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Domestic Violence, the number one public health problem in the United States, affects all aspects of society in staggering dimensions. Nationwide, employers estimate that domestic violence costs them between three and five billion dollars each year in health care claims, plus another one hundred million dollars in absenteeism, high turnover and lost productivity. All who provide services to victims, both adults and children, must provide education as well as prevention and intervention strategies to offset the impact of the trauma of violent homes. Included in this report is a listing of additional national and state resources that are available to assist the victims of domestic violence.
Known by many names: wife abuse, marital assault, wife beating, battering, intimate violence, partner abuse, domestic violence is all of these and more. The relationships include those currently intimate, dating, married, or cohabiting, heterosexual as well as gay men and lesbians, as well as those who may be divorced or separated.
Assaultive and coercive behaviors include physical and sexual violence, psychological and emotional attacks, threats against property, pets and even the children in the home, economic coercion and many more such acts.
Whatever the batterer feels: jealousy, anxiety or fear that she will leave him, he uses violence to get or keep power and control. The following selected state codes are used as examples of the statutory definition of domestic violence.
One important note is that if a parent beats a child, it is considered child abuse, not domestic violence. Note: dating teens who do not have a child in common are not presently covered under domestic violence statutes. Almost all family violence experts seem to agree that domestic violence is much more common than ever realized.
While alcohol or drug abuse does figure in a majority of violent incidents, it cannot be said to be the cause of the abuse. The average battering relationship lasts about 6 years, the same length of time as the average marriage.(4) Physical violence does not preclude the presence of love and intimacy, nor does it spell the end of the relationship. Research in the field is still new to many countries, and there is still no widespread recognition of domestic violence as a social problem. While America is recognized as one of the most violent nations in the world, it is also one of the most progressive and aggressive in recognizing and responding to family violence as a major segment of the violence in today's society. Pennsylvania formed the first state coalition against domestic violence, and also became the first state to enact a law providing orders of protection for victims. As the awareness of domestic violence as a major societal problem increases, so must the awareness of the need for funds and other resources grow to maintain and expand programs, especially children's programs, in shelters and at outreach locations.
The earliest data compiled about violence in relationships came from victims, who described their experiences to shelter advocates and clinicians.
Almost all research indicates that many individuals who use violence in their intimate relationships were exposed to violence as children. Some batterers have little experience with men and women dealing successfully with each other, showing respect for each other and resolving problems without violence. Others are not violent outside the intimate relationship and appear to deal successfully with social and work situations, handle stress well and solve problems effectively. Many batterers seem to believe that their partners are (or would be, if allowed) controlling, manipulative, equally violent as they themselves are, and secretly want to be dominated.
Much more data is available about victims from shelters and outreach domestic violence programs, from researchers able to use larger groups on which to base their conclusions and from victim-survivors who advocate for others in public speeches and in published accounts of their experiences. Like batterers, victims may minimize or even deny the effects of violent behavior: "it wasn't that bad", "I overreacted". Early advocates and clinicians in the domestic violence field realized fairly quickly that "doing it for the victim" is not nearly as successful as "giving the victim all her options" and letting her make her own choices.
There is support for the use of violence to gain one's desired result, which may lead to an increase in the level of violent activity. Individuals in the batterer's work, church or social settings may be made aware of the domestic violence incident, resulting in increased anxiety, loss or decrease in self-esteem, and even depression. The resulting increase in stress, financial hardship, loss of status and embarassment may in turn trigger more violence against the victim.
