It was prior to the development of the second wave of feminism, that domestic violence against women was thought to be a private issue that did not warrant a concern from the public (Blanchfield, Margesson, & Seelke, 2009, pg 1). The first wave occurred in Britain during the years of 1870-1930, it was concerned with women’s citizen rights and the right to vote; this wave lead to women gaining these rights (Charles, 2000, p. 22). Within this wave, women were concerned with being granted the vote (Crow & Gotell, 2009, p. 9). The second wave of feminism emerged in North American and Western Europe during the 1960’s and focused on women’s liberation (Charles, 2000, p. 1). During this wave, the feminists came to believe that the state had the ability to demolish policies which affected women thus granting them certain rights (Charles, 2000, p. 5).
Goals of the second wave were highlighted by Charles and deal with women raising domestic violence as an issue. He states: During the 1970s, the movement formulated seven demands. These were for equal pay; equal education and job opportunities; free contraception and abortion on demand; free 24-hour urseries; financial and legal independence; an end to all discrimination against lesbians and a woman’s right to define her own sexuality; freedom from intimidation by threat or use of violence or sexual coercion, regardless of marital status, and an end to all laws, assumptions and institutions which perpetuate male dominance and men’s aggression towards women (Charles, 2000, p. 1). Successes were gained from the development of feminism. Male privilege was partially removed with the success of the feminist movements (Crow & Gotell, 2009, p. 59).
Women’s opportunities increased in relation to jobs, benefits, education, independence and affluence (Crow & Gotell, 2009, p. 173). Due to women’s gain of independence, they raised their expectations of men and were more unwilling to excuse unacceptable male behavior (Crow & Gotell, 2009, p. 173). With the changing of expectations held by women, domestic assault and rape laws were changes and policies which banned harassment in the workplace were created and made common (Crow & Gotell, 2009, p. 59). Addressing the Issue The 1960’s give rise to the battered women’s movement (Schneider, 1991).
Prior to the development of women’s movement, battering of women was not recognized (Schneider, 1991). This movement viewed battering as a result of gender relations which reflected female subordination and male power (Schneider, 1991). This movement strived to decrease the silence surrounding the issue of abused women and decrease society’s tolerance of the acts (Crow & Gotell, 2009, p. 170). Furthermore, this movement has provided public education to increase awareness, services to those involved and constructed legal remedies to address and stop the abuse (Schneider, 1991).
Due to the increased awareness of abuse against women, the Government of Canada has made an effort to decrease the occurrence. During May of 1981, the London Police were the first Canadian police department to implement laying charges regarding spousal assault (Department of Justice, 2009). According to the Department of Justice (2009), In May 1982, the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Health, Welfare and Social Affairs tabled its report, Report on Violence in the Family—Wife Battering.
In it, the committee noted that police training (at that time) generally instructed against the arrest of a batterer unless he was actually found hitting the victim or unless the victim had suffered injuries that were “severe enough to require a certain number of stitches. During July of 1982, the House of Commons suggested that Parliament push all police to lay charges for acts of wife beating considering they lay charges for other forms of assault (Department of Justice, 2009).
It was also suggested in 1983 by the Federal Provincial Task Force on Justice for Victims of Crime that there be written guidelines developed to direct officers to treat wife assault as a crime and that the act of prosecution be made without the woman’s consent (Department of Justice, 2009). Guidelines were issued to Crown prosecutors and police as to how to deal with spousal abuse by 1986 from the Attorneys General and Solicitors General (Department of Justice, 2009). These guidelines required police to file charges if they had reasonable grounds to believe the women had been assaulted (Department of Justice, 2009).
The Government of Canada has been making adjustments to current bills. Bill C-15 was reintroduced in March of 2001 with the proposal of increasing the sentence of criminal harassment to ten years from the previous five year sentence (Department of Justice, 2009). Bill C-79 had been amended in December of 1999, to facilitate victim’s participation as well as that of the witnesses during the process of criminal justice (Department of Justice, 2009). For example, before the accused can be released on bail, the safety of the victim must be taken into account (Department of Justice, 2009).
Bill C-27 was reformed and enforced in May of 1997; it redefined the definition of criminal harassment (Department of Justice, 2009). During a sentencing of the accused, Bill C-27 also requires that the courts take breaching of court orders into consideration (Department of Justice, 2009). Bill C-41 which discusses sentencing was amended in 1996; thus allowing women to seek compensation for expenses accumulated from the needing to leave their house due to the abuse. (Department of Justice, 2009). Bill C-42 was reinforced during February of 1995; thus making it easier for victims to receive peace bonds.
