Domestic violence also called family violence, or spousal violence, refers to a pattern of violent conducts by one partner against another within an intimate relationship, i.e. marriage, cohabitation, dating etc (Schrich, 2005). Domestic violence has numerous forms, which range from assault, sexual abuse, domineering, economic deprivation, intimidation, and emotional abuse among others. It is worth noting that domestic violence is not limited to physical violence alone; it can also be in the form of criminal coercion, harassment, illegal imprisonment etc. A conflict, on the other hand, refers to a situation in which the parties, involved in a disagreement, perceive a danger or threat to their well-being (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011). Conflict resolution strategies are of significant importance in dealing with conflicts. This paper presents a discussion of domestic violence, conflict, conflict resolution strategies and an analysis of the domestic violence case -FRANCES case story among others.
Introduction to Domestic Violence
Domestic violence remains one of the most persistent human rights` violations, which denies people their dignity, equality and self-esteem. It is a worldwide epidemic that continues to torture, kill and maim people physically, sexually, economically and psychologically (Schrich, 2005). Domestic violence takes place in all nations and cuts across all boundaries of age, education, ethnicity, religion, culture and income. No nation is free from domestic violence; the difference comes in the trends and patterns that exist in various countries. The family is a place where people ought to receive shelter, love and security. However, numerous evidences have shown that it also places the most radical forms of violence is committed against women and girls` safety (Schrich,2005). Research shows that domestic violence is committed by those who are in positions of intimacy, power and trust, such as husbands, fathers, boyfriends, sons, stepfathers, uncles etc. In the majority of cases, the violence within the domestic sphere is committed by men against women. Women violence has also been noted, but it accounts for a minute percentage of domestic violence (Schrich, 2005). Even though the majority of societies forbid domestic violence, it is a fact that the vice is certified under cultural and religious practices. In addition, the vice occurs inside the homes, where the vice is always overlooked due to the silence of the victims. Because of the intangible nature associated with psychological abuse, it is hard to define and report DV.
Definition of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is also called intimate partner violence, battering, spousal abuse and family violence. It is defined as any event of threatening violence, behavior or abuse (physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, or financial) that occurs between adults who have been or are intimate partners or members of one family, irrespective of sexuality or gender (Schrich, 2005).
Classical Definition of Domestic Violence
In the classical context, the term domestic violence refers to the physical, emotional and sexual abuse that occurs between persons who at some point have had intimate relationships (Schrich, 2005). The perpetrator and the abused can be of either gender, and couples can be both homosexuals and heterosexuals. Reporting of a Domestic Violence Case
Victims of domestic violence are regularly trapped within a vicious cycle that prevents them from reporting to the police what they go through. While some women fear being threatened or subjected to further violence by their spouses in the future, others choose to remain silent about their situations due to fear of deprivation of basic needs (shelter, food, and clothing), especially for their children (Schrich, 2005). In addition, mixed feelings of powerlessness and guilt over the deterioration of the problems in their relationships, together with love they feel for their partners and hope that they will change, keep them trapped. Reporting domestic violence is, therefore, an act of courage on the part of the victim, or a friend/ family member of the person undergoing domestic violence. Irrespective of the form of violence, it is imperative that someone takes charge and speaks against it by reporting to the relevant authorities (Schrich, 2005). It is crucial to collect the correct information about the situation prior to reporting. In case one is a friend or neighbor to the victim, he/she should ensure that he/she has the correct address of the victim and all the details he/she can remember concerning how the incident happened. When sure that one has the entire information concerning the violence already, he/she should call 911 and report the incident to the police as clear as possible (Schrich, 2005). While waiting for the police to arrive, it is advisable to wait in a safe place in order to avoid any suspicion from the abuser`s side. If possible, domestic violence cases should be reported while they take place. The person reporting the case should also be ready to stand as a witness to the case. History of Domestic Violence
