Sociological Implications for Women
The issue of domestic violence is a legitimate women's issue with major sociological implications directly related to women:
- Domestic violence can be seen as an extension of the broader patriarchal script that is so prevalent in our society.
- Most modern definitions of domestic violence include the notion of an individual using their abusive behavior to gain or maintain power and control over their intimate partner. This has parallels to the social-conflict theory. In the context of a heterosexual relationship, it is typically the male who possesses more resources and power than the female. Within this context, it is not surprising that the majority of victims are females and the majority of perpetrators are males. Unless there is a paradigm shift, and until women have equal access to resources within intimate relationships, the issue of domestic violence will continue to disporportionately affect women.
- There is much debate concerning the appropriate approach to the issue of domestic violence. Although women have gained protection from the law, such as the Violence Against Women Act, the fair and equal application of the law in real-life situations should be thoroughly scrutinized.
- Although victims of domestic violence have many resources available, the continued prevalence of domestic violence suggests that these resources are not appropriately meeting the needs of domestic violence victims, nor is current social policy adequate in alleviating the problem in general. Furthermore, stigma towards female victims and their lack of access to social resources perpetuates the helplessness that many domestic violence victims may feel about their situation.
- Although rates of domestic violence have decreased, it appears that domestic violence against both males and females has declined at similar rates. In addition, although females are abused at a much higher rate, intimate violence against males is actually reported to the police at a higher rate than intimate violence against women (http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/fvv.pdf). This suggests that, although laws are aimed at protecting women from domestic violence, men who are victimized actually have greater access to (or at least utilize more) the legal system to address incidences of domestic abuse. It also suggests that current policy, while relieving domestic violence overall, does little to directly address gender differences in victimization. In other words, although women are more susceptible to domestic violence, relief efforts are not effectively addressing the gender inequality that serves as a foundational aggravate for violence against women.
- Since children who are exposed to domestic violence are are at greater risk to grow up to repeat the cycle, whether it be a little girl who grows up to become a victim or a little boy who grows up to become a batterer, it is essential that we focus policy towards protecting children. For the sake of women, for the sake of children, for the sake of men, for the sake of humanity...let's stop the cycle.