Every person in the world needs to have a secure and safe home that is free of violence. When some situations go wrong in the environment, each adult or a child considers the home as a place of comfort, assist, and support. However, for many people, mostly women and children, it is far from a safe place. Every year, millions of adults and children are exposed to domestic abuse at home that has a profound effect on their lives, mental and physical health, and hopes for their future. The current paper explores the global issue of domestic abuse, the most common forms of it, and its relation with mental illnesses.
Domestic abuse is one of the most spreading human rights challenges of modern time. It is a global phenomenon that is not limited by ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status. Although such problem is widely spread geographically, it has also an extensive incidence, making it a typical behavior. Being widely disseminated and deeply ingrained, it effects seriously on human physical and mental health, vision on their future. Kaur and Garg noted that its costs to humans, healthcare systems, and society are enormous. It exceeds 8.3 billion dollars annually. Thus, domestic abuse is a global issue of vast proportions. For instance, in the USA, every minute approximately 20 people suffer from physical violence by intimate partners. It contains more than 10 million victims each year. During a typical day, the U.S. domestic violence hotlines receive about 20,800 calls. There is not any other important problem of public health that has such a large negative impact on the individuals and the society as well.
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Forms of Domestic Abuse
Before considering different forms of domestic abuse, it is important to define this notion. Psychologists describe it as the power that is misused by an adult in the relationship to control another person. According to the 2005 Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, any conduct that harms or has the potential to injure will be considered as a domestic abuse by the law. Even an act of commission or omission can constitute as violence.
Domestic abuse is an establishment of fear and control in the relationship by applying violence as well as other methods of abuse. It contains any behaviors which manipulate, intimidate, coerce, humiliate, terrorize, isolate, blame, threaten, hurt, wound, or injury someone. Such violation can have various forms, including psychological, emotional, and economic abuse, physical and sexual assault. The frequency of any of mentioned forms can be occasional or chronic. The psychological abuse can pose the elements of fear through intimidation; threats to do a physical harm to self, children, partner, family or friends; destruct property or pets; and force isolation from close surrounding such as family, friends, co-workers or classmates. Emotional abuse undermines a persons sense of self-worth and self-esteem. It can include constant criticism, name-calling, diminishing an individuals abilities, or damaging his/her relations with children. Economic abuse is often presented as making a victim financially dependent through supporting total control over financial sources, or forbidding having an access to money. As estimated, 21 to 60% of victims of violence lose their jobs because of the reasons coming from the economic abuse. Physical abuse is often seen through slapping, hitting, pinching, grabbing, hair pulling, or biting. It can also contain a partners denying from medical care or forcing to use drugs or alcohol. Sexual abuse considers as coercing to any sexual behavior or contact without consent. It can include marital rape, forcing sex after physical violence, attacks on certain sexual parts of partners body. Domestic abuse can occur in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships or can happen to married, dating, or living together intimate partners in any of its forms.
The Effects of Domestic Abuse on Women
Domestic abuse is the most common violence against women and the universal phenomenon worldwide. According to the reports of the World Health Organization, the proportion of females who had ever experienced physical violence by an intimate partner is between 15 to 71% . Every third woman and every fourth man have been victims of physical abuse by an intimate partner throughout their life. The most common abuse is amid women aged from18 to 24 years old. Domestic abuse is not a new issue as women always considered as vulnerable, weak individuals who are always in a position to be exploited. Domestic violence against women has a deeper influence than the immediate harm that is caused. It is seen through devastating implications for women experiencing it and a traumatic impact on the individuals (particularly children) who witness it. Most women are forced to suffer silently from domestic abuse because of the lack of information about alternative methods to solve such issue. Hence, violence against females is a violation of human rights that should be eliminated by political will, civil and legal actions in all spheres of a society.
The Effects of Domestic Abuse on Children
The biggest victims of domestic abuse usually are the smallest members of the family. The studies show that children exposing domestic violence can have a range of serious and lasting impacts as it develops behavioral, emotional, developmental and educational problems. Domestic abuse can effect childrens learning at school and limit their social skills; it may also lead to depression and severe anxiety. Children experiencing domestic abuse are more likely to apply violence at educational establishments or their community as a response to threats. They also use violence to raise their self-esteem and reputation. Such kids easier commit crimes and more likely to endeavor suicide that children who live without domestic abuse. Besides, most of them use drugs. Hence, young generation living at homes in which domestic abuse is practiced are denied one of the major human rights to have a safe and stabile home environment.
Health Implications of Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse including all its forms has serious consequences on females physical health (injuries, disabilities) including sexual and reproductive spheres as well as mental health (depression and suicide). According to the studies, there is a relationship amid intimate partner violence and such mental disorders as depression and suicidal behavior. The researchers admitted that some forms of verbal and mental abuse appear harmless at first, but later can grow subtly and gradually. All physical and psychological health outcomes have emotional and social complications for individuals, their families, the communities, and the society in general. Being a main cause of psychiatric diseases in the globe, domestic abuse is the leading source of morbidity and mortality for females of childbearing age that has a major contribution from the mental health outcomes of abuse. The limited studies show that the most people with severe mental disorders experienced sexual or other physical assault during their lifetime; moreover, it is associated with their history of childhood abuse. Finally, the psychologists developed that both males and females possessing all types of mental diseases report a large prevalence and enlarged odds of domestic abuse compared to the individuals without mental disorders. Thus, there is evidence that domestic abuse leads to various mental illnesses with more incidence amid women.
Actions Needed to Solve the Issue
Since domestic violence against females considers as a priority in public health, healthcare providers play a vital and fundamental role in addressing such global issue. Being a cause and an outcome of gender inequality, solving the issue of domestic abuse requires primary prevention programs which address gender imparity and remove the root reasons of violence. An efficient example of such program is a Dallas organization Genesis Womens Shelter and Support. It is aimed to ensure a path that shows a safe and independent life for women and children who have experienced domestic abuse.
Another suggestion that may improve the situation is providing psychological therapies such as individual or group cognitivebehavioral therapy, which the psychologists deliver to the victims. These techniques also demonstrate improvement in depression for individuals who have experienced violence. It should be mentioned that there is an insistent need for training the professionals of mental health to support them in responding to this global public health issue. Taking into account young generation, it is important to create public policies and ensure special laws that will protect the childrens rights and life in general. Besides, enhancing social services which address the effect of violence at home on children is also essential.
Domestic abuse is a global health issue that does not have any limitation in geography, ethnicity, race, culture, and socio-economic status. Being a power misused by one person in a relationship to control the behavior and actions of another one, it has various forms, including psychological, physical, sexual, emotional, and economic threats that affect individuals. Although domestic abuse is common amid both genders, women and children suffer from such problem more often than men due to their vulnerable features. Having negative outcomes on human health, domestic abuse is a major cause of mental illnesses, particular depression and suicidal behavior. Providing cognitive--behavioral therapies, creating primary prevention programs, public policies, and social services are essential actions which can assist in decreasing rates of domestic violence against women and children worldwide.