The Neglected Problem of Domestic Violence

Women and children are not the only victims of domestic violence, but they carry the greatest physical and psychological burden. One in four women will be the victim of intimate partner violence in the course of her life, while three million children are exposed to it each year.

English: Colin Henderson's winning design will...Intimate partner violence accounts for 20 percent of non-fatal violent crimes against women while approximately 30 percent of all female homicides are committed by someone with whom the woman was intimately involved. Victims suffer from dramatic rates of depression, anxiety, PTSD as well as substance abuse and suicidality. A recent study based on a representative U.S. sample of over 25,000 adults indic

ated that new onsets of major mental health problems were more than twice as common amongst those exposed to domestic violence in the past year.

Experiencing violence is always traumatic, but violence at the hands of the person with whom you live, on whom you may depend, and even, love — often occurring repeatedly, arbitrarily, and accompanied by emotional abuse — represents an even deeper trauma. It can cause a dramatic unraveling of one’s self esteem, emotional stability, and capacity to think.

Children who live in violent homes suffer whether or not they directly experience the violence themselves. They often have significant behavioral and emotional problems including depression and conduct disorders. Their cognitive development is also impaired.

Research shows that men who witnessed domestic violence as children are twice as likely to be abusers in adulthood; and there is a 30-60 percent chance that men and women who witness domestic violence in their childhoods will enter into abusive relationships as adults.

To effectively address this significant public health issue, two things are needed. First, to overcome our temerity and denial of the problem. Second, we must expand services to address the contributing and resulting psychological factors affecting those in domestic violence situations. We must accept that domestic violence is our collective problem.

via Hiding in Plain Sight: The Neglected Problem of Domestic Violence in Society | Anna Chapman, MD.


Why They Stay

Most women will experience physical abuse at some point in their lives, and most assaults of adult women occur at the hands of an intimate partner. But once it happens, the options for most women are few—and bad.

shutterstock_151887428-638x425Intimate partner violence is about power and control, and leaving can be an extremely dangerous and frightening option for survivors.

In 1999, law professor and domestic violence survivor Sarah Buel offered up 50 obstacles to leaving, most of which remain unchanged. She points out that the end of the relationship can be just the start of the most serious threats. A battered woman is 75 percent more likely to be murdered when she tries to flee than if she stays.

Welfare is the major safety net for single moms, but its monthly benefit levels are far below living expenses for a family of three. In a study of Texas abuse victims, the number-one reason cited for returning home was financial, Buel writes.

In a cruel twist, the women who have the least access to resources are the most likely to be victimized: One study found that men who refused to give their partners money were almost 10 times more likely to be abusive than men who allowed their spouses to help manage household earnings.

Legal aid and emergency housing are also scarce. Many shelters have months-long waiting lists and lack translators.

Often, inept local officials perpetuate the problem. A massive recent investigation by the Charleston Post and Courier in South Carolina found that the state’s domestic violence epidemic partly stems from a legal system in which “a man can earn five years in prison for abusing his dog but a maximum of just 30 days in jail for beating his wife or girlfriend on a first offense.”

Some victims face cultural forces that urge “standing by your man” or giving the children a father. Others have such low self-esteem that they don’t see themselves as destined for or worthy of something better. Victims might think they deserve it, as Janay Rice hinted at a press conference in which she expressed regret for “the role she played in the incident.”

Rape Culture

Rape culture is the collection of social narratives and norms that a culture uses to trivialize and rationalize rape. In “western culture,” some key aspects are assuming male aggression and the sexual objectification of women is the norm. The assumptions that men always want sex and “silence is consent” are also part of rape culture. The assumption that men can’t be raped is a part of rape culture. The use of alcohol or a short skirt as an excuse to rape is part of rape culture. Assuming “acquaintance rape,” isn’t really rape is part of rape culture. Doubting rape survivors because it’s easier to think of rapists as evil monsters is part of rape culture. Toxic masculinity is part of rape culture.

via Rape Culture and Predator Theory — The Good Men Project.

Toxic Masculinity

The U.N. is in the midst of its 57th Commission on the Status of Women, this year focusing on gendered violence, a global pandemic made all the more urgent by growing evidence that social change leads to increased violence against women. Why? Because destabilizing established social order—even in the interest of what we might agree is progress—can leave people feeling vulnerable. And when men feel vulnerable, toxic masculinity teaches them the way to reassert their power is by dominating women. There’s a pall hanging over the proceedings, a real risk that this year’s commission may wind up like last year’s, failing to come to any policy agreements thanks to the obstructionism of a handful of patriarchal countries who claim that their traditional and religious customs would be infringed upon if they had to take action to end gendered violence in their countries.

via Toxic Masculinity.

Three Faces of Bullying

One of the fundamental weaknesses in much of the discussion on bullying has been the failure to adequately distinguish between bullying among children and workplace bullying. This distinction is critical to informed discussion and effective policy because the two forms of interpersonal aggression reflect vastly different power relations. In bullying in schools, the instigators of the aggression are children, and the enforcers of policy are adults who are not under the authority of the children whose behaviors they control.

As such, when bullying among children is reported to an adult, that adult is unlikely to face retaliation for doing something about it. Even though a child who reports bullying may find the bullying becomes more severe in retaliation for “tattling,” a responsible adult can still intervene to stop the aggression, knowing they will not likely be punished for doing so. Intervening will not cost teachers, administrators and counselors their jobs; their perceptions of the interpersonal aggression will thus be more objective than if they were observing or responding to bullying among their colleagues. And if and when they do intervene, as adults they will have greater influence over the children’s behavior, than if they tried to do something about bullying in their workplace.

