Domestic violence is one of the most hurtful crimes committed leaving victims ashamed, embarrassed or often bruised both inside and out. Generally, when people think of domestic violence, they think of some inebriated man back handing the barefoot and pregnant mother of his child but domestic violence is not as black and white as a “wife-beater” t-shirt. Domestic violence has many faces and phases. Research herein will examine the many faces of domestic violence as an effort to understand how criminal the act is overall but also as a measure to reflect on how societal issues show-up in homes. It is assumed that pressures from society have a direct correlation to the cause of violence in the home. The research, herein, conducted about domestic violence will act as either a support or as an argument for the statement that societal issues are the cause for domestic violence.
The topic of domestic violence was chosen so that one can have an understanding of how some facets of oppression manifest in the human family system (Farrel 2008) The human family system is the most critical social component in and of society. Socialization begins in the womb with the woman and child but more importantly, the social interactions a pregnant woman experiences actually are the first socialization experiences of the developing infant as well. In relation to this research, statistics show that pregnant women are more likely than non- pregnant women to suffer from domestic violence. (Wekerle p.196 paragraph 2)
Domestic violence is not just a “girly” abuse where men abuse women but domestic violence should be looked at as abuse of femininity. Masculine and feminine roles in society determine who head households and who acts as a subservient. While feminine roles are usually specific to female species, femininity does cross gender lines. When femininity crosses genders, domestic violence can be more or equally brutal toward men than or just as brutal as it is toward women; moreover, merely reporting incidents of crimes involving domestic violence is taboo for many cultures but is even more taboo when it comes to gender.(Chavez 2013) The book, Does Feminisim Discriminate Against Men, Suggests that, the distinction of male and female gender roles do an overall injustice to society and, “have become dysfunctional in an evolutionary” sense.(Farrel 2008) Meanwhile, socialization of gender roles predominantly places specific types of behaviors on men and women whereby domestic violence acts as both interference as well as an enforcement of such roles.
In society, humans socialize themselves according to gender in most every aspect of life. Gender is often associated with both size and access to potential wealth, job and career type, individual familial roles, level of education, individual demeanor and characteristics, style of dress, vehicle type, hair length, military status, governance and so much more. Thus, domestic abuse, as an attack on femininity in society as a crime is a global crisis as well as an epidemic here in America.
The primary victims of domestic abuse are women and children but men are abused as well. Men are confronted with domestic abuse in the form of what one may refer to as genderization, for lack of a better term. Genderization places men as the primary provider in their family system. Men are expected to produce an income that is sufficient enough to support their wives and children; however, the roller-coaster cycles of the American economy may not allow a man to live up to that “genderized” potential. Men who cannot sufficiently support a family are typically looked down upon in American society and there are many correlations to substance abuse as a direct result of the male species inability to cope with the strains society places on them. (Wekerle 2001)
Naturally, substance abuse, such as alcohol abuse in the family system increases the likelihood of domestic abuse and child abuse. The Violence and Addiction Equation is a book that analyzes and draws conclusions on the existence of substance abuse and relationship violence. In the book, the authors report on several studies of men who were guilty of relationship violence and each study reflects that there is a direct correlation of alcohol consumption and marital violence where women and children were the victim.
Domestic violence, as mentioned, is not just a, “girly” crime. The primary victims are each and every person in society. Violence in the home teaches violence to children and as such ill behaviors are learned, society suffers in return.
While the perpetrators of violence against women are primarily men, individuals in society who subscribe to the ideologies associated with masculine gender roles should be viewed as perpetrators as well. In America, it is no secret that the income of men in comparison to the income of women in the same job and/or career is significantly higher on a consistent basis. The gap in income between men and women is significant evidence that society contributes to the divide between genders and therefore, domestic -abuse as this research throughout suggest a strong correlation between domestic abuse and genderdization. Individual income is vital and directly related to status in America and most every country; therefore, it is actually abusive for society to deny women a pay rate that is not equal to that of men.
