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Essay/Term paper: Domestic violence

Essay, term paper, research paper:  College Papers

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Domestic Violence towards women is a problem in the United States
that is usually over looked and almost always not noticed by Society
today. Violence is defined by the Riverside Webster's Dictionary (p.755)
as: 1. Physical force employed so as to damage or injure. 2. As an
instance of violent action. If this is the case than why is it that so
many women are beaten by loved ones each year and little or nothing is
done to correct this violent and hostile situation? In this paper I will
attempt to answer this question along will a slue of others which pl aque
women in these war zones each day.
"The battered women is pictured by most people as a small, fragile,
haggard person who might once have been pretty. She has several small
children, no job skills, and is economically dependent on her husband. It
is frequently assumed that she is poor and
from a minority group. She is accustomed to living in violence, and her
fearfulness and passivity are emphasized above all. Although some battered
women do fit this description, research proves it to be false
stereotype.''(Walker p.18) In fact most batte red women have highly
lucrative jobs such as doctors or lawyers, Corporation executives and
nurses. Most are heavy set women whose assets are controlled by there
husbands and cannot defend themselves physically. Battered women are found
in all racial, rel igious and ethical backgrounds as well as age groups
and educational levels. ''Who are battered women? If you are a women,
there is a 50 percent chance it could be you!''(Walker p.19)
Statistical data on battered women is difficult to find because
most records are buried in medical records, domestic disturbance calls to
the police or the records of social service agencies. During my research
I found that characteristics in numerous c ategories for both the batterer
and battered were the same. Here is a list of those categories that were
the same or in a similar fashion the same for both individuals. Commonly
shared characteristics between Battered and Batterer. 1. Has low
self-esteem. 2. Believes all myths about battering relationships. 3. Is a
traditionalist about the home, strongly believes in family unity and his
or her roles in the family unit. As with the women all racial, religious,
educational levels equally represent the men, cultures socioeconomic
groups. "Batterers typically deny that they have a problem, although they
are aware of it; and they become enraged if their women should reveal t he
true situation." (Walker p.36)
"Researchers Eisenberg and Micklow found 90 percent of the
batterers in their study had been in the military. Twenty five percent
received dishonorable discharges." (Walker p.37) These are some alarming
facts and characteristics about both the battered a nd the batterer. I was
unable to collect any data on the cause for this percentage of violence by
men of the military. Although it being a school of violence might have
some weight on the effects of this violence on women. Some of the
reasoning behind the se acts of physical and mental neglect may be
societies acceptance of such violence. We as a society are always calling
for more violence on television in the theater and on other individuals.
We pay for these sorts of entertainment, ask the government to
apply force on other nations and as the saying goes "sex and violence
sell." It is glorified in all forms of the media.
Why do battered women stay with there significant others? The
answer has many different angles; some stay for financial reasons others
for the traditional reasons. The fact is that they stay, but when is
enough? "After you live so many years, and you wak e up one day, and your
body has just about had it, you say, 'My God, I just can't take another
punch.' That's what happened to me. I just reached a point where I said,
'No more. Nothing is worth it.' I decided I would rather struggle and see
if I couldn't
make it, so I just up and left, and that's been it." (Langley and Levy
p.111) This was the victim of spouse abuse for seventeen years. In another
case a women from Maryland described her experience. "Being beaten up is
the most degrading, humiliating, cr ushing kind of thing that could happen
to a person." (Langley and Levy p.116) in most cases the women feel that
they are the ones to blame for there battering and also apologize for
being beaten. "A women's decision to stay or go to seek help or suffer in
silence is often determined by the frequency of her beatings." (Langley
and Levy p.122)
When women do come to the end of the line and have finally worked
up enough courage to do it, to leave the one she loves so dear where does
she go? Well I would like to tell you that she calls for help via the
police or local athorities and receives the compassion and understanding
that she so deserves and needs in this time of uncertainty and doubt. But,
all too often she is meet with hostility and cynicism. "Usually, the
police, attorneys, prosecutors, public defenders, and even judges feel
they should
not get involved in so called family problems." (Langley and Levy p.153)
One Detroit police officer is even quoted as saying, "there are no
rewards for refereeing a family fight." (Langley and Levy p.153) One of
the problems is the offense can be both criminal and civil matters. There
are in fact only three states that have l aws that deal directly with
spouse abuse, California, Hawaii, and Texas which make it an automatic
felony for a husband to beat his wife. The system however does not work in
the favor of the battered but rather in the favor of the batterer.
"Assault is a crime in every state. Since wife beating is a form of
assault, then wife beating is a crime in every state. In practice,
however, wife beating is not treated as a crime but as a civil matter.
Prosecutors deliberately look the other way even when a man adm its to
wife beating." (Langley and Levy p.154)
When the judicial system fails to help the abused, the abused must
turn elsewhere. Places such as crisis centers, church, or shelters. But in
many places there are no such places or organizations to help the abused,
then the abused must depend on communi ty help as well as family and
friends to help. Mostly with support groups and just by giving the abused
the compassion and support once sot by the abused in the judicial system.

