Come to think of domestic violence and you usually come across cases where it’s the women who are battered most in the United States. A look at the statistics would better justify the preceding sentence. If there were nearly 4 in 10 males who suffered domestic abuse at the hands of their current or former partner, then it was about 6 in 10 females who became victims of either physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. All the more, it’s quite terrifying to learn that nearly about 325,000 women in their pregnancy are stalked by their partners.
Ask further and you come to learn from a study conducted on gender-specific differences in domestic violence cases that if it were men as assassins in 80% of cases (where the assassinated female was either a stranger, nonintimate acquaintance, or undetermined relationship), this percentage was only 60% in case of women.
It was only in 1994 that an act (Violence Against Women Act) was passed and that later became a United States federal law. Now, with all those statistics in front of us, the bigger problem as it would be interesting to note and which needs utmost attention is that there are several cases of domestic violence that go unreported. In other words, while the reported cases (47% — which is less than half) of domestic violence against women represent only a small part of the problem, it’s the unreported domestic abuse cases that could result in homicides — the bigger problem.
The definition of domestic violence is not limited to an act of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, but rather, as Washington state’s definition dictates us, domestic violence equates to an act, or fear of an act, by one family member, or person living in that household, against another family member, household member or intimate partner.
So, let’s understand as to why a case of domestic violence in any form goes unreported and what should you be doing when you notice such a case.
Reasons why domestic violence cases go unreported.
Identification of the offender’s intention is often not easy
While the visible forms of domestic violence such as thrashing or punching can easily be recognized and reported, it’s the more subtle forms — those that you can call emotional abuse — and which often puts you in a quandary. When such a state exists where emotional abuse takes the better out of you, you tend to lose your self-esteem and the confidence to speak up.
Some examples of such emotional abuse can be — letting you down in front of others or in isolation, showing envy towards people whom you might love or care for, refusing to support you financially or threatening of dire consequences if you don’t give money, prevents you from working, asking for forced sex or manipulating to enter into sexual relationship, compels you to get drugged, and threatening to hurt your family member.
The concern for privacy is too high.
If the offender is someone with whom you share the same roof and are linked to each other through a social custom. In the National Crime Victimization survey, it was observed that victims who are in a legal or social relationship or both are less likely to report the incidence of domestic violence than those who are strangers to each other. And, this is largely because you don’t want your case to become public. You might also keep mum because of the financial or physical safety of your children.
The leniency of police makes you keep things under wrap
Scholars make a point and which is also true to a very large extent that police personnel often consider the incidences of domestic violence as that of a non-serious nature and so are less likely to pursue a particular case. Therefore, if a victim anticipates that her case is going to receive a lenient response and there is no chance of an arrest of the offender or the offender will get out of prison on bail, she will less likely report the case.
There’s a fear of reprisal.
It’s often the fear of retaliation that may make the victim not report the case to the police. If you are a victim, you might fear that the offender will cause you or your loved ones more hurt as a result of an arrest and after getting out of prison. You might also be under the fear that nobody will believe you and your true story, because whatever has happened has happened behind the closed doors and the offender is well-connected with most members in a society, well-known and influential. You fear that you might lose the custody of your child and for that you alone are responsible. You might also fear ‘physical or emotional insecurity’ when you will have got aged. Last but not least, you might also have the feeling of financial insecurity, especially, if the offender is the primary bread-earner within your family and makes for a better income than you.
The aforementioned reasons should be reasons enough to make you do something about any domestic violence case, whether it’s you who is the victim or someone else known to you and who needs help. The resources for help and assistance are many and all you need to do is take a leap forward in the right direction.
We as attorneys at Whalley-Law in Tacoma city, Washington have resolved cases for a number of our clients when they were very acute cases such as domestic violence observed in case of couples who are separated by a physical, mental or emotional distance. If by any means, you feel unsafe, do not hesitate to seek an attorney to help protect you, your loved ones, and your interests.