मंगलवार, 24 अगस्त 2010

Domestic Violence: An Overview

 Domestic Violence: An Overview


Domestic Violence isn't just hitting, or fighting, or an occasional mean argument.  It's a chronic abuse of power.  The abuser tortures and controls the victim by calculated threats, intimidation, and physical violence.  Actual physical violence is often the end result of months or years of intimidation and control.
In their diagnostic and treatment guidelines for physicians, The American Medical Association defines intimate partner abuse as "the physical, sexual, and/or psychological abuse to an individual perpetrated by a current or former intimate partner. While this term is gender-neutral, women are more likely to experience physical injuries and incur psychological consequences of intimate partner abuse." 17

In a study, published in the Archives of Family Medicine, designed to measure physician's attitudes and practices toward victims of domestic violence, Snugg, et al, defined domestic violence as "past or present physical and/or sexual violence between former or current intimate partners, adult household members, or adult children and a parent. Abused persons and perpetrators could be of either sex, and couples could be heterosexual or homosexual." 19

Defining the problem:  Domestic violence is violence between adult intimate partners.

Though the definition above seems simple enough (it is widely accepted in the law enforcement community as the definition), the application of the definition varies quite significantly from organization to organization, state to state, and country to country.  The term "intimate partners" in some cases refers only to people who are cohabitating or have cohabited (lived together) whereas at other times "intimate partners" refers to people who are dating or who have dated at some time in the past.

Perhaps a better definition of domestic violence is emotional abuse, physical abuse, or sexual abuse between people who have at some time had an intimate or family relationship.

To understand how the meaning of "domestic violence" has and is changing, think about how the term "family" has changed in the past 50 years.  They are both ever-changing, and a bit controversial.

Many view the above definition of domestic violence as overly restrictive.  They argue that domestic violence can occur between adult family members who are not "intimate" in the traditional sense, such as adult brothers and sisters, cousins, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, mothers- and fathers-in-law.  For example, many consider elder abuse to be a form of domestic violence.

Though the definition above clearly states "adult...", there is a recent trend for states to adopt legal definitions of domestic violence that include violence toward children (more than half of states now mention children in their domestic violence laws).  This could broaden the definition to be violence between any of the following: husbands, wives, ex-husbands, ex-wives, partners, ex-partners, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children, people who have lived together (which could include cousins, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, and caregivers), and people who are or have dated in the past.

Emotional abuse is when an intimate partner has...

·                     continually criticized you, called you names or shouted at you
·                     insulted or driven away your friends or family
·                     humiliated you in private or public
·                     kept you from working, controlled your money or made all the decisions
·                     refused to work or to share money
·                     taken car keys or money from you
·                     regularly threatened to leave or told you to leave
·                     threatened to kidnap the children when the abuser was angry with you
·                     abused pets to hurt you
·                     manipulated you with lies and contradictions

Physical abuse is when an intimate partner has...

·                     pushed or shoved you
·                     held you to keep you from leaving
·                     slapped or bitten you
·                     kicked or choked you
·                     hit or punched you
·                     thrown objects at you
·                     locked you out of the house
·                     abandoned you in dangerous places
·                     refused to help you when you were sick, injured or pregnant
·                     forced you off the road or driven recklessly
·                     threatened to hurt you with a weapon

Sexual abuse is when an intimate partner has...

·                     minimized the importance of your feelings about sex
·                     criticized you sexually
·                     insisted on unwanted or uncomfortable touching
·                     withheld sex and affection
·                     forced sex after physical abuse or when you were sick
·                     raped you
·                     been jealously angry, assuming you would have sex with anyone
·                     insisted that you dress in a more sexual way than you wanted

 Domestic Violence Statistics: Prevalence and Trends

"Around the world at least one woman in every three has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Most often the abuser is a member of her own family." 10

"Physical violence is estimated to occur in 4 to 6 million intimate relationships each year in the United States." 17

"Nearly one in every three adult women experiences at least one physical assault by a partner during adulthood. Approximately four million American women experience a serious assault by an intimate partner during a 12-month period." 2

