Child Abuse and Violence Against Females
Domestic violence in the United States has become a major problem that affects nearly 2/3’s of all people. It can affect wives, the elderly, and even men, but in this paper we will discuss the abuse that occurs to children and also violence toward women.
It is widely assumed that most estimates of the incidence of domestic violence are underestimates. Even large population surveys cannot provide accurate estimates of the extent of domestic violence. This is partly because many victims feel unable to speak out about domestic violence.
The pressures of negative community attitudes toward victims, feelings of shame, and fear of retribution from the perpetrator contribute to low levels of disclosure of domestic violence. Also, because domestic violence often occurs in the privacy of the home, there are few outside witnesses. Surveys often require fluency in English, which means that the experience of people from non-English speaking background may not be adequately represented.
Statistics from public agencies such as police, courts, counseling and accommodation services are another source of information. However, these can only provide information about people who come to public attention, many victims never contact such agencies. Some agencies do not collect statistics on domestic violence, and those that do define and record domestic violence in different ways.
The Women’s Safety Survey in 1996 surveyed approximately 6,300 women about their experience of actual or threatened physical and sexual violence. Based on the survey results, they estimated that, in the 12 months prior to completing the survey:
7.1 % of the adult female population experienced violence. 6.2% of women experienced violence perpetrated by a male, and 1.6% experienced violence perpetrated by a female.
2.6% of women who were married or in a defacto relationship had experienced violence perpetrated by their current partner.
4.8% of unmarried women had experienced violence by their previous partner in the last 12 months.
Of women who had been physically assaulted in the 12-month period, 58% spoke to a friend or neighbor, 53% spoke to a family member, 12% spoke to a counselor, and 4.5% spoke to a crisis service organization.
Only 19% reported the incident to police, and women who experienced violence by a current partner were least likely to have reported the assault, while women who were assaulted by a stranger were more likely to report to police. 18% had never told anyone about the incident.
Now we come to the question, why would a woman whose face is disfigured, whose bones are broken, whose pregnancy is lost, remain with a spouse who might beat her to death?
For some, there is no exit. It is like the door is open but she cannot leave. She has no resources of her own, she needs to provide for her children, she is terrified of the police, and social workers are people who can declare you an unfit mother. The perpetrator has threatened to kill her if she leaves or if she tells and she knows no safe haven from him.
There is also no federal witness protection program for domestic assault victims.
Some women hold onto hope for the chance of better times. The cycle of tension, abuse, relief; tension, abuse, relief has periods in which optimism is rewarded. Hope for the ending of battering is realized and the relief experienced in the periods of peace is strong. We know there is nothing as powerful as relief from torture as a positive reward for desired behavior. For some battered women the thin thread of hope and the brief experience of relief reinforces her decision to stay.
Child abuse can be physical — shaking, hitting, beating, burning, or biting a child; emotional — constantly blaming or putting down a child; excessive yelling, shaming; sexual incest, any forced sexual activity, exposure to sexual stimulation not appropriate for the child’s age; neglect– a pattern of failure to provide for the child’s physical needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical care; a pattern of failure to provide for the child’s emotional needs, such as affection, attention, and supervision.
In an abusive environment, children are often expected to behave as if they are much older than they are. Children are often .