Thesis: Domestic violence against women is a serious problem that threatens the physical and emotional wellbeing of women, and that negatively affects the quality of their life.
I-Causes for domestic violence against women
B-Outlet for frustration
C-Lack of punishment
II-Consequences of battery
1-Humiliation and low self-esteem
2-Impact on productivity
III-Reasons why women bear domestic violence
C-Lack of support
IV-Prevention of domestic violence
B-Enactment of laws
C-Funding and encouraging specialized organizations
Imagine this incident. The husband returns home and he is very tired and stressed out. He is upset because his boss gave him a warning. He is also upset because some stranger had parked in his space in front of the building. Furthermore, he is worried about the bills he has to pay at the end of the month, in addition to other things. Once at home, his wife tells him about their children’s low grades and misbehavior at school. The husband gets mad and starts beating up the children. The wife tries to intervene to stop the violence, but instead of things calming down, the husband beats the children and the wife at the same time. This is not a movie or a story. This is the real world of domestic violence where wives are beaten up by their husbands with or without a reason. Domestic violence against women is a serious problem that threatens the physical and emotional wellbeing of women, and that negatively affects the quality of their life.
The beating of women is a very old story that has been practiced for many centuries. Hundreds of years ago, women were treated as a commodity. They were in fact treated as slaves who had to obey the orders of those males who dominated them. These relationships existed in the male-dominant societies all over the world. Beating women was part of this culture, since the use of violence was applied to remind women that they are to remain under the control of their male masters.
Beating is part of the obedience relationship. In most religions, women are expected to obey their husbands. Both Christianity and Islam for example expect and order the woman to obey her husband and to submit to his will. The same is applied to other religions as well. So what happens is that when the woman does not obey her husband or if the husband feels that his wife is not obeying him, he resorts to violence to make things right for himself. This means that man gives himself the right to use violence as a defense against the disobedience of woman (Saadawi, p.28).
This argument about the cause of domestic violence against women, however is not very strong. The reason is that on many occasions, men tend to beat their wives up without any reason. Such beatings take place when the husband is upset, when he is stressed, when he loses his temper, when he thinks that his wife is arguing too much, in addition to many other causes where there is no disobedience by the wife. In such cases, women are actually being used as an outlet for the frustration, tension and stress that the husband is suffering. But, if someone is frustrated, tense and stressed out, does this give him the right to beat up his wife or sister?
The protection and preservation of the body and dignity are basic human rights of every individual. It is a violation of human rights to inflict physical pain onto a person. Therefore, the battery of women is a violation of the human rights of women. Still, many men ignore such rights and tend to beat their wives up as if these wives do not have any human rights at all. Why does man respect the red lights? Why doesn’t he beat his neighbor up? And why does he respect the property of other people? The answer is that there is a serious punishment if he violates the laws related to these things. But at the same time, he can beat up his wife and even cut or injure her and get away with it. Even when there are laws that punish a husband who beats up his wife, many husbands will still beat their women, mostly because they know that nobody is going to seriously investigate, or because they know that their wives will not dare complain to the authorities.
Many men who beat up their wives will not dare to beat up their female neighbors. There is no difference between the two women, except that the victim is his wife. He can turn her into a victim because she is his wife. In other words, he gives himself the right to beat her up because she is his wife, perhaps his property, and his subordinate. This is what he learned when he was still a boy and could beat his sister without getting punished for it. This is what he learned when society taught him that men have more rights and privileges than women. And this is what he learned when discovered that he can beat his wife up and suffer little or nothing at all for it (Saadawi, p.32).
The causes of battering women are very complicated indeed. Men beat their wives up for many different reasons. In many eastern countries, men beat their wives because this is what society expects of the man to do in order to protect his role as the man and the leader. In these male-dominated societies, both children and women are beaten and treated in the same way because they are not seen as mature human beings. They are not allowed to express themselves, and they are not expected to do that. If they make mistakes, they are beaten so they do not repeat this mistake.
Still, some men beat their wives because they are violent people. They cannot control their temper or behavior, and therefore, they lose self-control and express themselves through violence. These men continue to beat their wives up because they do not get punished for it. The wife does not defend herself by complaining to the authorities, or she simply gets used to it. This submission reinforces the violence of the husband and makes him repeat the violence more easily in the future, thus turning the life of the wife into a living hell (Moris, p.12).
Some psychologists have argued that many men beat their wives up because of an inferiority complex. They argue that a man who feels that his wife is more intelligent than he is will try to protect his image and position by inflicting physical pain onto her to bring her under control. Accordingly, a man whose wife is more educated than him will have more motive to beat his wife than a man whose wife has less education than he does. Those psychologists and sociologists who argue for this theory have tried to depend on statistics from different societies to prove their points of view. However, the evidences supporting this theory are still weak, and besides, the battery of women has existed long before women were ever allowed to get any education or work (Moris, p.12).
Domestic violence has been known to have serious consequences on the health and wellbeing of women. These consequences may be divided into physical and psychological categories.
Statistics on murder in the US show that more than 50% of all female victims of murder in a given year are actually murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. These crimes take place as part of domestic violence towards women. In addition to the possibility of death, many women tend to suffer permanent disabilities or injuries resulting from battery (Moris, p.13).
