Domestic violence is an underreported problem, and an issue that does not get enough attention in the media, considering how prevalent it occurs in our society and the damages that it does to millions of women around the country. Intimate partner violence (IPV) is the term the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses to describe sexual, physical, or psychological harm inflicted on a partner or spouse from another.
And, about one in three women experience domestic abuse (or IPV) in their lifetimes, according to the CDC. Although they make up the vast majority, it is not just women that experience domestic abuse. Men and women both experience it in hetero and same-sex marriages and partnerships. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 12 million people (men, women, and children) are raped each year in the U.S.
The emotional impact of domestic violence can be just as devastating for victims as the physical impact. Victims are often left with a great many emotional issues to deal with and many find that healing can only take place with the help of a therapist, as well as working with domestic violence groups and programs.
Children who grow up in a home where there is domestic violence are also traumatized and can have serious emotional issues as they grow up. Working with a family therapist can help ensure that your children do not grow up to be domestic violence victims or perpetrators, two very real possibilities if the trauma of what they have experienced is not dealt with.
Risk Factors Contributing to Intimate Partner Violence or Domestic Abuse
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are certain risk factors that contribute to the likelihood of domestic abuse. These risks, associated with the abuser, include the following individual traits:
- Age (the younger the more serious the risk)
- Depression, insecurity, and emotional dependency
- Drug and alcohol use
- Poor self-esteem
- Low education level
- Aggression, anger, and hostility
- Criminal record or juvenile delinquency record
- Isolation from other people, a lack of friends
- A deep-rooted belief in old fashioned gender roles
- The abuser was a victim of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse themselves, especially at an early age
Additionally, there are societal and relationship factors that may lead to domestic abuse as well. These include a poor family relationship, dominance issues, poverty or economic stress, living in a crowded and depressed area, poor relationship with neighbors (that are unwilling to intervene or report on abuse), and again, a strong core belief in strict gender roles.
If you are currently being abused or experienced domestic abuse in the past, it is important for you to work with someone who is experienced in the emotional harm that this abuse does to victims.