In California, it is a crime for any person to threaten, beat, sexually assault or otherwise harm another person, even if they are married. Domestic violence is more than just a family problem; its a crime!
Although women do constitute the majority of cases, battering is not exclusively a crime against women and should not be thought of that way.
Family violence can be broken down into 3 major categories: child abuse, spousal abuse and elderly victimization. Because spousal abuse was only recently thought to be a social problem, we have few statistics, but know that:
Approximately 30 percent of female homicide victims in the United States are killed by their husbands/boyfriends. Domestic violence happens in at least one out of every four American families; it is estimated 16 million persons each year are affected, ranging from a slap to murder.
Why do they stay?
The most frequently asked question concerning a battering situation is Why does the person stay? While reasons include children, love, guilt, fear, pride, embarrassment, financial independence--or a combination of those--it is very possible the victim is unaware that he or she may be locked into a cycle of violence.
Theory of family violence
During this phase the victim senses the aggressors increasing tension. The aggressor is edgy and perhaps challenges the victim. The victim may not express the anger felt and hold it inside, producing physical effects such as depression, tension, anxiety and headaches. As the tension in the relationship increases, minor episodes of violence increases, such as pinching, slapping and shoving.
The tension building phase ends in an explosion of violence. The victim may or may not fight back. Following the battering, he or she is in a state of physical and psychological shock. The aggressor may discount the episode and underestimate injuries.
During the last phase of the family violence cycle, both parties have a sense of relief that its over. The aggressor is often genuinely sorry for what happened and is fearful that the victim will leave him or her. The aggressor apologizes and may shower the victim with love and praise that helps to repair the shattered self-esteem. Sometimes the victim feels guilty for his or her own actions and blames him or herself for the incident that led up the the abuse. Once violence has begun, it continues to increase in both frequency and severity. Understanding that spousal abuse is a sickness and NOT the aggressors right to inflict on the victim may help the victim take power and choose constructive alternatives.
If you become a victim
Call police immediately.
Get medical attention. Don't try to treat yourself; you may be injured much seriously than you realize.
Seek assistance. Whether or not you file charges against your batterer, you may need to talk to a professional about your situation.
Prevention starts with people changing their attitudes toward violence. Once the victim recognizes that it isn't their fault and they stop accepting violence as a way to resolve conflict or express anger, they can seek the help that's needed.
EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO BE SAFE FROM THREATS AND BEATINGS, BUT YOU MUST TAKE THE FIRST STEP. HELP YOURSELF AND CALL.
Volunteer for the Redondo Beach Police Domestic Violence Advocacy Program.