In the US, domestic violence is a form of violence that occurs within the home setting, and hence it primarily affects people in a domestic relationship. While 78% of the cases of domestic violence in America involve sexual partners, from insurance if the wife assaults the husband or vice versa, 29% of the cases is violence recorded among children from the same household, and because they are members of this intimate relationship, it becomes a form of domestic violence as well (Stacey & Shupe, 2015). The American Congress has many Acts to prevent cases of violence, for instance, the Violence Against Women Act, and together with efforts by both the government and the non-governmental stakeholders; domestic violence is being collectively discouraged because it is a threat to public health and a challenge to social relationships (Chanmugam, 2011). Though women are the most affected, making up 67% of the domestic violence victims, men are also affected in some incidences. Thus domestic violence transcends social categories like age, sexual orientation, and gender. Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community are also significantly impacted by domestic violence. Economic disadvantages and poverty among couples account for 60% of domestic violence in the country (Stern, 2014). Experts have explained that domestic violence comes in many versions, including physical and nonphysical confrontations that perpetrators execute to suppress and oppress their partners, to acquire a dynamic control over them concurrently (Stacey & Shupe, 2015). Domestic violence has advanced to intimate terrorism, a situation whereby the perpetrators abuse and exert power and control over their victims, so that a continuous psychological and physical state of subjugation is achieved. This paper discusses the literature review about domestic violence in America and further explores the causes of domestic violence to give an evidence-based view of this social vice in the American population.
Review of the Research
Whether happening between adolescents or adults in romantic relations, domestic violence is severe social maltreatment that has many references, including dating violence and intimate partner violence. Domestic violence is an issue of public health concern because it affects approximately 0.8 million American men and 2 million women, and it has caused the loss of billions of dollars annually for mitigation, loss of property and homes through escalated violence, injury to victims of violence, low productivity in the workplace, increased medical bills to cure injuries and manage stress or depression, as well as homelessness among those affected (Chanmugam, 2011). On the one hand, legal favoritism, religion, and patriarchal culture in mainstream society have functioned to create more support for men who perpetrate intimate partner abuse against women. Furthermore, LGBT society suffers the escalating forms of domestic violence in the US because of the cultural discrimination and legal insensitivity these groups face. It has been found based on scientific evidence that domestic violence cuts across religion, race, age, gender, and sexual orientations, but that the situation is accentuated by abuse of substances like heroin, alcohol, poverty, witnessing domestic violence in childhood, and among those who embrace patriarchal or matriarchy on extreme ends.
Suspected warning signs for the onset of domestic violence that victimized partners should first discover include; if the other sexual partner feels extremely subjugated, feels demeaned, and fears being assaulted instead. Low self-esteem, sustained injuries, consistent absence from work, passive-aggressive habits, fear of conflicts, and bitters are manifestations of a person who suffers domestic violence in quietness. Medical practitioners in America effectively screen only 20% of domestic violence cases because most go undetected by merely asking the victims questions that prompt a yes or a no response (Metz et al., 2018). Domestic violence is managed through guidance and counseling, securing the victim from more physical and emotional assaults from their partners, and embracing the law to legally discipline and deter the batterer (Stacey & Shupe, 2015). Domestic violence leads to anxiety, stress, and depression if not managed, and it could lead to homicides or suicide eventually, hence the significance of timely intervention to improve prognosis (Wells, 2010). Domestic violence in the American population involves the use of mechanisms like; providing jobs to the unemployment to give them income, organized community counseling, educating the youth on the adverse effects of domestic violence, use of role models and models to create awareness, and the use of the law to deter perpetrators.
Discussion: Social Causes of Domestic Violence in America
Many researchers have cited early parenthood as the cause of or a major contributory factor to domestic violence in America. Young mothers who conceive and bear children at the age of 21 years or below are highly susceptible to domestic violence. Young mothers are twice as much more likely to experience domestic violence than their elderly counterparts at 25 years and above (Stacey & Shupe, 2015). Early motherhood contributing to domestic violence is partially caused by the emotional and psychological immaturity of those affected. Because of the complex economic, social, and cultural issues at the family level, young mothers are most likely to into bad arguments with their partners, and their threat to exceed the relationship normally make their male partners feel insecure or envious, and in return, chose to retaliate through physical violence. Furthermore, men who sire children at the age of 21 or below are four times more likely to physically abuse their female partners than males who start a family at 28 years or later (Chanmugam, 2011). The reason behind the argument is that men at the age of 21 or below have not matured psychologically to handle family challenges, and poverty of abuse of alcohol could make the situation worse (Stacey & Shupe, 2015). Therefore, early parenthood is a causative agent of domestic violence in the US.
