Domestic Violence in United States

DomesticViolence in United States

July23, 2014


Domesticviolence is a major social problem in the modern society thatcontinues to threaten the institution of marriage. Despite the greatchanges in the social and economic aspects of the society domesticviolence continues to be a major problem. Various studies andtheories have been put across to explain the issue of domestic abuse.In order to understand and investigate more on the causes of domesticviolence, a feministic approach was used to review literatureaccounts on the causes and management of domestic violence. Thefindings indicated that, domestic violence arises from inherentpersonality traits, social stressors, behavioral, culture, poverty,racism, drug abuse, isolation and other external aspects such asimmigration status. Domestic violence is managed through counselingtherapies, intervention programs and through family outreachprograms. However, the government needs to improve on interventionagencies that address domestic violence issues, institute educationprograms in schools on the issue of domestic violence and address theissue of immigration status for immigrants as way of fightingdomestic violence.

ResearchPaper Outline

Abstract i

1 Introduction 1

Background and Context 1

2 Literature Review (Causes of domestic violence) 2

3 Recommendations…………………………………………………………………5

4 &amp Conclusion 5

Domestic violence is an international reality that cuts across all cultures, race and religion. It occurs and takes place in different forms and contexts domestic violence may involve sexual assault, physical aggression, emotional, economic or verbal abuse and other covert or passive abuse in which one couple deprives or neglects the other partner socially and economically. The overall effect is that domestic violence results to cycles of partner abuse, instilling fear through power and control. As a result domestic violence victims live in fear, shame, trauma, develop mental illness or physical disability. Although domestic violence is a critical social problem in all societies, there exist different causes and forms of domestic violence. The purpose of this research paper is to explore the major causes of domestic violence and barriers that inhibit victims from seeking advocacy services. The research paper seeks to inform on new and existing causes and forms of domestic violence.

Background and Context

Time and space can be said to have influenced family structure, gendered roles, and representation within the family. Erving Goffman viewed gender as a ritualised performance through which men use as a tool to weld their masculinity power in social institutions such as marriages whenever their status is challenged or threatened (Basheer, 2009). Subsequently, Anthony Giddens and Simon Griffiths postulated that domestic violence is more prevalent in non-working families than working couples (Basheer, 2009). They argued that this was as a result of stress men go through due to unemployment, poverty and little means of income which challenged their inability and masculinity to provide for their wives and families (Melinda &amp Jeanne, 2014).

Marxism perspectives provided sociologists with an avenue to understand domestic violence as a result of the society structure and not necessarily arising from individuals’ actions (Basheer, 2009). In the same line, others observe that isolation from the cultural ties leads to domestic violence if the couple is living in a far away from the rest of the community. Family is a private institution and external institutions have limited access to it since they do not have adequate knowledge on the underlying family issues. Individuals are free agents and as such women experiencing domestic violence can free from abusive marriage if they so wishes (Ravi &amp Gill, 2014).

Domestic violence is also explored in the context of criminology sociology crime theorists observe that various institutions and social structures predispose individuals to commit crimes. Personal pressure may result from economic factors like during a recession in which some families experience financial drain and therefore inability to meet basic needs. As such the pressure can lead to vices like domestic violence (Chan, 2011).

According to sociological theorist, domestic violence is largely a result of external factors such as family structure, social learning, and stress which heightens the severity and frequency of violence (Paula, 2010). As such these external factors are not the causes of domestic violence but influencers. Similarly, social learning theorist argues that, people learn and model others behaviors and as such, they internalize and imitate the values for instance a man who witnesses a violent behavior against another person, if there are no negative consequences the ‘learner’ is likely to ‘implement’ the same behavior. (Paula, 2010).

Feminist, critiquing domestic violence observes that, masculinity power is the ultimate cause of domestic violence in many families Women`s Web. 2010. Historically, domestic violence was a prevalent issue, in which many women were abused domestically on the basis of religious beliefs, values and allegiance to societal norms. Feminists believe that domestic violence results from the dominant class men hold in the society in relation to material and symbolic resources, and therefore male domination influences all aspects of married couples (Melinda &amp Jeanne, 2014).

