Intimate partner violence is important issue in which social and demographic characteristics determine its cause. Those are poverty, gender differences, substance use and male dominancy which were previously shown to affect intimate partner violence. On the other hand, sufferers deal with several mental health problems which result in negative consequences. This article mainly focuses on on (i) the causes of intimate partner violence and (ii) research done to investigate intimate partner violence and (iii) prevention strategies of such violence. Effect of media on this process was also discussed.
Intimate partner violence was described as a physical violence directed against woman by ex-husband or boyfriend which has disrupting effect on relationships. In addition, intimate partner violence often associated with sexual violence and psychological abuse. But, most of global studies consider intimate partner violence by focusing on its physical violence aspect. Indeed, both women and men create violence against their partners, but overall impact of this violence more detrimentally appeared to woman than men in terms of resulting negative outcomes. There are huge amount of data stating that between 30 to 54% of women in Western countries experience physical form of intimate partner violence. On the other hand, rather than dealing with the biological basis of a psychologic disease, intimate partner violence fully a product of its social context and is required to be analysed in several ways. Therefore, while a psychologic disease can be evaluated through the objective measures, evaluation of intimate partner violence poses a challenge. Although, various risk factors including the status of woman, gender norms and socioeconomic status was proposed before, most of the research analysed intimate partner violence on the context of interviews (Jewkes, 2002). This paper mainly focuses on (a) the causes of intimate partner violence and (b) research done to investigate intimate partner violence and (c) prevention strategies of such violence.
Causes of Intimate Partner Violence
The ecological model exists for understanding the violence in which it has association with the individual, relationship, community and societal factors. Some of the individual factors that leading to an increased man violence through his partner are young age, low level of education, heavy alcohol consumption and exposure to violence between parents. The relationship factors play role with the risk for intimate partner violence are relationships conflicts, male dominance and economic stress. On the other hand, some of the community and societal factors included social norms, poverty and low economic and social status of women. These factors consequently have impact on women’s physical and mental health by increasing their risk for several diseases and conditions (WHO, 1997).
In spite of being almost all socioeconomic groups, intimate partner violence is mainly affected by poverty and associated stress. In fact, poverty is a stress-triggering event in which men having poverty have fewer resources which reduces their stress. On the other hand, women with financial independency may be protected by violence, but this not in all settings. For instance, when only the woman is working at the house rather than a husband, this situation conveys additional risk. Therefore, economic inequality occurring between man and woman is important factor in the cause of the intimate partner violence (Jewkes, 2002). In addition, the link between poverty and violence was interceded through masculine identity in which males with poverty were felt as lack of success in their manhood. This result in stress and violence through woman. Considering economic inequality between wives and husband in the condition where husbands have lower status than their wives, the evident forms of inequality may differ. This could be either in educational and occupational status or employment differences which varies from different countries and poses risk in intimate partner violence. On the other hand, female empowerment such as high educational status decreases risk for intimate partner violence. It can be explained as the effect of education on social empowerment by means of social networks and self-confidence in the society (Jewkes, 2002).
A good social support was also shown to be as power for women. Since abusive men constantly limit movement and contacts of their partners, as a result, women become isolated. Social support in this condition may also be associated with increased violence through women but familial social support also indicates that women are valued. Finally, this increases self-esteem of women and help her during the violent experiences (Jewkes, 2002).
Another important contributor in the intimate partner violence is alcohol consumption that leading to interpersonal violence. Severe alcohol consumption in men and women is associated with the violence in intimate partnership. Since alcohol consumption result in impairment in cognition, reduced inhibitions, and increased anti-social behaviour, men may behave more violently when drunk (Jewkes, 2002).
Previous research demonstrated that the sons of women who are beaten showed more violent behaviour to their intimate partners. In addition, women who have violent childhood by parents are more likely to be abused by their partners in their adulthood. During childhood, while women may learn to tolerate violence, men are capable of learning to use it. Therefore, a good childhood is important in the cause of intimate partner violence (Jewkes, 2002). Although evidences showed that most abused women are not passive victims, the inaction of women may be the result of its behaviour in relate to protect herself and her children. (WHO, 1997).
