Written by Isabelle Ick, Erica Millwater
The Ray Rice domestic abuse incident, among other recent reports of women being physically abused and sexually violated, have brought to light the prevalence and urgency of this issue. Although reports of domestic violence become more and more frequent, the media has largely failed to inform its audiences of its causes and the victims it affects. In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Hi’s Eye chose to investigate this issue.
Victimizing someone every 20 minutes, domestic violence is a cultural, national and global issue that affects both women and men, according to dcadv.org. While statistics show that everyone is likely to know someone affected, there is no single norm for what kind of person is a victim.
While there is a general misconception that this is mainly a problem affecting married couples, it’s a major issue among teens as well. According to breakthecycle.org, one in three students reports experiencing abuse in high school relationships. Two-thirds of those affected failed to report it to an adult.
Several factors contribute to society’s failure to address domestic violence. According to ncadv.org it’s common for victims to keep their abuse a secret, particularly for teens who are less aware of the problem, and more afraid to speak up because of embarassment and fear of repercussions.
Said Health Teacher Ms. Susan Kolesar, “We teach about healthy versus unhealthy relationships, the cycle of abuse…and resources locally and online.”
Yet our society often silences this issue. According to forbes.com, “Domestic violence merits attention. Regrettably, it just does not get the media attention that comes to the other causes.”
While Domestic Violence Awareness Month has been in existence since 1981, it receives far less attention than other equally important women’s issues such as breast cancer awareness, according to ncadv.org.
The U.S. Department of Justice defines domestic violence as an abusive pattern of behavior in a relationship used by one partner to gain or maintain control over the other, according to justice.gov. Once dominance is established, the abuser is able to elicit desired behavior from their victims, according to ncadv.org.
Domestic violence can be attributed to a variety of cultural, social, economic and psychological factors, according to childwelfare.gov. It may be a learned behavior modeled by individuals, institutions and society, which may disillusion children.
This behavior may be learned through childhood observations of domestic violence, one’s own experiences of victimization, exposure to school or peer violence or being part of a culture of domestic abuse.
The violence is further supported when peers, family members, or others in the community ignore the abuse or fail to provide consequences, according to nj.gov.
To end abusive behavior, victims are advised to speak up. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233.