Domestic Violence


Insimple terms, domestic violence involves incidents of aggressiveconduct, violence, or abuse among people who are or who have been ina close relationship not considering the sexual category. Not alldomestic disputes constitute domestic violence and not allfamily-related violence’s are classified as domestic violence.Other forms of family violence include sibling violence, child abuse,elder abuse, parent abuse, and child sexual abuse. There are variouscognitive, behavioral, and psychological effects of domesticviolence. Each of these effects has varying degrees of how theyaffect the victims. Understanding of domestic violence is a big stepaimed at addressing this societal vice. Research on the issue ofdomestic violence began in the 1970s through the battered womenmovements. During that period, it was assumed that men were the mainperpetrators of domestic violence with women being the victims, thus,men who executed domestic violence against their spouses wereconsidered mentally ill and could only be treated by psychiatrist. Tosome extent, battered women can become mentally ill, hence, it isimperative to understand the psychological and physical effects ofdomestic violence.

Thereare other theories that are linked with domestic violence, theseincluded the learned behavior theory, lose of control theory, andlearned helpless theory among others. Various programs and theorieshave been employed in the management of domestic violence. Thisresearch paper evaluates the effect of domestic violence and how itcan be managed with the roles of some stakeholders being evaluated,more so, the social change theories being considered.

Descriptionof the Problem

Crimerates including instances of domestic violence have greatly declinedwithin the United States. For instance, Fox and Zawit (2002) notethat between 1976 and 2002 the number of intimate partner homicideshalved with the largest decline being reported on males.

Thereare various reasons that are assumed to explain these trends andinclude improved legal and other legitimate methods of leavingabusive relationships, women empowerment, and improved legislation onfamily laws, and improved social and economic status of women. Inanother study carried out in the Tuzla Canton region of BosniaHerzegovina between 2000 and 2002, the following data was compiled:

Frequencyof domestic violence among women aged over 16 years and living inTuzla Canton, Bosnia and Herzegovina

No. (%) of women in the group†

Types of domestic violence*

refugees (n=50)

domicile (n=76)

patients (n=104)



Physical abuse:

33 (66.0)

60 (78.9)

86 (82.7)

179 (77.8)



29 (58.0)

53 (69.7)

71 (68.3)

153 (66.5)



11 (22.0)

47 (61.8)

66 (63.5)

124 (53.9)


&nbsp&nbsphair pulling

8 (16.0)

35 (46.1)

51 (49.0)

94 (40.9)


&nbsp&nbsparm twisting

6 (12.0)

34 (44.7)

43 (41.3)

83 (36.1)


&nbsp&nbsppushing to the floor

4 (8.0)

29 (38.2)

51 (49.0)

84 (36.5)



19 (38.0)

49 (64.5)

65 (62.5)

133 (57.8)



19 (38.0)

46 (60.5)

66 (63.5)

131 (56.9)



5 (10.0)

32 (42.1)

51 (49.0)

88 (38.2)



4 (8.0)

22 (28.9)

39 (37.5)

65 (28.3)


&nbsp&nbspinjuries with other objects

2 (4.0)

19 (25.0)

42 (40.4)

63 (27.4)


&nbsp&nbspthreatening with a knife

2 (4.0)

21 (27.6)

38 (36.5)

61 (26.5)


Sexual abuse:

15 (30.0)

46 (60.5)

62 (59.6)

123 (53.4)


&nbsp&nbspforced sex

14 (28.0)

42 (55.3)

58 (55.7)

114 (49.6)


&nbsp&nbspsqueezing of breasts and genitals

1 (2.0)

16 (21.1)

29 (27.9)

46 (20.0)


&nbsp&nbspforced oral sex

1 (2.0)

23 (30.3)

22 (21.1)

46 (20.0)


&nbsp&nbspforced anal sex

2 (4.0)

19 (25.0)

22 (21.1)

43 (18.7)


&nbsp&nbspforced to watch porno films

1 (2.0)

10 (13.1)

17 (16.3)

28 (12.2)


Psychological abuse:

33 (66.0)

73 (96.1)

91 (87.5)

197 (85.6)



28 (56.0)

63 (82.9)

69 (66.3)

160 (69.5)



28 (56.0)

61 (80.3)

66 (63.5)

155 (67.4)


