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Social Work and 'The Cycle of Domestic Violence'

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 1

Domestic violence has been a consistent problem in many households. There are numerous reports everyday of someone who is being abused, whether it is physically or mentally. Spousal abuse, or an abusive relationship of any type between couples, is extremely problematic. Although the violence can go either way in the relationship, more often than not the case is of the woman being abused by the man. Different people have a variety of ideas and beliefs about domestic violence, but the ideas used here will be from the specific article mentioned or from my own personal beliefs. In Highlight 15.2 of the Introduction to Social Work & Social Welfare textbook, "The Cycle of Domestic Violence…" is explained (Kirst-Ashman, 2007, p. 477).

In the relationship, domestic violence usually begins because the man has an extreme need to be in complete control of the woman. At the beginning, many women see this as him simply trying to show that he cares about her and he needs her. This soon progresses, though, from seemingly loving to a problem of losing personal autonomy. By making sure that the female has no contact with the outside world, including work, family, and friends, the male will do whatever he can to make her believe that she needs him to survive. With no support from anyone besides her partner, it is easy to understand why the woman will feel this way. "…The victim often comes to believe what the perpetrator is saying-to see herself as no good, stupid, and worthless, as a whore and a tramp," which to many can seem quite similar to being brainwashed (Kirst-Ashman, 2007, p. 477).

Domestic violence can usually be seen as an endless cycle, unless someone intentionally fights to stop it. According to Highlight 15.2, this cycle has three phases before starting back over at the beginning. The first stage is seen when tension starts to build up in the relationship. The male will start testing the female to see how well she can comply with his orders, often making a sort of game out of it. Often, he will tell her to do one thing and then, when she actually does it, he will change his instructions, making her seem like she did it wrong. The male will continue getting more and more controlling of the female, giving stricter and more complicated demands, and being even more annoyed at her when the littlest thing is not done in his way (Kirst-Ashman, 2007). The next phase in this cycle is when the actual physical abuse begins. Referred to as "The Explosion," the male partner will beat the woman because of some slight incident that caused him to be angry. In doing this, the abuser will often tell the female that he needed to teach her to obey him, that it only happened because she made him, and that it is completely her own fault and not his (Kirst-Ashman, 2007). At this tragic point in the relationship, many of us would agree that she needs to leave him because being abused is completely wrong and there are no excuses for it. However, the next phase, being the honeymoon, often makes the female want to stay in the relationship. Now, even though she is often emotionally distraught and frightened, the man will do things to try to make up for hurting her. By saying that he loves her and by doing nice things for her, she will feel that maybe he has changed and that he really is sorry for what he did. Also, many women at this point are afraid to live without him or are afraid of what he might do if they do, in fact, leave him. Since all seems well again, at least for the moment, the relationship lives on and thus, the cycle will begin all over again (Kirst-Ashman, 2007).

The main issue with an abusive relationship, besides the obvious, is that so many women who are victims continue to stay with the man who has put her through hell. The many reasons for women staying in such a horrible situation can "…include economic dependence, lack of self-confidence…[and] power, fear of the abuser, guilt about what they did wrong… fear of isolation… hope that things will somehow improve, and the fact they still feel they love their partners despite it all" (Kirst-Ashman, 2007, p. 477). Many of these reasons were a result of all the things that the man put the woman through. Of course, the physical bruises and injuries are there, but those outward signs are of no comparison to the hurt that the victim can be feeling inside. Her relationships with family and friends falter since he pulled her away from the outside world, leaving her completely unsupported and with no one to turn to. The female can end up in extreme emotional turmoil from all the mental abuse and name-calling, which she now probably believes to be true. All these things can be changed, however, with hard work and finding support. In order to get her to feel more independent, she needs to be empowered. By seeing a social worker, the woman can get empowerment and also basic strategies on how to survive life without the man whom she was so dependent on. She needs to be brave, confident, and strong to become self-reliable and break out of the domestic violence cycle. Social workers can do many things to help by bringing her strengths out and making her aware of them, by informing her about all the services and resources that are out there to help, and by simply offering her support through this rough transition (Kirst-Ashman, 2007).

There are many women in the world that can fall victim to abusive men and the trauma that these women face affect them in a variety of ways. It is absolutely horrible that people are subjected to this violence, but social workers and counseling can help tremendously. I believe that all women should be cherished and not controlled and should never have to go through an abusive relationship. The fact of the matter is, though, that domestic violence happens all the time. Just like many other things that can happen in the world are seen as only happening to others, people can say that it could never happen to them, but it has happened to millions of women for centuries. The key is to get through it and understand that you can walk away with confidence and be independent. Social workers deal with this issue plenty and, by empowering women, giving them the strength to go on, and letting them know that they can continue with life and be supported, people really can survive and break free from the cycle of domestic violence.

References

Kirst-Ashman, Karen K. (2007). Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA. Thomson Brooks/Cole Corporation.


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Comments

Feb 16, 2011 9:28pm
dreamaker
great article it needed to be written.
Thumbs up.
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