According to feminist theory, domestic violence arises from the gender and power disparity between men and women in marriages. Domestic violence is an international reality that cuts across all cultures, race and religion. In many societies domestic violence is tied to traditional cultural and patriarchal nature of families in which women were subordinate to men in marriages and therefore subject to control by their male partners (Women`s Web. 2010).

Research Methodology

In this research paper, a feministic approach of literature review was adopted in which an integrated method was used. This helps to erode objectivity and neutrality by applying Feministic research design with inclusion of feminist theories. A feminist narrative approach is used to review literature accounts on causes of domestic violence experiences to get a greater understanding on the realities of women victims’ plight.

Literature Review

The Nature of Domestic violence

Domestic violence is influenced by various factors among them cultural values, religion, forced marriages, customs and traditions. Cycles of domestic quarrels leads to build-up of domestic tensions until violence erupts in relation to partners involved (Women`s Web. 2010). Fear, shame, lack of funds, power and control leave many trapped in domestic abuse cycles (Janet, 2013). Domestic abuse varies from country to country with high cases of domestic violence recorded in African, Middle East and Asian countries due to cultural and poverty issues (HR Council, 2014).

Further studies have indicated that most of domestic violence cases are hidden by professional and or working class women who fear implications of exposure and shame in discontinuity of respect they get from outside the family. Most abused women in affluent families are less likely to reveal their situations to the police or seek medical help than those living in poor households due to stigma associated with domestic violence (Morgan &amp Truman 2014).

Possible Internal causes of Domestic Violence

Personal traits (Psychological, Social and behavioral)

Sociologists and psychologists attribute cases of domestic violence to personal psychological aspects or childhood experiences (Paula, 2010). The main argument is that due to various life experiences, individuals propensity to violence increases for instance childhood socialization or previous experience in relationships may lead to cycles of domestic violence. Other analysts observe that, domestic violence results from individuals traits personal traits such as low self-esteem, anger and other personality disorders may lead to domestic violence. In some cases, partners in a marriage may suffer from a marital conflict disorder that may arise due to pronged dissatisfaction in the marriage. Unfaithfulness and jealousy have also been indicated as main elements in domestic violence a spouse who suspects the other partner to be unfaithful may engage in retaliatory attacks leading to domestic violence. Criminologists and social psychologists argue that, some behaviors are socially learned as such spouses who witness another engaging in violence gets a positive reinforcement to engage in such an act in future (Paula, 2010).

Social stress and social isolation

Families live in communities that have social stressors there are constant demands for financial, physical or social help on other members of the community. The overall effect is that it leads to social stress which leads to conflicts within families. The social stress phenomenon is evident in cases where a man results to violence especially when he cannot financially support his family. In order to regain his honor in the family and community, violence is used to instill a false sense of ‘honor and respect (Women`s Web. 2010).

In this aspect, isolation combined with immigration situation accelerates domestic violence. Isolation is major factor that hinders victims from accessing help on intervention or community help (Paula, 2010). The abusers use the isolation threats to have more power over the victims. As most researchers found, this aspect of isolation diminishes victims’ possible resources for help (Melinda &amp Jeanne, 2014). In addition, victims’ plight is influenced by the cultural beliefs that men are the dominant family heads. Furthermore, language barrier, lack of knowledge on existing services intensifies loneliness and isolation (Morgan &amp Truman 2014).

Culture Gender, Patriarchy families

According to the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, domestic violence among women has roots on the historical inequality relations between men and women where patriarchal aspects of families dominated and discriminated against women (Women`s Web, 2010). This prevented women from advancing socially and economically a vital chauvinistic mechanism for perpetuating women oppression. In this light, women were therefore, socially, economically and politically marginalised which has resulted in continued oppressions (Tharp, Schumacher, Samper, McLeish &amp Coffey, 2012). Although, there has been an improvement in women empowerment through education and career advancement women remain culturally unequal partner at home (Susan, 2013). This trend of women abuse never changes even when the families migrate to foreign countries (Melinda &amp Jeanne, 2014).