&nbsp&nbspmaking woman feel worthless

22 (44.0)

62 (81.6)

74 (71.2)

158 (68.7)


&nbsp&nbspmaking woman feel stupid

21 (42.0)

57 (75.0)

76 (73.1)

154 (66.0)



22 (44.0)

58 (76.3)

72 (69.2)

152 (66.1)


&nbsp&nbspputting down

17 (34.0)

57 (75.0)

72 (69.2)

146 (63.5)


&nbsp&nbspcontrolling behavior

25 (50.0)

56 (73.7)

59 (56.7)

140 (60.9)


&nbsp&nbspmanipulation and lying

14 (28.0)

55 (72.4)

64 (61.5)

133 (57.8)


&nbsp&nbspthreatening with murder

5 (10.0)

21 (27.6)

51 (49.0)

77 (33.5)


&nbsp&nbspthreatening with child murder

2 (4.0)

9 (11.8)

17 (16.3)

28 (12.2).


(Avdibegovic&amp Sinanovic, 2006)

Fromthis data, we can see that various forms of domestic violence existand the types of psychological forms of domestic violence aresignificant in this population. In many cases, victims of domesticviolence develop various mental and physical health problems. Amongthese, include physical harm, substance abuse, anxiety disorders,dissociative disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Inefforts to describe domestic violence, one has to consider thevarious theories that have been attributed to the vice. The learningtheory hypothizes that men who were brought up in families wheredomestic violence was prevalent were likely to be abusive when theygrow up. This is contrary to women, because women who were brought upin families where domestic violence existed were likely to avoid menwho were violent in efforts to reduce the chances of being victims ofdomestic violence. Although many boys who witness domestic violencevow not to employ it in their adulthood, many tend to use thedomestic violence against their women in efforts to control theirbehavior. Another theory attributed to domestic violence is the lossof control theory.

Theloss of control theory is mainly caused by abuse of drugs andalcohol. Upon over indulgence in alcohol and drugs, men tend to losecontrol of themselves and thus engage in this vice. In somesituations, men lose control of themselves when they are overwhelmedby frustration and anger. Frustration and anger arises when the mencannot achieve the societal expectations, thus tend to expressthemselves through violence. To some extent, this theory iscontradicted by their behavior. This is because in some cases, theperpetrator of domestic violence normally targets some people incertain places and at a specific time. In some situations ““choosenot to hit their bosses or police officers, no matter how angry or‘out of control’ they are” (Klein, 1997, p.6). Meaningthey do not lose control of themselves, but have some premeditatedplan of violence. Thus, they have some internal rules and standardsthat guide their behavior. The perpetrators of domestic violence plantheir tactics carefully and may destroy property, threaten theirspouses and children.

Thelearned helpless theory arises when the victims of domestic violencedo not find an option or solution to the problem, thus do not leavetheir spouses but remain in the abusive relationship. This theorytends to ignore the cultural, financial, and social factors that mayforce a spouse to remain glued in an abusive relationship. In somesituations, a woman may remain in abusive relations to avoid beingvictimized by the society. More so, this theory is contradicted byfact that women in abusive relationships try to find solution inorder to be safe and enhance the safety of their children.

Thereis no generally accepted reason as to why people engage in domesticviolence. However, there are four major theories that seek to explainwhy men batter their partners. These theories are the sociologicaltheory, psychological theory, violent individual’s theory, and thesocietal-structural or feminist theory. Unfortunately, these theoriesdo not seek to explain why women batter their partners. According toAstbury, et al (2000), in the case where “home” representsemotional safety and security alongside being shelter, at that time achild, grown up person or an old person affected by domestic violencefeels some sort of homelessness within him or her.

Reasonswhy is a Concern

Domesticviolence happens across the lifetime and across most cultures. Womenare mostly the ones who are prone to the emotional, sexual, orphysical violence. Most children can as well come across violencefrom a person with whom they are familiar or be witnesses to domesticviolence in the families they belong. Elderly people who happen to bein close contact with the partners involved are also at a high riskof suffering from the consequences of domestic violence.

Itis estimated that domestic violence accounts for about 20 percent ofall cases of non-fatal violent crime on women in the United States aswell as three percent of nonfatal violent crime experienced by men(Tjaden &amp Thoennes1998). A majority of physical assaults are notlife threatening and involve slight hitting, pushing, and slapping.Women are the major victims of domestic violence and only a few ofthem seek medical assistance for their injuries even when theinjuries require medical attention.

