Domestic Violence Sexual Harassment

Domestic violence encompasses various forms of harm, including physical, sexual, psychological, or financial abuse, taking place within a family or at home involving current or former spouses or partners. It manifests as a recurring pattern of conduct employed by one individual to exert control or dominance over another in the context of an intimate or familial relationship.

  1. What constitutes domestic violence?

Domestic violence encompasses acts of physical, sexual, psychological, or financial violence occurring within a family or household involving current or former spouses or partners. It is a behavioral pattern wherein one person seeks to control or dominate another with whom they share or have shared an intimate or familial relationship.

Psychological abuse can manifest in various forms, such as intrusive attention, stalking, or coercive control. Coercive control involves actions aimed at subjugating or fostering dependence on the victim/survivor through threats, humiliation, intimidation, or other abusive tactics, with the intention of harming, punishing, intimidating, and isolating the victim/survivor from any support.

Financial abusers aim to hinder an individual's access to employment opportunities and financial resources.

The repercussions of domestic violence can extend to long-term physical, mental, and emotional health issues. In the most severe instances, violence against women can culminate in death, representing one of the most extreme forms of harassment that women may endure.

Sources: Istanbul Convention; United Unions' "Domestic Violence and Abuse: Negotiation Guide"; ILO report, 2018.

  1. Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): 

   -  Definition:  Intimate partner violence refers to the infliction of physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse.

   -  Scope:  It specifically focuses on harm within the context of intimate relationships, involving partners or spouses.

  1. Domestic Violence: 

   -  Definition:  Domestic violence encompasses the concept of intimate partner violence but extends beyond it. It includes partner violence while also incorporating other forms of abuse within the family setting.

   -  Scope:  In addition to partner or spouse violence, domestic violence acknowledges the possibility of child abuse, sibling abuse, and elder abuse within the family structure.

  1. Family Violence: 

   -  Definition:  Family violence is a broader term that encompasses both intimate partner violence and domestic violence. It recognizes violence occurring among family members.

   -  Scope:  Family violence includes intimate partner violence but goes even further by acknowledging violence involving any family member, whether it be between siblings, parents and children, or violence against elders within the family.

In summary, while intimate partner violence focuses specifically on harm within intimate relationships, domestic violence acknowledges a wider range of abuses within the family context. Family violence, as the broadest term, encompasses all forms of violence occurring among family members, inclusive of intimate partner violence and domestic violence. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for addressing and combating different forms of violence within the family and intimate relationship dynamics.

Source: ILO Brief Report on Domestic Violence and its Impact on the World of Work, 2020

The distinction between "victim" and "survivor of domestic violence" is context-dependent, with each term carrying distinct connotations. In legal and law enforcement settings, the term "victim" is commonly employed, reflecting the status of an individual who has experienced domestic violence. This terminology is often used during legal proceedings to characterize the person affected.

Conversely, outside formal legal contexts, individuals may prefer the term "domestic violence survivor." This preference stems from a desire to highlight an active, proactive, and constructive response to the experience of violence. In contrast to "victim," which may imply a sense of passive acceptance, "survivor" emphasizes strength, resilience, and the journey towards overcoming the challenges posed by domestic violence.

Recognizing the importance of individual agency and the diverse ways people navigate their experiences, the terminology used should align with the preferences of those seeking support. As people progress from being in the immediate aftermath of victimization to reclaiming agency and resilience, a combined term, such as "victim/survivor of domestic violence," has gained traction. This acknowledges the continuum of experiences and underscores the evolving nature of individuals' responses to domestic violence.

Source: A Handbook for Survivors of Violence, Aid Women, Words We Use. Women Against Abuse

  1. Who is the most likely victim/survivor of domestic violence? 

Anyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity, class, age, race, religion, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity, can be a victim/survivor or perpetrator of domestic violence. However, when considering intimate partner violence, there is substantial evidence indicating that the majority of victims are women, and the majority of perpetrators are men.

Globally, 35 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner or sexual violence by another person at some point in their lives. The majority of violence against women occurs within the context of intimate partnerships. Tragically, 137 women lose their lives every day due to violence inflicted by a partner or family member.

Domestic violence serves as a manifestation of gender-based violence, emphasizing the significance of understanding and addressing the power dynamics rooted in gender relations.

 What do we call people who seek help while in an abusive relationship or after a breakup? 

Individuals who seek help while in an abusive relationship or following a breakup are often referred to as survivors or victims of domestic violence. Seeking assistance is a courageous step towards breaking the cycle of abuse and reclaiming one's safety and well-being. Support for these individuals can come in various forms, including counseling, legal assistance, and access to resources that empower them to rebuild their lives. Recognizing the strength it takes to seek help is crucial in fostering a compassionate and effective response to those affected by domestic violence.

