Representing the county

Men’s alcohol abuse and shaky employment status rank among the most important precipitating factors in domestic violence against women, while ethnicity plays virtually no role, according to one of the most comprehensive studies to date of assailants and their victims. Alcohol abuse by male partners in general increases the risk of domestic violence by more than three times. The more men drink, the greater their likelihood of being physically abusive. However, that does not mean all abusers drink excessively or that all heavy drinkers abuse women. A less than high school education is another risk factor for male abusers. And economic class is another risk factor. Black women sustain much more violence because they are much poorer in general. The nationwide research which detailed the above risk factors, led by UCLA and USC physicians and published in December 1999 in “The New England Journal of Medicine,” also confirmed that women are at greater risk of being assaulted by former partners, underscoring women’s vulnerability after breakups. This greater risk after a breakup helps to explain why so many women are afraid to get out of an abusive relationship for fear they’ll be assaulted again. Victims have a tendency to blame themselves and focus on their own shortcomings each time they are assaulted. And, typically, batterers will reinforce this mistaken belief that it is the victim’s fault. But it is the personality and short-comings of the batterer, and not the victim, from which family violence stems. More than one in five women are at risk for injury from domestic violence during their lives, and nearly one in ten risk severe injury. And one-third of the murders of women in the United States are committed by a spouse or a partner. Violence is not an individual failing merely requiring one-on-one attention. It is an community problem crying out for community attention and intervention.

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