A lot of people believe that for a relationship to work out, one party would have to be on the receiving end. But the question is, what exactly is the other party receiving? Why should they put up with all of that? For how long do they have to put up with that? Is the event totally unavoidable?
The issue of domestic violence, also called intimate partner violence has gone on and on. A lot of people have been into all manner of abusive relationships but the truth is that nobody deserves to have his or her right infringed on.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence NCADV, domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault and/ or other abusive behaviour as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence and emotional abuse.
The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other. According to Burnette (2009), every year approximately 1.5 million intimate partner rapes and physical assaults are perpetrated against women and approximately 800,000 are committed against men.
Research points to many causes of domestic violence but all of these causes and risk factors have one thing in common; the abuser feels the need to exert complete control over his or her partner. Thus he or she exhibits some abusive tendencies which include but are not limited to the following:
- Showing jealousy of the victim’s family and friends and time spent away.
- Accusing the victim of cheating.
- Looking or acting in ways that scare the person they are abusing.
- Controlling who the victim sees, where they go to or what they do.
- Stalking the victim or monitoring his or her every move.
- Dictating how the victim dresses, wears their hair e.t.c.
- Pressuring the victim to have sex when they do not want or do things they are not comfortable with, sexually.
One should be on the look for these signs and even more and should take actions where appropriate when he or she begins to notice any of the above. It is important to note that domestic violence does not always manifest as physical abuse. Emotional and psychological abuse can often be just as extreme as physical violence. Lack of physical violence does not mean the abuser is any less dangerous to the victim. Additionally, domestic violence does not always end when the victim escapes the abuser, tries to terminate the relationship and/ or seeks help. Often it intensifies because the abuser feels a loss of control over the victim. Every reaction we get from people are usually due to some actions already taken by either we or some other persons they have encountered and by their interpretaion of such actions. Domestic violence is not an exception to this, it could result from causes which include the following:
- Abuse as a child: It has been observed that people’s ‘love tank’ depends on how much they perceived to be loved as children. Young men whom grew up in families where wife battering was championed grow up to take that as a value. Victims of rape most times end up viewing the opposite sex as symbols of violence. The list just goes on and on. All these narrow down to insecurity in relationships and persons affected tend to be relationship abusers.
- Being a prior victim of physical or psychological abuse: More than half of the world’s population believe that experience is the best teacher and that attack is the best form of defence. These are by no means wrong beliefs but what is right may not necessarily be true in all situations. Individual whom have been victims of physical, psychological or whatever form of abuse often believe its all about being ‘careful’ in their next relationship. They go into new relationships, prepared for action, believing that should they take charge of situations, they would avoid violence. Such persons abuse their innocent partner without knowing it due to this feeling of insecurity.
- Lack of control over ones emotions: Maturity is not all about being capable of having emotions but also being able to control them. We live in a world where people celebrate hot temper and use it to instill fear in others whom they feel lack respect for them. People like this have no control over their emotions vis a vis their reactions to them. In as much as people have a fundamental right to express themselves people around them also have a right to ‘live’ and this right should not be denied them in a bid to express one’s self.
- Drugs and alcohol: Many countries are engaged in a battle to stop or reduce the intake of drugs and alcohol by their indigens to the barest minimum. Domestic violence is one reason for such movements. People do a lot of things including abuse of their partner when under the influence of alcohol. These set of persons are usually very good at apologizing for their wrong doings but the repetitiveness of their actions makes them fall in the class of domestic violence.
- Mental health: A lot of people have mental issues without even knowing it. This could result in maltreatment of their partners. Medical conditions like schizophrenia could make one loose interest in forming or keeping friendships and could equally impair one’s ability to have empathy. Individuals affected tend to exhibit abusive tendencies even without knowing it.
Domestic violence is a menace in relationships. It is an increasing cause of breakups, feeling of hurt and fear of connecting with people.
Homicide tendencies are on the rise. Most relationship abusers make life miserable for their partners; they destroy all their other relationships with people, make them live under fear and can even go to the extent of threatening to kill them should they disclose the situation to anybody. When affected persons can no longer bear the trauma that results, they could resort to suicide.
There are health implications of domestic violence; psychological impacts could be as bad as causing psychosis, affected persons may resort to drinking thereby exposing themselves to hepatotoxicity, there could be injuries from physical violence, the list just goes on.
With increasing level of abuse every aspect of the life of affected persons is affected and redundancy occurs. This could lead to low productivity at the national level; Economic and human resources would be lost and the nations economy suffer it. The list just goes on.
At times we underestimate the amount of danger we are in, either because we do not realise or do not understand how dangerous a situation is. Part of an abuser’s control can be minimising the seriousness of what they are doing. Being safe is important and there are things one can do to ensure your safety. Sometimes it is hard to work out the danger or risks yourself.
The truth is, bringing an end to abuse is not a matter of the victim choosing to leave; it is a matter of the victim being able to safely escape their abuser, the abuser choosing to stop the abuse, or others (e.g., law enforcement, courts) holding the abuser accountable for the abuse they inflict. A careful approach to the situation can however help in ending a case of domestic violence without incurring much losses.