Individuals and the police are now able to request a peace bond on a victim’s behalf who is at risk of harm (Department of Justice, 2009). The penalty for violating a peace bond has been raised from half a year to two years (Department of Justice, 2009). The final bill reformed was Bill C-126 which created a new charge of criminal harassment known as anti-stalking (Department of Justice, 2009). Shelter programs have been a way of society trying to help women of domestic violence (Koss, White & Kazdin, 2011, p. 185). These programs have advanced a lot since they were introduced.
Early shelters were only able to offer temporary support in the form of beds (Koss, White & Kazdin, 2011, p. 185). Fortunately, shelter programs have advanced to offer more immediate services to the victims. Today, many of the programs offer emergency shelter, support groups, crisis lines which are open 24/7, counseling services, programs for children and advocacy for the victims (Koss, White & Kazdin, 2011, p. 185). Fortunately, shelters have educated victims on their rights and options, taught them about community resources, shown them additional safety strategies and given them hope for the future (Sullivan, O’Halloran & Lyon, 2008).
First response teams are in place to provide safety to victimized women. The team usually consists of social workers and/or trained advocates who assist police officers during or shortly after domestic violence arrests occur (Koss, White & Kazdin, 2011, p. 185). These teams promote the message to abusers that legal consequences result from their harmful behavior and they also educate victims about resources and community services available (Koss, White & Kazdin, 2011, p. 185). Discussion There are many ways in which society suffers from domestic violence against women.
Family relationships suffer severely when women endure these unhealthy relationships (Duffy & Momirov, 1997, p. 6). Family members are harmed as well (Duffy & Momirov, 19997, p. 6); for example: observing violence can affect the observer in a physical, mental, and/or emotional manner. Victims of the violence may feel humiliated (Duffy & Momirov, 1997, p. 6). One reason a victim may feel humiliated is that the abuser is a loved one for whom they trust (Duffy & Momirov, 1997, p. 6). The humiliation is usually experienced not only by the victim but also the accused but this may occur at differing times (Duffy & Momirov, 1997, p. ).
The victim is likely to experience shame due to the belief that they are being attacked (Duffy & Momirov, 1997, p. 6). Considering society doesn’t want to experience negative emotions, the victims and/or accusers may try to avoid the feeling of shame thus leading to the possibility of them becoming violent (Duffy & Momirov, 1997, p. 6). The act of violence also affects those who witness it (Duffy & Momirov, 1997, p. 6). Those who have witnessed violence and then engage in relationships with others are likely to realize that their relationships are tainted (Duffy & Momirov, 1997, p. ). Due to these tainted relationships, institutions such as the police, the penal system, social services and the courts get involved with the issue to try and break the cycle (Duffy & Momirov, 19997, p. 6). Individuals fail to intervene in conflicts of domestic violence due to existent stereotypes.
Many people still feel as though the issue is still a private matter, should only be dealt and discussed within the family and this it is a minor offence (Berry, 2000, p. 23). Unfortunately, people also believe they are helpless and cannot stop it issue from occurring (Berry, 2000, p. 3). Many people still believe that the issue is rare, thus they may train them self to believe it isn’t really occurring (Berry, 2000, p. 22). It is believed by some that women are naturally passive and men are to be inherently aggressive, therefore abuse is inevitable and part of human nature (Berry, 2000, p. 23). Some believe that the women provoke the violence through getting angry at the man, nagging, or speaking their minds; thus leading to the women deserving to be beaten (Berry, 2000, p. 22).
Furthermore others believe it is a problem due to increased poverty or stress, thus making it limited to those of a lower class (Berry, 2000, 23). Despite the negative consequences women face in these abusive relationships with men, some choose to not seek help. Many women may feel as though they are forced to stay in these relationships to avoid becoming a lone mother living a life of poverty (Crow & Gotell, 2009, p. 85). One can understand why women may fear becoming victims of poverty because despite their wages increasing, they still earn far less than men (Crow & Gotell, 20009, p. 5). Walikhanna (2009) has many thoughts of why women stay: 1) women may keep the issue silent for the sake of their children 2) education or training may be lacking thus they are dependent on the man 3) they may believe the abuse is part of their fate or a way of living (p. 72).
