17th of May 2020
Domestic Violence: How Can We Solve this Common Issue
Domestic violence is something that especially impacts women worldwide, however this study focuses on the culture and issue of domestic violence within the United States. According to statistics done by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women will experience intimate violence in her lifetime (NCADV 1). This study explores what can be done for this common issue through literature, a one-on-one interview, and what has previously been done through law and in the legislature. The topics reflected on this paper approach domestic violence, its lack of awareness, how with issues like these victims are often shuffled around in a system, and how education of the subject could very well prevent individuals from becoming abusive as well as alerting victims to red flags way sooner. It is my belief that if we educate on domestic violence early on, we can prevent its prevalence in our everyday society.
Domestic violence also known as intimate partner violence is defined by a pattern of behaviors used by an intimate partner to ensure power and or control over the other person in an intimate relationship. This is an issue that happens to one fourth of women in our population and it is still hardly talked about or educated upon (NCADV 1). As a domestic violence survivor, I understand that as a society we cannot sit around without finding ways to prevent this common reality to women residing in the United States. The fact is that there is no education in schools about domestic violence.
Data for this paper comes from the synthesis peer-reviewed research on the subject matter, a one-on-one interview with a witness to the issue, and the narrative of a survivor. To learn more about the issue of domestic violence and the conversation being held around domestic violence, I read and annotated on over 10 studies on the subject matter. A comprehensive search of articles revolving Domestic Violence, trauma centric approaches, and awareness education and it effects were sought out. As stated in a previous literature review this research was done by searching databases provided to me as an undergraduate student at the University of Denver. Google Scholar and the University of Denver library were also used as databases from the date of April 10th, 2020 to April 22nd, 2020. In order to make sure that the searches were about domestic violence and focused on what I needed to write this paper; Boolean operators were used. It was also ensured that all the studies and research referred to for this qualitative analysis were taken place in the United States. The one-on-one interview took place on May 13th at 5pm and an IRB consent form was made sure to be signed. The IRB consent form ensures that a safe space is secured for the interviewee and so that the interviewee feels protected knowing that information is only used for the purpose of the study.
In this qualitative analysis it is important to address bias. In this analysis two biases existed: participant bias and researcher bias. Participant bias could have existed because the interviewee knew me the researcher, however the interviewee did speak on his own experience and made sure that he was stating his truths and not what I wanted to hear. He does come from a marginalized background and his political beliefs are rather leftist so bias could reasonably stem from there as well. The researcher bias existed when I asked guide questions to the lead the conversation in a certain direction. For most of the interview however I tried to get his truths and opinions. Also, as a researcher and survivor of domestic violence I am driven by resentment sometimes on this issue and it can be hard to separate qualitative analysis and experiences I went through.
Settings and Research:
In order to complete the qualitative study, I needed to get direct and raw data in order to interpret and do my own analysis of the subject matter without the bias of so many other experts. The interview was done on a peer named Sergio Luna Gonzalez who had attended an elementary and high school in marginalized areas and gone on to university to now pursue a master’s in public policy. He worked for the Colorado State Capitol under a representative and was an RA acronym for Resident Assistant at the University of Denver. To start off the interview things were really relaxed over a zoom call and it seemed like he really felt in his home setting.
Education and Taboo Topics:
A common theme I found in my research and interview was how education is the best prevention. Sergio was very adamant about the way we need mandated education on issue like this starting as early as elementary school. His tone has discomfort when talking about how he had not received any education on the topic of Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault. The way he carried his word in this part of the interview was resentful towards a broken system which was clear he had felt failed him. He was repetitive about how awareness of domestic violence through education especially at a young age was the biggest solution in prevention to the issue. This was helpful to hear as it aligned with the ideas of Amy A. Ernst, Debra Houry, Todd G. Nick, and Steven J. Weiss in the journal article Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevalence in a First‐year Medical School Class. This journal article found that three hours of instruction on first year medical students increased the way they were able to detect domestic violence as healthcare professionals (Houry et al 65). As a domestic violence survivor this is a subject, I feel prevalent to my situation. I was 16 when my high school boyfriend at the time started physically abusing me. It was not till my first quarter of college I was able to leave the relationship that I learned the term domestic abuse, let alone the red flags, and terms like gas lighting and blame shifting which had been happening to me every day of the course of 2 years. Sergio and I both being Latino grew up in the same type of marginalized communities, with the same statistic of domestic violence prevalence. His anger was reflected when he said things in the interview such as, “Individuals of all race, color, income are not informed and to have never been taught at any capacity what gender violence is. Any signs of gender violence” were things I later came to recognize and resent as well. In his language and tone, I found familiarity to the same education that had failed me and statistically proven many other women.