The gender aspect in domestic violence has been a subject of controversy for long some scholars in the field of sociology believe that there is a close correlation between gender and domestic violence. This school of thought postulates that women were considered of less gender and as such subject to domestic violence (Twohey, 2009). Recent studies in five continents indicated that gender is not a major problem in domestic related violence rather human relational problem is the main concerns (Dodd, 2009).

Culture, social and religious orientations deter women from looking for help or exposing the problem to authorities as most fear isolation, victimisation by the authorities, dishonour and even rejection (Susan, 2013). Recent studies in indicates that the close knit families in remote communities have strong religious and cultural norms which protect family privacy, attach social shame to domestic violence, non-interference and victims are viewed as failures in their family responsibilities (Melinda &amp Jeanne, 2014). These aspects combined with alcohol abuse tolerance and alcohol related violence exposes women to violence and hinders their ability to seek community help (Damant, Lapierre, Leboss, Thibault, Lessard, Hamelin-Brabant, Lavergne, &amp Fortin, 2010).

In many instances, many women are abused many times and stay in such abusive relationships for over many years before they seek help to cultural and religious beliefs (Susan, 2013). The dilemma to escape domestic abuse is exacerbated by challenges of protecting the family honor (cultural values) and accepting domestic violence (Tharp, Schumacher, Samper, McLeish &amp Coffey, 2012). Therefore, women experiencing domestic violence face high vulnerability and continuance of abuse and obstacles dealing with its adverse effects (Dodd, 2009).

The resource theory of dependency, Poverty and unemployment

In this case, the resource theory is seen as a trigger to domestic violence. Ideally, women are economically dependent on men in the marriage institution this dependency results in power and control that is manifested in form of violence. Poverty and lack of income is a major cause of family breakdown in the modern society. In particular, the rate of unemployment has led to many social and family breakdowns in the modern families. It is the responsibility of the man to provide for the family (Damant, Lapierre, Leboss, Thibault, Lessard, Hamelin-Brabant, Lavergne, &amp Fortin, 2010).

However, due to lack of financial means to cater for the family, quarrels may ensure due to limited resources and needs. Prolonged period of unemployment leads to stress, depression and low self-esteem. These aspects leads to domestic quarrels that later escalates to domestic violence especially if either of the couple results to drug abuse. Later, due to lack of resources becomes a major barrier in seeking anti-violence services especially the poor immigrants living in rural areas (Susan, 2013).

Drug abuse and alcoholism

One of the major causes of family breakdowns is excessive drug abuse and alcoholism. Consumption of alcohol and drugs has harmful effects on the individual and other members of the society. Prolonged drug abuse leads adverse effects on mental and behavioural aspects of an individual which consequently affects social relations with other individuals. In some aspects, drug abuse and alcoholism leads to mismanagement of financial resources as individuals use most of their resources on drugs. Therefore, a married person who continuously engages in drug abuse leads to family quarrels that escalate to domestic violence or even deaths. In the same line, drug abuse increases chance of individuals engaging in such offenses as child abuse, rapes, stealing and assaults. In particular, drug abuse and alcoholism negatively transforms the social being into a violent and abuse person in a marriage thereby eroding social cohesion the family and community (Tharp, Schumacher, Samper, McLeish &amp Coffey, 2012).

Possible external causes of Domestic Violence

Racism in the Society

In some aspects especially interracial marriages, domestic violence is prevalent. It has been found that most reported cases of domestic violence involve Latino, African or Asian women married to white men. Often this is attributed to racial subjugation between the couples which combined with other predisposing factors leads to domestic violence. The resultant effect is that, fear of racial stereotyping, stigmatization and ethnic subjugation prevents many women from speaking out or accessing help anti-violence services in cases of domestic violence (Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women).

Furthermore, situations of social isolation by victims in relation to domestic abuse or general social cultural isolation also factors in as a challenge towards seeking external interventions in case of domestic abuse. In most cases such victims lack someone to talk to in relation to their plight and families become their solace if they are recent immigrants (Damant, et al. 2010). In rural areas, domestic abuse may be exacerbated by limited access to anti-violence services, transport problems, unemployment and tolerant attitudes towards domestic violence (Dolezal, McCollum &amp Callahan, 2009).

