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Domestic Violence and Women:
Don't be a Monkey

December 1, 2006   

Is there an identifiable reason or reasons for the escalation of violence against women, including femicide. Whether we are talking about domestic violence or just plain assault, including stalking and rape. Women are in the bull's-eye.[1]

In 2001, women accounted for 85 percent of victims of intimate partner violence, and men accounted for about 15 percent.

Incidents of violence against a former or present intimate partner are estimated to be 96,000 per year. Intimate partners are responsible for the physical abused of three million women per year.

Every year in the United States somewhere between 1000 to1600 women die at the hands of their partners, after a period of escalating abuse. Some studies show a correlation between this violence and alcohol and drugs. Others studies disagree.

Studies show that of females killed with guns, almost two-thirds were killed by an intimate partners. Instances of Intimate partner homicide by firearms is 5 time greater than in instances where there isn't a firearm.

As for who is more likely to be the victims of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Broken down in term of racial groups African-Americans reports higher rates of domestic abuse.

For Black women between the ages of 15 to 45, IPV is the leading cause of death. Studies suggest that economic and social disadvantages, puts them at greater risk for  domestic abuse.

Bare in mind that white women are less likely than Black women to report domestic abuse. Add to this the immigrant female population, who for various reasons are not very likely to report intimate partner abuse.

Domestic Violence.

The term domestic abuse, for many of us congers up an image of physical abuse, but domestic abuse come in many forms, such as, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and intimidation, including threats of violence; and economic deprivation.

Each and everyone of these situations may eventually escalate to domestic violence.

Any attempt to quantify the number of domestic abuse victims is arguably an attempt to quantify a very intractable social problem. Especially when only one-third of abuse victims file a complaint with the authorities.

Licks Under the Mistletoe

The documented lull in domestic violence complaints to women help organizations, before the holiday celebrations is the quiet before the storm. For some victims of domestic violence.

The rich celebration of the holidays will soon bring with it very tough times in some house-holds.

 While for most of us the holidays is the high point of the years celebrations. For victims of domestic violence, the traditional notion of a kiss under the mistletoe is replaced by licks -- a Black and blue Christmas.

Drugs, Alcohol and Domestic Violence

 The stress of Christmas and the fact that there's more alcohol around, can make the excesses, well... excessive.

According to the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) 92 percent of violence against women, occurs on the day of excessive alcohol or drug use.

Some numbers show that incidents of alcohol is present between 48 to 87 percent of these cases, and drugs are involved 13 to 20 percent of the time.

Another study cast doubts on these statistics. They say the supposed correlation between the role alcohol or drugs play in domestic violence is a myths They claim that 76 percent of domestic violence occurs in the absence of alcohol or drugs use. 

They maintain that domestic abuse has more to do with the perpetrator's desire to control, than any of the above reasons.

Blaming the Victim

 Who doesn't know the frustration of trying to get a family member in an abusive relationships to move on. How many times have you seen a victim after a successful separation from her abuser, go back to him.

It seems obvious enough for the observer to decry her supposed stupidity. "Blaming the victim" if you will. But is it really that simple.

Some of the excuses we've heard are: It's just Friday night when he drinks heavily. I suppose the implication is, that the other 6 days of the week he's a good father, lover, and provider.

The economics of raising a family alone, the withholding of money,  the fear of being harmed, and other fears are expressed by these women.

Pleasing her Abuser
The cycle of abuse at times would see the victim becoming a participant in her own abuse.

Sometime ago I was listening to a radio program on the subject of hidden domestic abuse. Not the abuse that appear in the local police blotter. The one that even the neighbors are not aware of. The abuse that's never seen or heard.

In this scenario the abuser took meticulous care to avoid any bruising in the visible areas of the victims body. Choosing areas hidden by her hair, (her head) and other areas of the body hidden by garment.

As the psychologist put it "this secret of abuse between the victim and her abuser creates a psychological bond between them."

Battered Woman Syndrome
To understand how some of these victims become trapped in this cycle of abuse. According to Dr. Lenore E. Walker the nations prominent expert on "Battered Woman's Syndrome."

This cycle has three distinct phases. The tension building phase, followed by the explosion; or acute battering incident; culminating in a calm, loving respite known as the "honeymoon phase."

Inherent in all this is "learned helplessness." The punishment the victim received for displeasing her abusers, soon lead to her becoming submissive and adapting to her situation.