After a violent incident, victims feel - in addition to the pain of physical injury - fear of a loss of stamina, energy, ability to manage their situation or protect the children. Other possible responses to domestic violence include eating disorders, early sexual activity and pregnancy, and in some cases, suicidal or homicidal ideation. Children who come to the attention of juvenile court authorities for an arrest for violent behavior (with siblings, parents, schoolmates, friends, others) very often relate histories of violence in their families of origin. The Domestic Abuse Intervention Program in Duluth, MN, adopted the model of a wagon wheel with spokes radiating out from its hub. Some batterers achieve their desired results by using only a few of the behaviors, and may rarely if ever use physical violence. In communities where preferred arrest (or mandatory arrest) is the procedure, many judges order the batterer to be assessed for his (or her) potential to continue the violent behavior, and based on the results of that assessment, order the individual to enroll in a program to learn how to change the behavior. Then the individual's current relationship, as well as previous relationships are explored, with special attention to violent incidents, use or display of weapons, and other key items. The largest group of batterers referred for assessment falls in the middle range, and may have a prior arrest record, violent family history, substance abuse issues, significant use of power and control in the intimate relationship, and may disclose use of abuse and violence in prior relationships.
While it has been noted that physical violence lessens during attendance at a mandated program, there is some evidence from victims showing an increase of other forms of abuse: verbal, psychological, etc.
Programs which deal with batterers and their use of violent behavior must also be concerned with the safety of the victim. Leaving a violent relationship is an act of courage that few understand, particularly in the justice system. Often, if the batterer senses any loss of control from any sign the victim gives him, he may accelerate the control and violence and make it even more difficult for her.
While isolation is a common tactic batterers use to control their victims, the isolation of a victim living on a farm or in a small town miles away from any populous urban area often presents overwhelming barriers to a victim of domestic violence. States with large rural areas must be made aware of the critical need to provide services to domestic violence victims residing on the farms and in the small towns within their borders. One study shows that one of every three girls will experience violence from a boyfriend before reaching adulthood.

Dating violence is similar to marital violence in the context of the utilization of power and control to dominate and control the partner, using violence to reinforce that control. An apparent lack of social stigma attached to violence between dating partners, and an apparent distance from the current level of increasing awareness of the criminality of battering behavior. Young batterers disclose that physical violence is used against their partners to intimidate them into giving in to their demands, unlike older batterers who often blame their behavior on other things they have no "control" over, like alcohol, drugs, or stress. Educators in many parts of the country have been hesitant to address the issues of violence in dating relationships with any formal curriculum.
Several key factors emerge when examining the population of elderly victims of domestic violence. The statutory remedies to violence against the elderly in their own homes need to be broad enough to include other family members (adult children and grandchildren, for instance) in addition to spouses as perpetrators.
Men and women who are battered by caregivers can and often do benefit from crisis hotlines, support groups, legal advocacy, safety planning and peer counseling, which are all traditional and effective remedies offered by most domestic violence programs.
Domestic violence programs also need to share their knowledge and experience with others who serve the elderly but who do not understand the dynamics and issues involved. Battering victims who are disabled often find themselves isolated not only by a violent partner but by their own peers who do not trust the able community to understand or intervene effectively. Service providers must learn to discard two of the prevailing myths about lesbian abuse: that it is usually mutual, and that it is not as violent as male-to-female battering. Domestic violence center staff and their colleagues in other agencies need to increase their awareness of and services to these individuals in support of their rights to live in peace and safety in their own homes.
Over three million children (3.3 million) in the US, between the ages of 3 and 17 years are at risk of exposure to domestic violence each year. Maria Roy, writing in Children In The Crossfire, 1988, states that 62% of sons over age 14, were injured when trying to protect their mothers from physical violence. It is imperative that domestic violence programs recognize these children and design programs to meet their very special needs. Both batterers and their victims often deny that their children are present during any of the violent incidents. Children often tell clinicians of being afraid to stay in the house during the violence, but being terrified to leave, for fear they will never see mom or dad again. Even when there is violence, and there are bad, frightening experiences, there are also loving and good times. Unfortunately, the impact of domestic violence on children does not end when the adult relationship ends. Convictions for domestic violence crimes are to be considered when family court judges make decisions regarding the custody of minor children but often are not. It is of paramount importance to provide for and ensure the safety and protection of victims and children who witness domestic violence. Shelters with specially trained children's case workers to lead support groups for them as well as the adult victims can do much to help children deal with the trauma of domestic violence. Close collaboration between domestic violence workers, court-appointed guardians, child protection teams, educators, advocates, medical and mental health professionals and the custodial victim parent must exist to promote the sound health and development of children caught in domestic violence.
