Domestic violence refers to a series of repetitive abusive behavior of either one or all the members involved in an intimate relationship. It can further be explained by highlighting acts of domestic violence, which include physical battery, sexual abuse and causing a state of mental and emotional anguish to a fellow partner. These acts of domestic violence can also be inflicted on family members or cohabiting relationships (Shipway, 2004).
Characteristics Portrayed by Abusers
Domestic abusers normally portray certain similar characteristics which act as signs of the eminent threat that they pose. Indicators of such individuals are that they may be very short tempered, i.e. get angry very quickly and express outrage over petty issues. Some others show cases of unnecessary and excessive jealousy on their partners. They are also usually very insecure of themselves and take out their poor self image issues on others. Most put the blame on innocent individuals for their problems and shortcomings. Others usually use threats to have their way on issues that they are conflicting with their partners. Another trait depicted by victims is that they might use violence to solve issues they have disagreed with others. Some may hold stereotypical views concerning the balance of authority between men and women, i.e. most men think that women are inferior to them. They often like to be in control and exercise authority over others, tend to change from good to bad moods very rapidly for no good reason. Sometimes they may knowingly make rude and insulting statements to lower the esteem or hurt the feelings of others among other bad traits.
Characteristics Portrayed by Victims
Victims of domestic violence show characteristics that may be grouped into emotional, social, physical, miscellaneous or self concept warning signs. Emotional signs include experiencing stress or depression, being in a state of fear and contemplating the idea of taking one’s life. Social signs include the victim isolating himself from friends or family, defending and giving excuses for their partner’s erroneous behavior and developing mistrust for people of the same sex as his/her abuser. Miscellaneous warning signs include the victim denying his/her resentment of his/her abuser, may be in a bad financial situation and in some cases may take responsibility to justify their partners violence, while maintaining hope that the bad experience of violence will end in the near future (Eva Schlesinger Buzawa, 2003). Physical signs observed are a sudden increase in the victims intake of alcohol or abuse of drugs, the reduction of appetite and in some cases overeating, occurrence of frequent headaches, just to name a few. Self concept warning signs to look out for include the victim viewing himself/herself as worthless and incompetent to the extent of hating oneself.
Domestic Violence Cycle
The cycle of domestic violence follows four stages, i.e. occurrence of the incidence, building of tension between partners; partners may then decide to make up and then follows a period of calm. Abuse occurs during the stage of occurrence of the incident. The stage of tension building is characterized by increased anger levels of the abuser causing him /her to inflict abuse on the victim; a period of little or no communication between the partners then ensues with the victim stating to get a sense of the need to keep the abuser calm when the tension becomes too much. During the makeup stage, the abuser may take the step to apologize for abusing the victim and may at times promise not to repeat the abuse. Some abusers may blame the victims for inflicting abuse on them and may claim the abuse they inflicted was not that severe. A period of calm may then begin (Summers, 2002). The abuser may tend to act as if nothing happened. Promises made during making up may be fulfilled and the victim may begin to develop hope that the abuse will never reoccur.
Relating Drug Abuse and Domestic Violence
It is argued that drug abuse is a major contributor to domestic violence. Some people, however, tend to oppose this notion. Supporters of the idea argue that drug abuse tends to reduce an individual’s ability to think rationally and may lead to violent behavior. Opponents, however, explain that domestic abusers pick up or adopt the trait from their social interactions and upbringing in society. They argue that drug abusers who are violent use their abuse as an excuse for their bad behavior. Therefore, they refuse the idea of relating drug abuse as a cause of domestically violent behavior.
Treatment of Domestic Violence
Counseling can be used to address domestic violence situations. A well versed counselor in domestic violence related issues will be able to apply his knowledge to understand a victim’s point of view. Once the counselor has been able to do this, he can proceed to advise the victim on how he/she can appropriately handle the effect the abuse has had on him. Another advantage that a victim derives for seeking counseling on domestic violence related issues is that the counselor informs him on the various causes of action he can undertake to tackle the issue to do with violence facing him. Other aspects in which domestic violence counseling aids are that it helps the victim to understand whether the relationship is abusive or unbalanced, hence enabling him to evaluate ways of handling his partner. A victim may also redevelop poor social skills. Counseling may create avenues where abusers who have accepted that they have a problem go to examine and correct their behavior (Soileau, 2008).