Another way society contributes to abuse is through the judicial system via jails and prisons. In America, there are many jails and prisons over populated with men. The overpopulation of jails and prisons suggests that men are far more likely to be convicted of a crime than women. However, other factors like the factors mentioned herein suggest that men may want to escape society when they cannot live up to the demands placed on their gender role.
In the book, One of the Guys, “an anthology about women, power, and violence” war stories are told and analyzed where the abuser is female. The book also discusses the challenges females in the military face in trying to deal with male enemies as well as fellow male soldiers. Sworn transcripts of a military court hearing that took place in November 2003 regarding and incident at Camp Bucca, are shared detailing a controversial event where a female, Master Sergeant Girman allegedly mistreated Iraqi prisoners of war. Girman claims that she was severely mistreated because of her gender and her discharge from the army was due to a conspiracy by male military men who no longer wanted her around. In short, the book alludes to the fact that the military has a very strong masculine persona for men to follow. Men who show weakness or lack skill, endurance or other potential characteristics of masculinity are physically and verbally abused. More importantly, the book shows society a rare view of women as abusers of men and women abusing power. Thus, one can clearly see how society both defines and enforces typical male roles; specifically, when it comes to domestic violence it is always assumed to be Society’s masculine enforcement, through an overabundance of media display, expected actions of men and role setting is abusive in nature leaving society as a whole, the primary perpetrator of domestic violence.
War can be seen as the epitome of bias associated with gender. In the American military, women and men have always been treated unequally. In fact, it was not until recent decades that women were even allowed to serve. However, one should maintain in thought that gender bias is not limited to how men associate and/or define themselves in society but also how women, themselves, associate and define themselves in society.
Another primary perpetrator for the crime of domestic violence is the American household. While America is known to be a “melting pot” of numerous cultures, the dominant culture collaborates with all cultures bringing men to the forefront in the American family system.
Most American’s believe that men should work and provide while women serve and complete the majority of domestic chores in the home. Many argue that women are far more advanced in America than most any other country, the plight of women and feminism in American society continues to be one in need of change.
Domestic violence is the direct result of what the world feels and associates of femininity and women. Women worldwide are at risk of being abused and so are men who display feminine characteristics. In conjunction, human trafficking is a huge problem in the United States especially on the West Coast. In California, human trafficking of sex slaves is a huge problem. In fact, the city of Sacramento has been ranked as the number two largest exchange of sex slaves in the nation. More importantly, domestic violence is directly associated with prostitution and nowadays there are approximately 4 male sex slaves per every 10 sex slaves.
Sex slaves are dehumanized and used to their full potential. Human sex slaves are a commodity that can be sold over and over again. Not only are female humans in danger of being enslaved but effeminate male sex slaves are treated just as horrible and often times even worse than female sex slaves.
As mentioned, domestic violence is a crime of femininity primarily, not specifically of a female nature. Women who abuse men are viewed as masculine while men who are abused are viewed as being more feminine. In the book, Family Abuse and the Bible, the biblical scripture, Colossians 3 verse 18 specifically states, “wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord…” is talked about as being the most misunderstood and “misapplied” scripture of all in the bible.
The bible is the Christian text most often referenced for guidance and as a model on how to live. While the majority of American’s are Christian, it is easier to understand how misinterpretations can spill over into the promoting of male dominance in and of the American culture as a whole.
In domestic violence fueled Christian families, a man can reference the ultimate guide, the bible, and support his stance of dominance leaving a woman left with only the option of submission. Such use of the text has had a huge impact on the culture in many domestic ways. The text talks about how many domestically abused women with husband who were/are devout Christians ended up rejecting the religion as a whole when pastors, elders and even fellow sisters within the church encouraged women to work-out domestic abuse problems with their abusive Christian husbands.
Religion is just another vice used to support domestic violence and abuse in some American families but mere problems of ego in some men and women have also been known to promote abuse. In the book, Domestic Abuse: Our Stories many women shared how gaining weight or changing hair styles resulted in abuse by the men in their lives.
