Overcoming domestic violence

June 16, 2016

As an individual, I have never suffered family violence but relatives and bluds have experienced it first hand.Few days ago, a cousin shared with me her ordeals in the hands of three year old husband and how she’s come to appreciate my USB life – Unapologetic Single Bloke. Domestic violence typically conjures images of physical assaults perpetrated by men against women and children in the home. However, severe violence lie a myriad of other damaging behaviours, including psychological and financial abuse, and emotional manipulation. These are other forms of abuse, but should not be overlooked or trivialised simply because their effects are less easily seen. To truly address family violence society need to target all forms of violent and abusive behaviour irrespective of who commits it. My cousin’s case is an example where partner violence occurs in relationships irrespective of age, sexual orientation, gender, income or ethnicity. Past studies have showed that adolescents, young people and adults are victimised in intimate relationships, and domestic violence is observed in both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. The nature of intimate partner violence appears to differ in important ways in relation to gender. Women are more likely than men to experience serious physical assaults that result in injury, and are more likely to be subjected to such acts on a recurrent basis. And in cases of family homicide, women are over-represented as victims compared to men and it is also common in physical assaults.

However, when it comes to other forms of violence, such as being slapped, pushed or shoved by a partner, throwing an object, or being hit by an object, studies reveal that roughly equal proportions of male and female partners engage in intimate partner violence.The rates of emotional manipulation by a partner do not differ substantially according to gender. Emotional abuse can involve coercive control, creating an atmosphere of fear or intimidation, humiliating or degrading the partner, monitoring their behaviour, and making threats to harm loved ones. Other forms of non-physical forms of abuse include financial control. These types of abuse may not cause physical harm, but are damaging nonetheless. People’s self-confidence becomes shattered, anxiety levels rise, and feelings of learnt helplessness ensue. Unsurprisingly, it is often the case that physical violence co-occurs with other non-physical forms of control and abuse. Domestic abuser key features includes but not limited to jealousy, control, manipulation, deception and charm.Most people acting in a violent or abusive manner have been found to have either witnessed or experienced family violence as a child and in African societies cultural and peer beliefs that support the use of aggression or violence.Also poor verbal skills, which can dispose people to resolving disputes or managing their frustration with fists rather than words.In Europe, there are more than 70 million people with poor literacy skills and can hardly express themselves and in Africa that number is 4 times at estimated 280 million people.

In South Africa, alcohol and drug use are said to lead people to act more aggressively while a study in Kenya few years back showed that mental health problems, such as depression or chronic stress was a cause of domestic violence. Dysfunctional personalities and financial difficulties and other stressors are also common cause of family violence. Many of these features can be modified in treatment or other behaviour change programs, which is often the most successful way of bringing the violence to an end.Women and men who are subjected to intimate partner violence report a range of mental and physical health problems, chief among them fear and anxiety, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress, such as feeling emotionally numb, detached from others, and hyper-vigilant. Many victims also reveals increased alcohol or other substance abuse to help them deal with their distress.Data available to me shows that more frequent or recurring the abuse, the greater the mental health impacts.Thoughts of suicide are not uncommon for victims who may perceive no other means to escape their abuser.The effects of recurring victimisation within an intimate relationship can also damage the victim’s social or occupational functioning. An increasing number of workplaces have formalised policies or procedures to deal with family violence and to better support employees who are victims of this crime. To protect my cousin who is at risk of harm, I asked her to move away from the notion that violence within intimate partnerships and families is somehow a private matter. I gave her a clear message that violence and other types of abuse within families must be eradicated. Only with effective strategies and interventions can she begin to tackle her problem which I believe with good advise she will manage.

Contador Harrison