SAFETY STRATEGIES FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
What is domestic violence? Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviours that adults and adolescents use against their current or former intimate partners.
This could include husbands or wives as well as boyfriends or girlfriends. It always occurs in settings where the perpetrator and victim are currently or were previously in an intimate relationship.
This cuts across a broad spectrum of relationships such as dating, cohabitation, marriage, separation and divorce. In some cases, they may have children in common or not.
Domestic violence goes beyond physical beatings resulting in injuries like black eyes, bruises, burns, broken bones and in some extreme cases amputation of a limb.
Domestic violence is actually a repetition of rogue behaviour that abusers use to control their intimate partners. This means that it can also be mental, emotional and psychological in nature.
It often comes with attendant financial and emotional hardship. This state of affairs is very difficult to understand for people who were never victims of abuse. Many people wonder why the victims (often women but sometimes men) do not leave and continue to allow the abuse go on for years.
Some reasons why are because of cultural and religious values which place an emphasis on keeping families intact. In addition the victim often wants to shy away from exposing the crisis situation to outsiders for fear of stigmatization.
Furthermore, people do not realize that not all relationships started with abuse. Love and intimacy preceded the abuse which makes it difficult for women (who are majorly the victims) to break away and leave.
According to the United States Department of Justice on family violence, females are 84% of spouse abuse victims and 86% of victims at the hands of a boyfriend or girlfriend.
It also found that men are responsible for 75% of these violent attacks on women. These statistics show that the greatest single common denominator about victims of domestic violence is the fact that the overwhelming majority are women.
Intimate partner abusers weave intimacy and abuse together in such an effective way that it allows them control their partners. However, there is a way out or there are ways out of this quagmire. These ways are safety strategies victims of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence can use to survive and escape.
Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey conducted under the auspices of the United States Department of Justice reveal some frightening statistics.
It shows that about 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. In addition, it estimates that 1.5 million women are raped or physically assaulted, by intimate partners each year.
Furthermore, in 2007 intimate partners killed 45% of female homicide victims while 5% were male homicide victims. This is shocking to say the least. Though these statistics are for the United States it is an accurate reflection of what women suffer worldwide.
The following steps are safety strategies for victims of domestic violence:
Physically leave the place: The first and quickest thing to do is to physically leave the place of abuse. Essentially the victim or woman must leave and seek refuge with friends or family as soon as possible.
This is why every woman should have people she can call upon at the shortest notice to rescue her such as neighbours, work colleagues or even bystanders in cases of extreme violence that can result in bodily injury or death.
Once she is out of the danger zone she can then contact family and relatives to grant her (and possible her children shelter). This is the first step to take or strategy to implement.
Contact relevant bodies: There are authorities that handle cases of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence. These bodies have trained personnel who can handle such matters and can advise on what to do next.They may also assist the victim in getting medical aid if required. A number of NGOs and faith-based organizations are the kind of authorities equipped to help, support, empower and protect such victims of domestic violence.
Counseling: A victim of domestic abuse or intimate partner violence must (as a matter of necessity), undergo counseling. A counselor is a person trained to help a victim of intimate partner violence.In virtually every case, the extreme emotional state of the victim means the victim will not be thinking clearly at that point in time. Such a person will be confused and not know what to do next.
If there are children involved the situation becomes even more complicated as several issues bordering on their care and feeding must be dealt with promptly.
Legal action: This is a very important and critical step to take to ensure the victim receives maximum protection possible under the laws of the land.The authorities concerned with such matters can and often do provide legal aid to such victims. They will advise the victim on the options available to her and possibly go to a court of law to get a restraining order against the male partner.
In cases where there is incontrovertible evidence of grievous bodily harm, the male partner can be charged to court, and even prosecuted, to the fullest extent of the law possible.
This may result in imprisonment of the perpetrator with or without the option of a fine.
Empowerment: Studies and statistics show that the vast majority of women who are victims of domestic violence are helpless in terms of material needs and resources they require for daily living.Therefore, arrangements must be made and structures put in place to empower the woman by providing her with material, economic and financial means to ensure her survival.
Support Structure: Last but not the least the woman who is the victim of domestic violence must be provided with some sort of support structure by the relevant authorities.
This is essential to enable her heal from the emotional, mental and psychological wounds and scars inflicted on her by the abusive partner.This means the authorities must put in place a social network of sorts made up of counselors, lawyers, and law enforcement officials who would monitor her over time, check her progress and address any other needs that may arise.
In conclusion, these are essential and critical safety strategies for victims of domestic violence. They are all encompassing, vital and helpful for all sufferers of intimate partner violence.
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