Domestic Violence and its Repercussions on Families
The Article ‘Domestic Violence and its repercussions on families‘ by Shivangi Dubey elucidate the ill effects of domestic violence as it ruins families and the future of children. It may not be discriminatory in nature and occurs between people of different social classes, races, sexual orientations, and all age groups. Victims of domestic violence can be a man or a woman, but children are the most vulnerable victims. Parents and educational institutions rather whole society, should play a role in identifying such problems and give a better future to children who are victimized by domestic violence.
A Brief Introduction: Domestic Violence
‘Domestic violence’ is a controversial expression as when we talk about ‘home’ then we relate it with a feeling of safety and shelter. When a person earns, then the first thing he intends is to build his own home where he can feel safe and lead a dignified life without any threat. The threat of domestic violence is so grave in nature that a need felt an enactment of special legislation named the ‘Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005’.
It was clarified time and again by the Courts that a relationship between two persons is considered a “domestic relationship” if they live or lived together in a shared household, if they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or taken in adoption or if it also comprises of family members living staying together as a joint family. According to the National Research Council’s Panel, research was made on ‘Violence Against Women’, which recommended modifying our mindset regarding women’s rights (Crowell and Burgess, 1996).
The definition of ‘domestic relationship’ provides not only the relationship of marriage but also includes a relationship ‘like marriage’ as explained under Section 2(f) of Act of 2005. However, all live-in relationships will not amount to a ‘relationship like marriage’. In D Velusamy v. D Patchaimmal, AIR 2011 SC 479 -The Supreme Court has held that the following requirements (common law marriage requirements) must be fulfilled, and the parties must have lived together in a ‘shared household’ for their relationship to qualify as a “domestic relationship”. It elaborated and said that the couple should be adults, and they must be qualified to enter into a valid marriage, which means that all essential conditions of a valid marriage must be fulfilled.
In another case of Indra Sharma v. VKV Sharma, AIR 2006 SC 2522 – The Supreme Court has specified the following factors to be considered for determining, which includes duration and time period for which there is a relationship between the parties, shared household, financial arrangements, sexual relationship, children, etc. Thus, wives, mothers, daughters, daughters-in-law, and live-in partners, all are protected under the Act.
Even before the enactment of the Domestic Violence Act, there were remedies available under penal laws to deal with such issues of domestic violence. However, those provisions were not sufficient to deal with the issues of domestic violence. Certain instances that Courts have specifically interpreted as violence are not giving food to the aggrieved person, interference with a person’s ability to earn or it may be forcing a woman to leave her job, etc. amounts to all forms of economic abuse.
Forms of Domestic Violence
There are various forms of domestic violence which include- physical abuse, economic abuse, social abuse, verbal abuse, etc. “Physical abuse” consists of any act or conduct which causes bodily pain, harm, or danger to life, limb, or health or impairs the health or development of the aggrieved person. The use of criminal force or assault, etc., also amounts to physical abuse. For e .g. severe beating, causing injury with a weapon. “Sexual abuse” may be defined as conduct that is of a sexual nature, including abuses, humiliates, or violates the dignity of a woman (Davis, 1971). It comprises forced sexual intercourse, compelling to watch pornographic material, etc.
In Smt. Sapna Wd/O Nilesh Patel v. Pravin Ishwarbhai Patel & Others, Criminal Revision Application (REVN) NO. 64 OF 2015A marriage hall, earlier managed by the husband of a widow, is taken away from her by her in-laws and she is deprived of the only source of earnings available to her after the death of her husband. The Court held that it amounts to ‘economic abuse’ and is an act of domestic violence.
Victims of Domestic Violence
The victim of domestic violence can be a man, a woman, or maybe a child and it exists in almost all classes who are rich or poor, educated or illiterate or live in rural or urban areas, etc. We cannot have a stereotype that only a female is a victim of domestic violence, as even men are victims of domestic violence. A wife refusing to serve him food or asking him to move to a separate house or constantly disrespecting his parents are all forms of violence against men, which may not be physical in nature but mental violence (Dobash and Dobash, 1979).
Women try to resist the abusive behaviour of men by fighting back, it is called violence resistance, but still, they find it difficult due to a lack of proper support. The highest rates of partner violence are witnessed among the poor due to situational issues due to economic backwardness, the couples fight and find it difficult to cope with their financial issues.
Sociological theories play an important role in analyzing societal concerns and issues, which also helps us understand our role towards society. The concept of domestic violence and related theories evolved over a period of time, the most contemporary sociological thinkers were Beck, Giddens and Bauman, who had focused their attention on the relationship between men and women when they came up with the concept of symbolic violence. An eminent thinker, Walker developed a theory of social cycle where he determined various types of abuses that are being faced by victims of domestic violence.