Immigration status and policies

Immigration status is a major problem that escalates domestic violence and inhibits victims from seeking early intervention services for fear of deportation due to unstable citizenship and undocumented statuses. Many immigrant women believe that reporting domestic abuse incidences might lead to more threats from their partners on deportation. Therefore, many victims continue being victimised by the offenders who threaten them with deportation if they disclose the abuse (Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women).

Offenders’ in domestic violence use power and control strategy on the vulnerability of victims’ immigration status to exacerbate oppression on their victims’. In most cases victims opt to silent out in fear of further abuse from the authorities and their partners. However, this is not a major problem considering that intervention services exist, but it is lack of knowledge on the existence of their services by the victims that leads to more frustrations by the victims. This shows how challenges faced by immigrants due to lack of information on their rights and mistrust from the immigration authorities in the light of their documented status worsens the situation (Damant, et al. 2010).

Immigration policies both at international and local level do not help women voice out their concerns especially if they are immigrants. Similarly, the housing authorities, police and social service do not address the victims’ plight since they are not strong enough to challenge any form of abuse from their spouses (Melinda &amp Jeanne, 2014). Many families’ especially new immigrants or people living in rural areas have little access to intervention facilities either due to lack of information on their existence or other salient factors (Dolezal, McCollum &amp Callahan, 2009).

Ethical Management and intervention practices for domestic violence

Advocacy intervention agencies

This forms as prevention and intervention means of reducing domestic violence. In this case, safe shelter may be offered to victims, advocacy, crisis intervention through legal means and through education programs. There are number of institutions that intervene in domestic violence issues by helping victims. In most cases, these agencies assist the victims to access other important intervention services such as legal, counselling, medical and financial support. However, few victims have knowledge about the existence of such agencies (Dolezal, McCollum &amp Callahan, 2009).

Family Counselling Therapy

This is the most prevent approach used to manage domestic violence in this case, an assessment on the severity of domestic violence to know the right approach of assisting the client. The idea is to offer the victims a lifeline solution this may be medical, identifying issues that lead to domestic abuse and minimize occurrence of such issues. Counselling is basically used to reduce chances of recidivism of domestic violence (Dodd, 2009).


Policy makers should address the issue of immigration status for undocumented immigrants in order to make interventions and advocacy programs more accessible to them. Intervention services need to readily assessable where individuals report incidences of domestic abuse.

In addition state and local governments need to establish sexual assault and domestic violence education programs in schools create outreach programs for people living in rural areas and develop job skills training for men and women to enhance them are financially independent. Unemployment and training program for less skilled adults should be instituted to cater for jobless adults. These changes are important in fighting domestic violence as well as equipping vulnerable women with strength and tools of accessing intervention services.

Mainstream and advocacy groups need to develop programs that would educate immigrants on justice system and legal procedures for undocumented cases of victims. These programs should also focus on adequate language training to help meet the needs of the immigrants. These programs should focus on involving law enforcers on addressing barriers related to access of intervention services and immigration policies.

&amp Conclusion

The research study findings establishes that there are many causes of domestic violence these include Personal traits, Culture, Gender, Patriarchy families, Poverty and unemployment. Other causes of domestic violence are Social stress, social isolation, drug abuse, racism and immigration status. Victims of domestic violence are adversely affected by such factors as immigration status, in ability to understand domestic violence, fear of partners, lack of knowledge on the availability of intervention services and general social isolation from the community. Despite the presence of intervention agencies providing support to victims of domestic violence, many women find it hard accessing them due to cultural constrains patriarchal culture which dominate marriages giving males complete power and control over their wives.

This study identified management aspects of domestic violence that need to be used to address the domestic violence problem. These include advocacy services, establishing sexual assault and domestic violence education in schools, creating outreach programs to people living in rural areas and job skills training to make women more financially independent. These changes are important in fighting domestic violence as well as equipping vulnerable women with strength and tools of accessing intervention services.

However, domestic violence continues to be a challenge to victims as they seek help, and financial independent. As such a more comprehensive and coordinated community response to victims needs is required. Secondly, current advocacy services lack outreach programs targeting new victims or socially isolated victims. There is need to adopt education and prevention efforts through schools by educating and raising awareness against domestic violence as prevention measure rather than just providing assistance support.


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