Before the mid-1800s, a majority of legal systems acknowledged the beating of wives as a legal exercise of the authority of a husband over his wife. For instance, in the United States, state laws supported the right of a man to discipline his wife throughout the 18th century. It was not until 1895 when women began divorcing their husbands due to domestic violence (Schrich, 2005). The political agitation that occurred in the 19th century resulted in changes in the legislation and in the popular opinion regarding domestic violence in the United States and United Kingdom. Tennessee became the initial state in America in 1850 to ban openly wife beating. Soon after, other states followed suit. The Matrimonial Causes Act enabled women within the UK in 1878 to seek out for separation from their abusive partners (Schrich, 2005). Towards the end of 1870, a majority of courts in America were equally opposed to the authority of husband to discipline their wives physically. Though arrests remained uncommon in the early 20th century, police intervention in domestic violence cases was common in the U.S. (Schrich, 2005). Contemporary consideration to domestic violence commenced within the 1970’s women’s movement, especially within women’s rights and feminism due to increased concerns of wife beating. The phrase, “domestic violence”, meaning violence within the home/ spouse violence, was first used in 1973 in a parliamentary address in the United Kingdom (Schrich, 2005). In 1974, Women’s Aid was established to provide emotional and practical support among other services to women, as well as children undergoing violence in England. The rise of men’s movement in the 1990s also enabled domestic violence against men to gain considerable attention. The adoption of Violence Against Women Act in 1994 promoted research into domestic violence, and led to the generation of financial and legal support for social services and law enforcement aimed at protecting women against battering (Schrich, 2005). Progressive Outline of Laws / Change of Laws for Domestic Violence in USA and Worldwide
Domestic violence is a vice that continues to take place in various world parts in diverse forms. Though it was legalized by some nations in the past, most countries have come out in the recent past to condemn and discourage domestic violence and all its forms via enacting laws against it. Statistics show that about 4.5 million cases of physical assaults of women by their intimate partners are reported yearly (Schrich, 2005). As a reaction to this persistent problem, in 1994 the United States Congress enacted the Violence Against Women Act, as a part of the Crime Bill to encourage the federal government’s participation in fighting domestic violence. Historically, the United States government has lacked the authority over numerous domestic violence crimes, as the jurisdiction was primarily in the hands of local and state authorities. The legislation identified the violence committed against women as an offense with far-reaching effects to children, families and society as a whole (Schrich, 2005). The Act provided funding to various states in the U.S. for prosecuting perpetrators of violence, including various other aids, considering the needs of immigrant women, as well as women of color. The funding was aimed at improving investigation and prosecution of domestic violence-related crimes that are committed against women, imposing compulsory restitution on convicts and permitting civil redress for the cases that are left unprosecuted by some prosecutors (Schrich, 2005).
As mentioned earlier, domestic violence is a serious problem that cuts across all nations of the world. The British government, for example, has revealed its plans of overhauling its domestic violence laws. Initially, women in the U.K who murdered their violent spouses could evade a life sentence, on condition that they killed because they feared
further serious violence (Schrich, 2005). Men, on the other hand, could not claim provocation as a defense from nagging or sexual jealousy. The overhaul plan follows complaints regarding a series of cases involving abusive men who have been offered comparatively light punishments, while women accused of murdering their violent spouses were offered life terms.
Analysis of Francesca’s Story
Francesca is a victim and survivor of domestic violence. She is writing to encourage victims like her to speak out against domestic violence so that the abuser can face the justice (Francesca’s Story, 2011). Her ex-husband started battering her while she was pregnant, and continued to batter her, together with her daughter after delivery. He repeatedly raped her, slammed her head on the wall and ruined her carrier. His violence was extended to their 3 year-old daughter whom he slapped on the face, which left her with a large mark on her face (Francesca’s Story, 2011). He even prevented the child from going to school until the mark disappeared. The man practically cut Francesca from the outside world (friends, family, job etc.). It is surprising that he was even beating the pets (Francesca’s Story, 2011).