According to her, sustained living under such miserable conditions makes the victim habitual to lead a helpless life. It has adverse effects not only on their lives but also on their mind and thought processes. Another researcher named Gondolf and Fisher found that most of the women who are in abusive relations show inclined behaviour toward seeking help however same could be very frustrating for them to seek help outside their family. Even shelter homes or counselling are not very helpful for them at times. Dutton made an argument that there are three forms of disorders related to the personality of a person that is evident in a wife assaulter.
Children are the most vulnerable group who are the biggest victims exposed to domestic violence and they are also the victims of physical abuse who are beaten by their parents due to frustration. Children witnessing domestic violence generally experience serious emotional risks as they have a disturbing childhood which leads to mental health issues (Gargour, 2014). They also face greater risk in managing their future relationships which may be with their friends, collogue, or spouses. Parents usually forget the impact of fights on their children and they don’t realize that it is difficult to cope with the side effects of domestic violence that they witness. Children get anxious and fearful after seeing fights and disturbances in their homes.
Children are the worst sufferers in matrimonial litigation and they are the aggrieved ones’ when a dispute occurs between their parents. Intending to minimize hardship to the children, this Act confers power on the Court whereby it may grant temporary custody of any child to the aggrieved person and it may also be granted to a person making an application on behalf of the aggrieved. The Court may direct arrangements for the visit to such child by the respondent are also specified in such orders. The Court also has the discretion to decide whether the grant of the visit is in the interests of the child or children or not, if found dissatisfied then the Magistrate may refuse to allow such a visit.
The different age group of children faces different challenges after witnessing domestic violence. Very young children or children who are in preschool who are very intimate with their parents start understanding things although they may not be able to express their resentment to the same they show certain behavioural patterns that are worth worrying about which include bed-wetting, weeping at night or in dreams, constant crying or very aggressive behaviour. When the problems become grave then they also show signs of separation anxiety or shivering, they feel nervous in a group or reluctant to meet new people.
Another age group is school-going children who are very sensitive to domestic abuse as they understand almost everything but have no say in any abuse they witness. They may show various signs of behavioural disorders which include but are not limited to stammering, stage fear, group pressure, they avoid making friends and, usually having poor academic records, they may often complaining of headaches or feeling irritated almost all the time. They may show various behaviours such as bunking school, they may fall into the wrong peer group, they are sensitive towards many things, and they may fall prey to drugs or alcoholism. Either they bully children in school or they get bullied themselves due to abnormal behaviour. Girls are more sensitive and they show withdrawal symptoms which may also affect them at a later stage of their life. They may be depressed and reluctant to follow any advice or accept any relationship.
Not only in India but in other countries as well children face similar kinds of problems more than fifteen million children in the USA and England are badly affected by the menace of domestic violence in their homes (Blackstone, 1979). Such children face high risks and they usually have abusive relationships whereby they act in a similar way to their spouses. For instance- ‘A’ a boy 15 years old sees his mother being abused regularly by his father and she is being insulted by him time and again. There is a high chance that he would behave the same way with his partner and would abuse. Children who face such economic, physical, and verbal abuse at their home, are at high risk and they face major health issues as adults they complain about migraine, obesity, and heart-related issues, and they have poor self-confidence.
The role that we can play in helping children, who are being victimized, is that we can help them to feel safe. We may ask them to share their experience and counsel them accordingly, protect them from an abusive relationship and, help them feel protected. Tell them about the importance of a healthy relationship. Talk to them about healthy relationships, tell them what it is exactly and their importance, and counsel them to make them realize that healthy relationship makes a better world. Discuss various feelings such as being happy, excited, loved, cared for, etc. We may help them by being a reliable support system for them along with the parent, school counsellors, a therapist and other such trusted adults who can provide ongoing support. Counsellors play a major role in supporting children against domestic violence and abuse. It is also important that we must provide professional help to children who are facing violence at home; cognitive behavioural therapy may also be used where counsellors may ask questions to analyze their mental and physical health related to anxiety.
Factors That led to Domestic Violence
Factors that led to domestic violence include male dominating society, a male always being given a higher status in society, and females always being considered at a lower status. Anger issues and lack of tolerance for each other amongst spouses are other factors that lead to problems and disputes among married couples. We may also say that alcoholism and drug substance use are some of the other reasons that cause disturbances in personal relationships. Reliefs are available in India against domestic violence where the Court can direct the respondent to pay monetary relief to the aggrieved person and may direct to pay expenses incurred and losses suffered by the aggrieved person or the child due to the domestic violence.
I would like to conclude on this topic by mentioning that the occurrence of domestic violence cases is very common and not only destroys the life of two people, but it destroys the whole family. It hampers one’s personal growth and professional life as well. We always fail to realize that domestic violence ruins the lives of children who have no fault at all, but they are the biggest victims of this issue. To deal with it not only parents but educational institutions must also put efforts into giving the proper teachings to children by making them understand that we should have tolerance towards others and that men/ women have equal standings and none can dominate the other.