"It is estimated that 2 million to 4 million US women are assaulted by a domestic partner every year. Twelve million women (25% of the female population) will be abused in their lifetime. Up to 35% of women and 22% of men presenting to the emergency department have experienced domestic violence." 12

The precise incidence of domestic violence in America is difficult to determine for several reasons:  it often goes unreported, even on surveys; there is no nationwide organization that gathers information from local police departments about the number of substantiated reports and calls; and there is disagreement about what should be included in the definition of domestic violence.  "One study estimated that more than 3% (approximately 1.8 million) of women were severely assaulted by male partners or cohabitants over the course of a year, while other studies indicate the percentage of women experiencing dating violence, including sexual assault, physical violence, or verbal and emotional abuse, ranges as high as 65%." 14

However, the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics published a report in May, 2000 which sheds some light on part of domestic violence.  Their report is based on their own surveys (National Crime Victimization Survey), and on data from the FBI (homicide data).  In their report they define domestic violence as violent crimes by current or former spouses, boyfriends, and girlfriends.  Violent crimes include lethal (homicide) and nonlethal (rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault) offenses.  From their data, we can say that in 1998, women experienced at least 900,000 violent offences at the hands of an intimate, and men were victims of at least 160,000 violent crimes by an intimate partner.  Their report did not mention emotional abuse, harassment or stalking.  So, more than 1 million violent crimes were committed against persons by their current or former spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends.  To view the report, go to Intimate Partner Violence 16

Fred C. Pampel and Kirk R. Williams warn, however, that "researchers using this database must address the problem of missing data, which typically is the result of the failure to file, inconsistent filing of reports to the FBI by local police agencies, or incomplete records about the characteristics of specific incidents of homicide (particularly, missing information about perpetrators), even when reports are filed." 15

Even though we don't know how frequently domestic violence occurs (and some estimates suggest that it is as much as 10 times more prevalent than reported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics), the report does help with identifying very interesting trends.  The rates of domestic violence vary along several lines, including race, gender, economic and educational status, and geographical location. 16

Gender trends: Women make up 3/4 of the victims of homicide by an intimate partner.  Actually, 33% of all women murdered (of course, only cases which are solved are included) are murdered by an intimate partner.  Women make up about 85% of the victims of non-lethal domestic violence.  In all, women are victims of intimate partner violence at a rate about 5 times that of males. 16

Racial and Ethnic trends: Black women and men suffer from the highest rates of domestic violence.  "Black females experienced domestic violence at a rate 35% higher than that of white females, and about 22 times the rate of women of other races.  Black males experienced domestic violence at a rate about 62% higher than that of white males and about 22 times the rate of men of other races." 16

Age trends:  Domestic violence is most prominent among women aged 16 to 24. 16

Economic Trends:  Poorer women experience significantly more domestic violence than higher income women. 16

Marital status:  For both men and women, divorced or separated persons were subjected to the highest rates of intimate partner victimization, followed by never- married persons. 16

Reporting to police:  The rates at which individuals report domestic violence to police vary along racial and gender lines.  Hispanic and black women report domestic violence at the highest rate (approximately 65% to 67% of abuse is reported).  For white females, only about 50% of the abuse is reported. 16

It's Hard to Stop Because It's Hard to Report

Victims of domestic violence are reluctant to report abuse.  Women very reasonably fear retaliation against themselves and their children by the abuser and fear the economic upheaval that may follow the report.  Studies show that the highest risk for serious injury or death from violence in an intimate relationship is at the point of separation or at the time when the decision to separate is made. 2  "Threats and violence are control strategies used by the batterer, the woman's leaving may threaten his sense of power and increase his need to control the woman and children." 3

Many times, women's self-esteem is so low as a result of spouse abuse that they are unable to see themselves as worthy of seeking help, or they rationalize the abuse, believing they caused or deserve it.  Police complain that often when they arrest an abuser, the victims want them to drop the charges.