In contrast to bullying among children, in workplace bullying, the instigators are very often people in positions of organizational leadership, or who have the organizational support of someone in a position of leadership. Reporting a bully in the workplace thus puts the worker at risk of being targeted by management for retaliation and ever more aggression. More importantly, when bullying in the workplace is instigated or condoned by someone in a position of organizational leadership, efforts to report or stop it can quickly escalate from bullying to mobbing.

It is important to understand the psychological and social factors that differentiate bullying from mobbing. Bullying is a form of interpersonal aggression in which one person, who may or may not be in a position of influence or power, abuses one or a few individuals. Mobbing involves a group of people, acting under the influence of someone in a position of organizational leadership, who become increasingly aggressive and increase in number until the targeted worker is removed from the group or completely disempowered.

Mobbing starts when someone in a position of organizational leadership communicates to the workforce that they want a particular worker gone. When this happens, the workforce will be encouraged to report the unwanted worker for any infraction, real or rumored, and they quickly learn that any adversarial action taken against the worker is acceptable. They will also quickly mobilize to protect their own interests, align with management, and recast the worker as a trouble maker who must be removed from the workplace—but most will do so under the genuine perception that it is the targeted worker who is the problem, and not the instigating aggressor.

Interpersonal aggression, exclusion, shunning and cruelty have no place in any organizational setting, and until the anti-bullying movement begins to explore the distinctions between bullying and mobbing, individual interpersonal aggression and group aggression, and schoolyard bullying and workplace bullying, the power relations that make “bullying” possible will remain hiding in the shadows, enabling anyone, no matter how committed to cooperation, compassion and kindness, to bully or be bullied right out the door. A first step toward closing that door will be to disentangle our terms and concede that different forms of aggression require different solutions.

via Three Faces of Bullying | Psychology Today.

Can men be taught not to rape?

“Telling every woman to get a gun is not rape prevention,” she explains. “The reality is that we need to be changing how we train and teach young men. We need to teach them to see women as human beings and respect their bodily autonomy. We need to teach them about consent and to hold themselves accountable.” And when we do, things change. After Canada launched a “Don’t be that guy” consent awareness campaign in 2011, the sexual assault rate dropped for the first time in years — by 10 percent.

via Can men be taught not to rape? –


Signs of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is elusive. Unlike physical abuse, the people doing it and receiving it may not even know it’s happening.

It can be more harmful than physical abuse because it can undermine what we think about ourselves. It can cripple all we are meant to be as we allow something untrue to define us. Emotional abuse can happen between parent and child, husband and wife, among relatives and between friends.

The abuser projects their words, attitudes or actions onto an unsuspecting victim usually because they themselves have not dealt with childhood wounds that are now causing them to harm others.

In the following areas, ask these questions to see if you are abusing or being abused:

  1. Humiliation, degradation, discounting, negating. judging, criticizing:
    • Does anyone make fun of you or put you down in front of others?
    • Do they tease you, use sarcasm as a way to put you down or degrade you?
    • When you complain do they say that “it was just a joke” and that you are too sensitive?
    • Do they tell you that your opinion or feelings are “wrong?”
    • Does anyone regularly ridicule, dismiss, disregard your opinions, thoughts, suggestions, and feelings?
  2. Domination, control, and shame:
    • Do you feel that the person treats you like a child?
    • Do they constantly correct or chastise you because your behavior is “inappropriate?”
    • Do you feel you must “get permission” before going somewhere or before making even small decisions?
    • Do they control your spending?
    • Do they treat you as though you are inferior to them?
    • Do they make you feel as though they are always right?
    • Do they remind you of your shortcomings?
    • Do they belittle your accomplishments, your aspirations, your plans or even who you are?
    • Do they give disapproving, dismissive, contemptuous, or condescending looks, comments, and behavior?
  3. Accusing and blaming, trivial and unreasonable demands or expectations, denies own shortcomings:
    • Do they accuse you of something contrived in their own minds when you know it isn’t true?
    • Are they unable to laugh at themselves?
    • Are they extremely sensitive when it comes to others making fun of them or making any kind of comment that seems to show a lack of respect?
    • Do they have trouble apologizing?
    • Do they make excuses for their behavior or tend to blame others or circumstances for their mistakes?
    • Do they call you names or label you?
    • Do they blame you for their problems or unhappiness?
    • Do they continually have “boundary violations” and disrespect your valid requests?
  4. Emotional distancing and the “silent treatment,” isolation, emotional abandonment or neglect:
    • Do they use pouting, withdrawal or withholding attention or affection?
    • Do they not want to meet the basic needs or use neglect or abandonment as punishment?
    • Do they play the victim to deflect blame onto you instead of taking responsibility for their actions and attitudes?
    • Do they not notice or care how you feel?
    • Do they not show empathy or ask questions to gather information?
  5. Codependence and enmeshment:
    • Does anyone treat you not as a separate person but instead as an extension of themselves?
    • Do they not protect your personal boundaries and share information that you have not approved?
    • Do they disrespect your requests and do what they think is best for you?
    • Do they require continual contact and haven’t developed a healthy support network among their own peers?

via Signs of Emotional Abuse | World of Psychology.