This is indeed an extremely serious case of domestic violence, and I commend Francesca for coming out to share her story, as well as for her courage to decide to divorce the man finally, and report him to the authorities. One thing is clear from this story; the domestic violence abusers separate their victims from the outside world so that nobody can rescue them. This is evident in the Francesca’s story, when her husband ripped the phone cord from the wall when she tried to call 911 (Francesca’s Story, 2011). Another issue is that they use threats to scare their victims so that they fear reporting their ordeals to the authorities. Domestic violence is a global problem that needs everyone to join hands to solve; therefore, there should be public awareness on the issue to educate people about domestic violence, so as to encourage them to speak out against the vice. Origin of Conflict
For conflicts to take place, the parties involved must have conflicting ideas that are irreconcilable (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011). The unmet needs of the conflicting parties result into discontentment which, when left unresolved, erupts into a conflict. In world history, numerous events have occurred, and still continue to take place amongst various countries, which has led to loss of lives and major conflicts. For instance, the conflicts in the 1880s that led to the World War I that claimed a considerable number of lives (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011). It is worth noting that in every global catastrophe that has occurred in the past, the origin and nature of conflicts were complex and multidimensional. All conflicts have origins, whether they are justifiable or not. Since conflicts result in enormous damage of varying magnitude to humans, there is, therefore, no justification for conflicts (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011). Just like conflicts, domestic violence has a history, starting before the mid 1800s with a majority of legal systems acknowledging the beating of wives as a legal exercise of the authority of a husband over his wife.
These are the first or primary parties to a conflict. They are directly involved in the conflict and greatly determine the outcome of the conflict (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011). Disputants are the people who oppose one another in the conflict. In domestic violence, the parties involved are the abuser and the victim. Secondary Parties
These people have indirect stake in a conflict’s outcome. Often, they sympathize with the primary parties of the conflict, though they are not direct enemies (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011). These are the third parties to a conflict. Note that they play intermediary roles such as dialogue facilitators and mediators among others, while others are merely bystanders. Secondary parties in domestic violence cases include neighbors, family members and friends etc, who should be very instrumental in reporting the cases to the police. Framework Models
Johan Galtung suggested a conflict model that entails symmetrical and asymmetrical conflicts (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011, p. 10). Conflict according to Galtung, is a triangle made of contradiction, attitude and behaviors at its vertices, as presented below:
The Contradiction here denotes the fundamental conflict situation which consists of the perceived or actual incompatibility of goals of the conflicting parties. Contradiction in symmetrical conflicts is defined by the parties involved, their interests, as well as the collision of interests among them (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011). In an asymmetrical conflict, contradiction is defined by the parties involved in the conflict, their association, as well as the conflict of interest within their relationship. Attitudes refer to how the various parties perceive or misperceive each other and themselves (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011). In violent conflicts, the attitude of parties tends to be influenced by hatred, fear, bitterness etc. Behavior is the last component of the model, and it denotes coercion or cooperation, suggesting of hostility or reconciliation. According to Galtung, all the three components should be present together in order for full conflict to take place (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011, p. 11).
The conflict escalation process is unpredictable and complicated because new, conflicting parties and issues can emerge, which can further complicate the circumstances (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011, p. 13). The same applies to de-escalation. The above model is a simple model where escalation phases advance along a normal distribution curve starting from the original variations, which are components of all social developments, via the appearance of a new contradiction, up through the polarization process where antagonist parties are created, leading to a manifestation of a conflict that results into a war (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011, p. 13). The model can be used by people to match proper conflict resolution strategies to theirs (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011, p. 13).
This model describes the narrowing and widening of political space, which signifies conflict escalation and de-escalation respectively (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011, p. 13). The narrowing and widening of political space signifies how various conflict resolution strategies become more or less suitable for resolving the conflict (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011, p. 13).
Withdrawal is meant for the avoidance of conflict, and it refers to low concern for one’s self-interests, as well as others` (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011).
Compromising refers to the balancing of the self-interests and the interests of others leading to a compromise (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011).
