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.

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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.”

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.

GOP Obstruction Kills ‘Violence Against Women Act’

The landmark Violence Against Women Act, which has been reauthorized without fanfare since then-Senator Joe Biden spearheaded its passage in 1994, strengthens the criminal justice system’s ability to address domestic and sexual abuse and expands services for Americans who have been victims of those crimes. But it expired in October of 2011 after conservative lawmakers balked at the addition of expanded protections for undocumented immigrant, Native American, and LGBT victims of sexual assault.

Though the Senate approved the VAWA last year with bipartisan support, Republicans in the U.S. House had opposed the legislation because it added new protections for illegal immigrants, LGBT individuals, and Native Americans. The two chambers have butted heads over the bill for the past year—in May, the Republican-controlled House passed a watered down version to strip the protections for diverse populations, and subsequently refused to cede any ground to the Senate. The beginning of 2013 means the 112th Congress has officially failed to ensure protections for rape survivors. VAWA expired on its watch, and there’s no more time to remedy that mistake.

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network estimates that someone is assaulted every two minutes in the U.S. (although that’s probably an underestimation, since more than 50 percent of sexual assaults still go unreported), but progress has inched forward since VAWA was passed nearly two decades ago. More survivors now report incidents of sexual and domestic violence to the police than they did in the years before the law was in place—and VAWA funds training for about 500,000 law enforcement officials, judges, and prosecutors each year to help ensure that the legal system is better equipped to respond to those reports. The National Domestic Violence Hotline that the law established now receives over 22,000 calls every month. The rate of reported incidents of intimate-partner violence has dropped by more than 60 percent since VAWA was first enacted.

. . . The 113th Congress, which gets sworn in today, will be the most diverse in our nation’s history. It will include 19 new people of color, the first Hindu representative and the first Buddhist senator, the first openly gay congressman of color, the first openly bisexual congresswoman, the first openly gay senator, and more female members than ever before. It still doesn’t come close to accurately representing the country it will govern. But it’s better than what we had before—and where the 112th Congress failed, the 113th very well may succeed.

Sen. Patty Murray, who championed the original version of VAWA in the Senate, plans to reintroduce the legislation in the new session. Perhaps when she is joined by a new Congress and a historic freshman class, expanding the scope of domestic violence resources to include additional American populations won’t spark quite as much controversy, and advocating for diverse communities won’t be such a seemingly insurmountable task.

Parents plead for easier route to help mentally ill kids

“The easiest thing is to label someone as evil, to say they were born without a soul,” Thom Shuman says. “But we have to remember that this is someones child. This is a human being. Like the case of Adam Lanza the gunman in the Connecticut shootings, well probably never know the depths of his brokenness.”

via Parents plead for easier route to help mentally ill kids.

Did Nancy Lanza live in fear? Why many mothers of the mentally ill do.

Kathleen Heide, a professor of criminology at the University of South Florida and the author of “Understanding Parricide: When Sons and Daughters Kill Parents,” says that most often, when people kill their mothers, they are sick and untreated.

As mental health services are cut, mothers become the agents-in-charge, serving as constant reminders to these children that they’re not well. “The moms are trying to keep their children safe. In illness, the sons many times resent their mothers,” Heide says, and that becomes particularly acute without treatment.

via Did Nancy Lanza live in fear? Why many mothers of the mentally ill do. – The Washington Post.