Medical professionals have a particularly important role; when informed about domestic violence, they will know to examine and assess the child for abuse and neglect if they have identified the parent as a victim in a violent relationship. Nurses, physicians and clinicians who accept the challenge and responsibility of caring for abuse victims must recognize domestic violence as a major health care problem, understand the power and control issues which drive partner abuse, accept the victims' choices non-judgmentally, and support the empowerment of battered victims. The nursing assessment should always include the consideration of domestic violence, regardless of the chief presenting complaint. The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) published the following five principles for health care professionals in its' comprehensive Health Care Training Manual presented in 1995. Give her information about a protective order, and any other resources available in the community for her immediate protection and the protection of her children, as well as the domestic violence shelter. Interventions will vary from patient to patient depending on the assessment, the nature of the abuse, impact on and condition of the patient, as well as the patient's motivation and resources to deal with the presence of domestic violence in the patient's life. Finally, and emphatically state that no one deserves to be beaten and that there is no excuse for violence and that she and her children deserve peace and safety are very strong steps to take with the victim patient. Children are affected by domestic violence at all ages from prenatal to adolescence, physically, developmentally, behaviorally and cognitively as well as emotionally and psychologically. Toddlers and preschool children may be either more aggressive and violent than their peers, or more withdrawn than others. Teens from violent homes are at greater risk for suicide and homicide, delinquency, sexual promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases, and drug and alcohol abuse. Children of all ages who live in violent homes need not only the safety and stability of a non-violent environment, but support, therapeutic intervention and education just as their victim parents do.
Children presenting injuries in an emergency department may very well be sending clues to the health care professional that there is domestic violence in the home and need to be assessed as thoroughly and carefully as adult victims. Presently, five states have statutes requiring that domestic violence be reported to either law enforcement or a social welfare agency. Most health care professionals and domestic violence service providers feel that improved training, particularly in assessment and screening techniques is by far the safer and more effective way to serve victims of domestic violence. An Open Letter To The Synod Fathers: A Catholic Perspective on Unilateral, No-Fault DivorceOctober 27, 2015 By beverlyw Leave a CommentWritten by Rachael Marie Collins Dear Synod Fathers, My husband and I were married in April 2008.
My Passion to Serve Children and Save FamiliesOctober 15, 2015 By beverlyw Leave a CommentWritten by Greg Griffin In the summer of 2012, I was combing the web looking for work, and I stumbled across the Coalition for Divorce Reform’s (CDR’s) website.
Chris Gersten is Co-Chairman of the Coalition for Divorce Reform, former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services, 2001-2005.
Children are often present when law enforcement officers respond to domestic violence calls. Not only must safety, support and a wide array of services be available to victims, but offenders must receive prompt attention, assessment, education and treatment if society is to realize success in eliminating violence from America's homes. Describe the dynamics of a violent relationship and the relevance of factors like family history of violence, substance abuse and medical or mental health issues to determine the likelihood of continuing violence.
Explain the issues relating to children, who are at risk of exposure to domestic violence in the US each year. Rather than any single behavior, work with victims has taught us that domestic violence is a pattern of many assaultive and coersive behaviors that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners or former partners.

Victims must deal with the complexity of an intimate relationship with the batterer, and maintaining that relationship often makes those outside the home unaware of and insensitive to the nature of the abuse and violence. All elements of the community must join together to support domestic violence organizations so the dream of a violence-free society can be realized. These are individuals who usually have no criminal record prior to a domestic violence incident.
She often feels that hers is the only family enmeshed in the violent, turbulent behavior, and that she must just try harder, do better, be better, for the violence to stop.
Finally, recent studies have indicated that some batterers may experience increased feelings of displeasure with themselves after a violent incident because they inwardly disapprove of the behavior.
