Family Violence Essay
IntroductionSerenity, love and safety in a family structure is a notion that is not to be generalized, rather, it can occasionally become a habitat of violence and hate. Family violence is a pervasive and dangerous problem that exists and test modern society. What makes family violence physically, emotionally and fiscally devastating is the fact that it is often concealed from the observation of other people. Its impact is all-encompassing and threatens the solidity of the family, most especially if there are children involved.
In some cases, it breeds erroneous assumptions among the young that violence, control and abuse are acceptable means to deal with stresses and problems of everyday life. It affects the fiscal aspect of the society as it causes lost productivity due to potentially long-term psychological problems and medical expenses (United States Department of Justice 2006).Family violence is now one of the most substantial problems existing in the United States (Crowell 31). In a report issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, of the 214, 464 cases of violence that they received in 1995, about 27% or 57, 985 were family-related offenses (FBI n.p.).Violence within the family can vary and defining the type of offenses needed a considerable look into the dynamics of the relationships present.
Generally, when the crime committed involved members of the family as victims and perpetrator (i.e. spouse, parent, sibling child, stepchild, grandparents, parent, in-laws, etc.), these incidents are classified as family violence.
To some extent, family violence could be described as offenses or an abuse of power, trust or dependency against a person wherein the victims have familial ties with the offender. Offenses that are associated with family violence are assaults, rape, murder, manslaughter, abduction, etc. Family violence is not only manifested through actual physical violence, but could also be through mental abuse, social isolation or intimidation – name-calling, insults or statements that threaten, degrade and humiliate (Crowell 32-33; USDOJ 2006; Family Violence Prevention Fund 2006).Theories and CausesEarly research on the subject initially assumed that family violence is an outcome of when one or more family members are mentally ill, however this assumption was later disproved when psychological tests did not support the theory. It was disturbing that many offenders passed these psychological examinations.
In addition to this, batterers do not fit the profile of a mentally ill individual, as they only show violence towards their intimate partners or close family members. In contrast, people who have a mental condition or illness are impartial in manifesting their violent tendencies towards other people, family or not. (Zingraff 170-173) Control loss is also another theory that was studied. Excessive alcohol intake, many believed, causes an individual to be abusive and lose control of a situation that leads to violence. In other instances, it was assumed that abusive behavior resulted in incapacity to reign anger or frustration. As the initial theory mentioned, the loss of control theory was again contradicted by the behavioral patterns of offenders. The manner of inflicting violence is always specific – their aggression always targeted specific family members, at specified moments and location, all within the family. These individuals do not show aggression or abusive behavior to which they deemed their superiors or equals, no matter how irate they are.
They opt to impose abusive behavior discreetly, within the confines of the home and take the necessary actions to conceal any perceptible traces of their violence. Further research also revealed that as the aggression and abuse increases, the calmer and more composed the abuser becomes (Zingraff 170-173; USDOJ 2006) On the other hand, the learned helplessness theory implied that victims that are repeatedly subjected to abusive and violent behavior becomes more and more attached to their abusers, preventing them from resisting the acts of violence committed against them. This theory, however is contradicting. In cases of women, for example, many women are unable to leave an abusive relationship for fear retaliation from their partners, especially if there are children involved.
Other factors like lack of financial capability to support the children or unsupportive family members may also force a woman to endure the abuse (Wallace 125) The theory on the cycle of violence illustrates that there is a pattern of abusive and repentant episodes in the part of the offender. Again, this theory is not consistent with the outcome of reports and research made on the subject. Many victims accounted that their partners never showed regret in inflicting violence and that abuse was a constant, not a recurring incident in their lives (Wallace 125) The most widely accepted theory is that family violence is a result of a leaned behavior on the part of the abuser. The offender, through observation, learns to engage in a relationship, gains power and control over another in the process. This is evident in men who batter their wives, as they also observed this behavior maintained by their own fathers before them. In studies it was found out those children who experience battery in their family is up to seven times more likely to exhibit the same violent tendencies towards their partners and children (Zingraff et al.
173). In addition, these violent tendencies are reinforced if intervention or sanctions are not introduced. The relationship of family violence and that of gender roles in the society is also vital in order to understand why it takes place in society. Research has indicated that family violence may have originated in the subordinate, “lesser sex” role that was traditionally assigned to women in many societies.
Family violence is an exhibition of imbalanced power structures in many ways. That is why, in societies that allowed unequal rights between men and women, family-related violence continue to exist and are accepted in a way. In some countries, men considered their wives and children their property and believe that they have the right to put control over their family and deny them independence (Wallace 125-130; Stop Family Violence Organization 2005).Indicators of Family ViolenceIt is of major importance to identify abuse in the family. Visible signs can easily be identified by health professionals. In the physical aspect, abuse could be recognized by injuries, fractures or wounds on the head or face; broken teeth, black eyes, bite marks, contusions, unusual and unexplained burns, repeated traumas, vaginal/rectal injuries, miscarriages and malnutrition. Psychological indicators are exhibited by depression, lack of confidence, neglect, suicidal tendencies, anxiety, insomnia, alcohol and drug problems, uncontrolled weeping, social isolation, obsessive behavior and hostility.
