Domestic Violence and Elderly Abuse- A Policy Statement

1. Introduction

In a fast paced world driven by economic and commercial considerations, it is not hard to find people getting mistreated. When the people under question are weak, such treatment is all the more pronounced. That is possibly the reason why people who have a hard time at the office, vent out their feelings at home. It is also true that people, who just enjoy subjugation of others, do so at their home. In our world, the weak can be listed in their increasing order of weakness as follows: the women, the elderly and of course, the children. Invariably all of them face the brutality of domestic violence in one form or the other. In some cases, there are also weak men who are subjected to this harassment by their family members.

2. Facts of the Case

A study conducted by Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes (2000) indicate that there are more than a million women and about eight hundred thousand men annually assaulted by their intimate partners at home. The US crime records indicate that there is numerous non fatal crime records registered due to domestic violence.

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Out of all non fatal violence recorded in such criminal records, 20% of these are on women due to their intimate partners at home (Rennison CM 2003). The same figure stood at 3% for domestic violence against men committed by their intimate partners (Rennison CM 2003) on them.

Callie Marrie Rennison had conducted the study on data pertaining to 2001. She also points out that out of murders committed on females, 33% or one third of all female murder victims are committed by their intimate partners at home and 4% of the male murder victims are committed out of domestic violence. This works out to more than 1,247 women and 440 men dead in the US due to domestic violence.

A number of studies have been conducted in the US to understand the extent of Elderly abuse in the society. It has been recorded through research that over 1 million seniors who are over 65 years of age have been abused or ill treated by people whom they looked up for protection (Richard J. Bonnie & Robert B. Wallace eds., 2003).

Though this figure has been changing with the change in the method of survey that was conducted and the nature of samples that were taken during the research process, it is widely accepted fact that one out of 14 incidents of elderly abuse come to the attention of the authorities concerned (Karl Pillemer & David Finkelhor, 1988).

For every reported case of elderly abuse or neglect or it could even be self-neglect, there are at least five to ten cases that are never noticed or brought to the authorities attention. It is also found that elderly abuse also results in many cases to a financial abuse as well. It is only common that the seniors are abused when there is an assault on them for monetary gain.

Wasik JF (Mar/Apr 2000) reports that one out of every twenty five elders abused in the US, is a case of financial abuse. Either for want of money owned by the elder or for dominating the person about his financial expenses / status such abuse is done. Of all the varieties of elderly abuse recorded by US Administration on Aging (2003), physical abuse is the most common one.

Children are also exposed or subjected to domestic violence. In case of children even exposing them to such violence leaves a psychological mark on them. There are many cases of children who retain the memory in their minds and it alters their behavior throughout their life time.

Sandra Graham-Bermann & Julie Seng (2005) reports that nearly fifty percent of the children who participated in the study has been exposed to domestic violence in one form or the other. When the women are subjected to domestic violence, the children are the spectators to the same.

Sharmila Lawrence (2002) reveals out of her research program that between three and ten million children are affected by constant exposure to domestic violence. Children who are exposed to such violence are constantly pressured to perform as well as they are also inclined to have a life that is not peaceful. Such children end up with mental experiences that are difficult to judge and predict.

In addition to these, the domestic violence shows up in other multitude of forms. They occur in all of these forms: same-sex violence, Stalking, violence against teenagers, trafficking. While these forms of violence happen even with intimate partners in a household, they also occur with dating partners.

It is not uncommon to find women hurting their male partners as well, thought the percentage of such violence is not high. Violence against women also has sexual overtones; this results in rapes and in some cases, murders too. 78% of the victims of sexual assault are women and the remaining 22% are men (Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes, 2000).

3. Policy

The Federal Policy for Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse shall have the following:

Elders above the age of 65 years shall have free food, travel and medical attention provided. This would ensure that the elders are not abused with the thought that they need to be provided with care and would result in monetary expenses.
Since it is mostly the women who are abused at home, they need to be educated on how to handle violence against them. It is advisable that they go through this education either in their senior schooling years. Sexuality of young women and how to ensure that they are not mistreated by others could also be imparted to save them from being rape or abuse victims.
Children need to be counseled at school and checked regularly for wrongful impact due to domestic violence. A regular counseling meet should be organized in pre-schools and in schools to identify kids who are exposed to domestic violence. In such cases, both the children and the parents concerned could be counseled to save the future of the child.
Isolate the abuser from the victim for a specific period of time.

4. Public Opinion

There are studies conducted by Father’s rights groups to indicate that violence against men is as prominent as violence against women. But this has been recounted by a number of researchers including Kimmel (2001, p 22) where he asserts that the nature of violence women commit over men is in no way comparable to that one’s committed by men over women.

The intensity of violence also matters, according to him. As already indicated in the earlier paragraphs, the number of female deaths and the number of male deaths due to domestic violence will show how badly treated are the women. Hence the public opinion on protecting the women are more pronounced than that called for the men.

As Worden AP and Carlson BE (2005) report in their study on domestic violence, though some people suggest that women are the cause of violence against themselves, most people do not believe this assumption. Violence against women spreads because of male supremacy attitudes in some cases, according to them.

Public opinion however, feels that the women are inclined to learn about the interpersonal skills that are required to manage such a situation. They are also inclined to isolate themselves from the possible violence. In most cases, the women had a premonition that there is going to be violence on that day and they tried their best to avoid the same.

