The world, we live in, exposes us to numerous stresses; moreover, our life style is far from normal. We do not get enough rest and sleep, the food we eat is far from what a human being needs to consume in order to remain healthy. The number of things, which need to be done throughout the day, is impossible to count, and this all causes numerous psychological problems, which people are not always able to address timely. Being left alone with their problems, people having no time to resolve problems in a natural way, keep them inside, which leads to chronic depressions, and other psychological disorders. Furthermore, at times, this may turn out to be a real psychiatric issue. It is not allowed to show one’s emotions in public, it is forbidden by etiquette, and this is the reason why for many people their own homes turn out to be the only places, where they can be themselves, and let off their negative emotions. This, of course, can be taken as a sign of deep trust by the family members, but, unfortunately, the great amount of negative emotions find their way out in such unattractive way that it is hard for the family members to look for any sort of explanation of it.
It is quite understandable that besides everyday stresses there is a number of other reasons why people commit acts of domestic violence, among such is alcoholism, one more psychiatric disorder of various nature. However, it happens more and more frequently that domestic violence is caused by personal emotional difficulties, which, in their turn, are caused by every day stresses. Thus, this is mainly in the focus of the current paper.
Domestic violence, however, needs to be discussed within the frame work of some sort of definition. Some of the researchers see it wider, the other see it in a more narrow way. For this reason, when starting a discussion about domestic violence, it is extremely important to define what exactly is being meant under this term. Domestic violence, or, as it is also being named, intimate partner violence is not only limited to cases, in which acts of physical violence are present. We can also speak of domestic violence in cases, when a person is emotionally abused, or controlled by another person. Sometimes, people are imprisoned at home, passively abused by means of negligence and economic deprivation (Siemieniuk, Krentz, Gish & Gill, 2010, pp. 763 – 770). In many cases, domestic violence is not the only manifestation of the person’s complicated psycho-emotional state. Furthermore, very heavy alcohol consumption may also be going together with domestic violence as a tendency (Markowitz, 2000, p. 293). Severe psychiatric disorders are often reasons for domestic violence, as stated Dutton (1994, p. 170).
In all developed countries, domestic violence is legally prohibited, and a person, in charge of an act of domestic violence may get very serious punishment. However, this is often very different in developing countries. In some of the countries of the world, physical punishment or, in our understanding, physical violence is allowed by law. In some countries, it is allowed for a husband to discipline his wife and children by means of applying physical power, as long as it does not leave any visible traces on the body surface.
Many women, especially in the third-world countries, strongly believe that applying physical power against wife is normal, and a husband, who does not practice such sort of methods is not quite masculine, not quite a man, so to say.
In other words, domestic violence is not just an acceptable, but in some cases a desirable practice in many countries of the third world. However, it is important to understand the cultural and religious background of this sort of attitude and, therefore, try to conduct the discussion and explanatory work within the framework of these realities. Nonetheless, it is impossible to leave the situation the way it is since physical violence is not only a cultural phenomenon, it has a lot to do with medicine, psychology and psychiatry. As stated by Berrios and Grady (1991, p. 133), victims of domestic violence often suffer from such severe physical diseases as arthritis, ulcers, pelvic pain, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and migraines. The list is far from being complete. Therefore, as we can see, domestic violence goes far beyond the limits of the family’s private affairs or the country’s cultural traditions. Moreover, the practice is horribly dangerous and harmful in itself; besides, it leads to a number of further complications.
However, we cannot speak about the marriage partners only when discussing the problem of domestic violence. It is critically important to understand that children, their physical health and psychological state are also heavily influenced by the manifestations of domestic violence, even in the cases, when they are not directly involved into those acts. As stated by Dodd (2009), there have been a number of researches recently, which have shown that children, who were witnessing the scenes of domestic violence at their homes during the period of their up bringing, were then experiencing serious difficulties in their development, as well as major psychological problems. Lazzenbatt (2009, p. 368) also shares this point of view, stating that children, who experienced or witnessed domestic violence in their childhood period are likely to have negative impacts on the numerous spheres of their development. Among these spheres, one can particularly underline such as social, behavioral, psychological. Unfortunately, this list is far from being complete as well. According to what Lehman (1995) stated in his work, the children, who used to be witnesses of physical abuse, exercised against their mothers, are very likely to develop so called post-traumatic disorder and other kinds of psychological difficulties.
