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Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. It also refers to violent acts committed by a family or household member against another, such as child abuse or the mistreatment of one’s spouse. Domestic violence can refer to physical harm inflicted on a member of a household or family, by another member of the same household or family. The catch-all term domestic violence can generally apply to any partners - married or unmarried, straight or gay, living together or simply dating.

It includes  physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects), or threats thereof; sexual abuse ,emotional abuse, controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.

It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating.

Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. The management of domestic violence essentially requires combined effort of law enforcement, social welfare and health care services.

Anyone can become a domestic violence offender or victim. While rape and murder can be forms of domestic violence, most often domestic violence consists of lesser forms of physical abuse such as slapping and pushing. Stalking can also be a form of domestic violence.

Real change in these cases can only be brought about by changing the mindset of society through education and better law enforcement. 

All forms of domestic abuse have one purpose: To gain and maintain control over the victim. Abusers use many tactics to exert power over their spouse or partner as dominance, humiliation, isolation, threats and blame.

Sexual Abuse and Marital Rape:
Sexual abuse is any situation in which force or threat is used to obtain unwanted sexual activity. Coercing a person to engage in sexual activity against their will, even if that person is a spouse or intimate partner with whom consensual sex has occurred, is an act of aggression and violence.

Spousal sexual abuse is a form of domestic violence. When the abuse involves threats of unwanted sexual contact or forced sex by a woman's husband or ex-husband, it may constitute rape, depending on the jurisdiction, and may also constitute an assault.

Physical abuse:
Physical abuse basically involves a person using physical force against you, which causes, or could cause, you harm.

Types of physical abuse
Physical abuse can involve any of the following violent acts:
#  scratching or biting
#  pushing 
#  slapping
#  kicking
#  choking 
#  throwing things
#  force feeding or denying you food
#  using weapons or objects that could hurt you
#  physically restraining you (such as pinning you against a wall, floor, bed, etc.)
#  other acts that hurt or threaten you.

It can also include behaviors such as denying the victim of medical care when needed, depriving the victim of sleep or other functions necessary to live, or forcing the victim to engage in drug/alcohol use against his/her will. If a person is suffering from any physical harm then they are experiencing physical abuse.

Emotional abuse:
Emotional abuse is a type of abuse that you can experience in an abusive relationship. Although it doesn’t leave you with physical scars, it can have a huge impact on your confidence and self esteem 

Signs of Emotional Abuse
Criticism. Unrelenting criticism of what you say or do with a specific intention to display power. 

Shame and blame. Sometimes emotional abuse manifests as incessant blaming and shaming for anything and everything. And, this goes two ways. Abusers may deflect blame or their responsibility for any hurtful actions, leaving the survivor feeling like they are the one at fault.

Threats. Threatening in emotionally abusive relationships often happens two ways: threatening physical harm and threatening you to do something you do not want to do. 

Control. Emotional abusers may control your finances in an attempt to force you to stay in an abusive relationship. 

Emotional abuse can include verbal abuse is defined as any behavior that threatens, intimidates, undermines the victim’s self-esteem, or controls the victim’s freedom.
Verbal abuse is a form of emotionally  abusive behavior involving the use of language. Verbal abuse can also be referred to as the act of threatening.

Economic Abuse:
Economic abuse is a form of abuse when one intimate partner has control over the other partner's access to economic resources.
Economic abuse may involve preventing a spouse from resource acquisition, limiting the amount of resources to use by the victim, or by exploiting economic resources of the victim.

The motive behind preventing a spouse from acquiring resources is to diminish victim's capacity to support him/herself, thus forcing him/her to depend on the perpetrator financially, which includes preventing the victim from obtaining education, finding employment, maintaining or advancing their careers, and acquiring assets.

Causes of Violence:
There are many different theories as to the causes of domestic violence. These include psychological theories that consider personality traits and mental characteristics of the perpetrator, as well as social theories which consider external factors in the perpetrator's environment, such as family structure, stress, social learning. As with many phenomena regarding human experience, no single 
approach appears to cover all cases.

There are many theories regarding what causes one individual to act violently towards an intimate partner or family member there is also growing concern around apparent intergenerational cycles of domestic violence.[1]

Jealousy
Many cases of domestic violence against women occur due to jealousy when one partner is either suspected of being unfaithful or is planning to leave the relationship. 

Behavioral
Many people have aggressive behavior which is usually with all. A bad or aggressive behavior also play a major role in violence 

Mental Illness
Many disorders are risk factors for domestic violence, including several personality disorders: all Cluster BPDs, (especially antisocial), paranoid and passive- aggressive. Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, drug abuse, alcoholism and poor impulse control are also risk factors.  It is estimated that at least one-third of all abusers have some type of mental illness. 

Social Stress
Stress may be increased when a person is living in a family situation, with increased pressures. Social stresses, due to inadequate finances or other such problems in a family may further increase tensions. 

Violence is not always caused by stress, but may be one way that some people respond to stress.
Families and couples in poverty may be more likely to experience domestic violence, due to increased stress and conflicts about finances and other aspects. 

Marital Conflict Disorder
Marital conflicts between the couples are the major cause for the violence. The stress between husband and wife became a major issue for the conflicts 

Violence may be categorized in many ways:
# Types of violent acts: 
assault, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, etc.

