What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence occurs when a person uses violence or abuse against another in a domestic setting. While it often refers to the use of violence in a marriage or cohabitational relationship, it can also refer to abuse of children or roommates. It can take place in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships.
Statistically speaking, women have a higher chance of experiencing domestic violence than men do. In a report published by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) in 2015, it was found that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men surveyed had experienced domestic abuse. It was also found that about every minute, approximately 20 people were physically abused by a partner in the United States. Of the age and gender groups, women between the ages of 18-24 were most likely to be victims.
Domestic abuse has very negative effects on those who experience it. From the NCADV’s report, there was a correlation found between domestic victimization and higher rates of depression and suicidal behavior. Furthermore, there were not only psychological problems resulting from domestic abuse, but economic ones as well. According to the NCADV, domestic abuse victims collectively lost 8 million days of paid work annually.
One big problem that often arises in relationships with domestic violence is the incapacity of the victim to quit the relationship. This accounts for the fact that only 34% of victims who are abused receive medical attention for their injuries. There are various reasons why victims choose to remain in relationships that contain domestic violence. One would be due to threats. For instance, if the perpetrator threatens the victim with removal of their shared children or worse yet, murder, then the victim has no choice but to remain in the relationship. Another possible reason for the victim staying would be due to dependence. If they rely on the perpetrator for financial help or have nowhere to go if they leave them, then they decide that it is best to endure the abuse. Finally, victims choose to stay with their abusers due to personal beliefs. Whether it be the belief that their abuser will change, or that they deserve the abuse, the victim may decide that the abuse is tolerable. These inhibiting factors that prevent victims from speaking up are problematic, as the safety and well-being of the individual should not be compromised over anything.
Initiatives to end domestic violence
In the past few decades, the government and non-governmental organizations alike have taken measures to end domestic violence. First, in 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), aiming to improve the investigation and prosecution of violence against women, especially in domestic situations. Then, as a follow up to the VAWA, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) was formed under the United States Department of Justice. The OVM receives funding from the federal government which it then uses to provide grants to organizations and state authorities working to prevent domestic violence. However, the creation of both of these preventive bodies posed a problem; they were targeted towards assisting women only. To resolve potential discrimination, Congress made it clear that the text of the VAWA was intended to be gender-neutral, and in 2013 they added a non-discrimination provision to ensure organizations receiving grants would not discriminate based on gender.
Besides federal initiatives, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also played a role in preventing domestic violence, notably the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). Founded in 1978, the NCADV works on strengthening public policy related to domestic violence, as well as supporting victims. For instance, their “Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery Program” helps fund plastic surgery for domestic violence victims who cannot afford it. Another equally important NGO working on domestic violence is the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). The NNEDV was formed in the 1990s, and helped in passing the VAWA. Today, it continues to raise public awareness on the issue of domestic violence, and it assists coalitions in their work on the issue.
“Domestic Violence National Statistics.” National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. NCADV, 2015. Web. 25 Nov. 2016. <http://ncadv.org/files/National%20Statistics%20Domestic%20Violence%20NCADV.pdf>.
“Domestic Violence.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Nov. 2016. Web. 25 Nov. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence>.
“Federal Domestic Violence Laws.” The United States Attorney’s Office. United States Department of Justice, 20 Mar. 2015. Web. 25 Nov. 2016. <https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdtn/victim-witness-program/federal-domestic-violence-laws>.
“History.” National Network to End Domestic Violence. NNEDV, 2016. Web. 25 Nov. 2016. <http://nnedv.org/about/history.html>.
“Mission.” National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. NCADV, 2016. Web. 25 Nov. 2016. <http://www.ncadv.org/about-us/mission>.
“Office on Violence Against Women.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Nov. 2016. Web. 25 Nov. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_on_Violence_Against_Women>.