Domestic Violence means ill-treating a person, often a spouse or a partner in an intimate relationship, in any manner so as to establish control and predominance over him or her. Even though we are advancing with time, patriarchy does not seem to go away and it’s very unfortunate that this problem is globally rising.
Domestic Violence is not just Physical Violence
People think when hitting or painful restraining happens, then the act is domestic abuse. But domestic violence includes all kinds of violence. Be it physical or emotional or any other. Other kinds of abuse are –
• Verbal Abuse – includes verbally abusing, threatening or blaming the victim.
• Sexual Abuse – includes pressuring the victim by guilt or any other method and coercing the victim into an unwanted sexual experience.
• Dominant and controlling behaviour – includes deciding for victim by himself and not considering her opinions. Also controlling her daily activities and choices making the victim more dependable on victimizer.
• Financial Abuse – includes limiting her expenses and keeping her away from money matters.
• Emotional Abuse – includes criticizing, threatening, demotivating, humiliating, degrading or emotionally hurting the victim in any manner.
• Physical Abuse – includes hurting the victim in any physical way like slapping, punching, kicking, beating or even severe abuse like burning, drowning or choking the victim.
Patriarchal and Cultural Views on Domestic Violence
Sylvia Walby, a sociologist, defines patriarchy quite up to the point as “a system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress, and exploit women”. While this is not the reason of domestic abuse on women always, but this mentality of having a right to mistreat a woman just because you are a male is absolutely outrageous.
And when a child witnesses her father beating his mother, and everyone acting like its okay then he or she presumes that it is alright for a man to beat a woman. Therefore, it is very necessary to eradicate domestic violence from your home since it is just not about you, you are also shaping your child’s personality.
Domestic violence in case of amongst men
While domestic violence against women is more prevalent, men and boys are also victims of it. In fact, it becomes more difficult for a male victim sometimes because of the social stigma of them being not “manly” enough. Even in healthcare centres, they are neglected immediate help at times simply because he’s a man. The reason most people hear when the topic of violence against men is raised is that “he did something to deserve this”.
Honestly, be it a man or a woman, both get equally hurt, they feel the same pain when victimised and neither a male abuser or a female one should believe that any reason could make this act right since domestic violence, itself is wrong.
What are the effects of Domestic Abuse?
Domestic violence has a huge impact on a victim’s life. Somehow, it changes the victim to some extent.
Some of the common effects of domestic violence are:
• physical effects – cuts, bruises, injuries, burns, broken bones, internal injuries, changes in sleeping and eating patterns
• emotional effects – feeling hopeless, unworthy and demotivated. Facing inability to trust
• mental effects – traumatic events triggering anxiety, depression or other problems related to mental health, PTSD, nightmares and suicidal thoughts. Mental breakdown and drugs and alcohol abuse.
Impact on children who witness or experience domestic violence
Children, when exposed to such environment, are also affected, whether they are abused or not. Common effects of domestic violence on children are –
– academic issues
– being constantly afraid
– lack of confidence
Abusers also use children to threat, coerce and manipulate the victim. In some cases, they even harm children to make their point. Therefore, a child and its innocence are constantly in danger in a house where domestic violence occurs.
Why don’t they leave?
The moment someone tells us about the problem, he/she is going through, our first question is “why don’t you leave him/her?” or “why are you still staying with him/her?”. What we fail to realise is the gravity of situation.
The relationship between abused and abuser is a complex one and there could be number of reasons due to which victim has to stay like-
• feeling frightened for oneself and children
• feeling afraid about how society is going to react
• being pressurised or given advice to “work it out” or “don’t take a divorce”
• financial insecurities
• believing it’s important to provide an ideal family image to the children
• still having feelings for the abusive partner
• no support from friends or family
• not aware about aids available
Now rather than asking a victim, I think its better to provide him or her your support. Imagine the thoughts of victim when he/she is already going through trauma and there is a lack of empathy from friends, family or society. What we need to do is to encourage her or him not to take the abuse anymore and that we are there for them.
Help is Available!
If you are a victim yourself or you know someone that is experiencing this, there are two things you should never forget. First, it is not your fault. If someone mistreats you, no matter for what reason, he/she is the one who is wrong. Second, getting help is important. If at right time, you did not get help then later he could even harm you severely, and even emotionally, it might be too late.
The ways by which someone could help a domestic violence victim are:-
1. Supporting the victim: There is no shame in accepting that you were wronged. The person who abused you never felt bad about his actions than why are you feeling ashamed. In the end, victim knows better than anyone else about what he/she has been through. All we need to do is to listen to them with patience, compassion and understanding. In no way we should judge them or leave them alone.
2. Try to get professional help: Counselling, govt. helplines, shelter homes, NGOs, support groups etc. are specialised in dealing with such cases. They also will be able to provide a methodical approach for coping up with this problem, and if you want to leave, they will help you to do it with proper planning ensuring your safety and well-being. With digital advancement, even online counselling and apps are also available.
3. Contact the police: Don’t be afraid of taking help from police or hiring an attorney. Police will ensure your safety and will make sure there are no problems from abuser’s side. You can report the incidence on govt. helpline too and they would send the help at your door.
The only way by which we could end this problem is by helping someone to get out of it, never accepting this and making it part of life and advocating the idea of equality in our mind. For someone who has been through this, it is so crucial to know that no one has right to violate you and if someone dares to, he/she should pay for it and the validation you need on your actions should be yours only. Always remember, that this starts and ends with you.