Domestic Violence: Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence
Course exerpt from Domestic Violence: Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence
The essential paradox of family violence is that – while it affects so many individuals so adversely in all sectors of society – it is only minimally discussed because of the stigma and is only poorly understood and confronted by the legal, professional, and social systems that are responsible for protecting and treating victims. Individual cases of abuse frequently go undetected for many years, largely due to the shroud of shame and silence that still persists today, in spite of all efforts to bring domestic violence to light and to justice. It crosses all social and cultural boundaries, including demographic, socioeconomic, and religious strata. The status of family abuse victims has even been compared to that of individuals who had HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s when the disease was “barely recognized, hardly discussed, highly stigmatized, and often ignored or denied” (Fife and Schrager, 2012). While we have made impressive strides in the battle against HIV/AIDS in the last three decades, we have made relatively little progress in the area of family violence.
Child abuse, for example, in spite of progress in protecting the rights of children, remains a dire social issue. Rubin (2012) cites government data indicating that in just one year in the U.S., substantiated cases of child abuse totaled over 700,000 children – about 1.3% of the population of children. To make matters worse, the long-term sequelae include a wide range of serious consequences, such as physical injuries, impaired brain development, behavioral disturbances, substance use disorders, and a variety of psychological disorders. In addition, there are a number of mechanisms by which children who are abused may grow up to become abusers themselves.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is, unfortunately, also a pervasive part of life in U.S. society. In surveys, over 35% of women and nearly 28% of men say they have been raped and/or physically assaulted and/or stalked by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or date at some point in their lifetime (Black et al, 2011). Survivors of these forms of violence may experience physical injury, mental health consequences like depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and suicide attempts. Other health consequences like gastrointestinal disorders, substance abuse, sexually trans¬mitted diseases, and gynecological or pregnancy complications are also common. These findings suggest that intimate partner violence is a serious concern in mental health, criminal justice and public health.