Love Shouldn

’t Hurt Essay, Research Paper Domestic Violence is emotional or physical abuse or the threat of physical abuse, used by one person in a relationship to gain control over the other person.(1) Rich, poor, Jewish, Christian, homosexual, heterosexual, abuse comes from all shapes and sizes. Domestic violence is the most prevalent cause for injury to woman in the United States.

’t Hurt Essay, Research Paper

Domestic Violence is emotional or physical abuse or the threat of physical abuse, used by one person in a relationship to gain control over the other person.(1) Rich, poor, Jewish, Christian, homosexual, heterosexual, abuse comes from all shapes and sizes. Domestic violence is the most prevalent cause for injury to woman in the United States. Often incidents of abuse start small with an abuser slowly taking control, as the relationship intensifies, the frequency as well as the intensity of the incidents also steadily increase. The incidents are then preceded with a phase in which the abuser may apologize, claim it will never happen again, express regret, promise to change, and/or blame their partner for what occurred. It is not easy for a person who is being abused to just walk away, and someone fleeing from their abuser will often return repeatedly before making a complete break. At the point in which a person is ready to walk away, they are normally battered, their life in danger, with no self-confidence, feeling they cannot live without their abuser. To a person who is not in an abusive relationship it is easy to tell someone being abused simply to walk away, but that person either doesn?t know they are being abused, won?t except it, or thinks it is their fault and they deserve it. Basically it is not as easy as it sounds. Domestic violence can take a number of forms, including: physical behavior such as slapping, punching, pulling hair or shoving, forced or coerced sexual acts or behavior such as unwanted fondling or intercourse, or jokes and insults aimed at sexuality, threats of abuse — threatening to hit, harm or use a weapon on another, or to tell others confidential information, and psychological abuse — attacks on self-esteem, controlling or limiting another’s behavior, repeated insults and interrogation. When all is said and done, wife-beating results in more injuries requiring medical treatment than rape, auto accidents, and muggings combined.(2) Although on the surface domestic violence can appear to involve only the two parties of the abuser and their victim, the effects of abuse branch out to incorporate, indirectly all of society. It is not just a personal issue.

Abuse goes outside the house, and affects every aspect of the victims life, because abuse is not about hitting the person, it is about controlling their lives. A child, by definition, is a person who is dependent upon adults and the environment for not only physical, but for emotional sustenance as well. This includes emotional warmth and nurture as well as protection from both external and internal threats to a child’s sense of safety, self-esteem and well being. A parent and the home should provides a child with a safe space in which to experience their many complex and often intense emotions. Aggressive, passionate, sad or painful feelings arise in all human beings. The infant, toddler, and young child are helped by care taking adults to accept and tolerate frightening impulses and feelings. A child’s idea of self worth and of belief in one’s own goodness and in the general goodness of others — is thus a fragile entity. When the adult surroundings are full of conflict, fear and pain, a child’s growth and emotional well-being are clearly jeopardized. There is a public education campaign about domestic violence currently being conducted on the New York City subway system. The poster used in the campaign has a picture of a child who is described as a “highly sensitive recording device” capable of detecting and remembering the abuse that occurs in his or her home. As the poster suggests, if tension, anger, and violence are present in the home, a child will know about it — whether or not he or she has witnessed it directly and whether or not abuse is openly discussed. Regardless of how much effort has been made by adults to shield and protect a child by making sure that the violence takes place in private and by keeping it a secret, when a mother is being battered, a child becomes a victim too. The difference between the child and the adult victim is that the adult is, at least to some extent, a fully developed person who is physically equipped to take care of her own basic survival needs, and who has the tools of language and reason available to her for the purposes of making sense of a difficult experience and for meeting emotional needs through connecting with, and asking for, support from others. If the abuser has convinced themselves that they are only doing what?s best for their partner, they are wrong. But it is not just the victim; the children often are scarred for life. A number of concerns, behaviors and disturbances have been repeatedly observed in the children of battered women who come to a shelter. Among these are the following: general fearfulness, exaggerated, constant fears of impending danger, nightmares, various troubled responses to fear, anger and

sadness, anxieties around separation and loss, indiscriminate, quickly-formed attachments to unfamiliar adults, ambivalence about fathers, feelings of powerlessness, identifying with mom in terms of survival, it is experienced as better to be bad like dad than weak and terrified like mom, an exaggerated sense of guilt and responsibility for protecting a parent and often younger siblings, as well as a tendency to aggressively act out. Many of these conditions and/or behaviors first begin to emerge after a child and his or her mother have begun to settle into shelter and the child feels safe enough to begin to let down his guard and internalize what had occurred. Other than children, the victim?s entire life is dominated by the abuse.

It is often difficult to remain in a job or school when fleeing from an abuser because of the knowledge of work site location and the ability to contact them there. However, corporations today are becoming increasingly sensitive to the needs of battered women and many may be willing to arrange job transfers for their employees who are abused. Colleges and training programs might also be able to transfer credit to other institutions so that a woman can continue her education elsewhere. The fact still remains that the victim must move and start life over again.

