Domestic abuse of family members, particularly children, adults, and the elderly, should be considered a form of deviant behavior to which researchers give different explanations: biological, psychological, and socio-cultural. The sociological reasoning for domestic violence implies taking into account socio-political, socio-economic, legal, psychological, and socio-cultural factors. In the cases described in the current research paper, an elderly woman and a six-year-old girl endured several forms of domestic violence. Their names have been changed due to ethical considerations. Despite the common nature of triggers for committing domestic violence, it is believed that the consequences for different victim groups will vary.
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Ms. Jackson, a 63-year-old woman, who was living with her son during a divorce, has been involved in a family dispute with her son in their shared home in a suburban condominium. During the dispute, her son knocked her down, after which the woman received eight shots to the head, abdomen, and chest from a large-caliber weapon. The son took the woman to his car and drove her to the hospital. On the way, the police stopped him for driving with excessive speed.
The police informed the EMS, and the woman was taken to a local hospital as a victim of domestic violence. The patient went through an uncomplicated post-operative course of rehabilitation, which included consultations with social workers and lawyers about her case of domestic violence (Gurwitch et al., 2016). Six weeks later, she returned to the condominium and notified the prosecutor’s office that she refuses to testify against her son; consequently, the charges were dropped.
The current case is an example of long-term physical violence committed by a family member. As physical violence is integrative in nature, it also implies psychological (emotional) intimidation. The violence was the consequence of the son’s aggressive behavior, complicated by substance abuse. The long-term domestic violence led to psychological strain and a sense of fear, as the victim believed that neither society nor the law would protect her (Alejo, 2014).
The severity of injuries has increased over time, leading to chronic disease and mental problems. The fact that the woman refused to press charges, despite the assistance of social services and community support, proved that the woman has started to accept abusive actions towards her as appropriate (Alejo, 2014). The case vividly presents that the problem of diversifying the support and rehabilitation procedures for victims, and abusers as well, remains relevant. In situations where victims are offered help, they tend to decline it, due to extended emotional suppression leading to a feeling of despair and acceptance of the violence.
Ms. Williams, a 39-year-old woman, has been sentenced to prison after torturing her adopted daughter Gabrielle over a period of five months. The investigation proved that the woman would beat her daughter because of any slight fault. She frequently abandoned the girl; she would tie the girl’s hands to the bed and leave the home (Gurwitch et al., 2016). Moreover, cauterizing parts of the girl’s body with red-hot objects was one of the “educational” methods utilized by the abuser. In the course of the investigation, the expert found 12 scars on the girl’s body, the result of the burn wounds’ healing process.
The court found the woman guilty of child neglect. She was accused of abusing a minor in a helpless state, as well as neglecting the girl while the girl was dependent financially and in other ways on the perpetrator. Evidently, both physical and psychological forms of child abuse are present here, as well as child neglect. The described forms of child abuse caused severe physical and psychological consequences (Alejo, 2014). Psychological violence has slowed the emotional development of the child. The girl was not able to understand other people’s feelings and had difficulty in manifesting her own emotions. Reduced self-esteem led to the fact that the child considered herself stupid and ugly.
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The constant acts of humiliation resulted in the girl’s distorted perceptions of behavioral patterns and the subsequent wrong assessment of them (Alejo, 2014). The girl claimed that she deserved only a bad attitude. Both physical and psychological abuse may affect the process of building relationships with people in various contexts and social environments. Poor emotional development may result in a lack of confidence and trust in people.
One of the most complex effects is the child’s expectation of aggression directed at him or her; subsequently, the child begins to perceive violence as a normal occurrence. Further, the victims are inclined to employ aggression and violence themselves, when building relationships with their family. They are likely to turn to drugs, alcohol, and other substance abuse to give vent to their negative experiences and emotions.
The micro-sociological theory attributes the causes of domestic abuse to be in the personal qualities of family members, as well as in the mechanisms of conflict regulation gained from their previous experiences of interpersonal communication (Fisher & Lab, 2010). The macro-sociological theory states that cultural performances and the perception of abuse arising from the characteristics of the society are the triggers of violence at home. The structural features of the family organization, the absence of social and legal mechanisms to hold individuals back from abusing others, and social issues in the community (for instance, poverty, unemployment, and so on) result in the occurrence of abusive acts within the modern families.
Alejo, K. (2014). Long-term physical and mental health effects of domestic violence. Themis, 2(1), 82-97.
Fisher, B. S., & Lab, S. P. (2010). Encyclopedia of victimology and crime prevention. In K. Anderson & A. Turner (Eds.), Family and domestic violence, theories of (pp. 371-374). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Gurwitch, R. H., Messer, E.P., Masse, J., Olafson, E., Boat, B. W., & Putnam, F. W. (2016). Child–adult relationship enhancement (CARE): An evidence-informed program for children with a history of trauma and other behavioral challenges. Child Abuse & Neglect, 53, 138-145.