Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Helping Victims of Domestic Abuse Essay

Domestic abuse has grown to be one of society’s most shameful scourges. Its victims who more often that not comprise of women, endure public humiliation meted out by their spouse, extreme jealousy, control over who they see and talk to, spousal financial control, sexual assault, emotional and mental manipulation and in most cases, physical violence. There are many ways by which domestic abuse is perpetrated by abusive spouses but very few of its victims are willing to admit to it or are even aware that they are indeed being abused. When nineteen-year old Vickii Coffey married her childhood sweetheart at age 19, she thought her wedding day was just the first day of the life of her dreams. Little did she know that the following eight years of her married life would be spent in and out of hospitals as a victim of domestic violence. After 8 years of enduring such abuse and fearing for her and her son’s safety, Vickii finally filed for divorce. Today, 13 years after her nightmarish marriage, Vikki is happily married and works as the executive director of Greenhouse, Chicago’s oldest and largest shelter for battered women and their children. (Barber) â€Å"†The question I get all the time is, ‘Why would a woman stay there and take something like that? What’s her problem? ‘† says Coffey who now counsels women on their options to violence. † (Barber) Medical Sociologist Dr. Jacquelyne Johnson Jackson from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N. C. , believes that many women, who stay and endure spousal abuse, have been â€Å"conditioned† to know their place as women often subservient to their fathers and other male members of the family(Barber). Some women however, stay because they do not know they are actually being abused. A newspaper article that appeared in Glasgow, Scotland’s Sunday Mail in January 23, 2005, details the experience of Julie Black, a 47-year old woman from Dumfries who nearly lost her life after being badly battered by her husband, David Hill for three hours (â€Å"It All Started with† 34). Hospital staff who tended to her counted up to 56 injuries on her body including a fractured skull and badly beaten eyes that puffed up so she could hardly see. Of her experience, Julie is quoted as saying: ‘He had to almost kill me before I realised I didn’t deserve to be treated that way. ‘I’m a fairly strong person. I’ve never thought of myself as a victim. But domestic violence creeps up on you so gradually you hardly notice†¦ ‘My friends and family were horrified. I was so ashamed of what was happening, I’d kept the abuse secret. Perhaps if I’d confided in someone, they could have talked sense into me and I’d have got out sooner. ‘ (â€Å"It All Started with† 34) It is normal for concerned friends to want to help people they suspect of being victims of abuse. While one’s first instinct would be to call the police or crisis agencies, sometimes the only thing they need to do is to just listen and be a friend. Here are a few guidelines (â€Å"How to help†) in how people should talking to a friend whom they suspect of being abused by her spouse: In preparing for the talk, concerned friends or family members must set aside some time to talk with her. They must make sure to pick a quiet place where the victim feels safe and comfortable. It is important to keep in mind that discussing such a serious and personal issue as abuse may not be easy at first. As the victim begins to talk, it is important that she feels her friend’s concern, as well as receive assurance that what she is going through is not â€Å"normal. † Victims of spousal abuse often feel that they deserve the abuse their partners do. They need to be re-assured that they are being understood and that the abuse is not their fault. It would be good for friends to let the victim know that they are worried for her and if any, her children’s safety. Victims constantly need to be reminded there are people who love and care for her who are ready to help the minute she asks. It is important that she doesn’t feel judged. Friends should be prepared to listen and simply be the victim’s friend. Let her talk at her own pace and in her own terms. Victims who feel comfortable in their friends’ presence will find it easier for to open up and just let the words flow. Shame and guilt are common among victims of abuse. Friends must be ready to reassure the victim that she is not alone in her situation and there are many people willing to help should she wish to ask for it. Abused women should never feel forced to do things she may not be ready to do as yet such as packing up and leaving her partner. While concerned friends may be tempted to tell the victim what to do, they must respect her space and decisions. If the victim does ask for advice, it is best to help her explore her options rather than give direct feedback. A â€Å"safety plan† she may follow should things get to be too difficult at home is always helpful. Whenever possible, concerned friends and family members are advised to read up on brochures and information regarding crisis centers and women’s support groups so that they may be able to give informed advice to the victim. It will probably be a good idea to offer to look up sources of help on her behalf. She may not want to right now but in the future, it may be good to have an idea of possible agencies that may be able to help her such as women’s crisis centers, psychiatrists or shelters. If after all is said and done and the victim still wishes to go back to her relationship, people must be able to respect her wishes and support her. It can be frustrating at times when after all the talking and crying is done, the victim may still decide to stay in an abusive relationship. It is very important to remember however that one cannot just â€Å"rescue† a friend. There are simply some things that take time and victims may need such time to come to terms with the reality of their situation before being able to concretely decide what to do. Works Cited Barber, Marchel’Le Renise. â€Å"Why Some Men Batter Women (and Why Some Women Take It): Domestic Violence Is America’s Most Common Crime. † Ebony Oct. 1990: 54+. Questia. 22 Oct. 2007 . â€Å"How to Help a Friend Who is Being Abused. † Violence Against Women. National Women’s Health information Center. 4women. gov. 21 Oct. 2007

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