The women may fear the man will seek revenge (Department of Justice, 2009). Victims may live in isolated communities or face communication, cultural or language barriers (Department of Justice, 2009). Furthermore, these are but few of the reasons the issue is still prevalent thus the authorities are unable to intervene. Sometimes strategies engaged prove to be ineffective. During the beginning of an abusive relationship, the women usually employ various strategies to diminish the violence (Denmark, Rabinowitz & Sechzer, 2005, p. 398). They may call the police, seek the help of family members or the church, turn to their doctors or try to change their characteristics which the man criticizes (Denmark, Rabinowitz & Sechzer, 2005, p. 396).
Unfortunately, they men will find other ways to criticize the women, the police may only diffuse the present situation, family members and/or the church may advise the women to do everything in the relationship to salvage their families and doctors may respond to the women with sleeping pills, antidepressants and tranquilizers (Denmark, Rabinowitz & Sechzer, 2005, p. 396). Future Outcome Despite all the changes society has implemented, more needs to be done to make this issue non-existent. Lots of cases in which the women are abused go unreported to police but fortunately the reported cases have increased (Department of Justice, 2009).
Presently, the stigma once attached to women who admit to being victimized and seek help has declined (Berry, p. 22). Fortunately, as more stories make public awareness, their attitudes regarding the issue their attitudes are changing; they are becoming more aware of its detrimental effects as well as the negative consequences of not getting involved (Berry 1995). Community implemented programs attacking domestic violence has also seen amazing results (Berry, 1995, p. 27). The effectiveness of all future outreach programs depend on the communities attitudes (Sen, 1999, p. 37).
It has been suggested that all money used to stop domestic violence has promoted the victim instead providing social solutions (Sen, 1999, p. 37). For Example: the accused are threatened with a jail sense instead of trying to change the man’s ideology which causes to seek power though the use of violence and intimidation (Sen, 1999, p. 37). Futhermore it has been thought that men who abuse women do not believe they are criminals; one study found that 80 percent of those accused has no previous contact with the law (Sen, 1999, p. 36).
Unfortunately, recognizing an abuser is not easy (Walikhanna, 2009, p. 3), therefore one way of intervening in cases of domestic violence is being able to recognize the signs. Signs of a women being abused include: being anxious or afraid to please their man, doing everything he says, going along with what he does, women checking in with their partner often to report their actions, constant harassing telephone calls or the women discussing her partner as possessive, jealous or having a temper (Smith & Segal, 2011). Signs of physical use include: having frequent accidental injuries, constant absences without explanations, and wearing clothing which hides marks (Smith & Segal, 2011).
Signs of isolation include: restrictions to see friends and family, limited access to credit cards, money or a vehicle and rarely being allowed in public without their partner. Furthermore, another type of abuse to observe for is psychological. Signs include: low self-esteem, depression, anxiousness, being suicidal and expression of drastic personality changes (Smith & Segal, 2011). Despite various signs to observe to identify abuse, it is important to note that these are only signs, just because an individual is experiencing a sign does not mean she is a victim of abuse.
These signs are only listed to better help society identify victims. Conclusion This paper discussed the changing of domestic violence from that of a private issue to becoming a public issue. Various attitudes, beliefs and interventions were also discussed. Feminists believe society’s emphasis on patriarchal values is linked to women being victimized by men (Watto, 2009, p. 561). Victimization of women is shown through the division of labour. The emergence of feminism lead to domestic violence of women becoming recognized as an issue (Duffy & Momirov, 1997, p. 3). Feminism gained successes in relation to various issues. One of their great victory’s which had violence against women recognized as an issue arose from the battered women’s movement in the 1960’s (Schneider, 1991). Following increased awareness of the problem, the Government of Canada has implemented various interventions to try and rid the country of the problem. Not only are women victims in this practice but so is society as a whole. Stereotypes are still present causing witnesses not to intervene.
Some victims choose not to seek help despite the impact is has on them negatively. Unfortunately, there are victims who try to get help but are unsuccessful. Furthermore, despite all the progress made which deems this behavior unacceptable, it will continue to exist until more progress can be reached. In an effort to rid the future of the problem, emphasis needs to focus on society’s attitudes and beliefs as well as being able to recognize possible signs of abuse. Nevertheless, this will hopefully rid society of the issue and if not then hopefully make it one that is near non-existent.
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