Criminal Justice Degree Guide: Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a debilitating and sometimes deadly problem that affects all demographics, ignoring sex, age, marital status, education, socio-economic background or race. It occurs when one person continues a pattern of physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, economic or psychological abuse towards another person, usually someone with whom they are in a close relationship, and over whom they wish to gain control or power. Parents, spouses and partners, friends, roommates and co-workers can all be abusers or victims of domestic violence. And in some cases, two people may engage in a damaging two-sided relationship based on domestic violence, in which both members are seen as abusers and victims.
Signs of domestic abuse do vary depending on whether the abuse is of a physical, sexual, emotional or other type of abuse, but most victims in any situation feel isolated, ashamed or humiliated, scared, punished, and/or abandoned. They can experience physical injury as well, or feel depressed and anxious. For more specific signs of abuse according to each classification, visit thehotline.org’s Get Educated page. And if you feel that your relationship with someone is about to become violent or abusive, consider these warning signs from author Randy Susan Meyers.
As part of our collection of resources on criminal justice topics, below is information about domestic violence and information surrounding the problem.
There is no typical victim of domestic abuse — it can happen to anyone, and can arise in any type of relationship typical victim, in families, work situations, and among friends or in couples. Men are also victims of domestic abuse, although they are usually less likely to report it. Children who witness domestic abuse are also considered victims, and if you are involved in a situation in which innocent bystanders – your unborn baby, children, the physically or mentally handicapped, teens, or the elderly – are present, you will need to seek help immediately for everyone’s safety and emotional well-being.
There is no set mold for the typical abuser in domestic violence, either; however, there are some common characteristics among abusers. Many abusers become violent or controlling because they have low self-esteem and a weak sense of identity, especially outside of their ability to control another person. Jealousy and fear often cause abusers to become ultra-manipulative and even violent if they feel like their identity is being threatened.
If you suspect that you or a loved one is being abused, follow these resources that explain key signs, warning triggers and how innocent bystanders may be affected:
- Victims with Disabilities from the New York City Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence
- Why are some young victims of domestic violence resilient? from ScienceDaily
- Teen Dating Violence from CDC.gov
- Rape and Sexual Violence from the National Institute of Justice
Most reported domestic abuse victims are women – about 95% according to WomensLaw.org. And while many more victims are out there, they’re too afraid to ask for help, or worse, have died before they were able to. Here are more statistics on domestic violence victims, abusers, and cases.
- Children exposed to violence are nearly four times more likely to develop emotional or behavioral problems than children who are not exposed to violence.
- Intimate homicides – killings by a spouse, ex-spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend – have decreased since 1976, but nearly 1,200 women were victims of intimate homicides in 2005, and nearly 330 men.
- About 3 million children witness domestic violence among parents in their homes each year.
- In a 2004 national poll, 74% of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.
- A 2006 poll found that 85% of Americans do believe that if someone forces his or her partner to have sex, it is an act of domestic abuse.
- Crime-related statistics by state
- In the same poll, 33 million U.S. adults admitted that they had been a victim of domestic violence.
From the government to private organizations to nonprofit groups, there are many organizations dedicated to stopping domestic violence and helping victims seek justice and find safety. Read below for information about reasserting your rights and to connect with groups that can help you or your loved ones stand up against domestic violence.
- Office on Violence Against Women
- National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
- Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
- Family Violence Prevention Fund
- National Network to End Domestic Violence
- National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Children and Families First
- Alliance Against Family Violence & Sexual Assault
- Jana’s Campaign
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Scientists, doctors, social workers, nonprofit groups, the government and other experts conduct research studies to find out why domestic violence is still prevalent in America. Some research is directed towards understanding the psychology of abusers, while others focus on victims. Crime statistics, consequences of domestic abuse, the effectiveness of advocacy programs and medical programs, and the general public attitude are all fields that have been researched. Turn to these organizations and links for more research findings and advocacy groups protecting human and family rights around the country.
- Houston Area Women’s Center
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women (VAW)
- National Criminal Justice Reference Service Rape and Sexual Assault (NCJRS)
- Violence Research Foundation (VRF)
How to get help:
Some victims do not seek help because they are afraid of the ramifications if their abuser finds out, while others still feel loyal to their partner or friend. Abusers may also tell victims that they will be alone and isolated if they decide to leave and unable to rely on friends and family for support. Shame, guilt, low self-esteem, religious reasons, a restricted financial situation, denial and co-dependency are other reasons victims choose to stay. But to protect your emotional and physical well-being – as well as any witnesses to the abuse – you will need to seek help. These resources will direct you to safe solutions: