5 November 2014
Domestic Violence: The Strength That Made Me
Domestic violence is a very seriouse problem all over the world but here in the United States it is out of control. Almost every nine seconds in the US a woman is beaten or assaulted. Men can be abused also, and this fact is not as well recognized as the mental image that we all get when someone says domestic violence. Many people do not see themselves as victims of domestic violence, and the abusers do not see themselves as abusers. There is a general view on domestic violence as being only physical, such as hitting. However, domestic violence takes on other forms such as emotional, psychological and sexual. The broad definition of domestic violence is where one person in the relationship is using a pattern of behaviors to control the other. It can happen to people who are married, living together, separated or dating, gay, lesbian, and heterosexual are all open to abuse. There is no discrimination of race, sexual preference or relationship status, male or female. Domestic violence is apparent in the earliest records of human civilization. While both men and women can be victims, women are more likely to experience physical injuries and suffer the psychological consequences of domestic abuse than other family members. Although there are other types of domestic violence it was not until recent decades, that the social and political context for domestic violence has been the generalization of men beating women. Richard Davis author of Facts and Fallacies informs the reader that during the second part of the nineteenth century was “an era of feminist agitation for reform of marriage law, authorities in the United States began declaring that a husband no longer had the right to chastise his wife” (Richard Davis). American common law originally on condition that a husband, as master of his household, could subject his wife to physical punishment or reprimand as long as he did not do permanent injury to her. The 1871 case of Fulgham v. State in Alabama ruled that “the wife is not to be considered as the husband’s slave. And the privilege, ancient though it be, to beat her with a stick, to pull her hair, choke her, spit in her face or kick her about the floor, or to inflict upon her like indignities, is not now acknowledged by our law.” (Mike Wilson). Even though courts were denying the husband’s right to chastise his wife, the legal system still treated wife beating differently from other cases of assault and battery. The different treatment was restructured as necessary in order to protect the privacy of the family and to support domestic harmony. During the 1980s, domestic violence was becoming a social and legal issue, rather than a private family matter. Domestic violence behavior is learned through observation and reinforcement in both in family and society; it is not caused by genetics or illness. Domestic violence is repeated because it works. The cycle of domestic violence allows their perpetrator to gain control of the victim through fear and intimidation. Gaining the victim’s compliance, even temporarily, reinforces the abusers’ use of these tactics of control. More importantly, however, the attacker is able to reinforce his abusive behavior because of the socially sanctioned belief that men have the right to control women in relationships and the right to use force to safeguard that command. Abusers use a wide range of coercive and abusive behaviors against their victims. Some of the abusive behaviors used by antagonists and are used at different times to get different results. Even a single incident of physical violence may be sufficient to establish power and control over a partner; this power and control is then reinforced and strengthened by non-physical abusive and just as frightening behaviors.
Fourteen years ago, Congress passed Violence Against Women Act, (VAWA) a landmark legislation in its scope