Others increase the frequency and severity of the violence after the first incidents and may run the gamut from verbal abuse to frequent sexual assaults. Lenore Walker, in her book The Battered Woman describes a cyclical theory for domestic violence. The accompanying assessment interview covers the history in the family of origin, information about the individual's childhood, school experiences, use of weapons, employment and military history, past use of violence and arrest record.
Many work closely with the nearest domestic violence center to offer victims support, safety planning, programs for their children, and other needed assistance.
Also recognizing that victims want the violence to stop, but may not want the relationship to end is vital. Roy also points out that children are injured by thrown objects (furniture, etc) during the violent episode, and the youngest children suffer the most severe injuries: concussions, broken bones, etc.
However, the impact of domestic violence may affect a child differently, depending upon their age. Teaching may be a prominent part of the interaction, as many victims, particularly those with a long history of abuse, may not recognize the violence as abusive and criminal, as well as undeserved. Acknowledge the need to make changes in the health care system to improve the health care response to domestic violence.
Describing the dynamics of power and control, the cycle of violence and other factors may help her evaluate her own situation more objectively. Once the abuse has been identified, there are some basic interventions which can be made in all domestic violence cases. Reaffirming that the violence is not her fault is very important since the batterer routinely blames her for all his behaviors. Non-intimate violence by teens against others is rising at an alarming rate, and many of these young people were abused and saw abuse in their homes, between the adults.
Facing parental divorce during childhood was the single strongest social predictor of early death, many years into the future [p.
Having one’s parents divorce during childhood was a much stronger predictor of mortality risk than was parental death [p. The experience of parental divorce was strongly linked to earlier mortality from all causes, including accidents, cancers, and cardiovascular disease [p.
The goal of this Act is to reduce “unnecessary” divorces where minor children are involved.
Growing up in a violent home renders children vulnerable to truancy, delinquency, aggression and suicide, among other outcomes. Straus and Gelles reported in 1986 that 28% of American couples experience at least one act of violence during their marriages, 16% experience at least one act of violence per year, and 5% experience severe violence in any given year. It is also of primary importance that nurses, physicians, clinicians in any role understand the basic dynamics of violent relationships. Some use violence outside the home as well as inside it and when this occurs, they will often claim someone else "started it" and they had no other choice of action. Batterers perceive much approval for the use of violence in their daily lives, from media, entertainment, sports events and from their peers. Sometimes, the victim forgets prior accomplishments, experiences difficulty making decisions beyond those necessary to survive the violent incidents and does not trust her own judgment. One study shows that 90% of the children in homes where violence occurs can describe in detail what happens. Some tell of having called the police themselves, and wanting the violence to stop; this does not always mean they want the batterer to be taken away. They also speak of being angry, frustrated and powerless as well as afraid, when nothing they do changes the situation or stops the violence. The victim needs to be supported in any attempt she wishes to take to protect herself and health care professionals should contact the local domestic violence center for assistance with immediate safety planning for the victim. These include: validating and naming the problem of domestic violence, assisting the patient in identifying abuse as a problem, listening to the patient's concerns, educating the patient about abuse and its connection to medical issues, as well as the dynamics such as power and control strategies employed by the batterer and the cycle of violence. Almost every medical discipline is confronted at some point with the tragic results of domestic violence.
The data suggest that child witnesses to violence, or victims of abuse are more likely to be abusive, but not predetermined to be so. Spiritual and socialization experiences may have taught victims that divorce is failure, a sin, wrong. Infants and toddlers may be injured by being dropped or hit while the victim is holding them and is the target of a violent act. By blaming her, minimizing the violence and denying accountability for it, she becomes the guilty party and must try harder to please and satisfy him.
There is much arguing, blaming and anger, which accelerates to the second, more violent stage. If the patient becomes upset or denies abuse, simply explain that all patients are screened for domestic violence, and that health care professionals are gravely concerned about the danger to women.
Domestic violence professionals feel that the risks of such statutes far outweigh the benefits which were anticipated: greater awareness and prompt response to victims. The batterer may believe he will not repeat the violence, because she has "learned her lesson" and he will remain in control.

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