WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Domestic violence is also termed as Intimate Partner Violence, Domestic Abuse, Dating
violence and Intimate Partner Abuse. It is the violence practiced by someone who resides in the victim’s domestic surroundings. It is the intentionally violent or aggressive behaviour shown within the vicinity of their home, involving the violent abuse of a spouse,a partner or even a group or community which results in injury, death, psychological and physical harm,
maldevelopment and deprivation. In most cases, there stands a power gap between the abuser or offender and the victim. It also includes assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force. It occurs in heterosexual as well as same-sex relationships.
Legally, Domestic Violence is described as “any criminal offense involving violence or physical harm or threat of violence or physical harm” committed by one family or household member against another. Other terms used across the states include “domestic assault,” “domestic battery,” “domestic abuse,” or “assault against a family or household member.” The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act of 2005 states the legal definition of Domestic violence
under section-3. The law is made applicable to every woman, irrespective of her marital status, age, ethnic or religious group. The act says that any act, conduct, omission or commission that harms or injures or has the potential to harm or injure will be considered as domestic violence by the law. Under Section 3 of the Domestic violence act 2005, the following are the constituents of Domestic Violence:
(a) Threats to Life, Health & Safety etc., whether Physical or Mental, incorporating Sexual
Abuse, Physical Abuse, Verbal and Emotional Abuse and Economic Abuse, or
(b) Harassment through any forms such as injuries, harms to the aggrieved person by coercing
her or any other person related to any unlawful demand for dowry or other property or valuable
(c) Otherwise injuring or causing harm, through Mental or Physical means to the Aggrieved
TYPES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Domestic violence can be categorised into mainly five categories of abuse namely: Physical,
Sexual, Mental/Emotional, Economic and Technological.
Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, kicking, punching along with any other type of violent behaviour inflicted on the victim which may end up causing injuries or even fatalities. It includes assault and criminal force.
Mental, Verbal or Emotional abuse includes inflicting harm or deflating the victim’s state of mind by criticizing, embarrassing, shaming, blaming or severe manipulation. This may end up in severe traumatic episodes that might be chronic. Mental abuse can also alter the victim’s health physically. Adult victims might suffer from long term health problems like heart disease, chronic pain, stress disorders, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, dissociation and arthritis.
These problems require immediate attention from professionals but most of the victims end up getting none.
Whereas Sexual Abuse occurs when the offender coerces or tries to coerce the victim into
forced sexual contact without any consent from the victim. Sexual Abuse does not neccessarily come from an uncontrollable or unrequited sex drive, but is regarded as a crime committed to gain deliberate control of the victim. It includes assault, rape, sodomy, attempted rape, serial rape, marital rape and incest.
Economic or Financial abuse occurs when the offender/ abuser gains, exploits, sabotages or
restricts the victim’s access to economic resources, which may ultimately demolish the victim’s will and the offender to gain coercive control from it. The law interpreted not giving food to the aggrieved person, interfering or restricting the victim’s ability to get a job as a form of Economic abuse.
Technological or Digital abuse includes the oppression of the victim by involving means of
technology which will result in stalking, coercing, impersonation and harassment. Offenders may install spy tech on victims’ gadgets to Isolate, punish and humiliate them. Online abuse, Image based abuse and Cyberstalking are the types of technology facilitated abuse.
IMPACT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ON SOCIETY, INDIVIDUALS AND VICTIMS
Domestic violence is increasing rapidly each day and one of the prime reasons for the growth of this menace is the pandemic. Since millions of people have been stripped off their jobs, left unemployed and restricted to one place, the mental frustration level has developed a growth spurt. With regard to the challenges that come along with the enforcement of the lockdown, women have felt additionally unsafe and in constant fear of being harassed at any point of the day. Being closed off between walls resulted in an undeniable increase in Domestic violence to the point of child abuse.
