Archive for July, 2009

A profile of the victims of domestic abuse

A profile of victims of domestic violence

It may be argued that victims of domestic abuse have certain characteristics that are primarily psychological and social in nature that may impinge on their ability to leave many abusive situations on their own, and to experience an effective intervention. Such a profile portrays victims as individuals who are financially and emotionally dependent on their aggressors.

Psychological and social profile of the abuse victim (James, 2008):

In order to have effective intervention, not only abuse victims, but members of the neighbourhoods, communities and organization must be sensitive to the type of issues that need to be resolved. Not resolving them can increase the chance that the abused will stay in a dangerous environment.

1. victims may demonstrate a lack of self esteem: the lack of self worth is an understandable result of emotional and physical abuse where they are constantly made to feel weak and devalued. Feeling this way only benefits the aggressor, as it makes it easier to exert control and to inflict pain that feels justifiable.

2. A history of abuse: women (or men) may have spent most of their lives as victims in a string of relationships, or grown up in a environment where primary socialization included seeing their own mothers being controlled and abused. Such experience allows then to accept their role, and may even rationalize that it is their ‘fate’ or that it can’t get better than this.

3. Lack of resources: the lack of economic resources is a major social factor that leaves victims dependent on their abuser. Money earned may controlled by the abuser; victims may not even have a job due to the wishes of their partner, or limited education that narrows the chances of finding work.

4. Are extremely dependent: Emotional and Financial dependency (discussed earlier). Such dependency makes them willing to endure being abused, just so that needs may be met.

5. Victims may also have an idealized view of the relationship. Ideals held strongly may include that they can ‘fix’ or ‘change’ their partner, or that their children (if any), still need the support of their father (or mother). Such ideals contribute to prolonging their stay in a abusive environment.

6. in the case of abused women, being socialized to accept certain stereotypical roles may even rationalize the degree of control their partner has. They may experience guilt for ‘disobedience’, or think that abuse is part of the ‘iron clad rules’ of a patriarchal system.

7. be unable to differentiate between sex and love and there is the belief that love is manifested through intense sexual relationships.

8. Isolation: ashamed of being victimized, victims choose to isolate themselves socially and may numb themselves emotionally towards others. These are some of the attempts to hide their problems from others.

9. Asserting the victim’s rights and feelings are hard for victims to do.

Do you agree with this profile of domestic violence victims? Are victims always dependent women who have limited finances and education? Have they always been socialized to be submissive counter parts? Or can they be the more apparently influential, socially outgoing and independent women; who hide their reality not behind a veil of tameness and isolation, but behind ‘the healthy and empowered front?’
Share your views. We all owe it to ourselves to speak out against this universal social problem.

The cycle of terrifying love

The cycle of Terrifying Love

Abuse within relationships, commonly known as spousal, domestic, partner or marital abuse, has managed to remain as a major social problem within virtually all societies, despite gradual recognition of its harmful effects from professionals and the law. Such abuse, according to Gary Collins (2007) may involve attempts to control or coerce one’s spouse or partner through physical or emotional means which include deliberate assault, threats of violence, emotional mis treatment, forced involvement in sexual acts, neglect etc.
Psychological argument proposes that characteristic of an abusive relationship, is a cycle of predictable attitudes and behaviours that both the aggressor and the victim display. Despite attempts to predict this cycle, breaking away from it is no easy task for either party involved, since there are many underlying causes that trigger not only the abuse, but the tendency to ‘stick it out’.

Cycle of violence (Barnett et al., 1980)

Phase 1: Tranquility prevails: in the relationship, there is a peaceful environment and a time of calm. This calm may follow earlier violent episodes, or there might have been no earlier violent episodes.

Phase 2: Tension builds: in the relationship, frustration builds and ways of coping with stress and frustration become less effective. Stressors may impinge on the relationship be environmental (trouble on the job) or psychological (trust issues). In some cases there may not be a preceding stressor. It may be argued that as time passes, such tensions become more frequent and explosive.

Phase 3: Violent episode occurs: violence may range from harsh words to actual physical violence. Communication between partners have broken down and such episodes come without a warning and can be triggered by even insignificant stressors. Rationality has disintegrated. It is at this phase that the abused may report his/her aggressor or out of humiliation and fear, they may choose not to, especially because phase 4 follows soon after.

Phase 4: Remorse: many aggressors feel guilty for causing pain to their partner. This becomes the ‘honeymoon phase’ where the aggressor asks for forgiveness and may lavish his/her partner with gifts and promises to not be violent anymore. Alternatively however some abusers may not feel remorseful at all and may rationalize violent behaviour and attitudes as an a reinforcement of their rightful control. The victim may give in and relinquishes control. The victim may also take action, where he/she disagrees with their abuser and violent episodes may reoccur or there is a negotiation between abuser and victim on how to handle the crisis or stressors that created tension. Whether abuser is remorseful, the victim becomes submissive, or both negotiate, calm is usually restored, and then the cycle risks repeating itself.

A build up of tension does not justify abuse, but what do you think? Is the cycle accurate in its entirety? Literature does acknowledge that not all abusive relationships fit the cycle, as violent episodes may be once in a lifetime, but also some victims report of being constantly terrorized with no intermittent periods of calm.

another question for you: how prevalent do you think  the abuse of men in relationships are? what do you think about it?
Whether you agree with the literature of not, we should each acknowledge that we are responsible of our own safety, and take the necessary steps to ensure it. whether woman or man, abuse can affect any of our lives.