Domestic violence is any abusive behavior used to control a spouse, or partner. Women have been victims of such abuse for many years, and continue to be victimized not only physically, but psychologically. Often, abuse begins with a desire of feeling in control, or feeling in power of the victim. Next, another important cause as to why domestic violence begins, is substance abuse. “women at the highest risk for being the victim of domestic violence include those with male partners who abuse drugs (especially alcohol), are unemployed or underemployed, afflicted by poverty, or have not graduated from high school,” (Roxanne Dryden-Edwuards). Also, issues like poverty and homelessness emerge as a result of domestic violence. “Between 25%-50% of homeless families have lost their homes as a result of intimate partner violence.” (Roxanne Dryden-Edwuards). Also, women who experience domestic abuse might resort to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism, ultimately becoming addicted to such substances. Victims also experience physiological damage, to the point of developing serious conditions like the Stockholm Syndrome. Although there are many causes, the effects of domestic abuse on women are quite detrimental to not only their psychological, but physical health as well.
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First of all, domestic abuse begins as the partner wants to feel in control of the relationship, “Domestic abuse between spouses or intimate partners is when one person in a marital or intimate relationship tries to control the other person. The perpetrator uses fear and intimidation and may threaten to use or may actually use physical violence.” (Tina de Benedictis, Jaelline and Jeanne Segal). The abuser focuses on intimidating the other partner using verbal, nonverbal, or physical tactics to ultimately gain control over the other person. For the other person to comply with their desires, the abuser might also resort to using emotional abuse, “Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming, and shaming. Isolation, intimidation, and controlling behavior also fall under emotional abuse.” (Stop Violence Against Women). The perpetrator may isolate the victim from friends and family, or manipulate them into thinking they are to blame for the abusive behavior.
Next, another, yet equally important cause for domestic violence is substance abuse. “substance abuse occurs in conjunction with intimate partner violence anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of the time. Additionally, approximately 20 percent of abusive males admit to consuming some type of drug and/or alcoholic beverage before acting aggressively toward their partners.” (rehabcenter.net). Substance abuse and domestic violence most of the times go hand in hand. Whether it is one of the partners, or both that are having an excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs, such substance abuse leads to violent acts. This is because when being in an impaired state many people cannot find a way to suppress their anger, and ultimately take it out on their partners. “the risk for violent behavior increases with intoxication, but only among individuals who are prone to suppressing their feelings of anger while they are sober. Testing people who reported that they were prone to burying their angry feelings, researchers observed a 5 percent increase in violent behavior that followed a 10 percent increase in drinking to the point of getting drunk.” (americanaddictioncenters.org). This comes to show, that people who experience intolerance, or have anger issues are more likely to be violent when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Accordingly, being in an abusive relationship can have serious effects on the person who is being abused. One of the main issues that emerge after dealing with an abusive partner is poverty or homelessness. “Approximately 50% of all women who are homeless report that domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness.” (domesticshelters.org; endhomelessness.org). Many of the people being affected by an abusive partner, feel a desperate need to get away, and often times stay with the partner because they are afraid, or because they are given a financial stability. In the end, once they decide to run away from the abuser, since they cannot find the means to sustain themselves, they are faced with the harsh reality of poverty and homelessness. In the words of researchers, “recent statistics suggest that on a single night in January 2017 16 percent of the overall homeless population, 87,329 people, reported having experienced domestic violence at some point. Research from a study in New York City indicates that one in five families experienced domestic violence in the five years before entering shelter.” (endhomelessness.org). These numerical evidences come to show the reality of many people today, and the detrimental effects domestic violence can have on these victims.
Moreover, contrary to popular belief, it is not only the aggressors who tends to use alcohol and drugs. Often times, drug usage begins because the perpetrator may make the victim forcefully consume such substances, “In some cases a partner may force the victim to abuse drink or drugs, either as a punishment or as a promise that by joining them in their habit they won’t inflict further violence.” (stepstorecovery.com). Therefore, when becoming used to consuming drugs, the victim may not want to leave the abuser as they feel afraid of confronting the authorities about their addiction, or many times because they are so addicted to the drugs their partner is providing, that they do not want to lose such supplies.
Drug abuse can also begin as a result of the prolonged hostility, victims tend to look for comfort in substances such as drug and alcohol. Drug abuse emerges as a result of feelings of depression and anxiety, as people try to cope with the psychological effects of domestic violence. “Victims of domestic abuse are more likely to use tobacco and marijuana, as well as engage in other compulsive behaviors, such as eating disorders. Compared to people who do not experience domestic violence, victims are 70 percent more likely to abuse alcohol.” (americanaddictioncenters.org). The presence of alcohol or drugs in the victim’s body is dangerous for a few reasons. First, being in an impaired state makes the victim more vulnerable and weaker to the point in which they cannot defend themselves from the abuse, making it easier for the abuser to take full control of the situation. Next, when the victim is under the influence of such substances, it becomes harder for them to assess the hostile situation they are in, thus remaining in it because of the damaging effects of drugs or alcohol.
Aside from the physical damage domestic abuse causes, there are emotional and psychological scars left during and after the abuse. Feelings of depression, low self-esteem, and questioning sense of self are some of the few emotional effects victims suffer. Abusers, tend to isolate the victim from their loved ones, set barriers as to what they can and cannot do, and bully them with harmful words to the point of stripping the victim of all that is theirs and damaging their psychological stability. These issues are damaging to the victim, to the point of developing psychological conditions such as the Stockholm Syndrome. “Stockholm Syndrome is also common in long-term abuse situations. In Stockholm Syndrome, the victim is so terrified of the abuser that the victim overly identifies and becomes bonded with the abuser in an attempt to stop the abuse. The victim will even defend their abuser and their emotionally abusive actions.” (Tracy).
The danger in having this syndrome, is that the victim, after receiving such abuse for a prolonged period of time and finally leaving the relationship, might actually want to go back with the abuser. “Local law enforcement personnel have long recognized this syndrome with battered women who fail to press charges, bail their battering husband/boyfriend out of jail, and even physically attack police officers when they arrive to rescue them from a violent assault.” (Joseph M Carver). Partners who suffer from this syndrome, ultimately end up not pressing charges and staying in the harmful relationship, being unable to recognize they are being harmed and their partner is to blame for this hostile situation. This puts the person at risk of living in an abusive relationship once again, and worsening the situation as the abuser may want to take revenge on the victim for trying to leave the relationship.
All in all, the causes for domestic violence begin with one goal. This goal is set with the purpose of feeling power and control over the other individual. It is reached by setting boundaries, isolating the other partner from their friends, family, and all loved ones, and even financially control them. Domestic violence is not only physically harming the partner, but inflicting emotional pain as well. Psychological abuse is inflicted by the abuser when saying harmful words to the victim, taking away things that are theirs, and most importantly, not loving them as should be. The effects domestic abuse has on the victims are many. One of the effects, which is one of the biggest issues in America, is homelessness. Victims reach this point when trying to flee from an abusive home. Also, drug abuse is an outcome of domestic violence as when trying to cope with anger and pain, victims see a way out in drugs and alcohol, which is damaging to their health. Finally, this is a very delicate topic which brings many detrimental effects to many women all over the world, and each passing day it is affecting many more.
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