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Research paper topic: Domestic Violence: Theory, Effects Interventions - 2773 words
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.. m establishing a meaningful context for understanding the abuse and may provide, especially for their daughters, a model of passive and ineffective problem solving. Therefore, this passivity can be reflected in school by low academic achievement, school phobia, difficulties in concentration, and social isolation. Mediating Factors It is important to state that much of the research on the effects of children witnessing domestic violence is contingent upon mediating factors, and thus these factors have been taken into consideration when conclusions have been made on the severity of the effects. These mediating factors include the following.
Severity of Violence Witnessed Children who witness physical violence between their parents seem to have more behavioral problems than children from families in which high parental conflict exists (Peled, et al., 1995). Through their research, Fantuzzo, et al., (1997) found that children who were exposed to both physical and verbal violence exhibited more behavioral problems than children who witnessed only verbal abuse. Child Abuse It is estimated that between 30% and 40% of all children of battered women are abused themselves and estimates based on those residing in shelters are even higher. Child witnesses of violence between parents who were also physically and sexually abused were found to have more behavioral problems than those witnesses who were not abused (Peled, et al., 1995). Gender/Age Studies of the influence of gender on behavioral problems in child witnesses provided a variety of results and were dependent upon the child's age (Peled, et al., 1995).
In regards to preschool age children, girls were less empathetic and showed more anxiety than boys. Preschool age boys hand more externalizing and internalizing problem behavior and more aggression, depression, and somatic symptoms (Kolbo, et al 1996). With respect to school age children, Peled, et al., (1995) report that girls displayed more overall behavioral problems, aggression, and internalizing problems than boys. However, Jaffe, et al., (1990) found that school age boys had more behavioral problems in general, especially with respect to aggression. Adolescent males exposed to marital violence were more likely to run away from home and to have suicidal thoughts than adolescent females; however, college age women reported more depression than males who were raised in a similar background (Peled, et al., 1995). Race Race has been found to also be a mediating variable for the effects of witnessed violence on the child.
It was found that white children in abusive households have more behavioral problems than their minority counterparts (Kolbo, et al., 1996). Resiliency Resiliency, as defined by family therapists in the context of marital violence, is the ability to effectively cope, whereas the child tries to restore or maintain equilibrium under threatening circumstances (Berman, 1993). Researchers believe that this ability has a positive affect on a child's identity formation. Markward (1997) reports that some abused women may continue to be nurturing parents and that the impact of the good example set by a non-abusive adult is underestimated. A mother who gives meaning to the abuse, such as chronic alcoholism, unemployment, or lack of education, may provide a positive cognitive accommodation to the violent events, thus facilitating the natural resiliency in the child (Markward, 1997).
Moreover, parenting skills that may be decreased in violent contexts and may incite the child (who has a positive self-worth) to fill in the parenting gaps. Although the message through violence is perceived as ineffectual problem solving between parents, the resilient child may seek out other relationships through supportive adults and peers. Younger children receive the message that rewarding relationships do exist and that people can be available in times of need. For the adolescent who has the increased capacity to use abstract thinking, these relationships will provide them a forum to imagine and experiment with relationships that are different from their parents (Berman, 1993). Unfortunately, Jaffe, et al., (1990) points out that being resilient is not equivalent to being happy and secure.
These resilient children who desire to offer protection and nurturance to their mothers and younger siblings may take on roles that violate the parent/child relationship. They are put into a position of having to grow up too quickly and take on more responsibility which can be developmentally inappropriate (Jaffe, et al., 1990). Domestic Violence Interventions for Victims, Children, and Perpetrators According to Edelson and Eisikovits (1996) it has been more than 20 years since the first formal battered women's shelters were established in both Great Britain and the United States. In the past decade alone, there have been a tremendous number of shelters established around the world, societal interventions have been developed and public policies created to address the issue of domestic violence (Edelson & Eiskovits, 1996). Advocacy services, job training, and transitional housing have been added to the services provided by shelters across the country. Additionally, programs for violent offenders have been established and services for children who witness violence at home have also been developed (Edelson & Eiskovits, 1996).