# Precipitating factors:
war, robbery, mental illness

# Contributing factors:
drugs and alcohol, poverty, culture, emotion, psychosis, etc.

# Impact of violence: 
death or disability, economic, mental illness, etc.

# Those affected by violence: individuals, children, community, ethnic or minority group, etc.

Factors That May Accompany Domestic Violence 
Domestic violence is often accompanied by circumstances such as alcohol and drug use, stress, unresolved anger, or problems with the relationship. The following discussion briefly explores the complex relationships between these factors and domestic violence.

# Alcohol and drug use
Although studies show a high correlation between alcohol and drug use and domestic violence, researchers have rejected a causal connection between them. Studies have found that alcohol abuse by men is associated with an increased likelihood of injury as a result of domestic violence and that abusers with a history of heavy drug or alcohol use tend to engage in intensified violence toward their domestic partners. Alcohol and drug use can lower the abuser’s inhibitions and provide an excuse for “losing control.” Indeed, some abusers admit to using alcohol in certain situations in order to give themselves permission to batter .Because alcohol and drug use do not cause domestic violence, effective intervention in cases where the abuser is drug or alcohol dependent must be directed at both the violence and the substance .

# Stress and anger
Researchers do not agree on the relationship between stress and anger and 
domestic violence. Abuser’s denial of responsibility for the abuse to emphasize lack of anger management, stress management, or communication skills as the primary cause of domestic abuse. Abusers may benefit from learning stress or anger management skills.

# Problems inherent in the relationship
Abusers frequently escape responsibility for their violent choices by blaming the abuse on their intimate partners. Blaming the relationship is a variation on this theme because it gives the intimate partner at least partial responsibility for the abuse. However, most people who experience relational difficulties respond to the without violence. Domestic violence interventions recognize that only the abuser has the power to stop the abuse.

Persons subject to domestic abuse are endangered by traditional couples counseling and family therapy modalities that require them to share responsibility for the abuse by working cooperatively with the abuser to resolve the difficulties with the relationship. These treatment methods are dangerous as they place abused individuals in the position of self-disclosing information that may later be used against them by their abusers. Moreover, couples or family counseling may create opportunities for abuse by physically bringing the abuser to the same location as an intimate partner.

Finally, where an abused individual is expected to work cooperatively to resolve the difficulties in the relationship, the blame for the abuse may be fixed implicitly on that individual. An abuser may feel justified in using abuse as “punishment” when the couple’s difficulties continue; indeed, many domestic violence victims report assaults following couples therapy sessions.

For similar reasons, many domestic violence service providers assert that mediation, community dispute resolution, and arbitration are not appropriate when domestic violence is present.

Domestic violence cannot be a subject for negotiation or settlement between the abuser and an intimate partner because the partner has no responsibility for changing the abuser’s behavior. 
This is particularly true where the abuse rises to a criminal level; mediation between a crime victim and perpetrator is just as inappropriate in cases involving domestic violence as it is in cases involving stranger violence.[2]

Consequences of domestic violence are:
Divorce and separation often bring about socio-economic problems such as homelessness because the victim-survivor has to flee her home with her children.

Loss of employment and earnings: The victim-survivor often either loses her job following frequent absenteeism because of injuries sustained or she has to quit her job as a safety measure or because she has moved to a place of safety, far away from her employment. Denial of basic human rights to physical, sexual and mental integrity and to safety and security Negative impact on parenting behaviours which effects on the development of children[3]

Law Enforcement In 1983, Domestic Violence was recognized as a specific criminal offence by the introduction of section 498-A into the Indian Penal Code. This section deals with cruelty by a husband or his family towards a married woman.[4]

Four types of cruelty are dealt with by this law:
# Conduct that is likely to drive a woman to suicide
# Conduct which is likely to cause grave injury to the life, limb or health of the woman
# Harassment with the purpose of forcing the woman or her relatives to give some property
# Harassment because the woman or her relatives is unable to yield to demands for more money or does not give some property.

The punishment is imprisonment for up to three years and a fine. The complaint against cruelty need not be lodged by the person herself. Any relative may also make the complaint on her behalf. The above section relates to the criminal provisions of a more stringent offence. The civil law does not however address this phenomenon in its entirety.

There was a need of provision in law with more pliable remedies to offer within the broader framework of civil and criminal laws. A law was enacted keeping in view the rights guaranteed under the article 14, 15 & 21 of the constitution to provide for a remedy under civil law which is intended to protect the woman from being victims of domestic violence and to prevent the occurrence of domestic violence in the society.

Conclusion:
Despite efforts made by various sections of society and the Government to curb  the domestic violence against women, or any household member there is a rise in domestic violence. 

This can be removed by:
• Educating women about her rights.
• Community screening for domestic violence. 
•  Providing adequate assistance to the victim. 
• Counseling for Person Affected
• Counseling for Offenders
• By offering safe shelters, crisis intervention,advocacy, and education and prevention programs.
• Provision of strict laws and punishment for offence of domestic violence. 

To conclude it is therefore necessary that every person of society must contribute to ensure a violence free life for everyone.

End notes:
[1] J Indian Acad Forensic Med. Jan-March 2013, Vol. 35, No. 1
[2] Domestic Violence: A Guide to Civil & Criminal Proceedings—3rd Edition 
[3] www.stopvaw.org › effects_of_dom. Effects of Domestic Violence - Stop Violence Against Women
[4] Indian penal code published by universal 

Written By: Akanksha (Student), KR Mangalam University, Haryana
Email: [email protected]

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