Domestic violence is violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting. It can take place in heterosexual or same-sex relationships, or between former spouses or partners. Domestic violence can also involve violence against children, parents, or the elderly.
When people think of domestic abuse, they often focus on domestic violence. But domestic abuse includes any attempt by one person in an intimate relationship or marriage to dominate and control the other. Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” An abuser uses fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear down and keep under their thumb.
Domestic violence may, (or) may not produce an intergenerational cycle of abuse in children and other family members, who may feel that such violence is acceptable or condoned. It almost so happens that many people do not recognize themselves as abusers or victims. Awareness, perception, definition and documentation of domestic violence differs widely from country to country. Domestic violence often happens in the context of forced or child marriage.
The first known use of the term domestic violence in a modern context, meaning violence in the home, was in an address to the Parliament of the United Kingdom by Jack Ashley in 1973. The term previously referred primarily to civil unrest, violence from within a country as opposed to violence perpetrated by a foreign power.
Prior to the mid-1800s, most legal systems viewed wife beating as a valid exercise of a husband’s authority over his wife. In 1850, Tennessee became the first state in the United States to explicitly outlaw wife beating. In most legal systems around the world including India, domestic violence has been addressed only from the 1990s onwards; indeed, before the late-20th century, in most countries there was very little protection, in law or in practice, against DV.
Estimated annual figures for the number of women in India who are subjected to abuse by a male partner range from two to four million. Additional statistics indicate that domestic violence ranks as the leading cause of injury to women from age 15 to 44 and that one-third of the women murdered in any given year are killed by current or former boyfriends or husbands.
In California State in 2007, there were 174,649 domestic violence-related calls to law enforcement; many other incidents went unreported. 40% of reported incidents involved weapons.
Global estimates published by WHO indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
Signs and Symptoms
The acronym AARDVARC (An Abuse, Rape, Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection) describes a number of warning signs for friends, family members, and coworkers for recognizing people who may be victims of intimate partner abuse. Usually, physical abuse isn’t what comes first. The abuse can creep up slowly. A discouragement here or there. An odd excuse to keep away from family or friends. The violence often ramps up once the have been cut off from other people.
The abuser partner bullies, threatens, or controls by accusing of having an affair, blames for abuse, criticism, controls what to wear, threatens to kill her or someone close to her, throws things or punches at walls when angry, yells at her and makes her feel small.
The abuser controls her money by keeping cash and credit cards away from her, puts her on an allowance and makes her explain every dollar she spends, keeps her from working whatever job she want, steals money from her or her friends, won’t let her have money for basic needs like food and clothes.
The partner cuts her off from family and friends by keeping close tabs on where she goes and with whom she goes, makes her ask to take permission to see friends and family, embarrasses her in front of others, and it makes herself want to avoid people.
The partner physically abuses by abandoning her in a place she don’t know, attacks with weapons, keeps her away from eating, sleeping, or getting medical care, locks her in or out of the house, punches, pushes, kicks, bites, and pulls hair.
Victims of an abusive relationship may experience some of the following emotions and behaviors:
- Agitation, anxiety and chronic apprehension
- Constant state of alertness that makes it difficult for them to relax or sleep
- A sense of hopelessness, helplessness or despair because the victim believes they will never escape the control of their abuser
- Fear that one cannot protect oneself or one’s children. This person will turn down the assistance offered by relatives, friends or professionals.
- Feeling paralyzed by fear to make decisions or protect oneself
- A belief that one deserves the abuse
- A belief that one is responsible for the abuse
- Flashbacks, recurrent thoughts and memories of the violence and nightmares of the violence
- Emotional reactions to reminders of domestic violence
Victims of domestic violence can also have physical symptoms that aren’t directly caused by physical abuse. These symptoms are instead caused by the constant stress and tension of living in an abusive relationship. These symptoms include:
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Chronic pain
- Restless sleep or inability to sleep
- Genital soreness
- Pelvic pain
- Back pain
In United States of America, The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) provides federal funding to help victims of domestic violence and their dependent children by providing shelter and related help, offering violence prevention programs, and improving how service agencies work together in communities.
The United Arab Emirates has no specific law on domestic violence. While general Penal Code provisions, such as on assault, can apply to spousal abuse, UAE law fails to spell out protection measures and the responsibilities of police, courts, and other government agencies in handling such abuse. In March 2014 local media reported that the Abu Dhabi public prosecutor had written to the Attorney General to request that a new family abuse law be enacted.
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to protect women from domestic violence. The Act provides for the first time in Indian law a definition of “domestic violence”, with this definition being broad and including not only physical violence, but also other forms of violence such as emotional/verbal, and economic abuse. It is a civil law meant primarily for protection orders and not for meant to be enforced criminally.