Tag Archives: victims of abuse

Types of Domestic Violence

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is any violent or aggressive behavior that takes place within the home; it typically involves abusive behavior toward a spouse or a partner. It can take place in a heterosexual or same-sex relationship that may also extend to the children.

Domestic violence can affect men, women and children but the wife or female partner is more often victimized with such abuse. Some countries, especially those that have witnessed women committing acts of infidelity, consider domestic violence as a justifiable act and may even be codified into law.

This abusive act takes many forms – physical abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, sexual abuse and verbal abuse. Common examples of domestic violence are marital rape, female genital mutilation, battering and disfigurement. The presence of domestic murders is also prevalent in some areas of the world and it includes bride burning, dowry deaths and stoning.

Different Forms of Domestic Violence

Physical Abuse. This involves physical contact that is intended to cause physical pain, suffering or injury to the victim. The abuser uses force such as hitting, shoving, grabbing, biting, shaking, choking and/or forcing drug or alcohol use. Some perpetrators may even make use of harmful weapons such as a gun or knife. Physical abuse may not result in an injury that requires immediate medical attention, which results to the incident being unreported.

Sexual Abuse. This type of domestic violence involves forcing the victim to have unwanted sexual interaction with the abuser. The perpetrator may conduct unwelcome sexual comments or advances that cause the victim to feel uncomfortable. It may also come in the form of attack against a person’s sexuality through coercion or sexual traffic such as obligatory inspections for virginity or female genital mutilation. During sexual abuse, a victim’s bodily integrity is violated; some of the most common examples of this domestic violence are rape, prostitution, human trafficking and demeaning sexual acts. Moreover, any act that limits a woman’s reproductive rights is also considered as sexual abuse in some countries. Preventing to use contraceptive methods and forcing abortion are considered illegal by some laws.

Psychological Abuse. This is interchangeably referred to as emotional abuse; it is characterized by intimidation, threats and even isolation. Abusers often instill fear to their partners through menacing behavior that may lead to damages in property, constant supervision or controlling behavior that hinders the victim from enjoying his or her freedom. Perpetrators may also threat their victims with injury or perhaps harm the victim’s family or loved ones; they may tell the victim that they will be killed if they try to leave the relationship. Some abusers also isolate their victims from other people; controlling the people whom the victim can interact with. They may also ‘damage’ their victims’ self-esteem through constant criticism, name-calling and other emotionally abusive acts.

Economic Abuse. The abuser makes or attempts to make the victim financially dependent on him or her. His or her intimate partner prohibits the victim from working or getting further education. The victim also may experience extreme controlling behavior by the partner with their financial matters. In some cases, the abuser exploits the economic resources of the victim leaving the latter empty handed. The main motive of economic abusers is to incapacitate their intimate partners from the ability to support oneself; diminishing the victim’s ability to acquire resources and assets. If you are forced to sign documents or sell things, then you are also suffering from economic abuse. Victims of this type of abuse are usually individuals who lack knowledge and education; some mothers and children in India suffer from malnutrition because the father withholds their access to food and other resources.

Defense for Battered Women

defense for battered women

Defense for battered women is used in court for a woman accused of assaulting or murdering her husband or partner because of abuse. There is no medical classification that supports the existence of such ‘syndrome’ but it is still used by lawyers in court to defend the actions of women who have suffered from domestic violence.

Defense for battered women is also commonly referred to as ‘self-defense’; it is a woman’s response to her husband or partner’s abusive act. Due to suffering from constant and severe domestic violence, some women undergo depression and a feeling of helplessness. They are unable to take independent action to escape the abusive acts and they develop fears with regard to social support, financial means and many more.

Battered women also suffer from low self-esteem; they are often led to believe that the abuse is their fault. They develop misplaced feelings and therefore refuse to press charges against their abusive partners. Victims of abuse usually develop psychological disorders that may lead them to kill or harm their abuser. Although there is no medical proof for this that may excuse the alleged offenders, it is still used as a defense for battered women in court.

Defense for Battered Women: Kill or Be Killed

Women who are victims of abuse are usually faced with a difficult choice; killing their husbands/partner to save themselves. Killing their abuser is not usually planned – it is a woman’s last attempt to save herself. However, a woman who kills her abuser is not excused by the law. Their act is not seen as ‘self-defense’, they are usually charged with murder or manslaughter. The main reason behind this is that judges and juries don’t deem most acts of violence as life-threatening.

Killing is a last resort of defense for battered women; it is a defensive move that anyone suffering from domestic violence sees as an ‘escape’ from their situation. Women who kill their abusers are driven to do such action because they felt that their lives were on the line. They have all the right to feel scared as nearly 4,000 women die in the hands of their abusers every year.

The Story of Caroline Scott

She suffered excessive physical violence from the hands of Arthur Lee. One night, Arthur came home drunk from alcohol and a jealous rage. He told Caroline to put on her handcuffs – the precursor of severe beatings that became worst over time. Caroline has children and she had difficulty figuring out how to leave the house without leaving them behind. She overheard Arthur telling someone over the phone ‘she would be gone in 45 minutes’. Fearful of what may happen to her, she immediately grabbed one of her husband’s guns and shot him to death. But because Arthur wasn’t directly beating her when the shooting happened, Caroline was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison.

The Story of Jane Churn

Jane ignored her lover’s question which led James to call her abusive names. James also struck her a couple of times and they both fell on the floor when Jane tried to fight back. She then stood up and grabbed a fork from the table which she used to stab James to death. Because she was still brimming with anger, she still hit her already dead lover with a fireplace poker. She was charged with manslaughter and served her time in prison.

However there have been cases when a battered woman gets away with her crime when defense attorney convinces the jury the woman was driven to insanity as in the following case:

The Story of John and Lorena Bobbitt

This couple’s relationship made worldwide headlines in 1993 when Lorena cut off her husband’s penis with a knife while he was asleep in bed. The penis was subsequently surgically reattached. Lorena testified that John had raped her and physically battered her on multiple occasions prior to the evening of the severing of his penis, that they lacked financial stability, and that he stole and spent her earnings. Both the prosecution and defense sides conceded that John had demonstrated a history of abuse toward Lorena, and that this abuse created a context for the assault. The defense strategy emphasized her action as being a mix of self-defense and temporary insanity constituting an “irresistible impulse” due to the history and pattern of abuse and rape. After seven hours of deliberation, the jury found Lorena not guilty due insanity causing an irresistible impulse to sexually wound her husband. As a result, Lorena could not be held liable for her actions.  Under Virginia state law, the judge ordered Lorena to undergo a 45-day evaluation period at Central State Hospital, after which she would be released.

Women who are victims of domestic violence tend to fight back with whatever weapon is available to them. As a defense of battered women against their abusers, most of them use guns. The reason why women choose this weapon among others is that they do not have to be too close to their abuser; they can stop the violence even if the abuser is far away. Also, it doesn’t require upper body strength to fight back like other weapons such as knife or poker.