Thangam Debbonaire’s extensive study of battering programmes in Ireland shows that there were 10,248 recorded incidents of domestic violence reported to the police in 2002, and only a minority of these resulted in a court conviction. The 2010 MEND (Men Ending Domestic Abuse) report holds that 15% of women and 6% of men in Ireland have experienced severe domestic violence. This is a conservative figure. In Britain, for example, the crime survey of 2005-2006 found that 1 in 20 reported crimes were classified as domestic violence, and 80% of people murdered because of domestic violence are female. In Ireland almost half of all the women killed between 1995 and 2004 were killed by a partner or ex-partner. We know that 140 women have died from domestic violence in Ireland between 1996 and 2007. Between 1967 and 1973, 17,500 women and children were killed by battering men in the U.S. One third of female homicide victims in the U.S. die from partner violence.
Historically the law did not interfere with family affairs so that spousal assault went unpunished. Even when physical abuse within the family became illegal, police were loath to interfere in what was considered a family matter. This tradition has largely persisted until the present day.
Physical abuse is cyclical insofar as it is passed down from one generation to another. Abuse may also be passed down through cultural practice. Though violent abuse varies from culture to culture and race to race, the core is always power and control, and physical behaviour is used to isolate and trap the victim, leaving her more vulnerable to increased violence. Fortunately, not all children who have witnessed physical abuse become abusers. I believe that emotional warmth and love from the primary caregiver is fundamental to the formation of children, who as adults will be loving caregivers. I have no doubt, that a mother can achieve this even in the most abusive circumstances, though it is impossible to fully shield them from the full consequences of the abuse.
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press
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Blogged to here 3 october 2015