Fight against Domestic and Sexual Violence -by Melissa Hill
Within its ambit, Domestic violence includes any kind of physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse from one’s partner or family member. It could be one isolated incident sometimes, but most often it is a behavioral pattern. It usually stems from the desire to exert excessive control over your partner. Similarly, sexual assault, which can take the form of rape, molestation, stalking, incest etc, is also used as a weapon to dominate and hurt the other person. With no consent being involved, a person is forced to make sexual contact in these cases.
Domestic and Sexual violence is prevalent among both heterosexual as well as same-sex relationships, and crosses racial, socio-economic and ethnic lines the world over. Although, in maximum number of cases women are the victims of such abusive behavior, but the statistics for men and children or young adults is not good either. In fact it is worse as men are not even recognized as victims and therefore excluded from help services, government funding and awareness and recognition. It’s high time we recognize the fact that males make up a substantial proportion of domestic and family violence victims.
Children or young adults are also adversely affected directly as well as indirectly. The statistics indicates that children who witness domestic or sexual abuse at home suffer a number of emotional and behavioral disturbances. This can make them active perpetrators or passive victims of violence later in life.
Lack of awareness takes its toll as many a times people don’t even realize the fact that they are being abused by their partner or a family member. This could also be because abusers don’t always resort to physical violence alone; using several other subtle forms like emotional, verbal, financial or educational abuse.
The social, economic and psychological costs of domestic and sexual violence are enormous. The victims may suffer isolation, decreased participation in regular day to day activities, inability to work, loss of wages, and several other health issues.
This calls for the implementation of certain effective measures by the government and each one of us in order to curb the growing number of such cases worldwide. The very first step in the right direction would be to ‘act’ and prevent it from happening in the first place. Governments can also include gender equality training programs and promote communication between students of the opposite sex at the school level itself. This way we can provide our children a much safer and healthier environment to grow up in and also change cultural gender norms which discriminate between the two sexes.
Policies need to be formulated to address discrimination against men, women and children and empower them to be more economically independent. Health sector workers should be properly educated and sensitized as they play an important role in the manner in which they deal with the victims of domestic and sexual abuse. And the most important thing is for people to come out in the open and discuss these issues, which are a menace to society and affects a very large number of people worldwide Such open conversations will also help reduce the unjustifiable stigma attached to the victims of domestic abuse.