(Jennings 193-197)Once the signs of abuse are established, it is vital for the health officer involved to ask appropriate probing questions in a suitable approach. Improper questioning may result in the denial of the abuse and in some cases, a fabrication of a story on the injury that was sustained. It is also important to gain the trust of the victim, to convey sincerity in helping the individual escape the current situation of violence. Psychological abuse however, is harder to detect since it doesn’t show any visible signs of injury. Health professionals should always question a possible victim away from possible perpetrators of the violence. In addition, the health professional should also make the victim aware on how to seek help of forensic experts for more detailed, clinical examination in the event of legal action against the abuser. It is also vital to inform the victim of the social and civic organizations that can provide assistance and rehabilitation.
Informing law enforcement agencies by recounting the observed indicators present in the victim is a step closer to stopping the abuse and saving the life of the victim from potentially severe harm. (Wallace 205; Stop Family Violence 2005)Fighting and Preventing Family ViolenceFamily violence, as in other type of violence, represented a violation of basic freedoms – for it represented power over another or inequality. Many conventions and laws, from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that all people are free and equal in their dignity, have the right to liberty and security of person, the right to lead a normal, productive life; to the constitution of the United States guarantees the equality of both men and women (Wallace 190-205)However, women rather than men are more often the victim of family abuse.
In 1993, the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. The Declaration is the outcome of a growing international concern about family violence and its negative effects in society (USDOJ 2006).This international legal document set the standards and condemns all acts of violence against women. It is also the first document which clearly defined the context of family violence.
Because of this, family violence can now be internationally interpreted as a human rights violation. More importantly, the declaration advocates education as the primary means to combat the traditional outlook of male dominance and as well as change the social and cultural outlook for both men and women (Wallace 190-205)Before the outcome of the declaration, the United Nation have earlier drafted and approved the UN Rights of the Child which emphasizes “children’s rights to physical and personal integrity”, and outlines obligations of the states to protect them from “all forms of physical or mental violence”, including sexual and other forms of exploitation, abduction, armed conflict, and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Wallace 190-205).At present, the US Department of Justice (USDOJ) stated that the prevention of family violence be looked upon not as a retributive action in the part of the criminal justice system but rather a reaffirmation of basic human rights and social justice. It was also proposed that equal access to employment, education and health care will provide the basic foundation in strengthening the communities and families, preventing abuse in the process (Wallace 207; USDOJ 2006).
In 1994, the Model Code on Domestic and Family Violence was completed by National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges through a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. This represented a detailed legislation on family violence in the United States. Though not a uniform code in many ways, it serves as a blueprint or an outline of legislation that could be applied and tailored to individual states. Under this code, family violence is treated as a serious offense that requires swift and comprehensive examination. It also prioritizes the protection of the victims, especially the children and identifies the liability of the abuser (National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges 1-12)In 1995, the USDJ launched a coordinated approach in dealing with family violence.
The initiation of these programs further strengthened the interaction and cooperation between agencies and representatives that deals with family violence – i.e. physicians, practitioners of allied medical professions, legislators, law enforcers, social workers, educators, prosecutors, etc; provided additional opportunities for the various disciplines to train one other and to facilitate faster assistance for the victim or victims. This inter-agency approach also foster the development and replication of core family and community-based intervention programs that will position the umbrella program into an ideal situation where it can address and oversee the mitigation projects, conduct community education, assessment and policy dissemination (Wallace 207)ConclusionViolence within the family is always intentional. An abuser will continue to inflict violence because of the knowledge that abusive behavior brings out the results he/she deemed necessary and proper.But family violence is a situation that can be controlled and prevented through education and through the involvement of various agencies. If the problem is present, it requires the intervention of not only other family members, but also the various government agencies and organizations that regularly deal with the problem. The mitigation of family violence can be further enhanced through strong and appropriate public policies, legislation and vigilance in the part of law enforcers.
Other channels concerned with leadership, information, coordination and communication are especially critical among those who advocates and provides support services to the victims as the situation can be a life and death condition. It is also important to take into consideration how the outlook of inequality could be changed and offenders are treated/rehabilitated. Any form of violence is wrong. Family violence is a growing concern that need direct and effective approaches because if unchecked, may lead to the weakening of the very fiber of out society. Commitment to the cause is the foundation in resolving and prevents this problem from escalating. The existence of various international declarations and national laws are effective cornerstones in ensuring the problem is recognized and addressed and in the process, result in saving more lives from the destruction and culture of violence within the family.ReferencesFamily Violence Prevention Fund. Domestic Violence is a Serious, Widespread Social Problem in America: The Facts.
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Johnson and Ferraro. Research on Domestic Violence in the 1990s: Making Distinctions. NY: Skolnick.1994National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Model Code On Domestic And Family Violence.
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