Women, the weaker sex, is always at the receiving end in the cases of domestic violence. She can be the abuser’s wife or girlfriend or even a stranger whom the abuser has taken a fancy to. Little wonder the US Surgeon General has declared domestic violence against women as the number one health concern in the US.
Who are the victims of domestic violence?
The women victims of domestic violence can include almost any member of the fairer sex, such as spouses, sexual partners, dating partners, intimate partners and cohabitants. Domestic violence can be perpetrated on any woman, irrespective of her education level, social strata, race, age, sexual orientation or religion.
Although domestic violence is the most reprehensible form of abuse, it may surprise you to know that some abusers don’t even realize that they are inflicting it on their partners! The other side of the coin is as shocking. Most of the victims of domestic abuse, don’t even realize that what is being inflicted upon them is domestic violence.
What is domestic violence?
The Office on Violence Against Women of United States Department of Justice defines domestic violence “as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner”. Such abuse can take many forms.
What are the forms of domestic violence
- Physical abuse: If the abuser subjects his female partner to physical hurt or injuries through actions, such as shoving, hitting, slapping, punching, pinching, biting, pulling hair, battering, burning, cutting and the like, it qualifies as physical abuse. Even denying medical treatment in the event of injury to the female partner or forcing her to consume drugs or alcohol is also part of the physical abuse.
- Sexual abuse: This is commonly referred to as marital rape, in which the abuser forces himself upon his unwilling female partner or coerces her by means of physical violence into having sex with him. Furthermore, if he indulges in harming her sexual body parts or sexually demeans her and suchlike behavior, he is perpetrating sexual abuse. Even cracking sexual jokes or saying something with sexual overtones or innuendoes qualify as sexual abuse.
- Emotional abuse: Degrading the female partner by undermining her sense of self-worth and self-esteem comes under the ambit of emotional abuse. It may take the form of continuous criticism, name-calling, sarcasm, intentional hurt, tarnishing her image in front of others and other kinds of insults.
- Economic abuse: Housewives are usually financially reliant on their husbands. The abuser makes it a means of maintaining control over her by denying her money or access to funds. He may prevent her from being financially independent by prohibiting her from taking up a job or preventing her from going to work.
- Psychological abuse: If the abuser intimidates partner through fear and threats of physical hurt that may even extend to her children, parents or pets; if he isolates her from her loved ones or prevents her from doing work or accuses her of infidelity; and such like actions, he is psychologically abusing her. Even physical threatening with a weapon or using it to injure her is a form of psychological abuse.
- Stalking: If the abuser keeps a close eye on the partner, follows her, spies on her, shows up at her workplace, stalks her to her home, collect information about her, snaps her pictures, make phone calls or send messages, he is guilty of stalking.
- Cyberstalking: This is the latest form of abuse in which the abuser makes use of the internet and the social media to stalk the victim online. This may induce fear in the victim, giving rise to emotional distress.
- Dating violence: If the abuser is in the social, romantic or intimate relationship with the victim and then indulges in domestic violence this construe dating violence. This kind of violence depends upon the length and type of relationship between the abuser and the victim, and their frequency of interaction.
The laws against domestic violence are different in different states. This makes it difficult for the victims to understand and file a suit. It is here that qualified sexual assault attorneys prove important for getting the victims the justice that they so deserve.