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Domestic Violence: Health And Social Issue

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In recent years, particularly in the last decade, society has gradually become more aware of domestic violence cases in relationships and families. Society has started recognising the extent to which domestic violence impacts an individual’s mental and physical health and the overall impact it has on the well-being of a family. Domestic violence is a complex behavioural issue that may include physical acts of violence, emotional abuse and sexual abuse (Hegarty, Hindmarsh & Gilles, 2000). Worldwide, 30% of women report they have experienced some form of sexual or physical violence by a partner in a relationship at some point during their life (World Health Organisation (WHO), 2017). The conflict theory is related to social status, political power and economic wealth and when applied to family situations it is helpful in understanding why and how stability and instability develop within a family context (Hamon, 2016). The feminism theory refers to the observation of gender and how it relates to power within a social structure, it also includes race, nationality, race and sexual orientation (Ferber & Nelson, 2009). This paper will explore the topic of societies impact on individuals who have experienced domestic violence and how the conflict and feminism theories relate to this health issue.

Societies impact on domestic violence victims can be viewed as overall positive, with the awareness and support increasing as time moves forward. According to the World Health Organization, family and domestic violence are prominent public health and social problem which affects approximately one in three women globally (Coomber et al., 2019). In Australia, domestic violence affects one in six women and one in sixteen men (Coomber et al., 2019). Up until the Family Law Act 1975, spouses were unable to obtain a divorce from violence occurring in the marriage (Easteal, Young & Carline, 2018). When looking at domestic violence in China, women are primarily the individuals who experience abuse and almost 90% of violent attacks cases are from their husbands (Lancet, 2016). Domestic violence in China was also only accepted as grounds for divorce in 2001 but still remains a private and discrete matter with little police acknowledgement or protection (Lancet, 2016). By making divorce easier for family violence victims, it has been undoubtedly beneficial. There are many helplines and organisations for individuals experiencing domestic violence to contact such as 1800RESPECT, Lifeline, White Ribbon Australia, Reach Out Australia and Relationships Australia. By community, organisations and governments providing these services to domestic violence victims, it is an example of how proactive the Australian society is about preventing cases (Easteal, Young & Carline, 2018). Awareness among workplaces, schools and communities have also increased rapidly in the last fifteen years which has ultimately helped the movement of decreasing domestic violence (Easteal, Young & Carline, 2018). Communities and health providers previously did not realise the impacts family violence had on children and the extended family of the victim (Bancroft, Silverman & Ritchie, 2011). The effects of this abuse occurring on children are prominent, it may cause anxiety, depression, PTSD and behavioural issues if children witness incidents (Bancroft, Silverman & Ritchie, 2011). There may be a variety of effects on extended family depending on how much they are involved in the victim’s life, they may be required to financially support the victim post-separation and provide accommodation (Bancroft, Silverman & Ritchie, 2011). Not only will the extended family be affected financially but also emotionally, individuals may also experience stress and anxiety when trying to support a family member through an abusive situation.

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Secondly, conflict theory relates to domestic violence in Australia by affecting minority groups such as refugees, migrants and individuals with disabilities. Through much research, immigrant and refugee women have been identified as particularly at risk for domestic violence (Reese & Pease, 2007). Domestic violence continues to affect women with a disability by socially oppressing individuals with silence and isolation (May 2016). Social, economic, religious and cultural differences all play a role in the experiences and perceptions of refugee families (Reese & Pease, 2007). While some research has been conducted to document how Australian women perceive domestic violence initiatives and interventions, the impact on racial minority women has yet to be fully investigated. Racial minority women primarily from developing countries were discovered to have the highest prevalence of domestic abuse compared to Australian women (Bhuyan, Valmadrid, Panlaqui, Pendon & Juan, 2018). One of the first theorists to apply intersectionality to violence against women was Professor Kimberle Crenshaw (Bhuyan et al., 2018). Professor Crenshaw argued that domestic violence services traditionally designed for middle-class white women would be of limited use for women from culturally diverse backgrounds (Bhuyan et al., 2018). Crenshaw also suggests that the notion domestic violence affects all women equally is an idea embedded within a form of white privilege. While it is clear that women from various classes and ethnic groups can be victims of men’s violence, it can often be implied that violence against women is the exact same across class, cultural and ethnic groups (Rees & Pease, 2007). The Exploring Domestic and Family Violence in Refugee Communities organisation was part of the motion to not stigmatise the class and race of victims from violence (Rees & Pease, 2007). This strategy can be considered to be a false sense of unity among women and as a consequence, the experiences of women of colour and women from low-income households have been neglected in health services and support (Rees & Pease, 2007). Women are much more likely to be in both dangerous intimate relationships and dangerous social positions due to the environment they have been raised in or currently live in (Rees & Pease, 2007). Women who also have a disability also continue to experience violent situations by perpetrators thriving off the power, control and abuse (Mays, 2006). Depending on the level of disability the victim may contain, perpetrators of domestic violence may actually go un-documented due to the perpetrator often being the primary carer (Mays, 2006).