In countries such as the US and Europe, medical authorities are forced to report to the police any incidents in which the woman suffers a serious injury. In less serious cases, the woman is encouraged to report the injury to the policy, even if it is her husband who has inflicted such injuries upon her. In other countries where the beating of women is part of traditions, authorities will try not to intervene to protect the woman even if she is seriously injured. The result is that the woman might suffer serious injuries and the doer gets away with his crime only because he is the husband (Moris, p.13).
In many cases, battery does not result in any real physical injuries to the woman. But at the same time, the emotional and psychological consequences may even be much worse than the physical injuries. How do we expect an adult to react to a slap on the face, a punch on the ear, or pulling of the hair, or kicking?
Violence aims at degrading the victims. It aims at reminding the victim that she is weak and unworthy. Indeed, battered women tend to suffer lower levels of self-esteem. They are degraded by the beating and eventually, they start to perceive themselves as less worthy and valuable than other people are. In fact, many women eventually become convinced that they deserve the beating and humiliation to which they are subjected by their husbands (Lowell, p.28).
Another serious consequence of battery on women is that it makes their productivity decline. With low self-esteem, battered women are afraid of competition. Studies in the workplace in the United States show that battered women are less capable of accomplishing their tasks on time and at the same quality level when compared to other women. For this reason, many big companies have established special counseling services that offer psychological help to battered women so that they can resolve their domestic problems (Lowell, p.29).
When a woman gets beaten by her husband in front of her children, her role as a mother and as a representative of authority at home is immediately endangered. How can a child be expected to obey his or her mother when she is not respected by the husband? In addition to this, if a woman gets beaten up by her husband in front of her children, how can she raise them on the basis that boys and girls are equal? Apparently this is very difficult and even embarrassing to the mother since she will be teaching her children the opposite of what they see with their eyes.
The reactions of women to battery tend to vary according to the situation of the family. However, it is noticed that a majority of battered women will stay with their husbands even when they are beaten up regularly or frequently. In fact, a battered woman will stay with her husband due to several reasons.
To start with, many women are willing to bear the pain of battery if they have children. These women fear that a divorce could shatter the lives of their children. Accordingly, they will accept their situations and try to cope with them as long as the wellbeing of their children is maintained. This is not always possible of course, especially that a husband who beats his wife will most likely be violent with his children as well (Brogan, p.1).
The second factor that forces a woman to stay with her violent husband is economic need. A woman who does not have sufficient education, who does not have an independent source of income, and who cannot survive on her own will find it difficult or even impossible to leave her husband, especially if she is very dependent on him. However, what typically happens in such cases is that the husband becomes more encouraged to be violent with his wife since he is aware that she cannot resist or leave him (Brogan, p.1).
A third factor that is usually witnessed in cases of domestic violence against women is that the victims gets used to the situation and since she lacks help or support, she cannot take the decision to end the relationship. Lonely women who feel threatened on their own without their husbands or boyfriends tend to fall into this category. Some psychologists also argue that women’s awareness of the problem of battery is not enough because there has to be the availability of resources that can make the woman take the decision to change the situation, such as her family, friends, authorities and so on (Brogan, p.1).
Domestic violence against women is therefore a violation of the human rights of women, and it is a humiliating situation to which thousands if not millions of women all over the world are subjected. Many methods of prevention and protection have been developed to help bring an end to this problem.
The first step in prevention is education of men and women. When men become aware that battery is a violation of the law and of the human rights of women, and when women become aware of the realities of battery, individuals develop negative perceptions and reactions towards battery. Men will be discouraged from using violence against their wives and at the same time, women will reject such a degrading treatment (Brogan, p.2).
The second step is the enactment of strict laws and regulations that protect women against domestic violence and that hold the violent partner responsible for his acts. In many countries today, the violent partner may not only go to jail, but he may also have to pay a compensation to the wife or girlfriend. One important condition for the success of such a policy is that the application of these laws should be serious. In other words, the authorities should not try to pressure the woman to return to her violent partner, but rather, they should be concerned with carrying out the law without attempting to protect the violent partner (Brogan, p.2).
The third step is to fund and encourage organizations and institutions that provide support, help, shelter and protection to female victims of battery. These institutions provide women with the alternative in case they are no longer able to cope with the violence of their male partners. In other words, the woman’s financial and social dependence on her partner should no longer be an obstacle that prevents her from leaving this partner and starting a new life. These institutions do not only provide shelter and support through the availability of jobs, but they also provide important emotional support by organizing sessions and seminars that help rebuild the morale of the victim before she can stand on her own to deal with her life (Brogan, p.2).
Many women are still victims of battery all over the world. These women may be western, eastern, white, black, rich, poor, or with any characteristics or backgrounds. They all share one thing, namely that they are victims of domestic violence by their husbands or boyfriends. Some of these women stand up and fight back to survive, but many of them are faced with social, psychological, and financial obstacles that force them to stay in their positions as victims of domestic violence. It is the obligation of authorities and communities to establish and develop the necessary resources and institutions that support and protect the rights and human conditions of these women victims. Domestic violence is responsible for the death, injury, and unhappiness of millions of women all over the world, and in an age when human rights are sacred, such a situation is not acceptable.
Brogan, Emily. “Dealing with Domestic Violence.” Online,
www.altavista.com, January 2, 2000.
Lowell, Martina. “Self-esteem in battered and emotionally abused women.”
Women’s Perspective, July 1998: pp. 22-32.
Moris, Lena. “The vicious circle” Macleans, June 1997: pp. 12-13.
Saadawi, Nawal. The Hidden Face of Eve. London, 1981.