Saturday, October 13, 2007
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Myth: It is easy for a victim to leave their abuser and/or if they would just leave, they would be fine.
A batterer will not just one-day start violating the victim unexpectedly. Batterers have in most cases built up a network of fear and control long before first striking the victim. In many cases, the emotional abuse has left the victim feeling unable to cope with out the batterer. The batterer also has usually made it difficult for the victim to leave by limiting access to finances and in many cases transportation. Often children are used as a tool by an abuser to control the victim. They may threaten to take custody or even harm the children if the victim leaves. In many cases, the victims are conditioned into compliancy by the abuser. The control skills used by abusers closely resemble those used by Nazi German prison camps to brainwash prisoners of war Even if the victim leaves this will, most often not be the end of the abuse and it often takes several attempts for the victim to leave before they are free of the abuser. “Most Battered women do not stay. Up to 75% of those reporting abuse have left and are being stalked harassed and assaulted by former boyfriends and husbands. Furthermore, statistics show that 90% of the women murdered by their husbands are first stalked. Besides finances, there are real barriers, which make it difficult for the abused. the victim will have to find shelter. Besides limited space at shelters, cultural, race and religious differences often make this difficult. This myth is often used as an excuse for people to not get involved in a situation where they know domestic violence is taking place. Myths like this are harmful as they undermine the need for more resources for domestic violence victims. Until the last 30 years, there were no women’s shelters and therefore women had nowhere they could go. Even now, the numbers of women being turned away due to the lack of refuge space equals or exceeds the places provided.
Myth: Domestic violence is a modern day phenomena
Domestic violence has been prevalent in societies through out history. The more sexist a society is the more prevalent the occurrence of DV. Western society only in the last 30 years has taken serious measures to give woman deserved equality. Sexist attitudes create a fertile breeding ground or domestic violence as they encourage the idea of women as property. When researched one finds that American and religious dogma has always held the woman are male properties. One of the saddest marks on the time line is that in 1866 people thought to harm an animal was morally repugnant enough to form a society to prevent. Yet one hundred years later, in 1966 a female plaintiff would have to suffer a sufficient number of beatings for abuse to be grounds for divorce. (Martin, Del (1976). Battered wives.New York: Pocket Books).It was not until 1993 the marital rape became a crime in all 50 states. DV is not a new or modern day occurrence, however The view that women deserve every right afforded to men; including legal protection from abuse apparently is.
Myth: Abusive partners are mostly chemically dependent causing them to batter.
Where there is incidence of batterers who abuse alcohol and chemicals, many abusers are other wise functioning members of society. Alcohol and other mood altering chemicals does not and cannot make a man abuse a woman, but it is frequently used as an excuse. It is also a fallacy a man will use to in the honeymoon phase of the DV cycle. The root cause of violence against women has nothing to do with alcohol, class, race, or the behavior of the woman. It is a widespread and serious social problem, which has to do with social and cultural attitudes to women and women's place in society. DV is about the abuser wanting to control and own the victim. Batterers are emotionally immature and expect the victims to meet their emotional needs. Mood altering chemicals alone will not cause violence; the predisposition for violence must be there. Chemical dependency in abusers should be treated as a separate problem.. Perpetrators of domestic violence will only end their abuse when they are willing to hold themselves accountable for there own actions.
Myth: Educated white-collar women cannot be victims to abusive men.
Any individual from any culture or socioeconomic background can become a victim. The public perception of battered women having low self esteem and poor self-image is true in some cases. However highly educated women and women with successful careers can become DV victims as well. There is no typical profile of a battered woman; even women aware of the cycle of abuse may become battered women. Part of the reason again must be blamed on the western culture. Many victims have been raised to follow gender stereotype models of the “family caretaker this same gender stereotype also promotes women must have a husband to be a whole person. Abused women fall into the cycle of violence, and allow the honeymoon phase too lull them into a false sense of hope. While the batter is loving and gentle they can be in denial of the
situation. Fear is the biggest reason however, woman stay. Women from white-collar backgrounds may indeed have a more difficult time escaping an abusive relationship. White-collar woman will have fewer connections for outreach such as social services and carry more false shame. Many battered professional women’s abusers are better at hiding their abusive side outside the marriage. This factor also deters the victim from seeking outside help, as she fears no one will believe her.
Myth: Only physical abuse is detrimental to the victim.
While the effects of physical violence on the victim can be obvious, the psychological effects of mental abuse may not be. The cycle of violence also depicts abuse that while not physical, is
damaging in its nature to the victim. Emotional and mental abuse has long-term devastating effects on the abused. Since the true nature of abuse is about control, abusers may use other abusive methods to try to achieve it. Methods that include degrading the partner with insults or lectures on the partner’s failings. The abusers emotional immaturity usually has them blaming the victim or their own shortcomings and faults. The abuser may force isolation and cut the partner off from friends and family. The abusive male is always jealous and that may extend to
verbal rage about the females work or even the children. Often times the victim is cut off from money or transportation. Sexual abuse is frequently used forcing the partner through threats to submit to the abusers demands. While tearing down the victim abusive people tend to build them self’s up. the psychological damage can have long term and devastating effects. Emotional abuse is obviously incredible stressful and creates abnormal coping skills and distorted perceptions within the victims. While in an abusive situation, a victim may live in a constant state of fear. They grow to believe their actions are not effective; this includes even the action of leaving their abuser. The trauma of abuse often affects an abused person even after the trauma has ended. The victim of abuse often experience loss of self- worth and who they are as individuals. This loss often leads the victim to be full of doubts and they impose false limits on their own abilities to function. The victim may also feel their situations are hopeless, which leads them even deeper into the darkness of humiliation and fear.
The Domestic Violence Sourcebook, Dawn Bradley Berry,J.D. Lowell House 1995)
When Violence Begins at Home, Dr. K.J. Wilson, Hunter House, Alameda, California, 1997
Koop US Surgeon General, 1989
No Safe Place: Violence against Women Dumke Foundation. of public television station KUED in Salt Lake City, Utah.