Domestic violence is predominantly considered an issue affecting women due to several factors, including the nature of the violence, societal norms, and historical power dynamics. In the context of physical and sexual violence, women are disproportionately affected, with statistics from the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 2013 revealing that 91.6% of victims of violent crimes in relation to spouses are women. This stark gender imbalance persists, with women experiencing violence from their partners at a rate approximately nine times higher than men. Additionally, women tend to suffer eight times more severe injuries from such incidents compared to men.

The roots of this gendered impact are complex. Male violence often stems from practical purposes or the expression of emotions, while female violence is typically reactive and rarely systematic, purposeful, or constant. Women may resort to physical violence when feeling cornered or desperate to prevent further abuse, and it is noteworthy that such instances are considered rare. Natalia Khodyreva, an expert in the field, underscores that women's use of violence tends to be situational and driven by self-defense rather than a pattern of domination.

Conversely, women may be more inclined to employ emotional and economic violence. For instance, economic control and systematic humiliation based on a husband's low earnings are methods some women use to assert dominance. It's important to note that women can also be physical aggressors, particularly concerning children. In certain family dynamics, there may be a power hierarchy where the man abuses power and resorts to violence, and women, in turn, might apply violence within the family structure, often targeting children.

The multifaceted nature of domestic violence underscores the importance of recognizing the various forms it can take and addressing the underlying power imbalances and societal norms that contribute to its prevalence.

The connection between domestic violence and the financial and social status of a family is complex and multifaceted. Contrary to a common misconception that associates domestic violence solely with dysfunctional families, research reveals a more nuanced reality. The belief that affluent and educated couples are immune to domestic violence is debunked by a study conducted by the Council of Women at Moscow State University. According to this research, 61.6% of disadvantaged families and 38.4% of well-off families experience domestic violence.

In families with lower incomes and a lower level of education, issues are often linked to alcoholism and the use of physical violence. On the other hand, in families with a high level of education but low incomes, economic and psychological violence tend to be more prevalent, involving sophisticated psychological manipulations, among other tactics. Domestic violence in high-income families is frequently characterized by physical and sexual forms of abuse.

It's crucial to recognize that the visibility of the problem varies across different types of families. Dysfunctional families may attract more attention because social workers or guardianship services may intervene due to concerns about child behavior. Additionally, instances of partner murders on domestic grounds are more prevalent in marginalized families, where a disturbing pattern involving alcohol-fueled arguments and violence often emerges. These tragic stories become publicized, documented with photographs, names, and personal narratives, drawing attention to the issue. However, the challenge lies in identifying and addressing domestic violence in more affluent or socially elevated families, where the subtleties of abuse may go unnoticed until they escalate to extreme levels of brutality or result in tragic outcomes such as murder. This underscores the importance of understanding and addressing domestic violence across all socio-economic strata.

The reasons behind domestic violence are complex and multifaceted, often rooted in societal misconceptions and deep-seated cultural attitudes. One prevalent and dangerous misconception is the belief that the victim's actions somehow provoked the abuser. This misguided perspective tends to ask the erroneous question of "why" the victim provoked the aggressor, shifting the focus away from the true cause—the aggressor's inclination towards aggression and the assertion of power over their partner.

This predisposition to violence is closely tied to an individual's upbringing and the familial patterns observed during their formative years. The attitudes prevalent in society, particularly within the immediate environment of a couple, significantly contribute to the likelihood of domestic violence. For instance, if there is a reluctance to discuss or seek help regarding violence within the woman's social circle, or if the use of force is not condemned by the man's social network, the risk of domestic violence increases. The problem is exacerbated by societal taboos surrounding discussions about domestic violence and the patriarchal nature of the culture, as reflected in traditional values such as "A man is the head of everything" or "Let a wife be afraid of her husband." Additionally, the economic dynamics of many families contribute to the vulnerability of women, particularly as they often become economically dependent on the person providing financial support.

The prevalent idea that a woman "provokes" violence is noted by psychologists as a common belief in Russian society, influenced by a militaristic consciousness that advocates for physical punishment in response to disobedience. This mindset often prevents abusers from recognizing issues in their behavior.

Domestic violence stands out from other forms of violence due to the unique circumstances it creates. The victim is frequently in constant contact with the abuser and may be economically dependent on them. Unlike other forms of violence where the victim can avoid the perpetrator, individuals facing domestic violence often lack the opportunity to find alternative housing. This constant proximity to the abuser increases the likelihood of continued violence. The unique dynamics of domestic violence, including the close relationship between the victim and the abuser and the economic dependencies involved, necessitate a specialized approach to addressing and preventing such incidents.