In honor of Valentines Day it would be great to write an article about enduring and selfless love, a love that’s sweet like the taste of chocolate on a lover’s lips, however, with nearly one out of 4 women in the world falling victim to Intimate Partner Violence and with an increasing percentage of men falling prey to the same indignity, this will not be an article about enduring and selfless love, it’s an article about the bitter reality of domestic violence and the pain and humiliation that accompanies it.
Fact: For every five women – globally – that receives chocolates and roses on Valentines Day, there will be at least one woman that will require emergency medical care; the victim of domestic violence at the hands of a once trusted lover.
At the end of the struggle, and if the legal system fails to protect the victim(s), the Sad and Horrific media coverage of Domestic Violence almost always begins and ends with the same media coverage; “Enraged spouse / partner loses control and in fit of rage kills spouse / partner”. “Family searching for reason why”. Reason why?
In every corner of the world, the signs of domestic abuse / violence are visible and disturbing; The constant wearing of heavy make-up and sunglasses, broken bones, scratches, cuts, bite marks, absenteeism, destructive behavior, irrational mood swings and then silence; the genesis of depression.
As a teenager My mother often advised me to beware of depressed individuals, I remember her often saying, “it’s the quiet people that will kill you”.
Fact:Depressed people are nearly always victims of domestic abuse.
Domestic violence: It is what it is
Domestic violence, is an ugly and distasteful worldwide anti-social phenomenon that destroys dignity and if not stopped in time, destroys lives.
Also called intimate partner violence (IPV), partner abuse, and spousal abuse, domestic violence is a preventable public health affliction that affects the lives of tens of millions of (mostly) women and men globally and in every segment (from top to bottom) of social-economic groups / communities.
Because of the negative stigma that is attached to men who are in a domestic relationship in which they are abused or treated violently by women, the actual number of male victims of domestic abuse will vary with each study. However, the majority of studies conclude that in 100 scenarios of domestic violence approximately 40 cases involve violence by women against men.
In gender comparison, the FBI once released a report compiled of collected domestic violence data that estimated that a women in the United Statesis beaten every 15 seconds. They derived this estimate from Murray Straus’, Richard J. Gelles’, and Suzanne K. Steinmetz’s book entitled, “Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family”.
Although, it’s the intent of this article to show unbiased condemnation of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, it’s also important not to forget that women by far fall victim more often to domestic violence then men and are at greater risk of receiving longer prison sentences for killing their abusers.
Facts about Domestic Violence and Women
- There Are Four Million Women Beaten and Abused Each Year
- 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
- The March of Dimes Reports that Batterering During Pregnancy is the Leading Cause of Birth Defects and Infant Mortality
- Sixty-three Percent of Young Men Between the Ages of 11 and 20 Who Are Serving Time for Homicide Have Killed Their Mother’s Abuser
- Family Violence has Killed More Women in the Last Five Years as the Total Number of Americans Who Were Killed in The Vietnam War
- Women Who Leave Their Batterers Are at a 75% Greater Risk of Being Killed by the Batterer than Those Who Stay
- Women Who Kill Their Batterers Receive Longer Prison Sentences than Men Who Kill Their Partners
Domestic violence is color blind and crosses into all spectrums of ethnicities, religion and sexual preference.
The terms domestic violence or intimate partner violence describe physical, sexual, or psychological injuries that occur at the hands of a victim’s current or former spouse / partner.
Domestic violence occurs in both the straight and gay communities and in reality does not require sexual intimacy in the meaning of the word “intimacy”.
Domestic Violence and Children
Cowering in the dark and deep shadows of domestic violence are the victim’s children who live with the horror of seeing a parent abused.
Living in the environment of a domestic violent household creates psychological “scars” in a child that can last a life-time; creating in it’s ugliest manifestation a negative-learned behavior that can continue well into the child’s adult life. Creating a cycle of abuse that’s difficult to break.
It’s important to remember that a domestic violent household is a dysfunctional family living on the “razor’s edge”.
Children that are exposed to IPV are more withdrawn and experience difficulty relating to and interacting with other children.
Receiving a healthy dose of Love and professional counseling along with having an exceptional amount of self-love and confidence are the essential ingredients necessary to help a child escape the confines of their self-knitted “cocoon”. It’s the “cocoon” that the child withdraws to when anger within the home is sensed.
Nationally, 50% of All Homeless Women and Children are on the streets because of violence in the home and even the “safest cocoon” invented in the mind of a child will not keep them warm and dry when the streets and abandoned buildings without choice becomes their “home”.
Children that are exposed to and become victims of IPV are at a greater risk of becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol and as adults are at a higher risk of entering their own abusive relationships.
