Domestic Violence Troubling for Teens

Statistics reveal that there are at least 4 million reported incidents of domestic violence against women every year. Almost 20 percent of these are aggravated assaults in the home.

“Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between ages 15 to 44, more common than automobile accidents, muggings, and rapes combined,” according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

During each year, women are the victims of more than 4.5 million violent crimes, including approximately 500,000 rapes or other sexual assaults. In 29 percent of the violent crimes against women by lone offenders the perpetrators were close to the victim, such as “husbands, former husbands, boyfriends or former boyfriends,” according to Department of Justice Statistics’ estimates.

“The fighting between my parents began when I was eight, by age 12 the beatings I received from my father were a daily routine,” said Keisha Johnson, a 19-year-old student at St. John’s University. The domestic violence in Johnson’s home came from her father’s excessive drinking, which angered him to the point where he took it out on his family. “He would always apologize several hours later, saying my mother and I caused him to be that way, but then it would happen all over again the following day.”

Almost 6 times as many women are victimized by people they knew-as opposed to those victimized by strangers-did not report the crime to police because they feared vengeance from the offender.

Having had a past relationship with the assailant can make the victim question whether they were at fault for having been raped. Being in a current relationship with someone else also heightens the stakes in her situation.

“I still remember the day he asked me to come over. Yeah, we had gone out in the past, but we were friends now. I didn’t expect things to end up the way they did that day,” said another St. John’s student who asked to not have her name disclosed. “I only told my boyfriend what had happened. I was too embarrassed to tell my family. I was also scared to report him being that he lived in my neighborhood, he might retaliate on me.”

“There are many reasons to the question of why battered women stay in abusive relationships. Women compose only 47 percent of the population in the United States; they account for 75 percent of all battered women. Divorced and separated women report being battered 14 times as often as women still living with their parents,” as stated in the “Special Report: Family Violence.”

It is estimated that 255 of workplace problems such as absenteeism, lower productivity, turnover and excessive uses of medical benefits are due to family violence. Violence is the reason stated for divorce in 22 percent of middle-class marriages. Women in families with incomes below $10,000 per year were more likely than other women to be violently attacked by someone close to them.

In a national survey of over 6,000 American families, 50 percent of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children. Child abuse is 15 times more likely to occur in families where domestic violence is present. Men who have witnessed their parents’ domestic violence are three times more likely to abuse their own wives than children of nonviolent parents, with the sons of the most violent parents being 1000 times more likely to become wife beaters. Children who witness violence at home display emotional and behavioral disturbances as diverse as withdrawal, low self-esteem, nightmares, self-blame and aggression against peers, family members and property. A comparison of delinquent and non-delinquent youth found that a history of family violence or abuse is the most significant difference between the two groups. Over 3 million children are at risk of exposure to parental violence each year.

Many people have the misconception that women and children alone are victims of domestic violence. However, statistics prove this perception to be wrong. In the case of the victimization of men, they are more likely to have been victimized by acquaintances or strangers than by close ones or by other relatives.

“At first it was humiliating for me to admit it to myself, let alone anyone else, that my mother’s best friend was hitting me all the time, and had something against me, but the fact that her friend was a female made it even worse,” said Nathaniel Overton, a 21-year-old student from Queens College.

Overton’s experience of living in the same house with his abuser, who had no where else to go at the time, during his early years in junior high school, involved excessive amounts of yelling and fighting, both physical and verbal.

“It got to the point where anything I did, whether it was watching television or listening to the radio, turned into one big fight or argument. At times I didn’t want to come home after school,” Overton said. “It never occurred to me that my parents could have prevented so much of this behavior if maybe I had said something sooner.”

Fact: One woman is beaten every 15 seconds. Battering is not a spur of the moment loss of temper. According to the Uniform Crime reports of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Battering is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through violence and other forms of abuse. The batterer uses acts of violence and a series of behaviors, including intimidation, threats, psychological abuse, and isolation to coerce and control the other person.”

What could be signs for the prediction of domestic violence?

The following is a list published by the National Technical Assistance Center on Family Violence.

– People who grow up in families where they have been abused as children, are likely to become wife-beaters or child-beaters, or both. They have spent most of their lives learning that violence is normal behavior. Those who are raised in that environment may claim they may never behave that way, but often resort to violence when faced with the problems of marriage and parenting.

– The attacker uses force or violence to “solve” his problems. He has a quick temper. He will over-react to little problems and frustrations. It’s the little things that occur in everyday life that can trigger a boiling anger inside to be expressed without. Punching walls, throwing things, these are signs of a person who will work out bad feelings with violence.

– Does he abuse alcohol or other drugs? There is a strong link between violence and problems with drugs and alcohol. If he refuses to admit that he has a problem, or refuses to get help, leave.

– A future batterer guards his masculinity by trying to act tough. He has strong, traditional ideas about what a man should be and what a woman should be. He believes a woman should stay at home, and take care of the husband, following his wishes and orders.