Otherpsychological effects of domestic violence include neuroticism,depression, obsessive-compulsory symptoms, and paranoia. Theseeffects of domestic violence vary differently in different races,cultures, regions, and occupations. These effects of domesticviolence have been globally recognized as important public healthproblems. This is because in order to deal with these effects itbecomes very tricky and expensive. In addition, the effects may be sointense that it becomes impossible to help the victims because theymay themselves have turned and become abusers in trying to defendthemselves from current, former, or potential abusers.

Psychologicaleffects of domestic violence affect women, children, and the elderlypeople differently. Women are the main direct victims of domesticviolence. Some of the psychological effects on women includesubstance dependence, strained family relations, poverty, suicidalattempts, and development of eating disorders. Unfortunately, theseeffects have other accompanying effects, which may not be necessarilybe psychological. These may include deteriorated mental and physicalhealth (Moser, 2009).

Asa result of physical and verbal abuse pregnant women who are victimsof domestic violence have higher possibilities of havingmiscarriages, having infant deaths, or stillborns. This is usuallybecause of direct physical abuse affecting the unborn child or directand indirect harm that affects their normal feeding, relaxation, andexercising behaviors that affect the unborn children. It has alsobeen established that children borne of mothers who are or had beenvictims of domestic violence have higher instances of experiencingmalnourishment and failure to receive proper medical care includingimmunizations (Moser, 2009).

Childrenare also not spared the blunt of domestic violence because many ofthem suffer both directly and indirectly. Among the effects onchildren, include poor performance in academics, isolation, anddevelopment of abusive and rebellious behaviors, substance abuse,temper tantrums, and depression. Sometimes these children may runaway from home and develop other social vices such as stealing andrape. These children’s capacity to trust others is highly reducedand as a result, this raises the danger of continued victimization inlater life.

Elderlypeople who happen to live in the same homestead where either partneris being abused also suffer indirectly. For instance, elderly peoplemay be neglected and this may affect their social life because theyfeel powerless and cannot enjoy the services or help they used toreceive from the abused person. Incases either where such people needadvanced care due to physical or mental illnesses it becomesdifficult for the abused and abusive partner to give them theirmedications on a timely basis. This in the end may cause theirproblems to worsen. If this happens then there is the possibility ofthe abused partner to be abused even more because they may be accusedof intentionally neglecting the elderly person.

ConflictTheory of Social Change

Theproponents of the conflict theory argue that conflicts are importantvehicles of social change in efforts to address the inequalitieswithin the society. In most situations, the conflicts arise becauseof the class and power differences. In respect to domestic violence,it becomes more pronounced due to the historical power differencesbetween men and women, hence resulting to difference men oppressingthe women. Despite efforts to empower women, there still existdisparities between the two sexes because they do not have equalaccess power. Thus, discrimination against women still exists in the21stcentury, this is more pronounced in the underdeveloped and developingeconomies where women are considered the weaker gender. The conflicttheory of change supported by many philosophers like Karl Marxbecause it requires the society to remain proactive in addressing theinequalities rather than remaining passive despite being exploited bythe existing system (Andersen &amp Taylor, 2008). Thus, victims ofdomestic violence should actively take control of the situation andtake effective steps to enhance them regain their freedom. Thus, theconflicts that exist in the society are necessary society changetools that address the inequalities among the oppressed members ofthe society.

Solutionto the Problem

Aholistic approach that employs intervention plans focusing onmultiple levels is a theory of change that can be employed inaddressing the problem of social change. This will play a criticalrole in addressing the domestic violence and protect women and girlswho are the major victims of domestic violence. It is imperative toacknowledge that domestic violence is widespread in all societallevels, i.e., in the family and interpersonal relationships extendingto the community, state levels and national levels. This feature ofthe vast spread of domestic violence employs the ecological model.The criterion of addressing one factor in the ecological model willachieve limited results. Nonetheless, all the solutions available doface some level of limitations. For example, although the state lawsmay criminalize marital rape, marital rape continues to be widespreadvice at interpersonal relationship level. That calls forimplementation of change across all levels that will include family,societal, state and at national level. Multi-sectoral approaches willentail diverse strategies aimed at addressing the problems attributedto domestic violence. In this intervention strategy, the basic/primary approach involves preventing the occurrence of genderviolence. Preventing the incidences of domestic violence involvesprotecting the vulnerable members of the society. The vulnerablemembers are mainly the women, children, the elderly, and in somecase, men (UN General Assembly, 1993). Even if methods of preventionare established, there should be well-defined interventions measureswhen incidences of domestic violence occur. The intervention programsshould protect the vulnerable from future violence. It is imperativeto enhance the justice system whilst at the same time guarantying thehealth, in respect to psychological and physical health, of thevictims is taken into account. Inability to enhance the physical andmental health leaves the victims in a position where they cannoteffectively pursue justice to the physical and mental trauma they aregoing through. The change process in the family and societal leveltakes different approaches and each approach takes some time beforethe anticipated results are achieved. With time, upon theeffectiveness of the implementation process, there shall be changesin the social norms resulting to decreased levels of domesticviolence.

Inefforts to address the methods to address this problem, it isimperative to evaluate the causes of domestic violence and thusdevelop the control measures. In the above sections, it has beennoted that domestic violence is a social problem that is mainlyattributed to gender inequality, and in most cases, it ispremeditated. Therefore, the best approach to prevent and intervenethis problem is through employing mechanism to enhance social change.

Socialchange should begin by balancing the power relations between men andwomen. This will entail changes in attitude, behavior, beliefs andvalues. For this to achieve results, women empowerment is animportant input in the change process. Women empowerment can bethrough education, and getting equal employment opportunities as men.Lack of political will and limited resources at the state andgovernment level results to domestic violence. In such a situation,the social change can be enhanced through empowerment of vulnerablegroups, mainly the women and girls. The empowerment can includeencouraging women to take leadership positions, enabling them to havethe rights to own property, and educating them, thus making sure thatthey have life skill in such a way they will not be dependent on men.Through that, women will have control over resources at the social,economic and political levels, hence their rights will be protected(World Health Organisation, 2009).

Retrogressivesocial norms are also attributed to high levels of domestic violenceespecially in the developing economies. Some of these norms refer towomen as second-class human beings who are to be exploited by man.Such norms should be done away with. Women rights organization andthe justice system should play a critical role in lobbying forrespect of women and upholding their human rights. The women rightorganization should use all form of media to inform women about theirrights and the right channels to address incidences of domesticviolence. The local leaders, religious leaders, along with otherorganization should work towards lobbying against domestic violence.According to Hossain (2011), lack of social welfare, limitededucation, and inadequate security being overburdened, and havinglimited resources required for prevention and intervention result toincreased incidences of domestic violence. Efforts to address theseissues should incorporate legal and political will and institutionalcapability to address the vice. Policies against domestic violenceshould be implemented effectively through support by the local,state, national and international bodies. The vulnerable members ofthe society should be provided with sufficient support that enhancestheir support (Governance and Social Development Resource Centre,2009).

Fundingof the programs aimed at empowering the vulnerable groups is animportant input towards ending gender violence. Educational programsand legal advices on issues against domestic can be funded frommultiple sources. The civil rights groups can fund such programsbecause they advocate for the empowerment of the vulnerable groupswithin the societies. The government and non-governmentalorganizations can fund the programs meant to address this socialvice. The religious groups can also play a critical role in ensuringthat the issue of domestic violence become history by fundingeducation of programs aimed at educating the society on theimportance of gender equality and respect for humanity. The religiousgroups are important social institutions that are very powerful andcan play a critical role in addressing this vice. Internationaldonors from the developed economies can also fund the programs andstrategies meant to end cases of gender violence. The funding shouldbe accompanies with well-defined strategies on implementation andassessment of the success of the programs.

Roleof Healthcare Professionals in management of

Thehealthcare professional can play a critical role in prevention orintervention of domestic violence. They can prevent is occurrence byuse of political action. The political action may entail provision ofnecessary resources and education about the legal system in regardsto domestic violence. Through that, the vulnerable members of thesociety will be enlightened about personal protection orders, andmandatory police of perpetrators of domestic violence by the police.The healthcare professionals can also address this issue througheducation the students about anger control and conflict resolutionstrategies. The students can also be educated on how to avoid abusiverelationships and on ways to evaluate whether the relationship isfounded on power or love. In the place of work in public places, theycan post cards on notice boards with information on where to seekhelp in case of an incidence domestic violence (Campbell,1986).

