Isn’t domestic violence really just mutual abuse?
No. In fact, we believe that in each relationship where there is violence and controlling behavior, there is a pattern in which one person controls the other most of the time. People who are being abused may choose to use violence as a way to resist the control put over them by their abusers. Click here for more information on this topic. Emerge offers training for law enforcement officers throughout the nation. Click here for information on “Danger Assessment and Safety Planning” trainings and when the training is coming to your area.
Is domestic violence just physical violence?
No, the definition Emerge uses for domestic violence is forcing one’s partner to do something that they don’t want to do or preventing them from doing what they want to do. This definition includes physical violence and threats of violence, but it also includes psychological, mental, sexual, and economic abuse. All forms of abuse are addressed through Emerge’s batterer intervention groups. Click here for more information on types of abuse.
Do alcohol or other drugs cause domestic violence?
While alcohol and other drugs can certainly escalate abuse, neither cause batterers to abuse their partner. Substances lower inhibitions, and many abusers believe they have less responsibility while using substances. Under the influence, abusers may have fewer barriers on how abusive they will be, so the abuse tends to be more violent. (Click here for a research study on the connection between alcohol and violence in New Zealand.) A batterer, even when under the influence of substances, is the one who makes the decision to abuse their partner. Abusers may not remember choosing abusive actions while under the influence, but this does not mean they did not make the decision.
Does domestic violence happen more in low income and minority families?
Because so much domestic violence is never reported in high-income families, the reliability of such statistics should always be questioned. Domestic violence is a significant problem in relationships between people of all different races, nationalities, economic classes, and religions.
Is partner abuse a relatively new social problem?
Domestic violence has been a social issue throughout history. However, it has largely been ignored in laws and politics up until recent decades. The reason domestic violence was ignored has a lot to do with how women have been regarded as subservient to men. In that subservience, abuse and violence were seen as being an acceptable way to control the family.
Over the past few decades, domestic violence has been recognized as something that seriously harms both the person being abused and the children in the relationship. Also, as oppression is increasingly acknowledged throughout society, roles for men and women are being looked at through the lens of respect and equality rather than dominance. Laws have been created to provide safety and to work towards encouraging relationships that are free of abuse and violence. Click here for a brief list of myths about domestic violence.
If you have questions that are not answered in this section, please call the Emerge office at 617-547-9879.