For children, the fear is more than fear of injury or death.  Children fear the destruction of their family - their world.  Middle-school aged children have an awareness of things such as poverty, foster homes, and homelessness, and may be unable to cope with the uncertainty that reporting abuse may cause.  Even when adults in the community such as school personnel or neighbors report the abuse, children may outright deny it.  Children may experience feelings of shame, guilt, and divided loyalties to parents making it unlikely that they will disclose the violence to others. 9

In an abusive situation, many battered women will try to solve the problem by talking it out with the abuser, by fighting back, or by trying to change their behavior to meet the demands of the abuser (of course, then the demands change).  When they fail to stop the abuse, women may become passive, which may reduce the immediate danger, or may go into a state of emotional withdrawal.  In the end, abuse may push a woman to see only two options: suicide or homicide. 8

When women do discuss domestic violence with an authority, they are most likely to do so with their physician.  Still, in a recent AMA study of physicians, Rodriguez, et al, found that only 1% of physicians practicing in health maintenance organizations screened for domestic violence.  Obstetrician/gynecologists (17%) and physicians practicing in public clinic settings (37%) were more likely to screen patients.  A recent survey of physician attitudes found that "45% of clinicians never or seldom asked about domestic violence when examining injured patients".  The result is less than 15% of female patients report being asked about abuse by doctors or telling their doctors about their abuse. 17
Recognition rates by physicians in a variety of settings have been as low as 5 percent (ie, the physician identifies abuse as a problem in only one abuse victim in twenty who presents for care). 8

Despite physicians being the primary link to families, many doctor's attitudes toward domestic violence and their knowledge about it's prevalence, warning signs and effects are lacking.  In a survey of physician attitudes, it was found that "fifty percent of clinicians and 70% of nurses/assistants believed that the prevalence of domestic violence in their practice was 1% or less" and "twenty-five percent believed the abused person's personality led to the violence." 19

Effects of Domestic Violence

Long-term effects of domestic violence on women who have been abused may include:

·                     anxiety
·                     chronic depression
·                     chronic pain
·                     death
·                     dehydration
·                     dissociative states
·                     drug and alcohol dependence
·                     eating disorders
·                     emotional "over-reactions" to stimuli
·                     general emotional numbing
·                     health problems
·                     malnutrition
·                     panic attacks
·                     poor adherence to medical recommendations
·                     poverty
·                     repeated self-injury
·                     self neglect
·                     sexual dysfunction
·                     sleep disorders
·                     summarization disorders
·                     strained family relationships
·                     suicide attempts
·                     an inability to adequately respond to the needs of their children.

Effects of Domestic Violence on Children and Teenagers


Estimates are that more than 3.3 million children are exposed to physical and verbal spousal abuse each year. 14  Exposure means seeing or hearing the actual abuse or dealing with the aftermath of the abuse.

When describing the effects of domestic violence on children, it is important to note that domestic violence and child abuse are often present in the same families.  "In homes where domestic violence occurs, children are physically abused and neglected at a rate 15 times higher than the national average.  Several studies have shown that in 60% to 75% of families in which a woman is battered, children are also battered." 14  In addition, children living in households where domestic violence is occurring are at a higher risk for sexual abuse.

The effects of witnessing or experiencing violence at home vary tremendously from one child to another.  The attributes that give a child the greatest chance of surviving unscathed are "average or above-average intellectual development with good attention and interpersonal skills.  Also feelings of self-esteem and self-efficacy, attractiveness to others in both personality and appearance, individual talents, religious affiliations, socioeconomic advantage, opportunities for good schooling and employment, and contact with people and environments that are positive for development." 14

Many children in families where domestic violence has occurred appeared to be "parentified."  They are forced to grow up faster than their peers, often taking on the responsibility of cooking, cleaning and caring for younger children.  Laura Gillberg, MSW, is the child and adolescent program director at Sarah's Inn, an agency in Oak Park, Illinois.  She stated, "Many of these children were not allowed to have a real childhood.  They don't trust their fathers because of his role as an abuser and they may have been worried about what to expect when coming home.  They learned at a young age to be prepared for anything."

Children may also be isolated.  Typical activities such as having friends over to their house may be impossible due to the chaotic atmosphere.  "Kids aren't going to have their friends over when mom has a black eye."  However, school performance is not always obviously affected.  Children may respond by being overachievers.

