Recovery For Abused Women

“Empowering the abused woman to recover with God's truth"

Domestic Violence and Rape By Kathryn Patricelli, MA

Domestic violence is a variety of abuse that occurs within the home, between family members or couples. The typical image of domestic violence involves an adult male perpetrator and a female victim, often his wife or girlfriend. However, there are also women perpetrators of domestic violence, and men are sometimes victims. Really, any violence done by any family or group member towards another could qualify.

Domestic violence may take many forms. Destruction of property, psychological and emotional abuse, and physical and sexual assault are all common forms. On the milder but still quite serious side, perpetrators of domestic violence may threaten victims or use verbal put downs and bad name, attempt to publically humiliate them, or play manipulative mind games. Abusers may be act very jealously, and work to control victims' access to family and friends or employment. The abuse may be extreme enough so that the victim loses a job because of absenteeism or decreased productivity while at work, or is prevented from working at all. In its most violent form, domestic violence will involve actual physical and sexual violence, kidnapping of children, torture or murder of pets, etc. Some victims are driven to suicide.

Rape is a crime involving forced sexual activity, usually including sexual penetration, against the will of the victim. Rape can occur in the context of ongoing domestic violence (where a partner sexually assaults another partner against that partner's will), but it may also be perpetrated by aquaintances (e.g., date rape) or by strangers.

Domestic violence and rape are serious societal problems disproportionately focused on women. According the US Department of Justice, there are approximately 572,000 violent victimizations of women by persons they are intimate with annually. Only 49,000 similar complaints are filed by men. These official numbers are likely to seriously under-estimate the actual number of assaults made on men, however, as it is known that men tend not to report such assaults due to shame and fear of ridicule.

Consequences of Domestic Violence and Rape

In addition to the financial and social adjustment difficulties that are often associated with removing one's self from an ongoing abuse situation, survivors of domestic violence or rape can develop emotional and psychological concerns that last well after the physical injuries have healed. Memories of victimization may be overwhelming, and return again and again, unbidden, to torture the victim long after actual victimization has passed. Victimization removes any illusion of safety that victims might have previously enjoyed. Self esteem and self-worth may have been damaged as well. Physical assaults may also have resulted in disfigurement or lingering chronic pain.

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