Violence Againts Women
Q. What are the types of violence against women?
A. Violence against women encompasses a subset of family and intimate violence including threatening or actual use of physical, psychological or sexual abuse against a woman by her family members or other intimates. Commonly referenced behaviors included within the broad category of violence against women include: homicide, domestic violence, partner abuse, psychological abuse, dating violence, same-sex violence, spousal abuse, woman battering, elder abuse, courtship violence, sexual assault, date rape, acquaintance rape, marital rape, and stranger rape.
Some of the root causes of Domestic Violence include: power and control, growing up in a cycle of violence and abuse, and a distorted concept of manhood.
Q. Are some women more at risk for physical assault than others?
A. Physical assaults by someone known to the victim is a leading cause of injury to women. An estimated 1.8 million women are assaulted each year by the men they share a household with or consider their partners.
Some pregnant women are at risk for physical violence inflicted by partners. Based on information gathered in public and private health care settings, estimates of violence directed towards women during pregnancy have ranged from 0.9 to 20.1 percent. Population-based estimates of this problem have not been available. A study among mothers of newborns has show that women whose pregnancies were unwanted were more likely to experience physical violence.
A 1993 national poll found that 34 percent of adults in the United States reported having witnessed a man beating his wife or girlfriend, and that 14 percent of women reported that a husband or boyfriend had been violent with them.
Q. Does risk for violence against women change with age?
A. Violence against women can begin as child abuse, and some women are never directly abused while others may encounter multiple forms of abuse. Two-thirds of cases of elder abuse including physical, sexual, psychological abuse, neglect and exploitation, were women (1991). The most common victim of elder abuse is an older woman with some chronic illness or disability and the most common perpetrator is a spouse or another relative living with her.
Q. Is violence against women all that common?
A. Most assaults on women are perpetrated by their partners, and these assaults are not reported. Better data on violence against women are needed.
- In various studies, estimates of assaults on women by partners or cohabitants range from 1.8 million to almost 4 million per year.
- One in four women in America will be assaulted by a domestic partner in her lifetime.
- Domestic abuse is the leading cause of injury to women in America. It is estimated that between 20 to 30 percent of women treated in emergency rooms are there because of physical abuse by a partner.
A survey by the Commonwealth Fund found that 92 percent of women who were physically abused by their partners did not tell their doctors.
Q. Isn’t sexual assault usually by strangers?
A. According to one survey, almost 133,000 women were the victims of rape or attempted rape each year between 1987 and 1991 (Horton, 1993). Women raped by someone they knew constituted 55 percent of the reported rapes and 45 percent by strangers.
Q. What is domestic violence?
A. Domestic violence encompasses all acts of violence against women within the context of family or intimate relationships. It is an issue of increasing concern because it has a negative effect on all family members, especially children. Domestic violence is not confined to any one socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, racial, or age group. It is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States, where they are more likely to be assaulted, injured, raped or killed by a male partner than by any other type of assailant. Accurate information on the extent of domestic violence is difficult to obtain because of extensive underreporting. However, it is estimated that as many as four million instances of domestic abuse against women occur annually in the U.S. About one-fourth of all hospital emergency room visits by women result from domestic assaults.
Q. My friends think I am in an abusive relationship, but I am not sure. What are the signs of Domestic Violence?
A. Domestic Violence is when one person purposely causes either physical or non-physical harm to another. Usually the violent person is a husband, former husband, boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend, but sometimes the abuser is female. About 20% of all the women in this country have been involved with abusive partners at some point in their lives. It is a very common problem and should be taken very seriously.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Have you ever been physically hurt, such as being kicked, pushed or punched, by your partner or ex-partner?
- Has your partner ever used the threat of hurting you to get you to do something?
- Has your partner tried to keep you from seeing your family, going to school, or doing other things that are important to you?
- Do you feel like you are being controlled or isolated by your partner?