Domestic violence often does not confine itself to the home; husbands and boyfriends are responsible for 13,000 acts of workplace violence each year. In addition to physical danger, businesses are at risk of decreased productivity due to the physical and emotional injuries suffered by battered workers. These effects indicate a need for education about domestic violence, its prevalence, and its consequences, and for strategies to be created to combat it at least in the workplace.

Now that its been established that abuse hurts other people far past the person being abused, and can even go as far as indirectly hurting a corporation, the stereotypical poor ?white-trash? weak woman with her huge beer drinking husband is going to be destroyed. An abuser or their victim can be a man or woman, although 95% of reported cases have the male as the abuser, 5% then are not, heterosexual or homosexual, and race, color, economic status, religion?abuse affects category within society.

Often it doesn?t? matter if the family has money, because the victim isn?t aloud to work, because the abuser feels that they are losing control if they work. So in any case,

when a person leaves the abusive relationship they normally have nothing. In New York State, every woman who enters the shelter system has to have a public assistance case number, which is assigned when she applies for welfare. This enables the state to track the number of people staying at each shelter and reimburse the shelter, through funding from the federal Emergency Assistance to Families program, for the expense of providing room, board and services to the women. However, women who are working often do not receive cash assistance and have to contribute to their room and board. Many of these women are dependent on welfare because their abusers will not allow them to work. Having jobs would enable the women to be financially and socially independent and would threaten the abusers’ control over them. Recognizing this dynamic, many shelters offer job training programs so women can develop the skills they have been denied. In the interim when they are not able to work, many battered women and their children are supported by public assistance. Because finding permanent, affordable housing in New York City is a difficult task, many women living in Safe Horizon’ shelters have to devote all of their time to their apartment search and are unable to hold jobs at the same time. To supplement this income, some of Safe Horizon’ shelters provide a transportation stipend to allow resident to travel locally, keep appointments, and conduct routine chores such as grocery shopping or picking up. It is not yet known how the welfare reform bill (the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996) will affect battered women. Advocates for these women and their children have expressed concern that the strict time limits on assistance will push these families deeper into poverty because the women may not be able to comply with workfare attendance requirements or gain employment in five years time. Finding and keeping a job is extremely difficult when one’s life is continually disrupted by violence. Abusers have been known to sabotage their partners’ efforts to become employed by withholding childcare, turning off the alarm clock, and harassing them at work. Additionally, abuse leaves the partner with out self-confidence and robbed of the opportunity to focus on long-term goals because the immediate goal of safety is so pressing. It is usually because of this that often no matter where the victims are coming from their abusers make them feel like they are not economically stable enough to be on their own.

A lesbian relationship can be just as violent as a heterosexual one. Just like hetero. domestic violence, it is not about two women fighting; it is about power and control with the goal of dominating and disempowering the victim. There are many factors involved in a victim’s inability to leave a battering relationship and just like relationships between straight couples, there is a behavioral cycle that includes periods of abuse as well as periods of love and calm which can lead to confusion about whether the abusive partner is really, in fact, abusive. There are also issues of economic dependency, lack of resources, fear and shame that the survivor must deal with in order to break free from the relationship. But, unlike with straight couples, in a lesbian relationship, there are additional issues that must be faced: manipulation on the part of the abuser who may threaten to ?out? her partner if she tries to get help or to flee. Outing is a serious issue in a society that continues to deny gay citizens full rights. A lesbian who is ?outed? to her employers may lose her job. Being ?outed? to friends or family may cause the loss of relationships to people who have been important in her life. The fear of losing her children by court order can also keep an abused lesbian in an unsafe relationship. This added power gives these relationships a little bit of a new dimension to understanding why some woman don?t leave.

Statistics from the National Family Violence Survey show that poverty puts women at added risk for sustaining physical and psychological injury. Since women and children of color constitute disproportionate numbers of the poor, it may be that domestic violence is more prevalent in communities of color because of the poverty. However, many anti-domestic violence activists question the accuracy of such statistics. One theory suggests that domestic violence might simply be more visible in poor, immigrant, and racial minority communities because ?people call the police when they need any kind of social service because the police are there 24 hours a day and they are free.? By contrast, some middle and upper class women, mostly white, can choose to hide their bruises and wounds by going to a private doctor instead of the emergency room, and can buy an airplane ticket to escape instead of going to a shelter. This then calls into question whether it is the fact that the community is Black or not. It is obvious that abuse is

occurring in wealthy white neighborhoods as well as poor black one?s, so it may very well be true that color has less to do with abuse than poverty. Poverty has to do with abuse because the victim will get blamed or it is seen more prevalently in poorer neighborhoods. This may again go back to the theory that the wealthier woman can simply afford to buy nicer makeup to hide the bruises.

Women fleeing domestic violence often return to their abuser repeatedly before making a complete break. According to stereotypes, Jewish families are warm and nurturing, and Jewish women are strong, and in control of their own lives and the lives of their family. As a result, there is a false belief that Jewish women are likely to be victims of abuse. These stereotypes and perceived responsibilities create an atmosphere of shame and disbelief around the issue of domestic violence, preventing Jewish women who are abused from seeking help, and as a result, Jewish women stay in violent relationships longer than non-Jewish women by an average of five to seven years.