When speaking about domestic violence, the majority of people will necessarily imagine a man physically abusing a woman. However, as it has already been stated above, domestic violence does not necessarily have to take physical form. Moreover, it can be exercised both by a man and a woman. It may often happen to be that a man is mentally abused by his wife, and this case may turn out to be even more complex since the majority of family consulting institutions are mainly addressed to the women, and they do not expect men. Besides, for a man it is somewhat humiliating to go somewhere with a complaint about his wife abusing him. At least, this is true for the majority of cultures. For this reason, men are victims of domestic violence and often find themselves to be in a no go situation. Therefore, it is very important to particularly outline the importance of emotional abuse.
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Emotional abuse can have such manifestations as public humiliation of the victim, strict control over one’s actions and behavior, hiding certain information, making attempts diminish or embarrass him/her, attempts of isolation, blackmailing, restricting the victim’s access to money or other basic necessities. Follingstad (2000) provides the following definition of emotional abuse “any behavior that threatens, intimidates undermines the victim’s self-worth or self-esteem, or controls the victim’s freedom.” Moreover, it often happens that the victims of emotional abuse say that they feel as if they did not really belong to themselves as if somebody had total control over them. This state often leads to depressions, including chronic, which, in their turn, may result in higher suicide risk, digestion disorders, and alcohol abuse, in the most severe cases even drug abuse.
However, it would be wrong to suppose that little or nothing is being done to prevent domestic violence. On the contrary, more and more NGOs offer free shelters for the victims of domestic violence; however, this is not a sufficient solution of the problem. More preventive measures need to be taken since the problem is threatening. Here are just a few figures, reflecting in the US alone. Meanwhile, it is quite clear that there are very many countries, in which situation is dramatically different from the US. According to the National Institute of Justice (ND) around 1.3 million of women and 0.8 million of men are physically abused by their intimate partners in the US alone. It is needful to say that quite impressive statistics as for such developed country. Meanwhile, in a number of other countries, physical abuse is allowed if not encouraged, by the law. One of such countries is Iraq, where paragraph 41 of the criminal code of the country (ND) states that there is no crime, once physical abuse happened while exercising the legal right. Among legal rights of a husband are punishing his wife, disciplining children within certain limits, set by law or by the customs. According to Altstein and Simon, in Iraq the penal code, or, to be more precise, its article “he who discovers his wife or one of his female relatives committing adultery and kills, wounds, or injures one of them, is exempted from any penalty” (Iraq Penal Code). This had been a subject for public discussions a number of times, and even, it was required of the parliament to change this norm, however, the parliament in both cases turned the requirement down.
Though, it is officially allowed and recognized by the law in several countries of the world. Thus, domestic violence happens in various countries, and cultures, moreover, people of quite different statuses and cultures may turn out to be victims of domestic violence. According to Heise, Ellsberg and Gottemoeller (1999), the percentage of women who become victims of domestic violence varies largely from 10 to 69 percent depending on the country. Furthermore, it is important to understand that there are also the cases, when women do not speak about domestic violence happening in family and therefore such cases do not become a subject to any research.
The problem is great and therefore needs being addressed and thoroughly researched. Thus, the major reasons, which cause domestic violence, need to be discovered and preventive measures, based on such research data need to be offered. It is important to apply preventive measures in the near future since the problem is growing fast and has already become of great shape and size, and letting it grow further is simply unacceptable. As it was shown in current research, the problem is characteristic and is not exclusion ally rare phenomenon even for developed countries, such as the United States of America, not even mentioning the third world countries, where even the legal acts allow manifestations of domestic violence and victims themselves believe that it is normal to commit acts of domestic violence and believe this to be a part of the educational process. For this reason, wider research should be undertaken in this field, and its practical value cannot be overestimated. Its main focus needs to be on the reasons of such sad statistics and possible ways of improving the situation.