One example of this disappointment in the system was found in the
Detroit Free Press, in an article headlined " Emergency Number Still Has
Kinks," reported: " near-breathless women, beaten by her husband, dialed
911 to ask for police assistance. 'Does he
have a weapon?' the operator asked.
" She answered he did not.
"Then I am sorry. We won't be able to help you,' the operator said
to the dismayed women." (Langley and Levy p.160) This lack of confidence
in the judicial system in return sends women a message of desperation,
fear and frustration. Many women in turn take the law into there own
hands, in a study done by the U.S Department of Justice between 1987 and
1991. "Approximate ly one in four attacks involved the use of a gun or
knife, according to the study. Young, black and Hispanic women were
especially vulnerable, as were poor single women with low education levels
who lived in inner cities. The findings were drawn from more
than 400,000 interviews." The Acting Bureau Director Lawrence A.
Greenfeld stated that "the number of women attacked by spouses, former
spouses, boyfriends, parents or children is more than 10 times higher than
the number of males attacked by such people ." It is clear to me that all
of us living in this great nation need to join hands in the fight against
Domestic Violence in the home, not just against women but children and men
as well. But for the purpose of this paper I would like to focus mainly on
the women of the American household. We as a society should take action
and compose social as well as political laws to rectify this situation.
There are no set standards, in fact police officers are told to not arrest
in cases of domestic violence calls. The
reasoning is once again the civil matter of domestic violence being a
"family problem".
In concluding this simply alarming and terrifyingly eye opening
subject matter I would like to suggest five areas in which we as a society
and human beings could help in altering the violence. Not just on women
but on women, children and minorities as w ell. 1. The expression of
violence is most commonly seen in the context of relationships 2. Current
policies to address personal violence are outdated and superficial. 3.
Violence does not effect everyone equally-it is ingrained in cultural
expressions of power and inequality. 4. Prevention of violence entails on
the positive in the context of the relationships, not just focusing on
individual weaknesses or deviance. 5. Youth are important resources and
are part of the solution. I strongly believe in these five seemingly
simply and yet necessary areas. Not as a way of solving the domestic
problems of society today but as a way of depleting the number of cases of
domestic violence each year until a suitable set of guidelines or st
andards can be developed.

Works Cited U.S Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of
Justice Statistics Box 6000 Rockville, Maryland 20850

David A. Wolfe
Christine Wekerle
Katreena Scott
Alternatives to Violence
Empowering Youth to Develop Healthy Relationships
Sage Publications
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, California 91320

Evan Stark, Ph.D., M.S.W.
Anne Flitcraft, M.D.
Women At Risk
Domestic Violence and Women's Health
Sage Publications
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, California 91320

Roger Langley
Richard C. Levy
Wife Beating: The Silent Crisis
A Sunrise Book
E.P. Dutton
201 Park Avenue South
New York, N.Y. 10003

Lenore E. Walker
The Battered Women
Harper & Row, Publishers
New York, Hagerstown, San Francisco, London




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