A woman wakes up in the middle of the kitchen floor, and as she opens the one eye that isn’t swollen shut, she frantically searches for her minor child with no avail. She calls the police who take her report and then question her about her bruises and black eye. She tells them what happened; they take her report and begin the search for her daughter.
When they find her daughter and husband they return them both home because the daughter is “safe” in their eyes and she has fearfully corroborated her father’s alibi that they haven’t been home all day.The officers leave, satisfied that they have done their jobs, only to discover the next day that the man they returned home safe has now beaten his wife and child unconscious. This situation may not be how every domestic violence situation plays out but it is all too often the case. Domestic violence is a serious problem in America that affects the victims and children involved, but does not seem to have consistent enough consequences for the offender, or strong enough protection for the victims. The Effects on the VictimsThe number of domestic violence incidents is at a staggering amount. According to the Domestic Violence Resource Center (2010), one in four women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime. That is one quarter of the female population. This means that the majority of us probably know someone who has been a victim, whether they have admitted it or not. This could be your mother, sister, aunt or daughter. Whether you can see the physical effects there are other signs that may suggest they are in a violent or abusive situation.Victims involved in this kind of abuse typically withdraw themselves from their friends and family. They don’t participate in activities that they once loved. They may also change the way they groom themselves on a daily basis. For example someone who would typically take pride in her appearance may now dress very casually, wearing “sloppy clothing” and wearing hats and sun glasses to “hide” their face. Domestic violence victims suffer many immediate physical symptoms such as bruising and broken or fractured bones, and though most may think that is the extent of the physical problems, it is not.The BRFSS (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System) is an annual, state-based, random-digit, dialed telephone survey of noninstitutionalized , US civilian population greater than 18 years of age. In a study conducted by BRFSS the findings in their report linked IPV (Intimate Partner Violence) with poor general health, chronic disease, disability, somatic syndromes, injury, chronic pain, STD, functional gastrointestinal disorders, and changes in endocrine and immune functions (Shannon, 2009).Symptoms like these can cause problems with the victims for many years to come, and in some cases, the victim’s entire life. Some of the physical effects are irreversible. Women are abused every day, and the below picture is an example of only a portion of the pain caused to the victim. This abuse affects many aspects of their lives other than aesthetics. [pic] In addition to the horrifying physical effects of domestic violence, the victims are subject to many psychological effects as well. Some of the abusers involved don’t start out hitting their partner.The abuse begins sometimes, long before the hitting. Sometimes it could start off with something as seemingly insignificant as the abuser saying “I don’t think you need that much make-up”. This may be an innocent enough comment in the right moment that the woman believes her partner is giving her a compliment and so she complies. The problem is now, her partner has realized how to approach her in a deceiving way to slowly gain control of her. After that control has been established, those once “flattering suggestions” have now become expected demands to the victim.In most cases by the time the victim has realized she does not want to comply with these demands, her abuser has already started demanding her compliance by hitting her. Now she does not know how to escape from her abuser. According to Encyclopedia Britannica for some victims the unrelenting cycle of violence produces diminished self-esteem, helplessness, depression, and exaggerated feelings of imprisonment, even the belief that they deserve the abuse. Once the victim has reached this phase of the relationship it becomes almost impossible for her to escape.She is under the impression that if she leaves, her abuser will find her and hurt her even worse, and possibly even kill her. She may also believe that there is no point in leaving because her abuser has made her believe that he is the only one who could ever love her, and that nobody else could ever want her. This fear of total loneliness if she was to leave can be enough to make her stay. At this point the self-esteem is so low that she needs what small portion of distorted attention she does get from her abuser. The Effects on ChildrenWhile a woman is dealing with this amount of abuse from her abuser, if she is a mother, she may not realize the consequences her child is suffering. While she may feel she is protecting her child from this violence by sending them to their room prior to an argument, many children report witnessing the violence anyway. According to the Domestic Violence Resource Center studies suggest that 3. 