Domestic Abuse - Emotional Abuse, Physical Violence
Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, and intimate partner violence (IPV), is an enormous society issue.
Suellen Murray, Australian Senior Research Fellow
at the Centre for Applied Social Research states, “While
there have been significant shifts over the past thirty years
in relation to both policy and practice around domestic violence,
its elimination is not within sight.” Likewise the Department
of Psychology of The University of British Columbia concluded
from data in 2005, that the number of battered women in shelters
meant that gender inequality is still a major issue.
Domestic abuse is certainly an important issue for men as well as women, but men also experience violent and inappropriate behaviour. Sadly, men also struggle to report an incident - possibly due to embarrassment and the fear of not being taken seriously.
However, the grim statistics show that IPV is a much more serious issue for female victims.
The truth is: women are
four times more likely to be murdered
in domestic violence situations by men
than men are by women.
Research by Jacqueline Campbell PHD RN FAAN has found that at least
two thirds of women who were killed by intimate partners were
battered before the murder. Her research also uncovered
that when men are killed by intimate partners,
the women in these relationships were battered 75% of the time.
It certainly is common knowledge that violence by females is very common in narcissistic abusive relationships, where they will resort to force to try to recover themselves in the midst of severe psychological and physical violation.
I myself pulled a knife and threatened my ex-partner and told him if he laid a hand on me again that I would drive it through him… and the terrifying thing is - in that moment I would have. I was mortified and terrorised at what I had become within this narcissistic relationship.
Despite popular belief - race, class, and religion are not determining factors in IPV. Domestic violence exists in cultures all over the world. Surveys across the world have reported that females experience physical abuse from an intimate partner at rates no lower than 10% of the population and as high as 70%. [Ending Violence against Women Population Reports]
The factors of IPV are seen as ‘confusion of gender roles’ (disruption between the cooperation and trust) within the relationship, and the unhealthy expectations of the abusive partner. I have personally seen women from all walks of life become victims of IPV. Some of the women are highly intelligent and totally capable materially of creating a life without a man. Therefore it’s simple to understand: Domestic Violence is an emotionally based issue. This is where the reform needs to occur.
Domestic violence, fortunately, is now recognised as much more than just physical violence. How is domestic violence defined?
The following categories now fall under the interpretation of domestic violence:
Please see expanded definitions of abuse in the Article Are You Being Abused?
Criminologists admit they don’t understand why deterrents against domestic violence don’t last over time. In fact, the offenders (that are not incarcerated) for IPV traditionally double the rate of their violence within one year.
There are many grey areas for police to intervene (despite greater awareness, training and laws) and provide safety for a battered woman.
These fuzzy areas are:
Of course police have to ensure that the alleged abuser's rights are upheld. In many cases if a charge is made, both parties will be charged due to these unknown facts, and the police hearing ‘his version’ and ‘her version’. Research conducted by Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence has clearly revealed: if both parties are arrested, the female victim will have much less faith in calling the police again, and is more likely to receive sustained abuse as well as not seek help in the future.
I have personally suffered this anguish, as well as many of the abused female clients that I work with… Unfortunately a general consensus from abused women is "No one believes me," and, "The police don’t help me."
Astounding research within the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice states: on average women experience thirty-five incidents of physical domestic violence before seeking intervention.
It’s estimated that only a third of battered women in developed countries ever come forth to report the abuse. Women in underdeveloped countries, or countries that don’t have female support systems in place, are much less likely to report abuse. Most women will only notify authorities when the battering has reached an extreme (life and death) level. [Tjaden and Thoennes]
Why don’t women report IPV abuse? One chilling statistical truth is: If a woman is assaulted by an unknown male she will usually report the offence. If she is abused by an intimate partner (statistically more likely) she usually doesn’t report it.
I can speak from experience. As a battered woman who didn’t seek authorities, and a healer who works with battered women, I believe the reasons for this tragedy fall into these categories:
Women who tolerate battering are much more likely to be battered. In my experience women who are ‘extremely clear’ that they would leave immediately if a man laid a hand on them or verbally abused them don’t tend to be abused. And more than this. These women are prepared to be without a man, regardless of the losses, in order to honour themselves and their children’s emotional, mental and physical well-being.
These women have healthy belief systems and healthy boundary function in regard to the way they deserve to be treated. Most women (over 40%) who have suffered IPV have reported it isn’t the first partner who abused them. Abuse from an intimate partner is a repeat pattern in many women’s lives.
The University of Waterloo has conducted research in regard to the link between domestic violence and female suicides and ascertained, ‘Data from a number of societies, including North America, indicate that partner violence is one of the most significant precipitants of female suicide. An understanding of the dynamics that exist between wife abuse and female suicide should be of great value to professionals who deal with women faced with said problems.’
Society categorises suicide reasons as: depression, mental disorders, alcoholism, drug overdose etc. How many of these symptoms of self-destructive emotions / behaviour (they are symptoms not reasons) were created as a direct result of sustaining relationship abuse?
