CASA of Arizona

Domestic Violence

Introduction



The purpose of this module is to give CASAs a better understanding of domestic violence. The training will present the results of several different studies and give suggestions as to how to interact with children exposed to domestic violence. The module is divided into two main areas. The first area deals with domestic violence, what it is, how it cycles, and why women stay. The second area deals with how domestic violence impacts the children.

Definition



Domestic violence is the repeated use of forceful physical or psychological behavior for the purpose of coercion without regard for the individual rights of another. Battering can be physical and escalate to a high degree of intensity. The result can be fatal, ending either in suicide or murder. 

  • One in three women is a battered woman.
  • Ninety percent of children living in violent homes are aware of what is going on.
  • Thirty-five percent of the children are also abused in some way.

Problems Related to Domestic Violence

Alcohol and other drug abuse often occur in violent homes. Substance abuse is separate from the battering and must be brought under control before the physical and/or emotional abuse can end. Batterers will claim that drinking or drugs "make them do it," but this is absolutely not the case. Drugs give the abuser excuses not to accept responsibility for his/her actions. The abuse will not automatically cease because the drinking and drug abuse stop. Sexual abuse is another problem that may occur in conjunction with domestic violence. Most children are particularly afraid to mention sexual abuse.

Abusers

Batterers come from all socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, races and religions. The problem is not limited to any particular walk of life. There are incidents in which women are the batterers. They are just as capable of yelling, hitting, and throwing things as men. They can also be psychologically abusive toward their partners. However, their ability to seriously injure their partner without using a weapon is limited. Male batterers, on the other hand, have the advantage of physical strength and can cause grave injury or death by using their bare hands.

In a study of battered women, 25% said that they abused their children while living with the batterer. This decreased to 5% when the women were living with a non-violent partner. Types of domestic violence include:

  • physical assault;
  • sexual assault;
  • damage to a person's property;
  • threats to damage property;
  • verbal abuse and put downs;
  • humiliation;
  • forced isolation from family and/or friends;
  • financial abuse - withholding or controlling against your will access to money, food, clothes, and personal items such as car keys or bankbook; and
  • harassment such as constant phone calls to your work or home, or repeated visits to your home or workplace.

(Taken from 1996, Domestic Violence and the Law)


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