The nightmare of silent domestic abuse crosses all cultural boundaries. Abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines and within all religions and all levels of education. As cultures sometimes shroud domestic violence and child abuse, when it is identified to be occurring, the need to provide safe shelter and life-saving intervention is even more critical.
THE REPERCUSSIONS OF ABUSE
CAN BECOME LIFE-LONG RISK FACTORS
Child abuse or neglect is often associated with physical or disfiguring injuries, delayed physical growth and even neurologic damage. Child maltreatment is associated with psychological and emotional problems such as post-traumatic stress syndrome and depression. In extreme cases, child abuse and neglect can lead to death. Infant homicides are classified as deaths purposefully inflicted by another person on a child less than one year old.
The repercussion of child abuse can become life-long risk factors associated with an increased risk of substance abuse, eating disorders, obesity, depression and suicide. Woman who were victims of physical assault as children are twice as likely to be victims of physical assault as adults.
DURING PREGNANCY, MOTHERS CAN EXPERIENCE MISCARRIAGE, LOW-BIRTH WEIGHT DELIVERIES AND FETAL DEATH
The immediate physical effects of abuse or neglect can range from bruises to cuts, broken bones, hemorrhages and even death. During pregnancy, mothers can experience miscarriage, low-birth weight deliveries and fetal death.
While the immediate physical effects of abuse can be treated if there is adequate and accessible medical care, the long-term destruction of a woman’s self-esteem and self-worth are invisible scares which remain.
INVISIBLE SCARS WHICH REMAIN AS MEMORIES AND SOCIAL BEHAVIORS LEARNED BY HER SONS AND DAUGHTERS
One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime (1). Domestic Violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States, more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined (2). Three to four million women in the United States are beaten in their homes each year by their husbands, ex-husbands or another male acquaintance (3).
In 2008, there were 1,817 women murdered by men in single victim/single offender incidents that were submitted to the FBI for its Supplementary Homicide Report. For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 92 percent of female victims (1,564 out of 1,694) were murdered by someone they knew.
For victims who knew their offenders, 64 percent (997) of female homicide victims were wives or intimate acquaintances of their killers. 278 of the women murdered were shot and killed by either their husband or intimate acquaintance during the course of an argument.
Nationwide, for homicides in which the weapon could be determined, more female homicides were committed with firearms (52 percent) than with any other weapon. Knives and other cutting instruments accounted for 21 percent of all female murders, bodily force 15 percent, and murder by blunt object seven percent (4) .
The U.S. Department of Justice has found that women are far more likely to be the victims of violent crimes committed by intimate partners than men, especially when a weapon is involved. Moreover, women are much more likely to be victimized at home than in any other place (4)
WOMEN ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE VICTIMIZED AT HOME
THAN ANY OTHER PLACE
The generational tragedy of domestic violence is that woman are not the only victim of violence. In households were women are victims of assault, their children are also often silent, unseen victims. 30-60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse the children in the household (4). A tragedy deepened by the often fatal reality that most cases of Domestic Violence are not reported to the police (5).
1 Tjaden, Patricia & Thoennes, Nancy. National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, “Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey,” 2000; Sara Glazer, "Violence, Against Women" CO Researcher, Congressional Quarterly, Inc., Volume 3, Number 8, February, 1993, p. 171; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Institute of Justice, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence, July 2000; The Commonwealth Fund, Health Concerns Across a Woman’s Lifespan: 1998 Survey of Women’s Health, 1999).
2 "Violence Against Women, A Majority Staff Report," Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 102nd Congress, October 1992, p.3.
3 "Women and Violence," Hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, August 29 and December 11, 1990, Senate Hearing 101-939, pt. 1, p. 12.
4 The Violence Policy Center, When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2008 Homicide Data: Females Murdered by Males in Single Victim/Single Offender Incidents, available at http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2010.pdf
5 Frieze, I.H. , Browne, A. (1989) Violence in Marriage. In L.E. Ohlin and M & H. Tonry (eds.) Family Violence. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press
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WESTERN WASHINGTON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PREVENTION & OUTREACH RESOURCE GUIDE