She believes the abuse she receive is her fault, and believe it or not, she looks up to him. As the experts put it: she sees her abuser as omniscient -- having infinite awareness, understanding and insight.

This has been compared to the "Stockholm Syndrome" where the need to please ones captors, leads to identifying with them.[2]

Some even compare this altered state of mind to African hunters baiting of a monkey by placing food in the trunk of a tree.

When the Monkey takes hold of the food (forming a fist) the Monkey can't possibly retrieve it through the narrow opening. With the hunter approaching, the Monkey holds on to its food (what it think it needs) to the bitter end.

Order of Protection
The stats show that the most dangerous time for battered women is when their abuser become aware that they're trying to end the abuse. This bring about an escalation in violence, and all to frequently guns are the instruments of their deaths.

Even the Protection order issued by the court in many cases has become a useless piece of paper. Because they fail to recognize the raw illogical emotion of this crime of passion, and the need of these perpetrators to control their victims.

Does anyone think these perpetrators even stop to think of the consequences of their action? If they do, there's compelling evidence to the contrary, manifested in the myriad of statistics on domestic violence cases.

These numbers imply that the desire for the ultimate control of their intimate partners trumps any such thinking.

 Here in Pennsylvania back in April of 2004, we had a case in Pittsburg where a boyfriend entered a church, drag his girlfriend out by her hair, while she clung to her baby. Pursued by the police he shot and killed her.

There're many other cases too numerous to mention here, where  abusers brazenly ignore orders of protection and ended these women lives.

The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence has been active in trying to get legislation to remove all the firearms of these perpetrators, but the gun lobby sees it differently.

The current law provides for the abuser to give up his fire arm. But doesn't provide for him to legal give up all of his guns. They also seek to have the order of protection increased from 18 months to 36 months.

Coup de grace

The numbers show that the gun -- mostly hand guns -- over half the time is the weapon of choice used by abusers to regain the ultimate control of their victims.

 Just watching this debate really begs the question: Does confiscating the fire arms of these perpetrators going to quell their desire -- or the opportunity -- to remove their victims from the face of the earth?

I suppose the answer to that, for some would be, no! But the absence of firearms would reduce the fatality rate.

Most of these killers are in the personal space of their victims -- arms length -- at the time of the coup de grace. The use of firearms by these perpetrators is a choice.

Framing the Debate

The debate needs to be framed where it belongs. An order of protection is for many too little too late and in many cases serve to hasten the victims demise.

The answer has to be education, for everybody, especially the immediate family. The children in particular need to be given the tools to recognize problems between mom and dad. In many case they do, but they too are caught up in the fear for their wellbeing.

I sincerely believe domestic violence awareness should be taught in schools. Though I have no personal knowledge that it isn't being done in some circles.

 The reality of violence in the home has to take precedence over some of our other concerns.

Through education extended family and neighbors will be less dismissive "Blaming the victim" calling her stupid. They will understand that she's not stupid, but psychologically cornered.

There are many cases I have personally heard in discussing this subject with women. They're convinced through personal experience that  nipping abuse in the bud the first time it happens, is key.

In a discussion with a friend of mine once, who is neither minority or poor. He shared with me an incident where he was trying to get his wife attention during an argument.

During this argument he reached out took her hands, in an attempt to calmly make a point. To his utter dismay, ten minutes later the police was at his door.

Pride, the stigma of police cars at the door, trying to keep these problems from immediate family in the early stages of abuse, these women sets themselves up.

According to the experts: it only takes one cycle of domestic violence for a woman to developed "Battered Woman Syndrome." and all the mental problems that comes with it.

Hopefully this piece will help somebody.

To get help call call the National Domestic Violence Hotline:1800 799-7233: 1800 787-3224
National Sexual Assault Hotline:1800 656-4673

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Safety for Women: Self defense Tips and Trick.
Economic hardship: Economic abuse.

[1] Femicide: An extreme form of sexist terrorism, motivated by hatred, contempt, pleasure, or a sense of ownership of women. Femicide includes mutilation murder, rape murder, battery that escalates into murder.

(2) "The Stockholm Syndrome" got its name from the case of four hostages taken in a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden back in 1973. When the authorities tried to rescue them after being with their captors for a number of days, they resisted their liberators and even refused to testify against their captors.

The fear of being threatened with death, and a strategy to stay alive by pleasing their captor  creates a psychosis leading to them identifying with their captors

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