Not every victim is killed and not every victim is hurt physically. Some victims of domestic violence suffer financial abuse by their abuser while others suffer emotionally. There are victims of domestic violence who are educationally stagnated when families feel that only male children should pursue education leaving female family members behind to assist with domestic duties in the home.
Domestic violence can be punishable by many levels within the criminal system depending on the type of abuse committed to a victim. However, while American society is mostly designed to indirectly promote male dominance and virtually the domestic violence correlation thereof, the country attacks the crime by assigning heavier sentencing and stronger protection for victims.
Persons charged with crimes of domestic violence usually have to enroll in counseling such as the infamous 52 week domestic violence counseling course. Perpetrators are always assigned heavy court fees and restitution. There are several programs to assist victims of domestic violence and these programs can be very costly. Often times, stalking is associated with domestic violence and it is better and safer for victims to relocate. Victims usually need shelter once they arrive at new locations and there are several nation and statewide programs that report lack of funds or overcrowding of domestic violence shelters.
In Sacramento, a program known as WEAVE assists with shelter for female victims of domestic violence along with their children. The program manager for WEAVE in Sacramento says that not only is the program costly in assistance of victims but there are also funds potentially wasted on people in need of shelter who “work” the system as an effort to satisfy their need for a home.
In 2006, California passed a law stating that children do suffer emotional abuse if they are forced to attempt to learn and grow in a home where domestic violence happens. Child Protective Services have been given the right to remove children from such environments and place them in nonviolent homes and this is a very costly process as well.
It seems that crimes of domestic violence are primarily sociopathic in nature where perpetrators are so moved to control their significant other that they take up abusing them as a method of control.
Domestic violence is often referred to as a, “crime of passion” and it is not unheard of for both men and women to attempt an insanity defense as a way to minimize their narcissistic abusive behavior.
The insanity defense is based on the classical theory of criminals using rationale to satisfy their strong desire to control their significant other. In several episodes of the T.V. show known as, Snapped, women perpetrators of domestic violence often claim insanity due to how hurt they were after their husband cheated or how devastated they were that they could not receive a certain amount of alimony after divorce.
Men tend to lean toward the insanity defense using their inability to control their furious feelings when their wife or girlfriend was caught cheating or ran off with their children.
The insanity defense suggests that one has had some level of diminished capacity and as a direct result, acted inhumanly out of impulse.
No matter the reason, domestic violence should never be excused and like many other inexcusable human behaviors, the American nation sets a plan of action for change even while they are in the midst of potentially perpetuating the crime.
This research is important to social workers because America has begun to turn judicial attention toward making changes in punishment of crimes of domestic violence. As mentioned, domestic violence is a heavy problem but the system is currently active in trying to eliminate it. Social workers need as much information as they can gather to be supportive in making such changes in society.
Social workers have a duty to protect the most vulnerable in and of a population and victims of domestic violence have been identified as being highly vulnerable due to the worldwide support of a mere hatred toward female humans and femininity as a whole. Social workers must understand each level of crime. Social workers are charged with understanding the dynamics of domestic violence thoroughly so that they can actively assist with making necessary changes at the micro, mezzo and macro level in the community.
It is very important for social workers to review such research, text and potentials mentioned herein because social workers must set the tone in and of society and that tone must always be one that promotes the optimal social health and wellness of all human individuals.
Research Bibliography: Domestic Violence
-Webb, M. (2004). Domestic Abuse: Our Stories. Baltimore, MD: Publish America
-Aime, K. (2002). Family Abuse and the Bible: The Scriptural Perspective
New York: Haworth Pastoral Press
-Wekerle, C., Wall, A-M. (2002). the Violence and Addiction Equation: Theoretical and Clinical Issues in Substance Abuse and Relationship Violence.
-Mckelvey, T. (2007) One of the Guys: Women as aggressors and Torturers.
-Farrell, W., Svobodui, S.,Sterba, J.P. (2008) Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men
-Reyna Chavez, M.: Ramirez Barranti, C., Lee, S.C.(2013) Latina Perceptions of Barriers To Reporting Domestic Violence. Thesis (M.S.W., Social Work)-California State University, Sacramento