Gender differences and roles affect the type of stress that perceived which contributes to intimate partner violence. For instance, while financial and work stress more likely to be occur in men whereas family stress more likely occur in women. As mentioned previously, heavy alcohol consumption also performed by more men than women. In addition, self-defence was supported significantly more frequent by women than men in dating violence. In sum, it is obvious that gender differences exist and somehow contribute intimate partner violence.
Research on Intimate Partner Violence
Ergöçmen et al., (2013) investigated the severity and frequency of physical violence from an intimate partner and their behaviour on help-seeking using quantitative data from the National Research on Domestic Violence Against Women in Turkey. Among the women respondents who interviewed, 36% of them reported to ever have experienced physical violence in their lifetime. This was more prominent women who live in rural regions. Low education level, increased age and lower wealth are involved in the intimate partner violence in Turkey. Moreover, 35.2% of the women in this study experienced physical violence hide their status from their family members including sisters and mothers. Disclosing violence was significantly associated with wealth level of family, marital status, age and educational level of women. More importantly, more than half of the women in this study indicated that no one had ever helped them after the intimate partner violence. In addition, while most women fight back to the home to save his partnership as an informal strategy, this effort of a female partner did not impact on the violence that she encountered, and, in some cases, even physical violence is increased. Moreover, they also choose to leave home as another informal strategy. The minority of people (only 8.4%) however, choose to seek help from formal institutions and/or organizations such as polices, hospital or health facilities, municipalities and lawyers for asking legal issues. Their reason in the seeking help from these institutions were that women could not bear the violence any longer and they felt that their life is in danger.
Papadakaki et al., (2009) investigated factors associated with elevated levels of intimate partner violence prevalence and the role of self-esteem by applying a cross-sectional study. Their findings indicated that intimate partner violence is highly widespread in Greece and mostly appeared with emotional aggression. On the other hand, low level of self-esteem was connected with elevated physical violence and physical violence perpetration. Men who suffer from low self-esteem become threatened by failure and disappointments and this leading to a decrease in the self-worth related own feelings and increases aggression. Also, gender roles have masculine identity in Greek society in which masculinity is present as violence. Strong family ties, Christian religion was also speculated as to protect family unity, to the detriment of family problems. In addition, violent childhood experiences and history were strongly correlated in the distinct forms of intimate partner violence. Consequently, findings of authors revealed that low self-esteem and violent behaviours in childhood impact on the intimate partner violence.
Campbell, (2002), in their article, discussed health consequences of intimate partner violence. Woman who are abused treated in healthcare systems, but long term negative consequences of violent behaviour should be taken into account, albeit abuse is being ended. Women generally affected by poor health status and impairment in the life quality. Physically abused women are injured in the head, face, neck and so on. Risk factors included in those injuries by an intimate male partner are substance abuse, arrest, poor education and unemployment. In addition, this is not also limited to injuries. 40-60% of murders in North America associated with the partner’s violence and this numerical data might be higher in undeveloped countries. Furthermore, injuries create chronic and mental health problems that leading to alterations in neurophysiology. When mental health problems should be considered, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder appeared as substantial comorbid psychologic disease in the sufferers. More importantly, there is data showing intimate partner violence result in higher depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in comparison to occurring childhood sexual assault (Campbell, 2002). Moreover, depression initially triggered by intimate partner violence. Battered women also face with post-traumatic stress disorder in which severity of abuse, associated trauma and male dominance are risk factors in its development through intimate partner violence. Moreover, women having post-traumatic stress disorder might also use drugs and alcohols to reduce its negative psychological symptomology for avoidance and escape from negative events. This may involve the women into a vicious cycle that may harden alleviation of its negative psychological symptomologies. In addition, it is important to note that these events may result in suicidal risks. But of course, health consequences of violence are not limited to those disease. Anxiety, social dysfunction and insomnia also occurs which have stronger impact than psychological abuse. In addition, 70% of the cases of emotional distress in Nicaragua associated with the intimate partner violence. Apart from that, battered women apply to emergency departments of hospitals three times more frequent than non-battered women. This also leads to an increase in the use of medical services with the severity of physical assault. Therefore, elevated levels of costs should be considered in battered women in comparison to non-battered women.