- Have you ever been forced by your partner to have sex when you did not want to?
- Has your partner ever insisted on having unsafe sex?
- Is your partner very jealous and always questioning whether you are faithful?
- Does your partner regularly blame you for things that you could not control or insult you?
- Are you ever afraid of your partner or of going home? Does he/she make you feel unsafe?
Other signs of Domestic Violence that observers might see in a relative or friend:
- Being prone to accidents
- Injuries that could not be caused by accident, or do not match the story of what happened to cause them.
- Injuries on many different areas of the body, especially areas that are less likely to get hurt, such as the face, throat, neck, chest, abdomen, or genitals.
- Many injuries that happened at different times.
- Bruises, burns, or wounds that are shaped like objects such as teeth, hands, belts, a cigarette tip, or look like the injured person has a glove or sock on (from having a hand or foot place in boiling water).
- Seeking medical help a lot.
- Waiting to or not seeking medical help for serious injuries.
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Suicide attempts
A "yes" answer to any of these questions means that your relative or friend maybe in an abusive relationship and should get help immediately. It is important to understand that an abusive partner chooses to be violent and it is not the victim's fault, despite what the abuser might say. Abusers can control themselves if they want to, as they do with coworkers, bosses and friends. Also remember that abuse usually becomes worse over time. Almost 30% of women who were murdered last year were killed by their partners or ex-partners. There are many places you can go to receive information or help. To find help near you, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-SAFE, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (800) 537-2238 or local information for domestic violence programs and shelters.
Q. What should I do if someone I know is being subject to domestic violence?
If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence, please call the confidential
NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE
( Linea Nacional sobre la Violencia Domestica)
1-800-799-SAFE (7233) *** 1-800-787-3224 (TDD)
Q. Is domestic violence by a husband or boyfriend the woman’s fault?
A. Abuse is not the woman’s fault. Causes for violence are many, but the blame certainly does not lie on the shoulders of the woman being abused. Often, substance abuse is involved with domestic violence. Over half of the defendants accused of murdering their spouses and almost half of the victims of spousal murders were drinking alcohol at the time of the offense.
IDENTIFIED ROOT CAUSES OF VIOLENCE
Root Causes of Domestic Violence
Power and control
Growing up in a cycle of violence and abuse
Distorted concept of manhood
Root Causes of Violence
Poverty and unemployment
Underemployment and economic disequilibrium
Lack of housing and displacement
Circumstances of racism and injustice
Alcohol and substance abuse
Hopelessness and despair
Q. Are there any patterns about which women get raped or abused?
A. Young, unmarried, separated or divorced women and nonwhite women are the most frequent victims of rape and attempted rape. African American women experience higher rates of rape than white or Hispanic women.
Q. What counts as domestic violence or abuse?
A. Domestic violence may be physical abuse or psychological abuse, or both.
Physical abuse is usually recurrent and escalates in both frequency and severity. Although most assaults on women do not result in death, they do result in physical injury and severe emotional distress. Physical injuries are the most tangible manifestations of domestic violence, yet they are frequently not reported by women and go unrecognized by the professionals who are mandated to intervene.
Psychological abuse of women is underestimated, trivialized, and at times difficult to define. Psychological abuse has been reported by abused women to be as damaging as physical battering because of its impact on the self-image of the victim. It often precedes or accompanies physical abuse, but it may occur by itself.
Q. Is there a cure for domestic violence?
A. Even when abuse ends, either by repairing the situation or leaving the situation, survivors of domestic violence experience a high incidence of depression and suicidal ideas; they attempt suicide and have elevated rates of substance abuse, chronic fatigue, anxiety, sleeping and eating disorders, and nightmares.
Professional counseling is very important for survivors of domestic violence.
Q. Do skills learned in self-defense workshops really do any good?
A. Research has shown that using self-defense measures during rape reduces the chance of a completed rape; however, those measures also increase the risk of additional physical injury.