“Stop the domestic violence” is a message that worldwide campaigns try to convey, with the purpose of raising awareness as well as educating the public about specific negative consequences of abusive behavior.
Unfortunately, the message is not well understood by everyone. Global statistics present dramatic figures: 35% of women have experienced physical/emotional/sexual abuse by a non-partner at least once in their lives, whereas 70% of women experience more than once a form of abuse either from their partner or family members. Certainly, these percentages are only a collection of the reported cases as it is estimated that the number of domestic abuses is higher than the official data.
Causes of Domestic Violence
I would assume that we could all agree that a lack of common sense, humanity, and respect are the main reasons that lead an individual to physically, emotionally or sexually abuse another person.
But understanding the issue from different perspectives, one can identify alternative causes:
- Culture: Sadly, in the 21st century, there are still cultures that do not see a problem with abusing a woman and in fact, such behaviors are socially accepted. Due to the cultural norms, violence is promoted and encouraged as a form of resolving conflicts or as a usual form of emotional expression. Consequently, such acceptance and tolerance of violence is transmitted to the next generations, who are prone to adopt the same form of “communication”
- Conformism: Most of the cases of domestic violence remain unknown as a result of women’s conformism to their cultural norms. Thus, they feel that by reporting the abuse, they may actually violate the norms. Nevertheless, conformism is not always related to the fear of breaking the norms, but also a result of external and internal pressures. The fear that one could be socially rejected or stigmatized, lead many women to accept violence as part of the tradition.
- Toxic Personality or Psychological Disorders: Low-self esteem, extreme and unjustified jealousy, a desire for control and domination are few of the traits that abusers hold. Either they have been a victim of abuse in the past, they witnessed or lived in an environment that promoted violence or they have an undiagnosed psychological disorder, domestic violence is practiced as a consequence of individual factors.
- Alcohol and Drugs: A constant misuse of toxic substances can significantly affect judgment and neurological activity. As such, a person under the effect of alcohol/drugs has poor control on his/her violent impulses and awareness of his/her unpredictable behavior.
Effects of Domestic Violence
The ultimate effect of domestic violence is death. The statistic data is as worrying as the above-mentioned ones, suggesting that half of the global deaths amongst women in the half-decade were a result of domestic violence.
Yet, the long-term effects of domestic violence are as disastrous as death.
- Depression & Anxiety are directly linked to the severity of the abuse. Often a woman who experiences abuse does not openly discuss the conflict. Thus, she isolates herself mostly due to the fear of what may successively happen if she reports it. The second factor that triggers depression is the inability of seeing a solution and accepting abuse as the only way of living. Most abused women do not receive support from families or community, especially in a culture where women are expected to obey their husbands. Nevertheless, even when support is available, women do not report the abuse as they live in denial. They tend to blame themselves for being the cause of the conflict between them and the partner, refusing to see the gravity of their situation. It often happens when the victim is emotionally controlled and feels that a possible breakup would only worsen her situation.
- Low self-esteem, Self-doubt: Generally abusers tend to minimalize victim’s qualities through threats and verbal abuse, which makes the victim feel vulnerable and fearful. As mentioned above, the victim sees no solution or way out of the situation as her confidence in her ability to live separately and independently from the abuser, diminishes.
- Physical Changes: Besides bruises, an abuse can have a great impact on body’s functions. Thus, insomnia or constant fatigue, poor cognitive and memory functions, shortness of breath, uncontrollable shaking and menstrual dysfunction are only the main and perhaps, the common physical effects of domestic abuse.
Preventing Domestic Violence
It is essential that the governments work closely and effectively with organizations that specialize in preventing abusive behaviors. By implementing stricter laws, creating more supportive centers, women would perhaps have more courage to leave a toxic relationship sooner.
Additionally, schools play an important role in forming future adults by shaping students’ intrapersonal skills since education can be a powerful organization that could challenge harmful beliefs, and motivate individuals to form healthy relationships or recognize the abusive ones.
A second influential mean that could address domestic violence is media. Radio, television, and booklets accompanied by informational programmes could promote safe dating and prevention of violence to a larger population.
Last, but not least, domestic violence is a matter that regards us all. No human being deserves being mistreated, deprived of freedom or offended in any possible way. If you identify any of the above signs as being a result of domestic abuse, report it! Remember that victims of abuse are afraid or in denial and therefore, they may have been abused longer than you may be aware.
If you think that you can approach the person and discuss their concerns, give your support and guide them to local professionals that will further investigate the case.
Be part of the campaign, even if you do not sign up with any organization, by talking to others about domestic violence. Every shared information can save someone from abuse.