However, although battered women's programs in the United States provide assistance to larger numbers of women and their children each year, these women and children only represent a small portion of those in need of assistance (Edelson & Eisikovits, 1996). The following is a description and discussion of some of the interventions that provide assistance to those involved with domestic violence. Victim Interventions Currently recommended professional standards for providing individual therapy to victims of domestic violence focus on ensuring the safety of the women before attempting any other intervention. These safety needs can be met through residence in a shelter or through legal means (Hansen & Harway, 1993). Legal Intervention. In 1976, Pennsylvania passed a law to provide protection for people who are or were abused by family members.
This law, the Protection from Abuse Act, allows battered women and other victims of domestic violence to file a civil action and obtain a court order against further abuse. However, not anyone who is abused by someone close to them is eligible for a protection order under this act. Only family or household members are eligible. According to the Act, family or household members refers to spouses, or those living as spouses, parents and children, current or former sexual or intimate partners, or persons who share biological parenthood (PCADV Manual, 1998). The Protection from Abuse Act defines four types of abuse: (a) Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowing or recklessly causing bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, spousal sexual assault or involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with or without a weapon; (b) placing by physical means, another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; (c) the infliction of false imprisonment; (d) physically or sexually abusing minor children (PCADV Manual, 1998). Although this particular intervention is readily accessible, many women do not seek out this option for various reasons. Such reasons include the unsympathetic and sometimes degrading attitude of law enforcement and court officers, the loss of choice to withdraw the complaint, being forced to testify, and mandatory arrests.
Nonetheless, victims' responses in one study suggest that the legal process can and does make a difference (Erez & Bellknap, 1998). Several respondents stated that when law enforcement and court officers show understanding and appreciation of their situation and the case is treated with persistence and compassion, domestic violence victims can sustain the frustration they face, or withstand the difficulties they have to overcome, to reach a satisfactory resolution (Erez & Bellknap, 1998). Therapeutic Intervention. In regards to therapeutic intervention for victims, Hansen and Harway (1993) explain that treatment needs for women of domestic violence should address the issues of empowerment, normalization, social networking and long-term protection. These women are survivors and should be treated as such. Additionally, therapists should incorporate as part of their plan to include outside agencies that will provide social support and referrals. In working with battered women, therapists may find that economic concerns and protection issues may be more pressing to the woman than the consequences of the battering.
It then becomes clear that the therapist must be more than a neutral third party; rather, the therapist must take on additional roles to assist the victim of domestic violence (Hansen & Harway, 1993). Perpetrator Intervention. According the PCADV Manual (1998), men who batter usually do not seek professional help and when they do, they normally withdraw from the program within a few sessions. The criminal justice system can be used as leverage to pressure men who batter into entering and completing therapy. Edelson (1996) points out that in many cases, it is not the threat of imprisonment but the fear of losing his wife that prompts a man to seek help. The perpetrator usually enter a program at a crisis point when, for example, separation has occurred and divorce seems imminent. However, counselor's emphasize that saving the relationship is not the facilitator's primary objective, ending the violence is first and foremost (Edleson, 1996). Further, when treating men who batter, one curriculum used is based upon eight themes which represent an aspect of nonviolent and respectful relationships.
These eight themes are depicted in the Equality Wheel (See Figure 2). In contrast to the Power and Control Wheel, the behaviors and aspects of an egalitarian relationship shown on the wheel become the mode offered to men for egalitarian and interdependent relationships with women. For example, one of the behaviors depicted on the wheel refers to mutual respect among partners. Respect in an egalitarian relationship respect is displayed through listening non-judgmentally, being emotionally affirming and understanding, and valuing each other's opinions. (Pence & Paymer, 1993). Couples Therapy.
In cases of domestic violence, the treatment of the couple together has been widely criticized due to the many approaches of family therapy that focus on the reciprocal interactions among family members. This approach can result in therapy that will give co-responsibility for the violence; or, in an effort to avoid blame may result in no responsibility for the violence and not address the aggressive actions at all (Hansen & Harway, 1993). Additionally, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence takes a powerful stance on the issue of couples counseling. The coalition labels couple's counseling as interventions to avoid (PCADV Manual, 1998, p. 111-2) explaining that it is an inappropriate intervention that further endangers the woman by encouraging the abuser to blame the victim by her examining her role in the abuse. Many women have been beaten brutally following couples counseling sessions in which they disclosed violence or coercion (PCADV Manual, 1998).
Berg-Cross (1997) agrees that when violence exists in a marriage or relationship, the couple must be seen separately in therapy so that the aggressive partner's attempt to take responsibility for their behavior and reach a point where they are motivated to control their aggressiveness. Research is still trying to ascertain at what point marital/couple therapy is most appropriate. However, it is important that both individuals feel comfortable with this type of treatment, and that the woman is not fearful of disclosing in front of her partner. It is also imperative that if there are drug and alcohol issues present within the relationship, these problems must be treated before the couple engages in conjoint therapy (Berg-Cross, 1997). Children. Women's concerns for their children and the growing awareness of the effects of violence on children have led to many new services for children (Peled, 1994).
Although counseling children of domestic violence was usually done on a one to one, informal basis, interventions are not focusing on formal programs to address children's needs. A survey of federally funded demonstration projects for children in shelters found that the most common recommended counseling technique is group counseling and play therapy (Peled & Davis, 1995). Evaluation of one program showed that group interventions have significant success in changing children's self esteem, attitudes about violence, and practical skills in emergency situations (Wolf, Jaffe, Wilson, & Zak, 1994). Individuals who have designed specific group programs identify four major goals for child witnesses of domestic violence: (a) To break the secret of abuse in their families; (b) to learn to protect themselves; (c) to experience the group as a positive and safe environment; (d) to strengthen their self esteem (Peled & Davis, 1995) With respect to crisis intervention with children, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence indicates that this type of counseling should help a child reclaim his/her life through emphasizing his/her strengths, enabling him/her to feel powerful and in control again. However, a common response is to rescue the child and protect from further harm which will only reinforce their feelings of powerlessness (PCADV Manual, 1998). Summary & Conclusions In summary, during the past 20 years, much has been researched, studied and learned about domestic violence.
Researchers have theorized as to the causes of domestic violence; they have determined the harmful effects and consequences on both the perpetrator and the victim. These effects have been proven to be detrimental to the physical, psychological, emotional well being of the victims. In addition to the research and subsequent findings, coalitions have been formed, programs established, and laws have been enacted with the ultimate goal of protecting, assisting, and educating those affected by domestic violence. Recently, the focus of domestic violence now includes means to educate those who are indirectly affected by domestic violence. Pennsylvania, in particular, has approved funding for a program that aims to educate law enforcement and legal officers. However, with all the knowledge gained, and the insistent passion that has been put into the fight against domestic violence, it is still a continual, disturbing, and prevalent force in today's society.
The question is why? Based on research conducted, it is my feeling that this question is an overwhelming, frustrating, and a seemingly hopeless enigma. Nonetheless, after extensive review of only a small portion of the literature on this subject, it seems to me that the way in which to start the process of combating the problem of domestic violence for future generations must start with the education and socialization of our children. In our society, males are taught and encouraged to be dominant, aggressive, independent and in control. Females are taught and encouraged to be passive, submissive, and dependent. Although equality between the sexes has made tremendous strides and rigid sex role socialization is more subtle than before, these expectations reach the very core of what domestic violence is based on; power and control.
Perhaps this is where the answer to ending domestic violence can be found. Bibliography References Berg-Cross, L. (1997). Couples Therapy. California: Sage. Berman, P., S. (1993) . Impact of abusive marital relationships on children.
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