Manganello, (2008), in their article, investigated dating violence among adolescents and which is highly prevalent problem in the U.S. The exposure of teens to mass media including television, movies, internet, video games and so on have influence on violence. Studies demonstrated that media use impact on attitudes and behaviour. Dating violence refers the physical aggression, sexual violence and psychological abuse. Physical dating violence among adolescents typically occurs for females (5% to 53%) and for males (4% to 39%). According to proposed conceptual model which investigated teen dating violence and incorporating mass media use, real-life violence from observed media affects dating violence behaviour. This idea is also parallel to social learning theory which supports the idea that people learn behaviour through observation real life or other behaviours seen in media. In sum, adolescents are at crucial stage in which physical, emotional and cognitive changes occur. Since teens have a greater likelihood to develop abusive relationships, when they exposed to violence through media, it may influence on their relationships.
Prevention Strategies in Intimate Partner Violence
There are several prevention strategies exist in intimate partner violence. For this health and other sectors should be in collaboration. For instance, creating a climate of non-tolerance of the partner violence may be one of the option. Health-care sectors may organize campaigns in which they inform women about their rights, and law. Governments may take action on the legislation on sex equality, sexual harassment, partner violence and sexual violence. Police and criminal justice system may monitor the legislation. Media may also involve raising awareness by creating educational dramas. Moreover, non-governmental organisations may help abused women. Another important action to prevent intimate partner violence was empowering the status of women in the society. This could be done by promoting sexual equality and give a chance to women in employment. To do this, companies may improve opportunities for women’s employment and elevate the level of women education. Media also may take actions such as giving positive role models to the females. Pornography that play role in objectification of women in the society should be reduced. Trainings should be done by clinicians and teachers to promote sexual equality. The use of violence may also be reduced through women. For instance, parental programs by media can be applied to in the reduction of physical punishment in child-care. Media also must reduce the content included violence through televisions and cinema. Changing community norms is also one of the prevention strategy. This should be done by events through media and cultural programs may also be applied. Finally, research and monitoring should be done to understand epidemiology of intimate partner violence so that we can find more solutions to intimate partner violence problem. For this, governmental funds may support institutes and universities. Risk factors such as alcohol consumption and poverty should also be minimized by legislative actions (Jewkes, 2002). Nation specific research also should be performed to understand cultural and other influencers that may promote intimate partner violence.
Intimate partner violence generally appeared as physical violence directed against women. Risk factors included poverty, low self-esteem, male dominancy, social support, gender differences, alcohol consumption, effect of media and so on. These factors play important role in the development of violence. On the other hand, it is important to note that those factors create mental health problems that was mostly associated with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, the consequences of mental problems (i.e high cost) on health-care system should also be considered.
To solve the intimate partner violence, one should focus on to reduce risk factors. More importantly, mass media have huge role both promoting and reducing violence. Therefore, the violence occurring in the television, internet, video games and so on must be regulated and restricted by the government. On the other hand, media can create informational programmes so that people can be informed about the negative consequences of violence and intimate partner violence should be reduced. Moreover, governmental and non-governmental organization also play a role in the prevention.
Considering Turkish population, most of the women was shown to have intimate partner violence (Ergöçmen et al., 2013). Of those, when everything is become worsen, they apply formal strategies. In addition, those women strongly hide the violence from their family. Since Turkish culture promotes social support, sharing violence within family members may assist to solve violence problem. Moreover, women rights should be protected by law and more realistic actions from the government should be taken into account.
Campbell, J. C. (2002). Health consequences of intimate partner violence. The Lancet, 359(9314), 1331–1336.
Ergöçmen, B. A., Yüksel-Kaptanoğlu, İ., & Jansen, H. A. F. M. (2013). Intimate partner violence and the relation between help-seeking behavior and the severity and frequency of physical violence among women in Turkey. Violence against Women, 19(9), 1151–1174.
Jewkes, R. (2002). Intimate partner violence: causes and prevention. The Lancet, 359(9315), 1423–1429.
Manganello, J. A. (2008). Teens, dating violence, and media use: A review of the literature and conceptual model for future research. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 9(1), 3–18.
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Papadakaki, M., Tzamalouka, G. S., Chatzifotiou, S., & Chliaoutakis, J. (2009). Seeking for risk factors of intimate partner violence (IPV) in a Greek national sample: The role of self-esteem. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24(5), 732–750.