Causes and Consequences of Domestic Abuse

What are Causes of Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence can begin to occur at any time and many relationships possess underlying domestic violence issues and the individuals do not even realize it. One partner may feel the need to control or dominate the other, sometimes even subconsciously or unknowingly.

Perpetrators often times feel a need to control because of their own insecurities, low self-esteem, jealousy, difficulties in anger management, or feelings of inferiority.

This need to control manifests into visible behavior of emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Abusers often learned their behavior from their past and patterns in their childhood, family, or other cultural influences.

If an individual was exposed to violence as a child, they are more likely to repeat the same behaviors as an adult. This is because as an impressionable child, they were taught to believe that violence is a reasonable way to resolve conflict. Boys who witness inappropriate behavior directed towards females as a child are more likely to abuse women when they grow up. Girls who are exposed to domestic violence during childhood are more likely to be abused in their relationships later in life.

Alcohol and other cognitive impairing substances normally exacerbate violent behavior. An individual who is intoxicated or high is unable to control their violent impulses or tendencies.

 

The Statistics are Alarming

1 in 4 women are at risk of becoming victims of domestic abuse throughout their life. 1.3 mil. women experience domestic violence at the hands of their mate each year. 85 percent of all domestic violence that is reported is perpetrated against women.

Women are not the only victims. A 2010 Center for Disease Control study reported 40 percent of the victims of serious physical domestic abuse are male. According to one study, 63 percent of males and 15 percent of women were armed with a lethal weapon in a fight with their loved one.

Each year, over 3 million children witness domestic abuse. A study from 2005 reported that minors exposed to domestic abuse in the home were more likely to develop health issues or were constantly falling ill. In addition, children who either witness or were victims themselves of domestic abuse may develop severe emotional, developmental, behavioral, or even academic problems. As children, they are unable to cope with the abuse and tend to withdraw and develop low self-esteem, suicidal tendencies, commit crimes or even continue the pattern of abuse with relationships they have in the future.

 

What Are the Consequences?

Emotional/Mental: Survivors of Domestic Violence struggle with a multitude of ailments, including: depression, sleeping problems, anxiety disorders, lack of self-esteem or inability to trust people, abandonment and rejection issues, irritability or anger disorders, declining emotional and physical health, inability to focus on important matters like work and responsibilities, unhealthy relationships with family, children and friends. Oftentimes victims turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope. On top of everything else, the victim of domestic violence is usually unable to afford the proper mental health assistance such as counseling or therapy.

Financial: Domestic violence costs the American society more than $37 billion dollars a year. Because of this serious epidemic, Americans pay for law enforcement involvement, legal work, medical and mental health treatment, and lost productivity at companies.

Custody and Visitation: In addition, once an individual is convicted of domestic violence there are serious legal ramifications in both criminal and family law. In a family law case, the judge must follow special rules to decide custody of the children. Usually, the judge cannot give custody or support to the person who has been found to be a perpetrator of domestic violence and this also includes pleas of nolo contendere. Fam. Code §3044; Fam. Code §4320(m).

Family Code §3044 states that: ”Upon a finding by the court that a party seeking custody of a child has perpetrated domestic violence against the other party seeking custody of the child or against the child or the child’s siblings within the previous five years, there is a rebuttable presumption that an award of sole or joint physical or legal custody of a child to a person who has perpetrated domestic violence is detrimental to the best interest of the child, pursuant to Section 3011. This presumption may only be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence.”

Additionally, Family Code§4320(m) states that: “The criminal conviction of an abusive partner shall be considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support award in accordance with Section 4324.5 or 4325.”

 

Are There Exceptions? If the individual is able to rebut the presumption, the Court has discretion to award the domestic violence perpetrator support or custody. In these circumstances, the Court will consider whether:

  • It is in the best interest for the child
  • The person has:
    • Completed a 52-week batterer’s program
    • Not committed any other domestic violence
  • The person has obeyed court orders to:
    • Complete an alcohol or drug abuse program or a parenting class
    • Follow all terms of probation or parole or a protective or restraining order
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