Thirdly, the feminist theory relates to domestic violence by primarily affecting women but also how men who experience domestic violence not having as many support options. Domestic violence against women perpetrated by men in a current or ex-relationship setting has been recognised as one of the most concerning public health issues in the world and is a major factor in relation to causes of injuries and mental illness among women and children (WHO, 2017). On average one woman a week is murdered by her current or ex-partner, and 1 in 3 women have experienced some level of violent abuse from a partner at some point in their life (Bryant & Bricknall, 2017). Both men and women are more likely to experience violence at the hands of men. Approximately 95% of victims from violence, regardless of gender, experience violence from a male perpetrator (Bryant & Bricknall, 2017). With the women’s movement in the 1960s causing more action and awareness, domestic violence began being viewed and constructed as a social and health issue (Dixon, 2014). It is long understood that gender inequality is a problem, yet evidence to link gender inequality and violence against women has rarely been discussed (Wall, 2014). A key goal in the prevention of violence against women is to achieve gender equality which would ultimately reduce gendered violence (Wall, 2014). When considering the term gender equality, it does not necessarily mean that women and men are exactly the same or that there should not be differences, the main objective is for both genders to have equal rights, responsibilities, opportunities and access to the same resources (Wall, 2014). Women often sustain more serious injuries compared to men when being assaulted by a man due to the biological factor of men generally being larger and stronger than women (Wall, 2014). The work of feminist advocates in raising awareness for partner violence and other violence against women has enabled the issue to be viewed as a prominent public health issue and aim for prevention of the problem (Wall, 2014). The other spectrum to this issue also considers how men are often overlooked by police and support services when experiencing domestic violence (Wall, 2014). For men experiencing violence from a female partner, individuals are often not heard or considered, and emotional support is not as often given compared with women (Wall, 2014).

In conclusion, it is evident domestic violence is considered a major public health issue within society. When factoring in societal effects, the conflict theory and the feminist theory, it is clear domestic violence is not only a health issue but also a social issue. Although society in recent years has a better understanding of domestic violence and how it affects individuals, there are still issues that need to be addressed in relation to minority groups and the conversation of gender equality. Domestic violence remains a complex behavioural issue that may include physical, emotional and sexual abuse primarily among women but also affects men. While society has come a long way in the way domestic violence is approached, it is still a concealed and hidden subject among various members of society. Improvements can still be made in society by including and considering minority groups from different ethnic backgrounds and individuals with disabilities.

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Domestic Violence: Health And Social Issue. (2021, August 19). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/domestic-violence-health-and-social-issue/
“Domestic Violence: Health And Social Issue.” Edubirdie, 19 Aug. 2021, edubirdie.com/examples/domestic-violence-health-and-social-issue/
Domestic Violence: Health And Social Issue. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/domestic-violence-health-and-social-issue/> [Accessed 30 Sept. 2022].
Domestic Violence: Health And Social Issue [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Aug 19 [cited 2022 Sept 30]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/domestic-violence-health-and-social-issue/
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