Family and domestic violence (FDV) is any behavior that is aggressive, threatening, dominating, or designed to make a person feel terrified and uncomfortable at home. FDV is a severe problem that affects people’s health, welfare, and social lives (Meyer & Frost, 2019). It frequently manifests itself in various ways, including striking, kicking, threatening loved ones, verbal abuse, or sexual harassment. The prevalence of FDV is much higher than any of us would like to accept or could ever imagine. For instance, according to the Australian bureau of statistics, about a quarter of Australian families experience domestic violence that can lead to detrimental effects (Australian bureau of statistics, 2018). People with disability are more prone to be victims of violence and to be subjected to it for more extended periods (Grant, 2017). This paper will look at the various factors surrounding FDV while focusing on children, young people, and people with disability as vulnerable groups.
Role of gender inequality in FDV
Inequality between the genders significantly contributes to family and domestic violence (González & Rodríguez, 2020). In Australia, family violence against females is regarded as a gendered issue for various reasons, which will be outlined in this article section. Moreover, persons with disabilities endure just as much of a gender gap regarding domestic abuse as those without disabilities. Women living with disability tend to be FDV victims, both more frequently and more severely than men with disability (Philips & Vandenbroek, 2014). As a result, the likelihood of experiencing domestic violence is influenced by how gender is organized within society. This occurrence is not because men are inherently superior to women in strength or aggression, nor is it because women are characteristically subordinate to men. Instead, it is because more immense social injustices place more significant barriers on women, preventing them from equal treatment as men (González & Rodríguez, 2020). This keeps the cycle of domestic violence against women going.
One of the social injustices is gender stereotypes. Unfortunately, cultural or societal norms remain a staple of any society, so stereotypes like these are hard to eradicate. Most people assume that men are more inclined to be aggressive, assertive, and domineering in their relationships. Because of this generalization, people would assume that males have the inherent right to make choices for women, regulate their actions, and justify violence against them. Sociocultural factors can also lead to gender-based FDV. One such instance is that which discourages boys and men from expressing their feelings and instead encourages them to express themselves via anger and aggressiveness. As a result, women are undeservedly affected by men’s aggressive displays of emotion (González & Rodríguez, 2020).
Risk factors of FDV
Having a lower level of education, being jobless, living in poverty, and being young are all risk factors that increase one’s likelihood of suffering domestic abuse (Rees, 2019). People with disabilities are more likely to have lower levels of education and fewer work opportunities than the general population. This fact further increases the likelihood that they may be victims of domestic violence. Studies conducted in Australia and throughout the world reveal the unfair exclusion of persons with disabilities from education and career opportunities (Rees, 2019). People living with disability are less likely to be gainfully employed or to have completed postsecondary education. Because of this, they lack a source of income resulting in poor living conditions and hence vulnerability to abuse. Women with disabilities face a double layer of prejudice since they have a lower workforce participation rate than everyone else.
Research on women with disabilities shows that being economically excluded increases the likelihood of domestic violence. Women with disabilities who have less income experience domestic violence than other women with disabilities who are earning (Rees, 2019). Research had also revealed that people with disabilities had a considerably greater probability of being subjected to psychological and sexual abuse when they were children and adolescents. This further increases the likelihood that they will be future domestic violence victims (Howard, 2015). Furthermore, children and young people who have witnessed or lived in violent homes during childhood are at a higher risk of experiencing or perpetrating domestic abuse than adults.
Prevalence of FDV
Thirty percent of women worldwide report experiencing physical or sexual abuse from a partner at least once in their lifetimes. Approximately one in four Australian women have experienced emotional abuse by a partner, and one in five have experienced physical violence since they were 15 years (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2021). Roughly ten women in Australia end up in hospital daily for being assaulted by a current or past partner. Every week, a woman is murdered by her partner while engaging in domestic fights (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2021).
According to statistics taken in Australia regarding FDV on people with disability, the prevalence of violence against them is higher than among the general population. Incidents of physical, mental, and financial abuse within the household and sexual assault by intimate partners or strangers are substantially more common among people with disabilities. 67% of young people with disabilities above age 15 report having experienced at least one of the acts of violence listed above (Philips & Vandenbroek, 2014). This shows that a young woman with a disability has double the chance of being sexually assaulted as a young woman without a disability.
Impact of family and domestic violence
Victims of domestic violence almost often suffer extreme distress, endure pain, suffer mental illness, and even succumb to their injuries. One impact of FDV is increased health issues of the victims (Orr et al., 2022). Head injuries and other physical trauma, as well as neurological symptoms like seizures, can result from a tense or violent home environment. Also, STIs, unintended pregnancies, and mental health disorders, including depression, are all examples of the health impacts of FDV. People living with disability are prone to suffer more severe health consequences due to domestic abuse. These individuals are likely to report that domestic abuse has triggered PTSD, depression, or anxiety attacks. FDV can have a detrimental effect on these people’s capacity to manage their major physical disability. This can lead to them developing secondary disorders, which are severely disabling (Orr et al., 2022).
Toxic stress, common in homes where there is domestic violence, can have long-lasting effects on the brain development of children in such homes (Al Majali & Alsrehan, 2019). This might lead to poor attendance, concentration, and performance in schools. With the constant failing of examinations, children are bound to suffer mentally welcome feelings of unworthiness. Young people could also have a pessimistic view of life, which might influence their decisions about significant life events like starting a family. Moreover, people have been reported to succumb from injuries acquired during domestic violence. These deaths could be suicidal or homicidal; nevertheless, they impact the lives of other family members. Some individuals also never recover from the loss of a loved one (Orr, 2020). All the more reason to take precautions to protect children, teenagers, and people with disabilities from domestic abuse.
It is common knowledge that there is an urgent requirement on a global scale to step up efforts to prevent violence against children and persons with disabilities. Primary prevention involves stopping violence before it starts. It is better to avoid problems altogether rather than deal with their consequences later. This reason makes primary prevention the most strategic approach to ending violence against young people and people with disability. Some primary prevention measures include promoting gender equality by eliminating barriers to women’s and girls’ economic, social, and political empowerment (Kuskoff & Parsell, 2020).
Also, conducting seminars and counseling for children who have been victims or witnesses to violence can prove helpful in preventing FDV. This is because it will guide and prevent boys from becoming violent offenders and girls from becoming victims in the future. Another strategy is targeting specific factors contributing to violence against the helpless. One example is intervening cases of drug-addicted people who are likely to cause violence and harm children. Additionally, it is possible that repeated prosecution of abusers, which results in convictions, would discourage other offenders from committing acts of violence (Kuskoff & Parsell, 2020). Australia took steps to prevent domestic and family violence by implementing a 12- year National Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women and Children. (Australian Law Reform Commission, 2016). Because of this, Australia has assumed the role of leading the mission among high-income nations to resolve the FDV problem.
Family and domestic violence is a widespread problem that has to be addressed. This study has examined how FDV is a significant problem and how gender inequality plays a role in implementing it. In addition, several circumstances put children and individuals with disabilities at a higher risk of experiencing FDV. These risk factors have also been explained in the essay. As the paper demonstrates, the prevalence and impact of FDV on the vulnerable group identified is a primary concern, hence the need for intervention. Lastly, the Primary Preventive Framework of FDV is discussed as the most successful way to reduce violence against children, young people, and persons with disabilities.
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