It is also common to find that certain cultures abet domestic violence particularly against the women. As Fernandez (2006) points out, some cultures need to be differently handled while researching or while counseling domestic violence.

The author suggests that the issues pertaining to cultures and cultural impact on domestic violence should be made available to the victims of such violence. This will provide them a more world view of what is happening around them. The perception on what is abuse and what is not abuse is also dependent on individual concept of freedom.

While in a survey conducted in 1997, women felt that men objecting at the way women dress is also a form of abuse (Patrice Tanaka 1997). Emotional abuse, they expressed is as bad as physical abuse. It was overwhelmingly accepted in this survey that domestic abuse exists and that there is violence against women in homes which needed attention. However, the question on what constitutes domestic violence differed between the genders.

In one of the surveys conducted to study the impact of domestic violence in Alaska, it was found that people supported action against Domestic violence (ANDVSA 2006). They knew that Alaska was one of the states which had a large domestic violence incidence and that these people who are victims to such violence need to be supported.

In Europe, the survey on domestic violence categorically points out that more and more people feel law should be stricter with people who commit such crimes. More than 85% of the respondents to the survey said that European Union should be involved in eradicating the domestic Violence across the face of the earth. According to them, the cause of domestic violence is poverty (DG Justice 2010). Though there are other causes, more than 80% believed that it is poverty and economic exclusion that causes domestic violence.

Between domestic violence against women, elder and children there is not much of a difference. While the cause remains almost the same across the entire spectrum of violence, the treatment for it also remains the same. While every one wishes for strong laws, there is also a deep concern in counseling people; ensuring that the state is a welfare state for the elders and providing them all their need would not put them at the receiving end of such violence.

In case of children, most people felt that there is no better way than counseling and strong laws to counter such happening. The Florida Department of Correction should be strengthened was the opinion of the people when the state of Florida conducted the survey in 1999 (Florida Department of Corrections 1999). The solution to most of the issues is for to isolate the abuser. But, according to the survey, most women who were abused would not leave their husband even though he abused her.

5. Recommendations

Based on all of these observations, results of research and that of public opinion, it is recommended as follows:

Stricter laws will enforce abhorrence from domestic violence to a great extent. There should be arrests made if reported of domestic violence and abuse.
Appropriate counseling service should be made available to victims of domestic abuse. It is important that both the parties are counseled when domestic abuse is faced.
The children at school are regularly monitored to ensure that the domestic abuse at their home does not affect and create any adverse effects on them. It is important that children are separated from such abusive parents if present. However, proper counseling should also be provided to the parents to deter them from such behavior at home.
Elders are advised isolation from mental, financial and physical abusers at the earliest opportunity.
Laws should be made to ensure that the elders are not mistreated.

6. Reference list

ANDVSA (2006) Public Opinion of Alaskans on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Retrieved on 17 Dec 2010 from the ANDVSA website: http://www.andvsa.org/research/PublicOpinionSurvey.pdf

Bonnie RJ & Wallace RB eds. (2003). Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation in an Aging America. Committee on Nat’l Statistics & Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education.

DG Justice (2010) Domestic Violence Against Women. Retrieve on 17 Dec 2010 from the European Union website: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_344_en.pdf

Fernandez M (2006) Cultural Believes and Domestic Violence Ann N Y Academy of Science Nov 2006, 1087, 250 – 60.

Florida Department of Corrections (1999) Florida’s Perspective on Domestic Violence Retrieved on 17 Dec 2010 from the Florida Department of Corrections website: http://www.dc.state.fl.us/pub/domestic/exsum.html

Graham-Bermann, S. & Seng, J,(2005) Violence Exposure and Traumatic Stress Symptoms as Additional Predictors of Health Problems in High-Risk Children. Journal of Pediatrics 309, 146.

Kimmel, M. Male victims of domestic violence: A substantive and methodological research review, report to the Equality Committee of the Department of Education and Science, 2001. Later published as Kimmel, S. ‘Gender symmetry’ in domestic violence: a substantive and methodological review, Violence against women, 2002, Special Issue.

Lawrence, S. (2002) Research Findings That Can Inform Policies on Marriage and Child Well-Being. National Center for Children in Poverty, Domestic Violence and Welfare Policy.

Pillemer, K & Finkelhor, D,(1988) The Prevalence of Elder Abuse: A Random Sample Survey. The Gerontologist, 28, 51.

Rennison, C M. (2003) Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief: Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, U.S. Dep’t of Just., NCJ 197838, Retrieved on 17 Dec 2010 from the Dep’t of Justice website: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/ipv01.pdf

Tanaka, P (1997) Men and Women Define Domestic Violence Differently retrieved on 17 Dec 2010 from the Patrice Tanaka and Company website: http://home.cybergrrl.com/dv/orgs/wworkspr.html

Tjaden, P & Thoennes, N. (2000) Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, U.S. Dep’t of Just., NCJ 183781, Retrieved on 17 Dec 2010 from the US Dep’t of Justice website: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/183781.htm

U.S. Admin. on Aging (2003) National Ombudsman Reporting System Data Tables.

Wasik, John F,(Mar/Apr 2000) The Fleecing of America’s Elderly, Consumers Digest.

Worden AP & Carlson BE (2005) Attitudes and Beliefs about Domestic Violence: results of a Public Opinion Survey: II. Beliefs about Causes. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Oct 2005, 10, 1219 – 43

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