Now that the concept of abuse not being category biased has been thoroughly exhausted, the next concept to be explored is what exactly constitutes abuse and how to detect it. There are two categories of signals that should send a red flag off when they come up in a relationship. The first is emotional attacks on the person. Name-calling; accusing; blaming; yelling; swearing; making humiliating remarks or gestures are all examples of emotional warning signs that indicate something might be wrong. Also rushing the person to make decisions through “guilt-tripping,” telling them what to do, always claiming to be right, being disrespectful, saying bad things about their friends and family, putting them down, not expressing feelings; not giving support, preventing or making it difficult for them to see friends or relatives; monitoring phone calls; telling then where they can and cannot go are all examples of emotional abuse. The second category is actual acts of physical violence. This can range anywhere from intimidation and threats to weapons and sexual abuse. The entire process can be thought of as a two simultaneous cycles, and just keeps each other spinning. The first is a tension/violence/ seduction cycle fuelled by the love/hope/fear cycle. The first starts with a fight, escalates to abuse, and then is followed by apologies and promise of change, and blame. This

cycle is moved by the one that starts with love for the partner, moves to hope for change and then ends with fear. It is that cycle that often makes it very hard to leave the relationship. These two circles make relationships hard to leave, and keep a victim in this constant spin on love and fear of their abuser.

Because it is so hard to get out and break away from a relationship, there are government groups, layers, and counselors that are helping. The government is providing money for shelters, making laws to be stricter on abusers, layers are working harder to win the cases and have woman testify and speak out, counselors have hidden places of refuge that families can stay to be safe, and I too have taken a part in trying to at least heighten the awareness of domestic violence in the community. Teenagers are the future of tomorrow, and just like children abuse at home, or in their own relationships will scare them for life. I am a cofounder of a group called STAR (students terminating abusive relationships) where a growing group of kids educates high school kids on domestic violence. The group basically is there to tell high school kids that it domestic violence is in their school, and is everywhere. We are essentially there to scare them with facts, teach them about warning signs and what to do if someone is being abused. We aren?t there to council, but more to make sure the kids know that domestic violence is out there, and that they aren?t alone. A lot of what kids feel is that they deserve it, or the guy is on the football team so it?s ok, or he loves them and so they stick with the relationship. Our job is to if not send a red flag up to the victim themselves, make their friends aware of the situation and so that maybe they could move one step closer to helping them. Abusive relationships are especially detrimental and hard to leave in a teenage relationship because adolescents are often have a feeling of loneliness and long to fit in, so when an abusive boyfriend calls the girl pretty and tells her he loves her, the girl will do everything in her power to stay with him. She has essentially been brainwashed. Although our group is purely informational, its goal is to tell people that there is help, what to look for, and to maybe send off a warning signal to someone who needs it.

Domestic violence affects everyone in one-way or another. Whether you are a victim, an abuser, child relating to one, friend, relative, lawyer, work with someone, just know someone, in some way everyone is connected to the violence. Abuse breaks all boundaries and therefore abusers and their partners can be poor, rich, young, old?any group there is, there is the possibility for an abuser. As a person gets sucked into the cycle of abuse that they just can?t escape, one begins to realize that these people have become powerless and their abusers have won the game unless they get out. The idea of love, or the possibility of change seems to always lead the victims back to their abuser, leading them deeper into the relationship, and more intense in the violence. Groups and people want to help domestic violence come to an end, yet it is not that simple. Often the victim thinks that it is their fault, or that they are not worth anything, and with such a weak spirit, the abuser easily keeps control of the situation. It is only with guidance and the partner?s own desire to break free that they will finally walk away. Abuse is not about love or about fighting; it is about control, and one person?s need to control another?s due to their own insecurities. They must hurt another to make themselves feel better and that is not love, and they will not change no matter how many times they say they will. Domestic violence comes in all shapes and sizes from everywhere, and because of it, children are learning from their parents who will continue to be abusive, and until people learn to identify the problem, abuse will continue because people have the need to control.

Love Shouldn?t Hurt

An essay on domestic violence

By Debbie Mayer

End Notes

1) Law Enforcement Television Network. ?A Look at Domestic Violence.? Dec. 1999: n. pag. Online. Internet. Dec. 1999. Available WWW: http://www.letn.com/articles/dec99article2.htm

2) Stark, E. and Fliterart, A. “Medical Therapy as Repression: The Case of Battered Women,” Health and Medicine. Summer/Fall (1982) 29-32

Bibliography

End Notes

1) Law Enforcement Television Network. ?A Look at Domestic Violence.? Dec. 1999: n. pag. Online. Internet. Dec. 1999. Available WWW: http://www.letn.com/articles/dec99article2.htm

2) Stark, E. and Fliterart, A. “Medical Therapy as Repression: The Case of Battered Women,” Health and Medicine. Summer/Fall (1982) 29-32

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