Alytia A. Levendosky and Sandra A. Graham-Bermann both have a PhD in clinical psychology in their journal article Parenting in Battered Women: The Effects of Domestic Violence on Women and Their Children have spoken on how giving battered women resources and education has helped and prevented their children from growing up in toxic households (Levendosky and Graham-Bermann 176). When the mothers were given resources to understand their own trauma they were able to make sure that the trauma they experienced didn’t affect the way they raised their children but they did need the awareness and education to make sure they were not being impactful in a negative way (Levendosky and Graham-Bermann 180). Tying it back to the interview I conducted, the interviewee talked about how the cycle needed to be stopped and the best way to do this is through mandated education. This source especially shows what education has the power to in people’s individual lives. As a closing statement Sergio stated, “I think the one thing I’d like to say is as painful as it is and overwhelming as it can be to talk about this as a society, we need to press forward and ensure that this isn’t a stigmatized topic and that it’s something that we talk about openly, especially with younger children”. As one of the last things he said, his statement was strong, and it gave the rhetoric that as a society we cannot continue the way we have been. His eyes gleamed and setting had changed, so I realized Sergio was beckoning for change to destigmatize this taboo topic and add curriculum to our education system.
Cop Outs Systems Use:
Something systems often do in society is use levels of hierarchy so when it comes to solving actual issue each step of the ladder is a new obstacle or barrier. Sergio stated, “As an RA is at the University of Denver, I was in no way, shape or form required to inform or educate my residents to any capacity on sexual assault victims of it and how to properly ask for help”. After stating this Sergio with dismay states that at his capacity he was only given contact information of departments he could refer residents to. This follows the theme that many people in America are too often familiar with when their problems don’t get solved systemically, they keep getting passed off to different departments, different people even. Through his RA job it is evident that he was give structural accountability for certain situations and for others he would have to refer to colleagues. He has this huge critique for institutions that is shown in his language and facial gestures of dismay and sometimes even irritation.
This can be seen in the article done by Kathryn E. Suarez on “Teenage Dating Violence: The Need for Expanded Awareness and Legislation” a California Law Review. wide issue of teen dating violence. She talks about the need for reform in the hierarchical systems so that there can be more awareness in institutions, and specifically so people with roles like Sergio’s can have more resources (Suarez 423). Sergio was not trained to address victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault even though there is so much commonality in residential life of a college community. Sergio stated, “How many people are suffering from it? And we as a society, as a state, as an institution, have been ill informed and have no capacity to truly tackle this problem because we do not mandate or enforce or require or ask that any institution educate individuals with any capacity toward sexual assault”. His critique is on the system and I would argue that systemically society can keep avoiding these issues by in a sense passing the buck. They push people to seek one resource to then be sent off to another and then another, so it is easy to become discouraged and give up (Suarez 425). This idea that Sergio reinforces over and over again is how the system is broken and will pass on the narrative and ironically blame shift departments.
In conclusion the only way for people to learn and be aware about domestic abuse is to be educated on the subject matter. It has been clear through all my research that education on the subject matter is a solution to its prevalence. Even more so I would say especially in marginalized communities that are already so oppressed, domestic violence needs to be educated on at a young age. The only way to stop ignorance in any subject matter is to have education. Systemically as a society cop outs are no longer acceptable. Through synthesis peer-reviewed research on the subject matter, a one-on-one interview with a witness to the issue, and the narrative of a survivor the patterns are clear that education is a common idea as a solution and that cop-outs are no longer accepted by the general public.
Levendosky, A. A., & Graham-Bermann, S. A. (2001). Parenting in Battered Women: The Effects of Domestic Violence on Women and Their Children. Journal of Family Violence, 16(2), 171-192. doi:10.1023/a:1011111003373
Suarez, K. E. (1994). Teenage Dating Violence: The Need for Expanded Awareness and Legislation. California Law Review, 82(2), 423. doi:10.2307/3480981
“NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.” The Nation’s Leading
Grassroots Voice on Domestic Violence, ncadv.org/statistics.
Ernst, A. A., Houry, D., Nick, T. G., & Weiss, S. J. (1998). Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevalence in a First-year Medical School Class. Academic Emergency Medicine, 5(1), 64-68. doi:10.1111/j.1553-2712.1998.tb02577.x