Domestic abuse and violence are coercive behaviors intended to exert power and control. This pattern of behaviors may include sexual, physical, or psychological abuse and involve dominance and control of the victim. Victims of domestic violence and abuse may lead to entrapment of the victim and is often referred to as battering syndrome. Most often, females are in the position of the victim but men are also subjected to domestic violence and abuse and can be the victims of abuse, although less commonly.
Scope of the Problem of Intimate Partner Violence
Conservative estimates indicate that there are between two to four million U.S. women battered each year, two thousand of which result in death. Intimate partner violence is experienced by 20 – 25 percent of pregnant women. Approximately 19 – 30 percent of women entering the emergency ward for physical injuries do so due to domestic violence and abuse. Studies indicate that 25 percent of women who attempt suicide are experiencing abuse as are 25 percent of women who seek emergency psychiatric services. Domestic violence knows no age or class and there are no typical victims.
Types of Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse can present itself in many forms and is not limited to only physical abuse but may also include:
- Verbal and emotional abuse which may present itself in the form of repeated verbal attacks or through coercion. Coercing someone to do things they find humiliating or against their moral or religious beliefs is also emotional abuse and control.
- Those who abuse others may try to isolate them from family members or friends or may find perceived faults with the victim’s social connections and demand they cease contact. This isolation means that the victim ends up with no one to confide in and results in lack of support.
- Perpetrators of domestic abuse may attempt to control the victim by threatening the victim’s children or loved ones if they fail to follow orders or requests to alter behavior.
- The dominant role of gender stereotypes may cause the victim to feel it is their wifely or husbandly duty to have intercourse and amounts to forced sexual encounters when their partner demands what they feel they are entitled to receive from their partner.
- Domestic violence victims may face economic abuse when they are not permitted to access their own, or marital financial resources, and may be forced to hand over their paycheck each week to their abuser. This can leave the victim unable to leave if they should decide to as they lack the financial resources they feel they need to escape.
- Control over a victim’s body may be present in sexual abuse related to domestic abuse by forcing the victim to participate in sexual acts they feel morally appalled by or through rape.
Why Don’t Domestic Abuse Victims Just Leave?
It is easy to judge those suffering from domestic abuse and question their will to leave. It’s important to consider that many victims feel unable to leave due to real or implied threats against them, their children, family members, friends, or loved ones. These threats can include harm or death of the victim’s loved ones and can be quite believable. After all, if the perpetrator is willing to hurt them, what would prevent them from hurting someone else? Victims of domestic abuse may lack the financial resources or access to funds to allow them to leave or to support themselves or their children.
Some victims of abuse stay with their abuser due to religious or cultural beliefs which can make them feel it is necessary to keep the family intact as unit regardless of the abuse. Many abuse victims put blame on themselves for their suffering or may feel it is their fault or may believe the perpetrator’s assurances that they will get help or it will never happen again. Many victims of violence fear retaliation by their partner should they seek treatment for injuries or attempt to leave. Domestic violence and abuse are repetitive cycles and may leave the victim feeling that they have no real way out even though it may appear to outsiders that there are plenty of options available.
Victims of domestic abuse frequently suffer from symptoms of depression and anxiety, including PTSD. Because our treatment for depression and anxiety programs rely on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods. The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders that result from domestic violence. In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies. Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting. It is also important to keep in mind that women and men often experience depression differently and therefore the presence of depression may also appear differently based on gender. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, including PTSD, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery. Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful. People who have completed our program have provide very high consumer satisfaction scores and reviews. Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.