It has been reported that domestic abuse against women is highly prevalent and statistics indicate that one in four women suffer from such issues within the home (Bostock, Plumpton and Pratt 95). Domestic abuse has been described as involving actions such as physical violence, emotional, sexual and financial abuse. Despite the fact that such crimes go largely unreported, domestic abuse forms a significant proportion of all violent crime in the UK (Bostock, Plumpton and Pratt 95).
Despite the risk involved in such abuse the main reason the crimes remain unreported can be attributed due to fears such as financial repercussions, fear of more violence, fear of losing children and their homes (Bostock, Plumpton and Pratt 96).
However, despite this reality it has been established that the subjects often suffer significant emotional and physical effects from abuse in both the short and long term (Bostock, Plumpton and Pratt 106). For this reason it has been observed that many women in abusive relationships tend to make efforts that aim to make them independent of the abuser.
Unfortunately the existing health, legal and social resources available to support women do not have alternative strategies other than leaving the relationship (Bostock, Plumpton and Pratt 107). Though the approach has been successful at allowing the women to gain independence and safety, this has been achieved at significant personal emotional and financial cost to both the women and their children (Bostock, Plumpton and Pratt 107).
In light of this therefore it is apparent that there is a need to increase public awareness on the fact that domestic abuse is intolerable and unacceptable. Such a statement by extension suggests a need to reconsider how gender is considered in the wider societal context and how this supports abuse of women in the home (Bostock, Plumpton and Pratt 108). It is hoped that such an action would be useful in developing a mutually respectful culture and help identify abusers earlier in relationships with the goal of reducing abuse.
The impact of domestic violence
In the decade of the 90’s domestic violence received considerable attention and shifted from a criminal issue to a social problem and more recently a healthcare problem (Gerlock 373). This is due to evidence that suggests domestic violence may be responsible for a number of health problems in society. This has been supported by data that indicates battered women are more likely to seek health care for stress related ailments than their non battered counterparts (Gerlock 374).
It has been reported that upon studying of couples engaged in domestic violence related issues a number of underlying health issues arise. The most evident of these is the fact that the victims tend to suffer from a significantly higher degree of physical injury due to the abuse (Gerlock 383). In relation to this point it has been noted that both the batterer and battered tend to suffer from increased psychological stress. Based on this possibility many victims in such relationships suffer depression which they attribute to the abuse (Gerlock 383).
The above statement is supported by indications that the greatest impact of domestic violence identified by victims was on their mental health. The evidence of this is seen in reports that indicate that as many as two thirds of the victims attributed the depression they suffered to abuse (Gerlock 383). In similar fashion the men in these relationships also reported suffering from anxiety and depression as a result of their actions.
The victims and aggressors also mentioned being affected by feelings of shame. In addition to this there were also indications that the abuse was causing cardiovascular problems in both men and women involved in such relationships (Starmer 382). However, the greatest number of complaints in all cases was reported by women or victims and depression was by far the most major mental health issue caused (Starmer 382).
The need for early intervention
It has been observed that approximately 1.5 million women are raped or physically assaulted at least once annually by a current or former papoose (Lundy and Grossman 297). This fact does not consider that repeat victimization often occurs in such instances which would push this figure to 4.8 million incidents on an annual basis (Lundy and Grossman 297).
It is typically assumed that domestic violence is a young women’s issue affects and reduces with age (Lundy and Grossman 297). However, there is data that indicates that the trend is also evident in some older members of society. The behavior of these older victims suggests that if the trend is left unchecked abuse may be sustained throughout the relationship.
It has been noted that a significant percentage of abused older women did not access some form of counseling to address their situation. It has been reported that only 57% of women aged above 65 attended counseling sessions for spousal abuse. This is a major contradiction when compared to the age group between 18-64 where it is reported that 71% would receive some form of counseling to address the abusive situation (Lundy and Grossman 307).
In response to the issues related to abuse some of the services offered include the provision of shelters to provide safety from abusers. In the setting of abuse shelters it has been reported that only 4% of the population is composed of women above the age of 65 (Lundy and Grossman 307). It has been suggested that the services such as shelters appear inappropriate from women of this age group and as such there is a need to identify more suitable approach for these victims.
The issue of age is especially important given that the population above the age of 85 may reach 21 million by 2050 (Lundy and Grossman 308). With such a significant increase in the population of the aged it is necessary to have in place appropriate techniques to deal with problems of this age group.
What has been done?
Though domestic violence is a serious crime that has the capability of ruining lives, breaking up families and creating a lasting impact it has only been considered a serious crime for the last ten years (Starmer 10). Prior to this the crimes were mainly brushed under the carpet and handled with as minor domestic affairs. Since the change was made in legislation some progress has been made in the handling of these cases in court.
The major difference is currently a large number of domestic violence cases in the UK are prosecuted. It is reported that in 2001, the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) did not even monitor domestic violence cases (Starmer 11). Prosecution of the cases began in 2004 and significant progress has been noted.
In 2004/5 the CPS prosecuted almost 35,000 cases of domestic violence and by 2008/9 the figure stands at 67,000 (Starmer 11). The figures from 2009/10 indicate that the number is currently 74,000 suggesting that there has been significant increase in the seriousness given to these incidents.
In addition to increased prosecution, the CPS reports that there has been significant progress at a deeper level. Following survey that was carried out on 1247 victims, 73% of the cases studied indicated support for the victim and has led signification reduction in the violence by the perpetrator (Starmer 11). As a result of this there has been a reduction in domestic crime within the country.
This is supported by evidence that domestic violence currently accounts for 14% of violent crime while in 1997 it accounted for 23% of violent crime (Starmer 12). Despite this progress with the cases the CPS still reports that the figure is high and there is need to do more.
The above position is because of findings of a recent study which indicate 76% of the victims of domestic violence suffered severe abuse (Starmer 12). The severity of the abuse indicates incidents involving choking, strangulation, injuries, rape and sexual abuse.
In light of the degree of violence associated with these incidents one can concur with the CPS that there is still more work to be done. Among the main problems encountered by the CPS in relation to domestic violence cases stems from the fact that in many trials the victims either fail to attend court or retract evidence. This affects as many as 9% of all prosecutions and is serious challenge.
Bostock, Jan, Maureen Plumpton and Rebekah Pratt. “Domestic Violence Against Women: Understanding Social Processes and Women’s Experiences.” Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology 19 (2009): 95-110. Print.
Gerlock, April A. “Health Impact of Domestic Violence.” Issues in Mental Health Nursing 20 (1999): 373-385. Print.
Lundy, Marta and Susan F. Grossman. “Domestic Violence Service Users: A Comparison of Older and Younger Women Victims.” Journal of Family Violence 24 (2009): 297-309. Print.
Starmer, Keir. “Domestic Violence: The facts, the issues, the future.” International Review of Law, Computers & Technology 25.1-2 (2011): 9-15. Print.