Abuse of drugs like cocaine, recreational marijuana, heroin, and alcohol is another cause of domestic violence in the American population. At least 56% of offenders arrested and judged with domestic violence criminal acts have been confirmed to be drank or abused drugs before the incident of violence they caused in the US (Chanmugam, 2011). Barely one-third of domestic violence perpetrators do not use or abuse drugs and alcohol (Stacey & Shupe, 2015). The use of drugs brings stress and false perception in the minds of the affected individuals. Alcohol causes emotional instability and triggers anger during family verbal exchanges that are insignificant to arouse violence. Furthermore, people who abuse drugs misuse money and family fortunes. If one of the partners asks the other why their property has been sold without reason, or money has been abused, then violence erupts because the partner who used the money on drugs does not want to take responsibility. Furthermore, drugs interfere with the sexual habits of at least 36% of individuals, such that cheating in marriage becomes inevitable, and exposure to such content would naturally trigger domestic violence.
Lack of material wealth, poverty, and little income contribute to domestic violence in 20% of American families (Stern, 2014). Escalating poverty levels would typically bring a feeling of insecurity in couples. Married partners begin to quarrel when children have no food to feed on, bills are not paid, and children stop going to school or getting medical help due to lack of money. Therefore, the lack of a stable income means a family cannot access better healthcare, meals, shelter, and their social status is thus compromised (Chanmugam, 2011). It has been confirmed that homes subjected to poverty report more incidences of domestic violence than households with enough material needs (Stacey & Shupe, 2015). Therefore, de-escalation of the poverty level would significantly reduce cases of domestic violence.
Lack of employment or availability of poorly paying jobs is a source of stress and anxiety for the family to meet their needs, especially in an urban setting. Research has found that women who have no jobs suffer domestic violence than their employed counterparts because the former are viewed as liabilities by their male partners (Stern, 2014). Furthermore, lack of employment would typically lead to low self-esteem, confinement; and hence the physical exclusion from others compels the unemployed to become dejected domestic workers, an environment that makes them susceptible to domestic violence.
Emotional and mental distress is a major cause of domestic violence in 57% of American households with this problem (Chanmugam, 2011). Once women experience domestic violence in the first encounter, they become anxious and fearful within their marriages. It has been confirmed that 31 % of married women have suffered posttraumatic stress disorder from domestic violence (Chanmugam, 2011). Furthermore, 24 % of married women in households culpable to domestic violence suffer from depression (Stacey & Shupe, 2015). The statistics confirm that domestic violence is a public health problem that needs address through policy aiming, guidance, counseling, and enforcement of the relevant law. The relationship between depressed and posttraumatic stress disorder women is that they raise sons and daughters who are three times more likely to end up in abusive marriages than their counterparts raised in households that lacked such extreme social incidences (Stacey & Shupe, 2015). Therefore, stress, depression, and lack of peace of mind contribute to domestic violence in the country.
Domestic violence refers to physical and psychological abuse of one partner in marriage by the other, or children of the same household battering their siblings, parents abusing their children, or vice versa. 28% of American families experience domestic violence, meaning that a significant number of people need public health response and government policies to de-escalate the rising figures. Domestic violence in the US cuts across gender, sexual orientation, age, and social status, and it is caused by multiple factors, including alcohol and drug abuse, poverty, stress and emotional distress, unemployment, and early parenthood. Because domestic violence is a matter of national and public health importance, all stakeholders at the individual, family, community, society, and government levels are responsible for championing change to avert social causes of domestic violence.
Chanmugam, A. (2011). Perspectives on US domestic violence emergency shelters: What do young adolescent residents and their mothers say? Child Care in Practice, 17(4), 393–415. https://doi.org/10.1080/13575279.2011.596814
Metz, C., Calmet, J., & Thevenot, A. (2018). Women subjected to domestic violence: The impossibility of separation. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 4(2), 1–45. https://doi.org/10.1037/pap0000186
Stacey, W. A., & Shupe, A. D. (2015). Family secret domestic: Violence in America. Discovery Service for Northampton Community College.
Stern, D. M. (2014). “He won’t hurt us anymore”: A feminist performance of healing for children who witness domestic violence. Women’s Studies in Communication, 37(3), 360–378. https://doi.org/10.1080/07491409.2014.955231
Wells, I. (2010). “What I killed for, I am”: Domestic terror in Richard Wright’s America. American Quarterly, 62(4), 873-895. https://www.jstor.org/stable/40983440