3-10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually. Witnessing this violence can have a lasting effect on children.These effects may include behavioral problems such as aggression, phobias, insomnia, low self-esteem, and depression (Myers, 2006). The aggression that can occur from seeing violence like this can spill over into a child’s own social life. It can affect friendships and cause many problems in school. Being forced to deal with these feelings alone could obviously adversely affect a child’s learning experience at school and make it nearly impossible to develop and maintain healthy relationships with their peers. These are the effects from just witnessing violence between their parents.This doesn’t include what can happen if a child is caught in the crossfire. There are a terrifying amount of children who are also subject to the physical abuse themselves. So, in addition to seeing the one person who tried to protect them get abused, they are now bearing the brunt of some of these attacks. According to the Domestic Violence Resource Center (2010) In a national survey of American families, 50% of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children. [pic] This puts a whole new perspective on things for the mothers now.The mothers who have been trying to protect their children from seeing the violence have left their children vulnerable to being abused also. This is a serious and vicious cycle that has to be broken. Children who view this kind of violence and are subject to it themselves will most likely be abusers in their adult life. So what is to be done? Where do these desperate victims and their helpless children turn in these terrifying moments? The Role of Police The victims, of course, have the option of calling the police. However, many women fear calling the police for a variety of reasons.According to Doak (2007) when forty one women were interviewed to find out what kept them from calling the police the factors cited included the idea that they must have physical proof that battering had occurred, the desire to avoid a humiliating physical examination in the case of rape or sexual abuse, cultural attitudes about domestic violence, poor self-esteem, being physically prevented from calling the police by the batterer, poor police response when battering was previously reported, and fears of possible retaliation by the batterer or removal of children from the home by protective services.This is a heavy burden to bear for a woman who is already in an extremely volatile situation, doing everything in her power to protect herself and her child. When her last resort is calling the police because she does not know where to go or how to even get out, she needs to know that she can depend on them to “protect and serve” she and her child and send a strong message to their batterer.When the victim gets the courage and opportunity to finally call the police in an effort to save herself and child the police need to be diligent in helping the victims find resources to get away from the home and away from the abuser at least long enough until the abuser is required to go to court. There is no guarantee that the punishment will be significant enough to make the victim’s home safe for her again, but until that is determined, she and possibly her child will need a safe place to go.Consequences for the Abuser The consequences are not consistent enough for the abuser which makes it difficult for the current victims to feel safe, and it means that in the future another victim could potentially suffer at the hands of this person. Many courts are now using batterer intervention programs instead of incarceration for the offenders. The effectiveness of this does not seem to be very notable. According to the National Institute of Justice two valuations of programs in Broward County, Florida, and Brooklyn, New York, based on rigorous experimental designs, claim that batter treatment programs have little or no effect. If this is the case, then how are the victims supposed to feel safe in their own home? Their abuser gets arrested and sentenced to a batterer treatment program, only for him to leave with the same attitude as he went in with. That is if he even completes the class. Then he is most likely angrier because he had to go through it in the first place; therefore leaves him more likely to recidivate.These batterers need to be supervised more thoroughly while they are enrolled in such programs to ensure their rehabilitation, should this be the course of action the courts decide to take in a particular case. Instead it seems that the people in charge of ensuring victim’s safety are merely handing out “slaps on the wrist”. Recent history has shown that this is not an effective method of repercussion for the offenders, nor does it provide any solace for the victims. There are so many factors in a situation of Domestic Violence.From the start of the relationship where the abuser begins manipulating the victim to obtain control of her, through each step from verbal to ultimately physical abuse. The abusers make their victims feel like they are signing their own death certificate if they try to leave. This is enough to leave any victim afraid to ask for help. Domestic violence has such an impact on so many lives. Outside family members often are unaware of the violence. Also, in staggering amounts of cases, inside family members such as children are all too aware.These abusers are so vicious that they have poisoned their victims with fear. In their minds, the threat of their attackers supersedes any protection law enforcement may offer because in reality all they have is a piece of paper between the two of them. This is a behavior that could gradually be changed if our justice system would remain firm and consistent with the offenders. This would show the victims that they do have a choice. They would know that they could break free from these unstable, unrelenting predators and start their lives over.Nobody in this world deserves to feel dehumanized by anyone nor should any one person ever feel like they have that amount of control over another life. It is imperative to get this message through to all abusers and their victims so this cycle of abuse can cease once and for all.ReferencesDoak, M. J. (2007). Information Plus Reference Series. Detroit, MI: Thompson Gale. Domestic Violence (2010). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved October 09, 2010, from Encyclopedia Britannica Online: http://www. britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/168589/domestic-violenceDomestic Violence Resource Center. 2010). Domestic Violence Resource Center. Retrieved from http://www. dvrc-or. org/domestic/violence/resources/C61/#domestic-violence Myers, John E. B.. (2006). Child Protection in America: Past, Present, and Future. Oxford University Press USA. Retrieved 9 October 2010, from Shannon, J. B. (2009).Domestic Violence Sourcebook (3rd ed. ). Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics. US Dept of Justice. (2003). NIJ Special Report. Retrieved from http://www. ncjrs. gov/pdffiles1/nij/195079. pdf