It stands to reason. People suicide for emotional reasons: a severe lack of self-esteem and feeling powerless. Abusive love (where identity and power is stripped from the victim) creates this dynamic perfectly. Of all the women I have worked with who feel suicidal, the most severe cases are battered women, or women who were battered in their past and have never emotionally and mentally recovered. I was one of them. I was severely suicidal. Nothing else in my life had ever toppled me to such a level of emotional devastation.
One day whilst visiting a personality specialist in regard to understanding my ex-partner’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I was informed of a girl who was pregnant to a narcissist whose last three girlfriends had all committed suicide. A coincidence? I think not.
I am passionate about this fact: many women suicide (or contract terminal illnesses) from abusive relationships. I know people who have suicided (one of them a family member) and others who barely exist whilst hanging on the edge of life and death. There is absolutely not enough focus placed on the dangers of women suiciding as a result of abusive relationships. I truly believe this is the biggest cause of female premature death on our planet today. I believe more women are suiciding from IPV than those who are murdered.
Apart from homicides and suicides, the effects of abuse on our world are horrific. The cycle is self-perpetuating and an insidious generational cancer. Most victims and perpetrators of IPV have been victims of emotional, mental or physical abuse in their childhood. Even if a child didn’t directly receive abuse (and many do), living with an adult who is violating their partner is highly abusive. A commonly known psychological fact is: this dangerous recipe often creates the acting out, or attracting of abuse.
The economic and health costs of IPV are devastating. In 2004, Access Economics, commissioned by the Office for the Status of Women, released The Cost of Domestic Violence to the Australian Economy. This key report estimated that the total annual cost of domestic violence to the Australian economy in 2002-2003 was $8.1 billion. The largest contributor was pain, suffering and premature mortality at $3.5 billion.
Abuse permeates and creates
loss, pain and destruction
in every part of our world...
An article in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology: Preventing Sexual Violence, argues the last twenty years of policy development has been characterised by a persistent focus on ‘tertiary’ levels of intervention (care after the assault). Such strategies fall under the range of:
The authors argue that while these polices are important, especially in reducing further harm, they do not prevent violence against women in the first instance.
Only recently have prevention solutions emerged. The Australian Government is now creating large funding for the elimination of domestic violence and sexual assault.
As such, the prevention programs that are emerging are:
These programs are helpful, but are they really addressing the core issues of abuse?
‘Abuse’ becomes an act of an abuser, or is accepted by an abused, because of unresolved emotional issues.
These issues are insecurities, low self-esteem, and the inability for an individual to take responsibility for creating and maintaining their own emotional power.
Quite frankly, any individual who abuses or who is being abused has belief systems aligned with abuse. Unless these belief systems are amended the abuse will continue.
What is tricky about belief systems is: they’re created by emotional reactions, not logical deductions. Unless they are addressed at an emotional level, nothing changes. The painful emotional charges that create the abusive belief systems stay locked into a person’s psyche. Therefore, regardless of what the person ‘thinks’, the individual will subconsciously act out or attract more of the same.
IPV is an emotional power play created from these painful emotional beliefs. The abuser seeks control over the partner in order to assuage emotional insecurities. The partner becomes submissive, or generally tries to take their sense of self back. The partner’s emotional insecurities lock them into staying. The struggle intensifies and the abuse escalates.
Has society taught us how to have a healthy emotional relationship with ourselves - let alone create and maintain a healthy, comfortable, safe and emotionally mature relationship with another?
The answer is irrefutably ‘No.’
Globally, the understanding and maintenance of emotional intelligence and emotional security has not been a part of our educational curriculum, and is largely bypassed.
If an individual is secure within their own emotional self-development and self-esteem, there is no need for them to control and abuse another to try and steal energy and feel better. There is no need to harm, damage, take or obsess over what someone else is or isn’t doing.
Individuals who are self-empowered know their limits, know what they will or won’t accept and take their hands off trying to control outer situations and align themselves with what is healthy for them, by knowing and trusting themselves on an inner level. They also make healthy self-respecting choices that tend to eliminate attracting abuse in the first instance.
I believe the real solutions
they are not economic or practical.
If individuals were stable and fulfilled on an inner level,
abuse would not occur.
My questions to society are:
As you can tell, I am incredibly passionate about ‘healing abuse’ and truly believe: until the real reasons for abuse are addressed, the ‘bandaids’ are going to keep falling off. Abuse spawns through every generation, and unless the vicious emotionally insecure cycle is broken, abuse will continue to be a horrific aspect of our world.
As well as the damage to our environment and our children, the very nature and frequency of IPV undermines the ability for men and women to conjoin in the way they totally should: with love, sincerity, trust and true partnership.
Recovery from the psychological, emotional, mental and spiritual abuse of narcissism is imperative for an individual to put themselves and their life back together. Specific healing and procedures do produce the results necessary for an individual to create an empowered life where they will not be susceptible to narcissistic abuse again. In many cases the recovery from narcissism has been necessary for an individual to outgrow co-dependent childhood scripts of poor boundary function and victimisation.
Love, happiness and success are possible after suffering the effects of narcissism.
Melanie Tonia Evans
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