Every passing day, reports about escalating domestic violence are heard in the United States. This is so despite the efforts by relevant agencies to intervene. Several reasons have been identified as impediments to the effort. Among them is culture. Imbalance in the power relations between the two genders and cultural privacy are among the cultural factors playing a role. Other factors include incapacity of the relevant agencies to meet the victims’ expectations which form a negative attitude, a violence prone environmental set up and relationship jeopardy between parent and children are other profound reasons. Finally, the fear of a violent partner was also identified. For any tangible solutions for this social problem, the mentioned factors must be focused properly. Failure to address them will mean no solution.
Domestic violence is gaining popularity each passing day. More and more women are falling victims to this social ill at an alarming rate. Research shows that an estimated 1.8 to 3.6 women are suffering under abusive violence from their intimate partners each passing year. According to Campbell et al (2002), male partners are the most likely assailants to cause death to women as compared to any other assailants. Moreover, the main reason for early deaths among African American females aged between 15 and 44 years has been found to be femicide. This does not only result to deaths, but also disabling injuries serious medical conditions.
The greatest cause of these deaths and permanent disabling injuries has been identified to be husbands, boyfriends or ex-lovers and ex-husbands. Basing on this research, violence against women was thus identified as the number one health problem faced by the African American woman by the National Black Women’s Health Project. This problem is not only experienced by African Americans but also Hispanics and even Caucasians. While the cases are increasing, many women are failing to seek for help. Consequently, this paper will identify the factors that act as barriers in attention seeking for women victims of domestic violence.
In all cultures and social settings, the set values and behavior which define the culture of the social group also contributes to the prevalence of domestic violence amongst women. Not only do these values encourage domestic violence but they also discourage help seeking efforts by the victims. One of the aspects of culture that promote this vice is male domination within all the societal activities and institutions (Burman Smailes & Chantler, 2004, p. 15).
Such cultures which are characterized by an imbalance in power relations between the two genders render women into a “…tradition of victimology” where women have to shoulder all responsibilities in case of a domestic violence. They are blamed to have failed in their role as a wife or to have greatly contributed into the triggering of the wrath of the head of the house and therefore caused harm to themselves. With such beliefs well established in the overall belief system, the victim of violence will not seek help fearing the fact that she will be blamed for everything or in some aspects, they will believe that they are the cause of the violence for failing to live up to the standards expected of them as wives within the domestic settings.
Burman (2004, p.16) further identifies what is referred to as cultural privacy and respect as another impediment to efforts by victims of domestic violence to seek help from relevant sources. The strong role played by culture and religion in the definition of the community has led to a formation of certain positions that unfortunately subject some members into suffering. These positions have made relevant organizations fail to intervene in certain cases purporting that they were observing respect of the culture.
Any substantial effort by the authorities to intervene is met by spirited resistance from leaders of the community thus allowing people to mess with the law at the pretext of cultural dictates. This has been greatly identified in the African American societies and also Muslim societies where male dominance has strongly gained popularity.
The incapacity of agencies dealing with this issue of domestic violence and specifically from the cultural perspective poses another barrier to help seeking by the victims. Burman (2004, p. 17) points out that most of these organizations felt that they did not qualify in terms of understanding the cultural needs and hence were unable to deal with the same issue and come up with a remedy. As one practitioner was quoted, “…I certainly don’t feel myself an expert in that field to make a comment.” In addition to this, most of the agencies have specifically designed roles that they play and thus fail to go beyond their specific boundaries.
For example, the issue could be dealt with by an agency that is more focused on child welfare and therefore neglect the real victim who is the mother. In other cases, the woman might approach the police who will in return aim at punishing the perpetrator of the crime instead of helping the woman come out of the violent relationship. Finally, some of the agencies are usually short term actors and would only afford to give short term solutions to this long term problem.
Racism and other societal violence can lead to a victim’s laxity in seeking help (Harvey, 1986). In African American societies where violence and racism are seen as day to day happenings, women who are subjected to domestic violence tend to fail to look for a solution compared to there Caucasian counterparts. This is because the African Americans have developed certain immunity towards violence.
Attitude plays another role in ensuring that victims of violence fail to seek for help in the event of domestic violence (McGee, 2000, p. 185). Such attitudes as domestic violence worth reporting should involve extreme cases like broken bones or should be continuous for a very long time or other beliefs that domestic violence is a phenomenon for the extremely poor members of the society might make women fail to seek for help.
With such attitudes, several victims have a rigid stereotype of the shape of a battered woman. Subsequently, they fail to seek help if they feel that their shape does not fall within the definition in their heads. This attitude might also translate to the agencies responsible for assisting the victims. As mentioned above, the organizations could be specifically oriented to a certain task and therefore their services might fail to meet the expectations of the victim. This might make them fail to come back for their services and resort to dying strongly.
Loosing the children is another impediment in the seeking of help by victims of domestic violence (McGee, 2000, p. 189). Most women envisage the emotional implication of a future without their children or the financial implication of a future with the children but without the partner. This forces them to stick with an abusive partner without seeking for help from outside sources. Most women believe that one of the most likely repercussions of seeking help from agencies is that the children would be removed from the scene of the violence and be put under custody of the agencies. This might make the victims deny the extend of the violence just to ensure that the agencies are put off.
McGee (2000, p. 190) identifies the fear of the violent man as a reason which makes most victims fail to seek for help in the event of domestic violence. With some partners being too violent, women tend to fear the repercussions that would result incase the partner realized that she was looking for help. They therefore made sure that looking for help would improve the situation rather than make it worse. Having a good understanding of their partners, most women understand what they were capable of doing. This makes them try to protect themselves, or friends and family by advising them not to call fro help because the husband could harm them.
In conclusion, several women are living under shadows of violent partners but are not ready to seek for help from relevant organizations or their family and friends. This is triggered by several factors that would implicate negatively on them if their partners discovered that they are seeking help or the steps that would be taken to assist them. This means that all the organizations that are responsible in dealing with domestic violence must come up with strategies that would put these barriers into consideration. Failure to do this will mean that domestic violence will remain for ages.
Burman, E., Chantler, K. & Smailes, S. (2004). Culture as an obstacle to service Provision & delivery; Domestic violence services for Marginalized women. Manchester Metropolitan University. Web.
Campbell, D., Lopez, L., Gary, F., Campbell, J. & Sharps, P. (2002). “Intimate Partner Violence among African American Females”. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 7(1) Manuscript 4. Web.
Harvey, W. (1986). Homicide among young Black adults: Life in the subculture of exasperation. Lanham, MD: University Press.
McGee, C. (2000). Childhood experiences; domestic violence. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.