Domestic violence is a widespread problem affecting many individuals nationwide. Domestic violence is when there is overtly aggressive behavior in the household (as it is usually behind closed doors), and is generally comprised of violence towards a spouse member or a partner (as domestic abuse is not limited to married couples). It involves the “willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control,” usually maintained by one intimate partner who withholds constant power over the other. It also can involve the fear of being harmed, as the abuser generally amasses power over the other via threats and intimidation even if they do not engage in actual harm, as well as isolation, making the victim feel as if they are alone and have no where or one to turn to. These acts of violence and abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological, as well as emotional, all of which can harbor detrimental impacts upon the victim.
Relationship violence holds no prejudice and will claim it’s victims regardless of “age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality.” However, about “85% of domestic violence victims are women,” and “25% - 45% of all women who are battered are battered during pregnancy.” It is the most common cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44, even more so than random muggings, vehicular accidents, and incidents of rape combined. Acts of abuse are “rarely an isolated event,” meaning that women in these positions will not be abused once, but most likely many times subsequent to the initial event of violence.
This issue of injustice is not only an immediate problem for the victim being directly abused, but also has long term effects both upon the victim and for individuals not directly involved. In terms of the victim, battery can have long term health impacts. These can range from internalized psychological issues that can remain with the victim long after they have been removed from the situation, to medical difficulties that can remain with the victim into old age; “arthritis, hypertension and heart disease have been identified by battered women as directly caused or aggravated by domestic violence suffered early in their adult lives.” It also keeps women from tending to their responsibilities, like going to work. Beyond the damaging impacts domestic abuse has on the victim, it can also impact children of the household. About “30% - 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household,” having a direct impact upon their safety. Not only does relationship violence impact the immediate health of these children, they also “display emotional and behavioral disturbances as diverse as withdrawal, low self-esteem, nightmares, self-blame and aggression against peers, family members and property.” This can impact their ability to perform well in school as well as hinders them from progressing later on in life. Also, young boys who do witness violence within the home are twice as likely to abuse their own family members later on in life as they have been exposed to and think this type of behavior is okay.
Domestic violence and abuse is an enormous issue of justice in this country. It is extremely prevalent, as one can see from the information given above, yet it is hardly addressed as so. One statistic states that while there are 3,800 shelters for animals, there are only 1,500 shelters for abused women, which is less than half that amount. Police reports state that “40% - 60% of the of the calls they receive, especially on the night shift, are domestic violence disputes,” yet police are more likely to respond to a distress call if the “offender is a stranger than if the offender is known to a female victim.” The issue of domestic abuse is not taken seriously in this country, even though a woman is beaten every 15 seconds in the United States by a husband or partner. 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence within her lifetime, and 1 in 3 will be physically assaulted by a partner in their lifetime. This is clearly an issue that should take some kind of precedence, as it affects so many nationwide.
Though it is a very pertinent problem in the United States, there are a few things that one can do to help diminish the accounts of domestic violence across the country. As a victim, one can: call the police, seek medical attention in which the injuries will be documented, go to a shelter or a safe space, or try to contact loved and trusted individuals who can help to remove one from the situation. However, these are not necessarily so easy for victims to do. As a non-victim, first and foremost knowledge is key. Spreading awareness of not only the issue of domestic violence, but also the prevalence, can be the first step in getting this country to overcome this issue. Also, advocating for victims is an essential part of helping those who have been affected. So few of the incidents are reported, perhaps because the victim is scared to do so or does not realize that they are victims, so advocating for those who do not have a voice can, in turn, give them the voice they need. Another option is donating to institutions or shelters that wish to eradicate this issue. One such institution is the House of Ruth. It helps women who are victims of battery and abuse to find the shelter, safety, and security that every one deserves. Their mission states that they provide women with the services that the might need in order to escape their abusive situations. Institutions like these are key to helping those who have been affected and are victims of this crime of injustice.