by The Welthi Bureau, June 23rd, 2020
Domestic violence has always been an uncomfortable topic to discuss, home and family are supposed to be safe havens for us and when that very place becomes a risk to physical and emotional health, one feels devastated! Despite laws and social norms against domestic violence, it continues unabated in communities across the world and common victims are the weaker elements in the dyads - women and children. With almost 20% to 50% rise in reported cases of domestic violence across various parts of globe, the lockdown has once again uncovered the ugly face of humanity.
Dr. Jyoti Kapoor, Senior Consultant, Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Gurugram, said, “Violence is a behavioral outcome of a psycho-biological state that is facing an onslaught of stress chemicals. In simpler words, when a biologically vulnerable individual (called violent temperament) faces a stressful situation, he and/or less often she (men are more prone to violence towards others and self) act on their flight or fight impulse by choosing the fight impulse. This fight impulse, which is generally awakened to escape a threatening situation, causes violent reaction without their being a direct threat to the perpetrator at all.”
Aggression is a response to negative emotions of fear and anger. Due to genetic and environmental conditioning, vulnerable individuals have precarious ability to handle even minor stress, causing frustration and lashing out at the least threatening element in immediate environment. This is observed as people breaking items in their immediate environment releasing their pent up frustration over issues as small as not getting breakfast on time or children playing loudly. To some, it amounts to a sense of relief, but some other may even get a sense of pleasure. For the second type, aggression then becomes like an addiction, which is the most dangerous component of human violence response and requires definitive psychiatric intervention.
In the COVID 19 world, the environment is extremely stressful due to the various perceived negative outcomes including fear of infection, financial burden and inadequacy of resources. Smaller spaces leading to overcrowding, sense of being restricted, inability to do what one likes to do, increase in alcohol/drug abuse followed by withdrawal effects due to non-availability of the intoxicant, lack of constructive work or being over whelmed by a different way of doing work are all those factors which need a good amount of mental balance for stress coping. Those who are already mentally unstable and are unable to cope, end up lashing out at the weaker individual in the vicinity with the resultant increase in violence with in the homes and families.
The victims are often unable to find a way out for themselves, they have to stay under the same roof due to socio-cultural or economic reasons, or have never been able to see a way out of the situation and therefore suffer from a learned helplessness, thereby letting the cycle continue. The physical and psychological scars such situations leave do not disappear even when the situation stabilizes causing the victim to continue to take the beating while the perpetrator doesn’t learn a way to stop.
What can those susceptible to domestic violence do?
For Victims of domestic violence:
If you are staying with an individual who has a volatile temperament and you have never sought professional help, it’s time you do. If you can’t access professional help immediately, make provisions to safeguard yourself and your children till you can.
Always report a case of violence, to family, friends and authorities. Being silent will not change anything.
While staying with the perpetrator of violence-
For Perpetrators of domestic violence:
If you are the violent partner, you may have the tendency to justify your behavior by blaming the victim for provoking you. This is your reaction to the guilt because you realize your reactions are irrational but you do not know how to manage it.
The negative emotions of anger and frustration do not help either the one having them not those suffering because of them. Talking about them is first step in dealing with the issue. Talk about domestic violence, if you don’t feel safe in your home, it’s not your home!
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