Accordingto Buel (1995), the other strategy that the healthcare professionalscan help in addressing the vice through identification and offeringmedical help when the victim is physically and psychologicallyinjured. This requires proper documentation because the medicalreport may be needed for future reference. The medical personnel canalso provide the best action that the victim may take. The laststrategy that the medical professionals can employ in management ofthe vice is through offering the necessary support for victim, whilerespecting the decisions that the victims makes. For example, a womanmay make an option of remaining in an abuse relationship for economicsecurity, religious, and family reasons.

Assessmentof the Program

Thechances of success of the programs engineered towards addressing theproblem mainly depend on the degree of democracy, locally and atstate level. In societies that uphold high degree of democracy, thereis a very high probability that empowerment of the vulnerable groupswill solve the problem of domestic violence. This is because there isrespect of human rights, and the societal norms that breach the humanrights are eradicated. Contrary, in societies that employdictatorship leadership, the minority and vulnerable groups’ needsare likely to be ignored thus, efforts to address the problem ofdomestic violence are not likely to succeed. The political arena inthe community will play a key role in achieving the desired culturaland economic societal change. It is unfortunate that cases ofdomestic violence are most pronounced in the developing countrieswhere democratic leadership is yet to gain roots.

Thepositive changes that will be achieved through the implementation ofthe programs are the increased safety of the vulnerable groups. Moreso, the vulnerable groups will be able to enjoy their fundamentalfreedoms and rights, thus have high chances of success in futurebecause their barriers of success (mental and physical ill health)have been eliminated. Based on the fact that the women and girls arethe most vulnerable members of the society, the process of empoweringthem may result to neglecting of the boy child, hence making the boychild vulnerable too.

Theethical issues that revolve around the domestic violence entail datacollection methods and privacy of the individuals. Efforts to educatethe public about domestic violence requires data to be collected, theprivacy of the respondents needs to be maintained. The privacy of themedical records of victims of domestic violence should also bemaintained. The healthcare professional should ensure that privacy ofthe medical records of all clients including the victims of domesticviolence. In regards to the issue of privacy, all records should bestored in a highly secured area. Incase of the use of computedtechnology, the systems should employ passwords and other securitymeasures to prevent unauthorized access of the data. Another ethicalissue is the use of the funds allocated to the programs aimed ataddressing the vice. The funds should be used for their intendedpurposes. This ethical concern should be addressed through use ofexternal auditors to carry out an audit in regards to theimplementation of the social change programs.

Thesuccess of the social change programs should be evaluated through bychecking the increase or decrease of the cases of domestic violence.It is anticipated that, in the developed countries where the rule oflaw is upheld, there shall be decreased cases of domestic violence.On the other hand, in the developing countries, where there cases ofdomestic violence are very pronounced, there shall be increasedreporting of cases of domestic violence. This is because, before theempowerment of the victims, many are suppressed not to report, hencealthough there are many cases of domestic violence, many ends up notbeing reported. The long run success or failure of the program shallbe through analysis of either number of cases of domestic violencereported.


Fromthe discussion above it is clear that there are several effects ofdomestic violence to various groups of people in society and they arevery much destructive to social life. Domestic violence takes manyforms and all members of the society are vulnerable, however, thewomen and girls are more vulnerable due to the societal norms. Thus,different government and non-governmental agencies as well as thecitizens need to establish various measures in order to reverse thistrend. There are many theories that have been developed to explainthe caused of domestic. The adverse physical and mental problemsattributed to domestic violence makes it a concern to the Americansociety and globe at large. The main solution to the vice isempowerment of the vulnerable groups. All members of the society,including the medical professional, civil right groups and religiousgroups among others, have a role to play in the prevention andintervention of the problem. Programs aimed at addressing the problemcan be funded by the local, state or by donors. Ethical concernsshould be addressed to ensure the short-term and long-term goals ofthe programs are achieved. Laws that are more stringent need to bepassed to deter potential abusers. Additionally, victims need to beadvised not to keep silent about instances of domestic violence.


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