Friday, April 3, 2009

Domestic Violence - How to End It?

Seems with recent media exposure of domestic violence, in particular the Chris Brown beating of Rihana, this issue is staying in the news. In fact, I don't know why it is not reported more frequently. Keira Knightley recently acted in a harsh video about the issue.

This is not something we just see on the movie screens. So many of us have been victims of or witnesses to many forms of domestic violence. Here are some startling statistics for you.

It is common:
Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.

In 8 out of 10 rape cases, the victim knows the perpetrator. Of people who report sexual violence, 64% of women and 16% of men were raped, physically assaulted, or stalked by an intimate partner. This includes a current or former spouse, cohabitating partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, or date.

It's fatal:
In the year 2000, 1247 women and 440 men were murdered by an intimate partner in the United States – compared to 1357 men and 1600 women in 1976 and around 1300 women in 1993.

For rape:
  • 13% of adult women had been victims of completed rape during their lifetime
  • 22% of rape victims were assaulted by someone they had never seen before or did not know well.
  • 9% of victims were raped by husbands or ex-husbands.
  • 11% were raped by fathers or stepfathers.
  • 10% were raped by boyfriends or ex-boyfriends.
  • 16% were raped by other relatives.
  • 29% were raped by other non-relatives, such as friends and neighbors.

It affects all ethnic/national groups:
Approximately 40% of Black women report coercive contact of a sexual nature by age 18. In a study of African-American sexual assault survivors, only 17% reported the assault to police.

For Asian American women, in a Bay Area research, 81.1% reported experiencing at least one form of intimate partner violence (domination/controlling/psychological, physical, and/or sexual abuse as categorized by the researchers) in the past year.

It affects all ages:
Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.

According to the best available estimates, between 1 and 2 million Americans age 65 or older have been injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depended for protection.

As startling as the statistics are and universal the problem, domestic violence persists. How is this possible is up for much investigation. It it institutions including religions groups that promote gender control, or society that has yet to be outraged by it, or individuals who cannot break out of their own "cages"? Possibly it's all of the above.

My brother-in-law, who happens to run the only program in the nation specifically addressing the perpetrators, mostly male, said to me,
"It doesn't matter your race, age, class or even education. You can be smart with all the money in the world and still be a domestic violence victim. So much of it is also the mental prisons women keep themselves in." This is well exemplified in a footage above of a beating on the streets of Viet Nam captured by an on-looker. As the voice over states, "Even in the 21st century, women have not found equality. Women endure beatings because they don't know a way out and think they are protecting their family."

Your thoughts?

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