Domestic Violence

The True Face of Domestic Violence The face of Domestic Violence – typically, we think of a woman, probably in the emergency room, beaten up by her spouse or partner. We see her bruises, and we feel her pain. The outrage that we have felt about this face has done much to change our society in the last 30 years. This face has motivated our society to build shelters for women and their children fleeing domestic violence.

The True Face of Domestic Violence is many faces…enough to make a community.

Face of The Battered Woman
She needs medical care – nearly half of all battering incidents require some sort of medical care for the victim. Nearly one-fourth of all women in the United States will be abused by a current or former partner sometime in their lifetime. She needs shelter – someplace to go, that’s safe, to get away, to think. She needs counseling. We need laws that protect her.

Face of The Non-Traditional Victim

  • Lesbian/Gay: Violence occurs in approximately 1 in 4 same sex relationships, approximately the same as in heterosexual relationships
  • Elder abuse: on the increase as our society ages
  • Abuse of male partners: Studies vary on this information, from 5% of victims being identified as male , to as much as 20%. Males traditionally do not need shelter in these situations and therefore have most probably been under-identified.

Face of The Batterer 
Can be anyone – either gender, any age. For more than 20 years, pilot batterer’s intervention programs have been springing up, and collecting the data that follows. Perpetrators of abuse do it over and over again. Abusiveness is a learned behavior that can be changed in most people. Abusers learned their pattern of behavior as children. It takes a long-term behavioral/educational process to unlearn it. We must provide this long-term Batterer’s Intervention Services if we want Batterers to change.

Face of The Police Officer 
Each month in Northern Arizona, the police receive more than 300 domestic violence reports. The batterer is arrested in the majority of cases. The batterer is released, and allowed to return to their victim within hours in many cases. Battering relationships continue, and the violence escalates, even after police involvement. Police are more likely to be injured when responding to a domestic violence call than any other call. Police need laws they can enforce, a judiciary that supports them, and a community that understands their complex job.

Face of The Pastor/Priest/Rabbi 
Why involve the pastor? Religious issues often surface in the midst of crisis. Four out of ten women who seek help turn to a pastor before they turn to another source of help. Restoration of the relationship is more likely in the early stages of abuse, before law enforcement is involved. The pastor/rabbi can help.

Face of The Child
In a home where one partner is abusing another, the child is not safe. These children are seriously neglected at a rate 1500% higher than the national average in the general population. The majority of abused women who use shelter services bring children. In one study 72% of the women brought children to the shelter, 21% were accompanied by 3 or more children.

If we limit our view of the face of domestic violence, to “the battered woman”, it is easy to see that the major need in this circumstance is for shelter. When we widen our view to the rest of these faces we see the need for:

  • Counseling services
  • Batterers Intervention programs
  • Laws that work for victims and law enforcement
  • Education for pastors and rabbis
  • Community Education on Prevention and Intervention

When we allow ourselves to see all the faces of domestic violence, we are changed. If the battered woman’s face is all we see, domestic violence is a problem of battered women. When we look at all of these faces, we see that domestic violence is a complex community issue, requiring a multi-faceted approach.