Gillberg noticed that children in domestic violence tend to be either extremely introverted or extremely extroverted.  Psychosomatic problems (aches and pains for no apparent reason) are common; these children's eating and sleeping patterns tend to be disrupted.  Children who witness domestic violence can develop behavior problems, including aggression and violent outbursts.

Underlying all these "symptoms" of domestic violence are children's emotional responses: i.e. anger - misery - intense terror - fear of dying - fear of the loss of a parent.  Children may feel rage, guilt, or a sense of responsibility for the violence, which can stifle emotional and social development.  To learn and grow into a healthy adult, children must feel confident in the world and in themselves.  Domestic violence can wipe out a child's confidence and leave them shocked.
Effects of Domestic Violence: academic problems; agitation - feeling "jumpy"; aggression; avoidance of reminders; behavior problems; clinginess to caregivers; depression; distractibility; emotional numbing; emotional changes; fear - feeling scared; fear of natural exploring; feelings of guilt; feelings of not belonging; flashbacks; general emotional distress; increased arousal; intrusive thoughts; insomnia; irritability; low levels of empathy; low self-esteem; nightmares; numbing of feelings; obsessive behaviors; phobias; poor problem-solving skills; posttraumatic stress disorder; revenge seeking; social problems; suicidal behaviors; truancy; withdrawal from activities.

Effects in Adulthood: alcohol abuse; depression; low self-esteem; violent practices in the home; criminal behavior; sexual problems; substance abuse.


Infants and toddlers who witness violence show excessive irritability, immature behavior, sleep disturbances, emotional distress, fears of being alone, and regression in toileting and language.  Preschool children may develop enuresis and speech disfluencies, such as stuttering.  "Exposure to trauma, especially family violence, interferes with a child's normal development of trust and later exploratory behaviors, which lead to the development of autonomy." 14<


Being a teenager is difficult, as most of us remember.  But being a teenager and living in a house infected with domestic violence can have devastating, life-long effects.  Teens living with domestic violence face the unique problem of trying to fit in with their peers while keeping their home life a secret.  Teens in shelters often face the problem of having to move and begin school in a new place, having to make new friends while feeling the shame of living in a shelter.  Needless to say, their family relationships can be strained to the breaking point.  The result can be teens who never learn to form trusting, lasting relationships, or teens who end up in violent relationships themselves.

In addition, teens face the same issues as younger children in an abusive family, namely feeling lonely and isolated, growing up too fast, behavior problems, stress related medical and mental health problems, and school problems.  Teenagers are also faced with entering into the dating world for the first time.  They are formulating their own theories about relationships, and some may not have the best models on which to base a healthy relationship.  They have witnessed the cycle of violence with the abuse, apologies from the perpetrator, tensions building and more abuse.  Unfortunately, some teenagers may be faced with a higher risk of being victims of dating violence and as mentioned earlier, ending up in violent relationships as adults either as victims or abusers.

Help is Available! Resource Directory

There are many different services for individuals who are experiencing an abusive situation. Law enforcement and legal aid agencies, shelters and counseling services are available to help with the many needs of women and their children experiencing violence.  Counseling, group therapy and education for men who have been abusers is also available.

The organizations below provide emergency services, shelter, and counseling services for people in Illinois.  If you want to do something about domestic violence, contact one of these organizations or a similar organization in your area, and donate time and money.


The effects of domestic violence on our society are obviously enormous, but are impossible to measure.  Our entire nation suffers.  You can see the effects at bus stations, fast-food restaurants, and schools.  You can see it on television and in jails.  You can see it in people's faces on the street - hopelessness, pessimism, hard-headedness, meanness.  A person's spirit is priceless, and a broken spirit costs more than can be measured in dollars.

