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Abuse on Women and Children

Reason 1: Afraid to Report

One of the reasons why abuse on women and children is rampant is the fact that the victims are afraid of reporting their experiences to the relevant authorities. Hamilton explains that the fear to report is usually based on two things (6). The first is that they would be labeled as victims, and the second is that the abuser, who is often someone they care deeply for, will get into trouble. Additionally, it is important to note that law enforcement has on numerous occasions also been accused of harassing the victims (Whiting, p. 11). Such cases and examples make women and children fear talking about their abuse with the relevant authorities although children might report the issue to an older person that they trust. Other types of abuse on both women and children are also hard to prosecute in a court of law, therefore, the fear to report is associated with the long court process that might not even be successful.

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It is critical to point out that many children would rather not report any form of abuse to a person they trust due to the fact that they are afraid of the repercussions of such accusations. Hamilton confirms that due to their age, some parents or guardians usually find it hard to believe the children (p. 7). This, coupled with the fact that social workers have been highlighted as not believing children in the system who have accused adults of abuse, makes a bad precedent for reporting. Regardless of the reasons, one can argue that the first way of lowering cases of abuse among women and children is reporting. The low levels of reporting also affect policy development as laws are often passed based on available data.

Solution

In the event that a victim of abuse is afraid to report, a family or close friend can report the abuse on their behalf. Any form of abuse, whether physical or emotional, can be recounted to law enforcement agents for the abuser. There are various reasons why one can be prompted to account to the police an abuse case. Often, the victim is not able to report as an abused woman or children do not have the opportunity to get out of the house because of strict measures enforced by the abuser. Secondly, the abused is afraid to record the case due to expected repercussions. Arguably, accounting to the police for abuse on someone should ideally be done with their consent. This is important for the mental health of the victim. It is often hard for loved ones to see a family member abused yet they refuse or are afraid to report. However, as Bermea et al. observe, this can cause mental health complications in the victim (1000). Even though no permission is legally required for one to report an abuse case, it is recommended that the victim be informed unless he or she is considered not to be in the right frame of mind.

Often, social workers can be contacted in the event that the abuse is on a child, regardless of whether the child is in the system or not. In the event that the person reporting does not trust the police, they can approach the area’s child protection offices and report to a social worker. It is prudent that the victims understand that there are laws and policies that protect them from such harm.

Reason 2: Nowhere to Go

Shelter and safe spaces are critical when thinking about relocating an abuse victim. Whiting also adds that one of the reasons why abused women and children tolerate the abuser is the fact that they do not have anywhere else to go (p. 11). Davis and Love argue that the most abused people are vulnerable either through the lack of financial power or flailing health (p. 255). In the instances that finances are an issue, a woman would choose to remain with her abuser as she feels trapped. The lack of access to a safe place to stay can also be coupled by fear of being a burden to other people. Indeed, those who are abused have relatives and friends but as Davis and Love observe, many believe that they will become an extra expense to other family members if they decided to leave (p. 256). In addition, the victims normally feel like their abuser will follow them to their relatives’ and friends’ homes.

It is important to note that children often also do not have anywhere safe to go as they are usually either at home with their parents when the abuse happens or living with a guardian paired through the foster system. Consequently, such children will often prefer to be anywhere else but home or the shelter. Davis and Love explain that the feeling of not being safe contributes significantly to the Stockholm syndrome where the abused believes that the perpetrator is truly caring for them (p. 256). In such cases, the victim thinks that the violent person loves them and genuinely prefer staying in the abusive relationship. It is often recommended that the abused be removed from the premises where the violence takes place immediately in order to avoid further mental anguish.

Solution

A viable solution for the lack of a place to go can be resolved through building of more safe houses for victims of abuse. It is important that these safe houses be gender sensitive as many of the abused individuals usually fear the opposite gender, especially if they have been victims for a long time. It is critical to note that many of the mistreated women have children who they also move with when they are taken to a women’s shelter. Since these shelters are limited, they are temporary and the women and their children have to find alternatives within a short time. It can be argued that the limited spaces availed in the shelters affect the victims’ desire to move from their home (albeit it being the place where the abuse happens) into the safe house.