The Many Faces of Intimate Partner Violence
- Physical violenceis the intentional use of physical force with the potential for causing death, disability, injury, or harm. Physical violence includes, but is not limited to, scratching; pushing; shoving; throwing; grabbing; biting; choking; shaking; slapping; punching; burning; use of a weapon; and use of restraints or one’s body, size, or strength against another person.
- Sexual violenceis divided into three categories: 1) use of physical force to compel a person to engage in a sexual act against his or her will, whether or not the act is completed; 2) attempted or completed sex act involving a person who is unable to understand the nature or condition of the act, to decline participation, or to communicate unwillingness to engage in the sexual act, e.g., because of illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or because of intimidation or pressure; and 3) abusive sexual contact.
- Threats of physical or sexual violenceuse words, gestures, or weapons to communicate the intent to cause death, disability, injury, or physical harm.
- Psychological/emotional violenceinvolves trauma to the victim caused by acts, threats of acts, or coercive tactics. Psychological/emotional abuse can include, but is not limited to, humiliating the victim, controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family, and denying the victim access to money or other basic resources. It is considered psychological/emotional violence when there has been prior physical or sexual violence or prior threat of physical or sexual violence. In addition, stalking is often included among the types of IPV. Stalking generally refers to “harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property” (Tjaden & Thoennes 1998).
What triggers the violence?
A combination of individual, relational, community, and societal factors contribute to the risk of becoming a victim or perpetrator of IPV. Understanding these multilevel factors can help identify various opportunities for prevention.
Individual Risk Factors
- Low self-esteem
- Low income
- Low academic achievement
- Young age
- Aggressive or delinquent behavior as a youth
- Heavy alcohol and drug use
- Anger and hostility
- Antisocial personality traits
- Borderline personality traits
- Prior history of being physically abusive
- Having few friends and being isolated from other people
- Emotional dependence and insecurity
- Belief in strict gender roles (e.g., male dominance and aggression in relationships)
- Desire for power and control in relationships
- Perpetrating psychological aggression
- Being a victim of physical or psychological abuse (consistently one of the strongest predictors of perpetration)
- History of experiencing poor parenting as a child
- History of experiencing physical discipline as a child
- Marital conflict-fights, tension, and other struggles
- Marital instability-divorces or separations
- Dominance and control of the relationship by one partner over the other
- Economic stress
- Unhealthy family relationships and interactions
- Poverty and associated factors (e.g., overcrowding)
- Low social capital-lack of institutions, relationships, and norms that shape a community’s social interactions
- Weak community sanctions against violence (e.g., unwillingness of neighbors to intervene in situations where they witness violence)
- Traditional gender norms (e.g., women should stay at home, not enter workforce, and be submissive; men support the family and make the decisions)
What motivated me to write this piece was yet another Sad and Horrific story of Domestic Violence, this time in Queens, New York. and like most Sad and Horrific accounts of intimate partner violence, it begins and ends with the same or synonymous morbid tone, “Enraged spouse / partner loses control and in fit of anger kills spouse / partner”. “Family searching for reason why”.
The untimely murder of Guimmia Villa, 32, who was shot point blank in the face by her former boyfriend and ex-con Alexander Figueroa, 38, the father of her two sons, saddened me for the most of the day.
Although I personally did not know Ms. Villa, her murder shook me to the bone with anger. Another beautiful life snuffed out by an insecure and disturbed psychopath who mistook violence for love. Ms. Villa was a mother, a daughter and someone’s relative and friend and in a blink of an eye her life was needlessly taken. Her story is a familiar story that should not have occurred. Her murderer Alexander Figueroa had a week before her murder severely beaten her. Out on parole, from prison, why hadn’t Figueroa been sent back to prison for violating the conditions of his parole after he assaulted the mother of his two children? Clearly the system is broken.
I’d like to dedicate this article to a friend of mine named Olivia who asked me approximately a month ago to write an article about domestic violence. Olivia may this article send a message to violent people that mistake violence for love. This country, this world will give you no quarter and no sympathy for your sin. Love should never be expressed in terms of pain and humiliation. May a “higher judge” convict you of your sadistic trespasses.
As always the New Orleans Examiner is interested in what you think. Should family and friends really be surprised when a loved one falls victim to domestic violence aka intimate partner violence? Should the legal system be overhauled and revised when it comes to sentencing victims of domestic violence who end up killing their abusers? Inquiring minds really want to know. Sound off.
Until next time Louisianans, Good Day, God Bless and Good Fishing.
National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1 (800) 799 – SAFE
National Child Abuse Hotline 1 (800) 4 – A – CHILD