Violence is defined as the behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something. It’s a social problem that has been apart of human existence for centuries and takes a variety of forms, impacting millions of people all across the world. As a result, it is one of the top leading causes of death for people aged 15-44 years, according to “Violence-A Global Public Health Problem.” Due to its universal prevalence, the world should become more aware of the topic in order to combat the issue once and for all.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, around 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner, accumulating to around 10 million victims per year. Around 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines daily, but most cases are undocumented because victims tend to hide their injuries due to fear of additional abuse by their abuser and embarrassment about their abuse. Since these cases are undocumented, victims do not seek medical attention, whether it be a medical doctor, psychologist, counselor, etc. As a result of this, they experience immediate long term health problems physically, mentally, and/or emotionally and are more vulnerable to developing depression and suicidal behavior.
Physical abuse is the most common type of abuse that comes to mind when people hear the word “abuse.” This form of abuse involves a person using physical force against another individual with the intent of causing bodily harm. It usually starts off with small physical acts such as a push or shove and gradually progresses over time to more violent acts of punching, hitting, slapping, etc. From this, it instills fear in the victim and causes them to feel physically unsafe. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of physical abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime according to statistics given by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and between 21-60% of victims end up losing their jobs due to complications stemming from the physical abuse they’re experiencing.
Sexual abuse is the second most common form of abuse and can be both physical and non-physical. Sexual abuse is defined as undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. It can involve physical components such as rape, molestation, etc. On the other hand it can also involve non-physical components such as judgement and verbal criticizing like using statements like “sex is the only thing you’re good for” and “you’re not good at sex,” in order to belittle their partner. Statistics presented by “National Sexual Violence Resource Center,” states that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped in the United States at some point in their lifetime and 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience some form of sexual abuse/violence. 91% of victims of sexual abuse are women and eight out of ten knew their perpetrator.
The third most common type of abuse is verbal/emotional. Verbal/ Emotional abuse is when a person forcefully criticizes, insults, or denounces another person with the intent of causing psychological trauma in another person. Abusers use words as their weapons to emotionally drain their victims leaving them with psychological mental illnesses like the depression. This form of abuse is known as the “silent killer” since it’s extremely difficult to detect due to its lack of physicality. Since no physical violence occurs, no wounds are left as a result, making it easier for the victim to hide what is happening to them. 1 in 14 children experience emotional abuse by a parent or elder in their lifetime according to The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Many cases of abuse are unreported to the police for several reasons. The most common reason is due to fear of retaliation. Victims are often scared of more harm by their abuser and/or how their friends and family may react. Self-doubt is also a main factor. Victims often tend doubt themselves and their decisions. They begin to blame themselves for the pain they’ve endured and accept themselves as being responsible. The shock and fear they experience also prevent them from coming forward. Many people are shocked that someone they know is being abused or capable of abusing another person and are fearful of what could come if they report it. Lastly, shame and embarrassment are additional reasons. The embarrassment and shame they feel makes them feel as though they are trapped and unable to communicate what’s going on. They are silenced by their own inner conflict.
Measures that can be taken to prevent abuse include, but are not limited to; educate yourself on what exactly abuse is and the many different forms it takes. Understanding the warning signs of potential abusive partners or the signs that someone else is being abused. Communicate boundaries and be aware when they are being broken. Don’t ignore warning signs. Lend an ear to someone confides in you that they are experiencing abuse. Be ready and willing to help someone escape their abusive environment. Write down and document abuse because this information could be extremely helpful in future police reports, court cases, etc. Lastly, be vocal. Voice the problem to others so that they too are aware of what’s going on in their community.
It’s important to let victims know that it is not there fault. Their abusers have full control over their decisions, they did not ask for it. They did not deserve to endure this pain. To have healthy relationships with others, whether it be intimate or not, both people should be able to communicate their feelings and have mutual respect that does not result in violence. They should also know that there is help available. Counselors are always available to talk to so that the victims can get this burden off their chest. It’s important to motivate them to seek health because the aftermath could ultimately end up with psychological problems leading to substance abuse. I believe that although it may be extremely difficult for victims to come forward, it’s ultimately important that they do so we can conquer this reoccurring problem one step at a time.