Prevention of Domestic Violence

What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is “a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors that adults or adolescents use against their current or former intimate partners to exert power and control.”  It is important to know that there is no single definition that fits all situations of domestic violence.  To the side, you will see the Power and Control Wheel.  This figure demonstrates the many different ways that abuse can occur.  
Power and Control Wheel

Power and Control Wheel

How Can We Prevent Domestic Violence?
As the wheel shows, there are different forms of domestic violence.  Recognizing signs of domestic violence is the first step in intervening in a situation of domestic violence.  However, prevention occurs before an intervention is necessary.  Prevention of domestic violence “refers to social support and education programs designed to stop family violence before it occurs in the first place.” In preventing violence against women,  we can stop serious mental, physical and sexual repercussions.
Stopping the Perpetuation of Violence: Changing the Role of the Media in Domestic Violence
The social learning theory has been used to explain why domestic violence occurs.  The social learning theory explains that people learn through observation.  While this theory might explain some incidences of domestic violence, no single theory explains all domestic violence.  The social learning theory comes into play in the media.  For example, “social scientists almost universally maintain that society’s acceptance, encouragement, and glorification of violence contributes to abuse in the family.  Such tolerance may have a spillover effect, raising the likelihood  of violence in the home.  Depiction of women in advertising and in video games, for example, often characterizes women as sex objects and as victims.”  And example of violence against women in the media is a Japanese-produced video game called Rapelay.  The aim of Rapelay is to stalk and rape a woman and her two daughters.  The image below is a still-shot from Rapelay and the female characters appear highly sexualized.  More disturbing images exist but
The female characters in the video game, Rapelay

The female characters in the video game, Rapelay

This ecological model breaks domestic violence down into multiple levels/influences.
  • The most outer level is called the macro level.  At the macro level, socioeconomic factors play the largest role in influencing domestic violence.  Many factors such as “exposure to violence, poverty and low socioeconomic status are considered risk factors.”  Unemployment is also considered a risk factor of violence against women.
  • The middle level is called the meso or mezzo level.  This level is also known as the community level.  These are neighborhoods that people live in and local institutions that a person participates in.
  • The inner-most level is called the micro level.  The micro level is also known as the relationship level and can include the individual.  At the relationship level, “adherence to rigid traditional gender roles and unhealthy relationships are considered risk factors.  Having peers that engage in violent behavior may normalize the use of violence against a partner.”  The micro level risk factors can also include witnessing abuse as a child or being abused as a child.
Identifying these risk factors is essential to ending violence against women.  These are not reasons for excusing occurrences of domestic violence.
Ecological Model of Domestic Violence

Ecological Model of Domestic Violence

Campaigns Preventing Domestic Violence
There are campaigns that exist that are aimed to prevent violence against women.  These campaigns focus on education in community-based settings, such as schools.  Some examples are:
  • For infants and preschoolers, ages (1-5), “education and social support for at-risk families.”  Look at the above risk factors for domestic violence.
  • For school aged and high school students, ages (6-17), “programs to educate young children about inappropriate touching; programs to educate junior high and high school students about violence-free intimate relationships.”
  • For college-aged adults, ages (17+), “programs on violence-free intimate relationships and rape.”
  • For adults, (all ages), “campaigns to promote awareness about family violence.”

These campaigns are wide-reaching and cost-efficient.  A national example of a prevention campaign is Teach Early, which educates young boys about the detriments of violence against women.

References for this blog post:

1. Teach Early.  Accessed on February 2, 2012 from:  http://www.womenaresafe.org/madv/teachearly.html

2. Barnett, Perrin and Perrin.  Family Violence across the lifespan.  3rd Edition.

3. Lockhart and Danis.  Domestic Violence: Intersectionality and Culturally Competent Practice.

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