Domestic Violence & The Courtroom
Understanding The Problem... Knowing The Victim


No One Is Immune / Everyone Suffers

Domestic Violence knows no age, socioeconomic, religious, racial, gender or educational barriers. It is a myth that only the poor or uneducated are victims of domestic abuse. Most studies indicate that there is also a high incidence of spousal abuse in the more affluent neighborhoods. Although a poor victim has the terrible problem of not having resources available, the more affluent spouse may also be in an equally desperate trap due to social stigmas, greater economic pressures and the increased societal position and power that the partner may have at his or her disposal. A lesbian or gay victim may have even greater barriers if there is discrimination because of sexual orientation.

Everyone Suffers

It is devastating for children to witness verbal or physical abuse, or to see the aftermath: an injured parent, a destroyed home. Fear, anger, feelings of isolation, low self-esteem and loss of trust are all common in children who witness abuse. Learning disabilities and behavioral problems which may be present are likely to intensify as they get older. In households where women are abused by their partners, there is often a high incidence of child abuse by the abusive parent. It is also becoming increasingly apparent that children in violent homes are frequently victims of incest and, unfortunately, the legacy of abuse doesn't stop when the children leave home. Children develop behavior based on what they have experienced growing up. Children from violent homes are at high risk for becoming adult victims or abusers themselves.

Family and friends are indirect victims of abuse. The isolation and terror that victim lives with deprives those closest to him or her from meaningful and fulfilling relationships. Often the abuser will harm others close to the victim in an effort to hurt or control the victim. An abuser may harm children, other family members friends, pets, personal belongings and the family home.

Isolation keeps a victim trapped. Frequently, a batterer isolates the victim from the family socially, emotionally and geographically. The victim is frequently forbidden to see trusted friends and family, and is denied the opportunity to go to school or work outside the home. There is little or no access to or control over finances. in the midst of this terrible isolation, the abuser employs "brainwashing" tactics, and with no input to the contrary from anyone outside the relationship, there will be no way for the victim to test reality.

The abuser's "protector" behavior further isolates the victim from those persons and things that are important to his or her well-being. After a long period of isolation the victim may feel emotionally overwhelmed, terrified and confused. If the victim should enter into a new relationship, he or she tends to have an overwhelming fear of the abuser's threats of harm. The victim will also feel tremendous guilt over having put another person into danger. At the same time, the victim may question and struggle with issues of trust, not knowing if the new relationship is real or simply a repetition of the patterns previously established with the abuser.



    

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