Domestic Violence - can we combat the crime of domestic violence?

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Review Article Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences ISSN:2690 - 0688 doi.org/10.33140/JHSS.03.01.0 7 Domestic Violence – Can We Combat the Crime of Domestic Violence? Luuk L Westerhof

*Corresponding author: Luuk L. Westerhof, MSc, Master’s in health Promotion. LSW. LCFT. You may contact the author at: SPONTE-Ressurssenter, Hinderveien 7, 3223 sandefjord, Norway. Tel: +4792314254; E-mail: luukwester@hotmail.no; kontakt@sponte.no Submitted: 17 Dec 2019; Accepted: 23 Dec 2019; Published:05 Feb 2020Master’s in health Promotion. LSW. LCFT. You may contact the author at: SPONTE-Ressurssenter, Hinderveien 7, 3223 sandefjord, Norway

Abstract Domestic violence is put together by patterns of behaviors used in a desperate attempt to gain and maintain power and control over another human being within the context of a relationship, mostly a love and- or intimate relationship. From this perspective domestic violence does not discriminate, it can happen to anyone. Domestic violence is a huge global problem and affect people from all levels of society, socioeconomic, cultural, educational, emotional etc. Domestic violence is exercised both physically, sexually, materially, psychologically, latent and as counter abuse. Societal institutions like CPS (Child Protective Services) and prison represents to certain degree an unclearness due to the fact that they both exercise the implementation of sanctions, help and therapy. CPS and prisons strip people from their autonomy, the right to self-determination, work and children (indirectly, of course), they cooperate with district attorneys, prosecutors, prison and secret services – creating ambiguous roles who are difficult to handle. In this article I will attempt to describe what abuse is, its nature, how to recognize domestic violence and how we can meet people that experience domestic abuse. How can we help people that have been subjected to domestic violence from a collaborative approach? There are many interpretations on the subject of domestic violence, and I will by no means postulate that my version is an exhaustive one, it’s just one way at looking at the subject hoping that it will contribute to a greater awareness on the topic, and contribute to a more extensive development of skills enabling us to combat the crime of domestic violence, successfully.


Keywords: Domestic: Violence: Relationship: Power: Control


What is Domestic Violence?

In order to combat the crime of domestic violence, we need to know what it means. Domestic violence pertains not just to the physical aspect, too, domestic violence is psychological, sexual, material, latent and counter-latent in its nature [1]. In order to understand domestic violence, we need to address it by name: Domestic violence is often be perpetuated by wrapping it inn, not calling a “spade for a spade”. People tend to talk about topics leaving out issues: we must talk about the issues that upholds the topic – domestic violence [2]. Calling domestic violence for what it is can help us significantly in raising awareness on this horrific subject. In order to combat domestic violence, we desperately need to develop a clear concept on what abuse is about. The simplest and probably most used definition of domestic violence is:

Domestic violence is any use of physical coerced power in order to hurt, damage, offend or harm another person

This definition though is limited since it reduces abuse to primarily a physical abusive activity, leaving out other non-physical determinants (issues) of hurting people. Too, the definition suggests that there is a conscious intent present in harming another person. Yet the predator and prey are not always experiencing abuse as an attempt and desire to hurt [3]. I suggest that we approach violence as a perpetrators functional attempt to gain access to control and power that can be exercised over another person(s). Rather than just linking the definition of violence to an alleged purpose, I suggest that we focus on the action of violence and the detrimental consequences of these abusive violent actions. Violence is always relational in nature since it needs a subject to be abusive against. Domestic violence is about actions between people and where the essence of these actions is power and control. Domestic violence is any action aimed at a person and is experienced as fearful, painful, offense and hurting [4]. One of the aims of domestic violence is any action that coerces another individual to do things against his or her own free will. From this perspective domestic violence can be perceived as a functional act [5]. The functional act(s) serves a specific purpose, namely, to influence and coerce another person to uncompromised submission [6]. Too, domestic violence can be perceived as a form for communication that addresses (a) the abuser, (2) the abused, and (3) and, the message (violence).

Domestic violence includes all sorts of behaviors and actions that physically, mentally, and emotionally harm another human-being. Domestic violence arouses fear and is therefore threatening and abusive in its core nature. It aims at controlling another humanbeing so that he or she is no longer free to exercise and follow his or her own free will. By doing so, Domestic violence represents and poses a constant intimidation and a constant threat of physical, sexual, psychological harm and deprivation [7]. There are two core elements compose domestic violence [8]. The first one is the “functional” element of abuse; the message - the application of damage, hurt, fear and offense.

The second element is that abusive behavior is implemented purposely, i.e. it attempts to influence or- and control the behavior of another person. Domestic violence is often understood and perceived in a far too limited measure that is, just physically. Yet, domestic violence is composed by a set of actions that consists of more than just physical abuse: Domestic violence are all actions that affect another person through the application of pain, damage, fear and offense. Domestic violence can categorize by the following subcategories however, this is not an exhaustive list and may also be extended to include other forms for abuse e.g. economic, threats, cyber stalking

1) Sexual abuse: as defined by WHO (chapter 6; Sexual Violence): “any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.

2) Physical violence: can be defined as: “hitting, biting, slapping, battering, shoving, punching, pulling hair, burning, cutting, pinching, etc. (any type of abusive behavior inflicted on the victim). Physical abuse also includes denying someone medical treatment and forcing drug/alcohol use on someone”.

3) Emotional abuse: “involves invalidating or deflating the victim's sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem. Emotional abuse often takes the form of constant criticism, name-calling, injuring the victim's relationship with his/her children, or interfering with the victim's abilities”.

4) Psychological abuse: “involves the abuser invoking fear through intimidation; threatening to physically hurt himself/herself, the victim, children, the victim's family or friends, or the pets; destruction of property; injuring the pets; isolating the victim from loved ones; and prohibiting the victim from going to school or work”. 5) Stalking: “can include following the victim, spying, watching, harassing, showing up at the victim's home or work, sending gifts, collecting information, making phone calls, leaving written messages, or appearing at a person's home or workplace. These acts individually are typically legal, but any of these behaviors done continuously results in a stalking crime”.

Source: https://family.findlaw.com/

Domestic violence is always in context with and controlled by a person’s unmanaged and uncontrollable anger, aggression and fear [4]. It sorts to intimidation in an attempt to gain unrestricted power and control [9]. In making another person afraid by e.g. using covert aggressive gestures, smashing things, destroying property etc., the abuser attempts to control his victim [10,11].


How to Recognize Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can be recognized by determinants such as, (a) emotional abuse, (b) isolation, (c) the using of children, (d) economic abuse, (e) minimizing, denying and blaming the victim