Still, think about the cost of domestic violence in terms of just dollars and cents, and it's devastating.  Abuse victims need medical care.  Up to 54% of women seeking emergency services, up to 66% of women seeking general medical care, and up to 20% of women seeking prenatal care report experiencing domestic violence. 17  Victims of abuse also require mental health care.  There is enormous cost to the state in the form of time spent by law enforcement officers, courts, lawyers, public health workers and more.  There is cost to social welfare organizations in the form of money and donated time to staff and run shelters, counseling services, hotlines, and more.  There is cost to the productivity of our workhouse in the form of absenteeism, worker re-training (when a victim is killed), and decreased productivity.  The educational system is required to provide specialized services to children suffering from attentional and behavioral problems resulting from domestic violence.

Now think about the fact that children growing up in a house with domestic violence will grow up and require medical care for stress-related illnesses, mental health care for anxiety, depression, panic, and shock.  They will likely end up costing the state money in the legal system, will earn less than their peers because of their academic difficulties as children and because they may have lost the optimistic and risk-taking qualities necessary to become successful, and finally, they will likely raise children who will in turn continue the cycle.

www.findcounseling.com ›

शुक्रवार, 6 अगस्त 2010

Launching a campaign ‘Humari Panchayat Humara Raj’ in 72 blocks of 24 districts in Uttar Pradesh

About Campaign
With the announcement of Panchayti Raj elections in Uttar Pradesh, political and bureaucratic preparations have started. While contesting candidates, elections coommission, political parties all gear up for the coming elections, one constituency that is often ignored is the voter. It is lack of awareness and involvement of the voter in the democratic process which often results dominance of influential people, election of dummy candidates in reserved seats, and unfair electoral process. Another aspect that is often missing is the involvement and true participation of women, not only as electoral candidates but in various other roles (voter, agent etc).
For a functioning democracy, it is extremely important to ensure transparent electoral process and active participation from all sections of society especially women who form nearly half the electorate. 
Therefore, with the objective of ensuring a transparent electoral process with active participation from women, three state wide networks/forums- Youth for Change (Y4C), Mahila Swasthya Adhikar Manch (MSAM) and Men’s Action for Stopping Violence Against Women (MASVAW) are launching a campaign ‘Humari Panchayat Humara Raj’ (Our panchayat our rule) in 72 blocks of 24 districts in Uttar Pradesh . The campaign will commence from 24th July, 2010 and end with the panchayat elections. The campaign will spread awareness about the importance of their vote, importance of electing a good leader and the need for community’s active participation in the election process. It will also try to make voters aware of various processes like voting, nomination, etc. The campaign will specifically focus on motivating women to participate as voter, candidate, agent and monitor the electoral process.
Camapign Activities
The campaign will in the duration of 2 - 2.5 months, conduct several activities at village, block and district level. This will include village level rallies, pamphlet distribution, wall writing and voter awareness sessions. These sessions will demonstrate the correct way to vote, file nomination etc. Also, the basis of candidate selection, and ‘essential qualities in our leader’ will be discussed.
 An interesting feature of the campaign will be “Amna Samna” or dialogues between candidates and voters.
At Block level, help camps will be organized during nomination. These camps will be active on all three days of nominations and will provide help to people regarding basic information related to nominations.
Besides, in order to monitor the whole election process, district level Monitoring Committees will be formed. In case of any unfair, illegal or objectionable act taking place, these committees will immediately inform the concerned authorities of the departments about it.
State Election Commission has been informed about the campaign.
What the campaign hopes to achieve
The campaign will hope to create an environment where people are aware of their political rights. It will work to motivate the voters, especially women to actively monitor electoral process in their village and ensuring that candidates adopt fair means. It also hopes to encourage the community elect candidates who are  truly deserving and efficient ,who not only understand the problems and needs of villagers but also work intensively to solve them commit to working for the community and not elect candidates on the basis of caste, class or ‘dummy candidates’. We will also make efforts to ensure that more efficient women contest the elections and all women voters participate in the election process as an aware voter and citizen.
About Organizers
MSAM- The Mahila Swasthaya Adhikar Manch is a forum of nearly 8000 rural, poor, dalit, tribal and Muslim women working in 10 districts of Uttar Pradesh. 
Youth for Change – Youth for Change is a network of 2000 youth from rural and semi-urban areas (between 13-24 yrs) working for sexual and reproductive health and rights of youth in 9 districts of Uttar Pradesh. This network is also advocating for a Youth Policy in Uttar Pradesh.
MASVAW- Men’s Action for Stopping Violence Against Women is a network of organizations working with men to campaign against violence inflicted on women. It is currently functioning in 20 districts of Uttar Pradesh.
We hope that in our effort to work on ground realities for true grassroots democracy and mainstream women’s voices and issues we will get your support.
Name of the districts involved in the campaign are as follows:
Banda, Chitrakoot, Gorakhpur, Jhansi, Bareilly, Azamgarh, Siddharthnagar, Balia, Varanasi, Chandauli, Mirzapur, Kushinagar, Jaunpur, Muzzaffarnagar, Mau, Ghazipur, Lalitpur, Kaushambi, Mahoba, Allahabad, Hamirpur, Basti, Pratapgarh, Jalau
Thank you.
Humari Panchayat Humara Raj Abhiyan

