Domestic violence still a challenge

Acceptance of abusive treatment can start young

Merdies Hayes | 10/18/2013, midnight
Domestic violence is a silent scourge prevalent within all California communities, regardless of race, ethnicity, socio-economic status or the sex ...

According to the National Organization for Women, African American women face higher rates of domestic violence than White women, and American Indian women are victimized at a rate more than double that of women of other races.

The yearly cost of domestic violence, according to a 2006 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approached $10 billion for medical care, mental health services and lost productivity.

Data collected in 2010 by the California Department of Justice (CDOJ) shows that local law enforcement received 166,361 domestic violence calls for assistance.

A 2008 California Women’s Health Survey reported that about six percent of women statewide (641,000) experienced at least one incident of physical or psychological domestic violence during the 12 months prior to its survey.

Nationally, the Department of Justice reported in 2010 that 95 percent of assaults on spouses or ex-spouses were committed by men against women; nearly one-third of the women who seek care from hospital emergency rooms are there for injuries resulting from domestic violence. In 29 percent of the violent crimes against women by lone offenders, the perpetrators were intimates—husbands, former husbands, boyfriends or former boyfriends.

Federal officials reported in 2010 that women from 15 to 44 years were more likely than those of other ages to be victimized by an intimate; this figure includes attacks on women separated from their husbands which was about three times higher than that of divorced women and about 25 times higher than that of married women. Within this scenario, the federal study found that 53 percent of battered women still involved with the perpetrator blamed themselves for causing the violence.

The previous finding lends to the common question of “why do women stay?” According to an August 2013 article published by LiveStrong.com, denial is the most frequent reason. Apparently, after a violent episode, the abusive partner may be extremely apologetic and often swears that the abuse will never happen again. And, for a while, it doesn’t—the perpetrator is on his best behavior. Therefore, women in these types of relationships may convince themselves that the partner “didn’t mean it” and experience denial about their partner’s violent temper.

Then there’s personal history. Some women believe the behavior is normal; in this case, it was explained, many women grew up with an abusive parent (typically the father or male guardian), and had watched their mother endure years of abuse which may lead them to believe that women are expected to tolerate this behavior. Fear is a major factor behind remaining with a violent mate. The abusive spouse sometimes convinces the woman that he will injure or kill her, the children, loved ones or even pets if she finally walks out. The victim may also fear being stalked or harassed at work and, alternately, the abuser may threaten to kill himself if she leaves.

Other factors, the federal study indicated, involved in the reluctance to leave the abuser include, lack of a support system (”Where will I go?”); lack of money—particularly if children are involved—because the woman has become economically dependent on the abuser; feelings of guilt (often the woman believes the abuser simply needs help psychologically and will remain loyal despite the situation); religious beliefs which reinforce the commitment to marriage; and also a disbelief within society concerning battered women. In this last instance, many people are said to turn a “deaf ear” to marital violence, believing that what goes on behind “closed doors” is a private matter.