Domestic violence is more than woman battering

A frantic call to 911 sends the police to a local home, responding to a report of domestic violence. They have been called to this house before; a couple married for seven years fights often, and the wife typically ends up in the emergency room but she vigorously opposes charges against her husband. She has a secret fear that if she does, he will kill her or hurt her children. Their five-year-old daughter made the call, frantic because daddy was hitting mommy with a chair and her baby brother was in the room. Police arrive at the scene to find mom with visible injuries, dad in the back yard smoking a cigarette, and the five-year-old in the corner of the living room, hovering over her baby brother’s carriage to protect him. This is domestic violence. Domestic violence is more than woman battering. It is a constellation of offenses and crimes that occur in the home and among people who are related or who have, or have had, intimate relationships. Domestic violence can include harassment, emotional and psychological abuse, threats, violation of court orders of protection and no-contact orders, assault/battery, sex offenses, stalking, burglary, theft, embezzlement, destruction of property, kidnapping, child abduction, child abuse and homicide. Many of these behaviors are precursors to more serious violence and impact the well being of not only the immediate victim but also of others in the home. In the last five to 10 years, a growing body of research has examined the effects of domestic violence on children and exposed the interrelated nature of domestic violence and child abuse. Among 30-60 percent of families where either child physical abuse or woman battering was identified, the other form of violence was also present. Further, battered women are at least twice as likely to abuse their children physically as are non-abused women. Children who live in violent homes are at risk for observing adult domestic violence, violence to their siblings, elder abuse, animal abuse or being abused themselves. They are also at high risk for being neglected. Each year, an estimated one million children are victims of child abuse and neglect in the United States, and approximately 1,100-2,000 children are murdered. It is estimated that between 3.3 and 10 million children witness domestic violence every year. Children who both witness domestic violence and are subject to abuse and neglect suffer the greatest long-term effects and are thought to be more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors. Courtesy of the American Prosecutors Research Institute

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