मंगलवार, 3 अगस्त 2010

Activists rally for 33% women's reservation

NEW DELHI: They dug in their heels and let their voices soar as they rallied for passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill by Lok Sabha in the monsoon session. Down Parliament Street on muggy on Thursday, thousands gathered. Saris took on a role of their own -- red-bordered West Bengal tangails and light Lucknowi cottons --- hung as banners hosting signatures from all over: Rajasthan to Assam, Haryana to Kerala. Leading lights Javed Akhtar, Sharmila Tagore, Shabana Azmi powered the demonstration along with political leaders Brinda Karat, Jayanthi Natarajan, D Raja and a host of MPs from various states.
Organised by the Alliance for 33%, a conglomeration of more than a whopping 350 organisations across India, it was both a moment to celebrate and push the bill. No wonder it is said that labour pain is all about pushing the issue.
It is imperative, said the multi-party leaders, for the UPA to devise a strategy to ensure Lok Sabha passes the Bill. "Go by the rules of the House, we say: if marshals are required, use them," said Annie Raja, National Federation of Indian Women. Urging the government not to resort to namby-pamby tactics of politics of silence, she said, "The government promised to pass it in 100 days. It’s high time now. It’s not an easy Bill. It’s a bill for gender justice, of social reform. You can’t get away by simply letting it fall through between the gaps." Added Aidwa’s Sudha Sundararaman, "We’ve crossed half the well. If you don’t crossthe remaining half, you’ll fall right in."
Activists say it’s a now or never moment. "Right now, all powerful positions held by women: President Pratibha Patil, Speaker Meira Kumar, leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj, and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. Strike now when the iron is hot. Pass the bill this session, and India leapfrogs ahead, stall it now and India slides back a 100 years. Is baar aar ya paar," said activist Ranjana Kumari.
Every time party leaders are approached, the refrain is, "Behenji hum apke sath hai". That's the chorus at the individual level, where party leaders such as Lalu Prasad Yadav distance themselves from the party's sentiment," says leading women’s activist Jyotsna Chatterjee. Akhtar cautioned against such elements who would support in public and sabotage the passage of the Bill for 33% reservation for women in Parliament. As Raja said, "Really, the issue is more about 181 men having to vacate their seats than 181 women getting into Parliament."
In fact, the most vociferous were Dalit and Muslim representatives, through whom naysayers are trying to split consensus on the Bill. "Please, we need no-one else to speak on our behalf," said Azra Abidi of Muslim Women's Forum. "We are clear that we understand our constitutional rights and our sharia rights. Pooh-poohing the quota within quota for Muslim women, she says, "You can see politicians are trying to complicate matters. right now we want 33% for women in general. That's it."

From Lady Sri Ram graduates to ragpickers, school students to sarpanchs from Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, from Kerala, Karnataka and Gujarat --- sons, daughters and husbands were all there to make their voice matter. "Had we known earlier about this rally, we’d have seen greater participation from our college," said LSR’s vice-principal Jayashree Deshpande. Facing Parliament House, a Bluebells student earnestly asked, "It will happen, won’t it?"

•Activists rally for 33% women's reservation

timesofindia.indiatimes.com, 29 July 2010