Problem-solving refers to the high concern for self and others and is the most recommended approach to conflict resolution (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011). In solving cases of domestic violence, withdrawal is the best approach that should be adopted by the abused, to avoid further violence. This can be done by separating from the abuser or escaping to a safe place.
Principle of De-Individuation/Both Parties Reducing Their Identities
De-Individuation refers to a psychological state in which people lose their sense of individuality, resulting in uncontrolled and anti-normative behavior. It occurs when individuals submerge in crowds, making them loose their self-awareness (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011).
Discussion of the Three Faces of Power
It is also called hard power, and it refers to the power of giving commands and orders (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011).
It is also called soft power and is associated with compromising and bargaining. It is the power that is used to encourage cooperation, and it is useful in managing conflicts peacefully (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011).
Integrative power refers to the power which is related to persuasion, as well as transformative lasting problem solving (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011). It operates on the idea that all the parties to a conflict can work out something beneficial to all of them together. A majority of conflict resolvers attempt to shift focus from the utilization of threat power towards the use of integrative and exchange power (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011). In my opinion, integrative power is the one that should be used in solving domestic violence cases, since both parties involved come up with something beneficial to all of them.
Symmetric vs. Asymmetric Conflicts
Symmetrical conflicts are conflicts that occur between relatively similar parties. Asymmetrical conflicts, on the other hand, are conflicts that take place between dissimilar parties, for instance, between the employer and employee, a government and a rebel group etc (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011). In asymmetrical conflicts, the misunderstanding does not arise from the issues that divide the parties, but from their relationships and structure (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011). Domestic violence cases are examples of symmetrical conflicts because it involves similar parties.
The Future of Domestic Violence
While success rates have been recorded in numerous prosecutions of domestic violence cases, a lot still needs to be done to ensure that future DV cases are prevented. One way to achieve this is by increasing public awareness with regards to domestic violence and its impacts to the society. People should be made aware about this vice and about what they can do to prevent it when they become victims of domestic violence. Prevention can also be achieved through education to change the deep-seated attitudes of people in the society, especially those who think that domestic violence should be accepted under certain situations. Victims, who fear reporting cases of domestic violence because they feel their spouses will attack them in the future, should be encouraged to do so, because there are laws, aimed at protecting domestic violence victims throughout and following the court process. Such laws can be reinforced to encourage more victims to come out and report similar cases.
Conflict Dynamics & Conflict Resolution Model
A new model of conflict dynamic and resolution that became popular in the 90s suggested that conflict formations arise from social change, which leads to a process of conflict transformation (violent/ non-violent), and then further results in additional social change wherein marginalized groups come together to express their interests and confront the existing power`s structures and norms (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011).
As evident in the above diagram (p. 26.), there is the development from a peaceful social change to conflict formation, violent conflict, conflict transformation and then back to social change. The sequence can also avoid conflict by going from conflict formation and conflict transformation to social change (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011). It can also start from conflict formation, violent conflicts, and then go back to the creation of new conflicts.
Actors & Approaches to Peace building
The actors include the grassroots leaders, the middle-level leaders and the top leaders. Peacebuilding approaches at the grassroots, middle and top level include local peace commissions, workshops (problem-solving) and high-level negotiations respectively (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011).
The above influential model relates third side roles in conflict resolution to escalation and de-escalation stages of con%uFB02icts (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2011, p. 28). Third side roles aimed at preventing escalation and destructive violence include;
Domestic violence continues to be a serious issue with far-reaching consequences that take place in all nations, and it cuts across all boundaries. While it was legal in some countries in the past for men to batter women as a form of discipline, it is commendable how a majority of nations have risen up to oppose the vice by enacting various laws that punish perpetrators of domestic violence. It is important to note that punishing abusers to deter the crime is a good idea, but for the vice to be totally eradicated, the underlying causes of domestic violence should be adequately addressed. It is a societal problem that requires cooperation across every discipline in the society to solve. It is up to every one of us to personally take responsibility of the victims of abusers by reporting such cases to the relevant authorities for suitable action to be taken against the perpetrators.