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Currently, safe houses have been built by the government, non-governmental organizations and well-wishers. Debatably, however, it is upon the government to protect these women and children, thus, they should be able to build more safe houses. Indeed, even though they are temporary, safe houses should also consider the ability of a victim to reconnect with the outside world on an individual basis. There are some abused women who only need the courage to report and leave their abuser. On the other hand, there are some who need financial assistance and even mental health assessments and treatments before they are released to the outside world. More safe houses would ensure that all abuse victims have a place to go and get the professional help that they need without the worry of being asked to leave.

Reason 3: Fear of Being Judged

The fear of being judged by others has also forced victims to stay with their abuser. Bermea et al. explain that victims are often discriminated against as people do not understand why they stayed in an abusive relationship (p.988). Many people in the society do not feel they would tolerate a violent partner. However, many of those who judge also do not think about how these women feel about the whole situation. Either they do not have the financial support they need to move out, they are emotional involved in the relationship, or they believe that their partner will change. In fact, Hamilton confirms that a significant number of women who have left abusive relationships look back and wonder why they stayed (p. 7). This goes to show that the victim is often not in the right frame of mind to leave the toxic relationship.

Issues of stigma are also common when victims are reintegrated into the society. In highly cultural societies, the discrimination is based on the fact that an abused person is believed to have embarrassed her family. Such cultures do not permit women to discuss their marital issues, including abuse, with anyone as it is viewed as a taboo. Bermea et al. confirm that because of these cultural or traditional biases, Spanish and black American women are the most insulted in the US (p. 988). The fear of stigma stops abuse victims from reporting or even leaving their abuser. The idea that a victim will always be perceived as such for life is a part of the stigma. Both abusers and victims use this notion to inflict more pain for the former and stay for the latter.

Solution

A solution to the fear of being judged and stigmatized is counselling and group sessions. Murray and Crowe argue that individual counselling aims at making the person come to terms with what has happened to them (p. 169). In these sessions, the professional tries to make the victim feel comfortable and understand that they did not deserve to be abused. The scholars advise that all abuse victims get individual counselling before partaking in group sessions. An advantage of individual therapy is that the counsellor can also get to understand the victim better. This means they can improve their therapy plan to get good results. Since individual therapy is done immediately after a woman detaches herself from her abuser, it is critical that it starts slowly. If the victim has children, or if the children have been abused, it is also important that they have individual sessions first. Later, the whole family can have therapy sessions as a unit.

The abused woman can join the group sessions once the counsellor feels she is ready. The group sessions encourage the victims to tell other participants their story. This is critical in healing as it helps the victims understand that they are not alone. Also, the sessions give the abused courage to face other people and tell them what happened. Murray and Crowe argue that group sessions are vital in reintegrating the abused women into society as the groups are dynamic and made of victims who are at different stages of their healing journey (216). Therefore, a new member will be able to meet with other participants, victims who have stayed in a safe house for some time, abused women who have just moved out of the safe houses and women who have been reintegrated back into society.

Works Cited

  1. Bermea, M. Autumn, et al. “Mental and Active Preparation: Examining Variations in Women’s Processes of Preparing to Leave Abusive Relationships.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, vol. 35, no. 3-4, 2017, pp. 988–1011.
  2. Davis, L. Jenny, and Tony P. Love. “Women Who Stay: A Morality Work Perspective.” Social Problems, vol. 65, no. 2, 2018, pp. 251–265.
  3. Hamilton, Ashley. Understanding the Experiences of Women Who Stay in Abusive Relationships. Dissertation, University of Regina, 2017. UOR, 2017.
  4. Murray, E. Christine, and Allison Crowe. Overcoming the Stigma of Intimate Partner Abuse. Taylor & Francis, 2016.
  5. Whiting, B. Jason. Eight Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships. Faculty Publications, Brigham Young University, 2016.

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