WASHINGTON, May 21, 2013 - Staggering statistics from the United States Office on Violence against Women (OVW) claim a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States. Three women perish at the hands of abusers daily.
With all that is known today about domestic violence and the effect and cruelty of this behavior, why is this behavior on the rise in what is supposed to be a civilized culture? Many ask aloud, “What kind of low life inhuman freak of non-compassion could commit such acts on a partner they are supposed to love, care for, protect and cherish?”
The OVW defines domestic violence as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.”
Studies from around the globe confirm that many abusers were victims of abuse as children. The abuse they inflict in turn as a result can be sexual, physical or emotional.
After the initial episode, additional episodes occur when tension mounts as the abuser attempts to control rage. The abused tries mightily to assuage the concerns of the abuser to avoid violence.
If there is an abusive event, the abuser typically will apologize profusely and declare the victim was at fault, yet promises to never do it again. At least until the next time.
Afterwards, the abuser will try to diminish the act by claiming the abused is making “a big deal out of nothing” and calm will settle in for a period of time. Calm for the abuser, an uneasy calm for the abused. Generally, the calm periods have shorter intervals as time goes on.
Victims of abuse can suffer severe, chronic depression. Quite often, they develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and feel hopeless and helpless. Exacerbating the problem, the victim may feel he or she has no place else to go, particularly disturbing if children are involved.
According to the Maryland Health Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse and a 2011 U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee report, of the 1.3 million victims of domestic violence, 37 percent of female victims of domestic violence are pregnant at the time of abuse. Most often, physical violence is directed to the abdominal area.
Abuse takes form in emotional, verbal, sexual and physical modalities. The type of people who commit abuse are jealous, controlling, keep the victim isolated out of fear of discovery, sexually demanding and selfish and have predetermined concepts of what roles their mate may play in life.
Their personality traits may be clever, charming, persuasive deceptive and manipulative. Coincidentally, these personality traits are equivalent in criteria for psychopaths, sociopaths and Narcissistic Personality Disorder, all extremelly difficult to treat with a low level of success. Cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotropic drugs can only do so much with these types of individuals.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports 71 percent of abused women claim the household pet was abused or killed. This behavior is a classic sign of pending or ongoing domestic violence.
The rise of violence may have several sources ranging from media violence, confusing social constructs and the recent economic downfall causing high levels of stress and anxiety. Adding drugs or alcohol to the mix and the emotional precipice is no longer a barrier.
There are measures to take if one is abused. First, call the police. Second, work with an attorney and the courts to have a restaining order placed on the abuser. Restraining orders are generally good for a one year period. One can renew the restraining order annually if the threat of violence remains. However, be aware no piece of paper can stop a bullet, knife or fist.
Each state has a domestic victims advocacy group to assist with results of violence. One can seek out such groups and other government assist programs to deal with with the expereince(s) and heal from the physical and emotional pain.
There is no excuse for domestic violence nor should it be tolerated. If you feel your mate has the personality traits described, abused your house pet or seems to be bulging at the emotional seams and begins to threaten any form of abuse, run don’t walk to the nearest exit.
Keep in mind the figures represented are estimates based on reported cases. Many cases go unreported which must be taken int account.
Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.