Domestic violence is one of the most appalling types of oppression one can endure. Surveys
show that not only women are subjected to domestic violence, men are also suffering from the same problem. Lack of legal and financial protection of transgenders and members of the LGBTQ community is what leaves them helpless when subjected to violence, making them face unique challenges. Working women in both rural and urban settings, both in the privileged and sub-merged sections of society are victims of domestic violence. Exposure to Domestic violence has varied impacts on individuals, victims and on the society as a whole. Victims of domestic violence are more likely to experience inconvenience raising their children and suffer family disruption. Children brought up in an environment that supports domestic violence are more likely to embrace and develop the same mentality like that of the oppressor. Some might grow up to be abusers while some are vulnerable to depression, anxiety, drug abuse and substance abuse disorders. Women tend to refrain from seeking help because of the constant fear of their children being the collateral damage.
Impact of domestic violence on children
- Anxiety or depression
- Sleep Paralysis
- Nightmares and flashbacks
- Physical complaints of stomach ache
- Wet beds
- Lowered sense of self worth
- Older children may indulge in alcohol or drug use, self harm by deliberate overdoses
- Aggression and trauma
According to the National Victims Centre, one woman is raped every minute and 30% of all
women murdered in India are murdered by the partners. Domestic violence can cause a number of long term and short term or immediate physical and mental health problems.
IMMEDIATE IMPACT: Some of the immediate impact of domestic violence results in physical
injuries including cuts, bruises, bite marks, concussions, broken bones, penetrative injuries such as knife wounds, organ damages due to penetration, loss of sight and hearing.
LONG TERM IMPACT: Domestic violence leads to a colossal amount of irreversible long term or chronic health issues like frequent migraines, permanent disfigurement, hypertension, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) which can be fatal. Along with these physical problems come a number of mental illnesses like Trauma, PTSD, Anxiety attacks, social dysfunction, alcohol or substance abuse, sleeping and eating disorders and also suicide.
Victims develop reproductive issues and might not be able to conceive in the future because of the damage subjected to their internal organs, which then results in multiple miscarriages.
THE MALE VICTIM PERSPECTIVE
Women all around the globe suffer from domestic violence but it is rarely ever recognised that both the sexes suffer from this significant public health issue. Domestic violence is usually thought of as a male to female violence along with the statistics depicting the suffering of women at the hands of men all over the world. The spectrum of male victim perspective is under explored and the visibility of male victims diminishes in front of women as victims of men perpetrated violence. Researchers fail to acknowledge same sex relationships and how men can abuse men and women can abuse someone of the same sex as theirs. Male victims of domestic violence have been neglected by legal and public policies. In eastern countries, this subject is not given enough attention because of the patriarchal beliefs that run through the minds of people.
Males are often victims of Intimate Partner Violence which results in psychological, physical and sexual abuse of an individual by the partner. Men also suffer from significant mental disorders when subjected to domestic violence. They receive little or no legal protection from the justice system.
LAWS RELATING TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
“when it comes to abuse, you believe there is no way out. There is always help. There always is a way out.-Rev. Donna Mulvey.
Today when we are living in times where the cases of domestic violence cases are rising at an unprecedented rate and there are new cases which arise out daily in households all across the nation. With every passing day it is that the number of victims are increasing and the number is not stopping even when there are laws which are specifically made and passed by the legislature for the same purpose. As of now the various laws which we have pertaining to this issue is mentioned below:
Indian Penal Code
Dowry Prohibition Act 1961
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005
Before the coming up of the sperate domestic violence act the domestic violence cases were dealt majorly through IPC and the dowry prohibition where dowry related harassment, assaults or deaths thereby making the realm of law which would guide such offences very narrow which could not accommodate aspects and the issues which the women faced in the modern-day India.
The law is such that it always revolves through various amendments and the many landmark judgements which were given by the distinguished jurists of our country which have helped in coping up with these cases but even today the law is not sufficient when it comes to this.