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Posted on June 13th, 2012, by

Today social work is closely connected with such problematic situations in the family, as domestic violence and child abuse. Domestic violence is a controversial phenomenon. It has numerous definitions and explanations and there are many approaches to its prevention. However, it has become obvious that social workers are to further the improvement of this situation. Just twenty years ago domestic violence was an intimate personal issue and victims of violated acted had to deal with this problem alone. Nowadays social workers held the course of rehabilitation aiming to end relationships based on violence.

In order to contribute to the problem solution social workers should be aware of the following peculiarities of this process. Domestic abuse is a commonly committed crime. It takes place in about 25-50% of all families and its rates do not depend on educational level, age, social status, race and surrounding. The statistics are frightening: 40% of male representatives are disposed to commit a crime.

Domestic violence is usually directed against women. In 95% of cases abusers are men and victims are women. Steve Storie, a modern researcher and investigator of problematic family relations, states: If you think men are the victims of domestic violence, sit outside the hospital emergency room and watch who gets unloaded from the ambulances.

Yes, women may behave badly in relationships, but they are much more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators (Hewitt, 2002, p. 190). Violated acts occur in both, traditional families and gay or lesbian relations.

Domestic violence is more often preconditioned by the will to control and possess rather than by anger. Lenore Walker in her book Cycle of Violence defines three stages of problematic relations development. The first stage, the Honeymoon Phase, is characterized by warm and tender relations because the future batterer has fear to lose his victim. At the second stage, the Tension Building Phase, the couple starts feeling discomfort, stress and tension.

Disagreements become frequent. The abuser becomes aggressive and the victim becomes frightening. This stage is often followed by the act of domestic violence. Such relations have cyclic repetition.

Another important factor is close connection between women abuse and child violence. About 70% of women abusers become in future child abusers. Children who witness or experience acts of domestic abuse usually suffer from autism and have different psychological disorders.

Social workers should be conscious of the fact that battered women usually do not provoke abuse because of their inappropriate behavior. Becoming victims of the abuse, women can become psychologically weak and pathetic but the cause and the consequence should not be confused. The common mistake is to blame women for the crime.

Children may accuse their mothers for being not able to protect themselves. Even professional workers may blame women for their behavior that provokes abuse and aggression. However, each situation is individual and unique and requires detailed investigation and appropriate solution. Social workers should remember that stereotypes and general rules do not work in cases with domestic violence.

Among victims of abuse special position is taken by people with disabilities. Due to their dependence in family, both physical and psychological, these people are at a high risk of being abused. Being marginalized in the society, people with disabilities are often victimized and the statistics show that both, men and women are under danger. Social workers should also be aware of the reasons why battered women do not leave their abusers and continue suffering.

The answer in most cases is trivial they do not have enough means of subsistence, especially if they have children and do not work.

Another common stereotype that people can have about batterers and abusers is an opinion that they all are alcoholic and inadequate. They are often well-educated and calm, they control their anger in public and act as usual people. However, they all have one common feature an ability to manipulate their victims. The Domestic Abuse Intervention Project in Duluth, MN, suggests that certain types of men are less likely to be held accountable than others, including highly religious men, articulate and educated men, men in 12-step recovery, and highly argumentative men (Danis, 2003, p. 289). The connection between abuse and alcohol is a controversial issue even today. It is a known fact that when men drink alcohol they are more commonly to commit an abuse, however, giving up drinking does not guarantee stopping domestic violence.

Social service should not only be oriented on the solution of individual problems and unique cases, it is necessary to find out general social causes and improve social situation. One of such solutions has become numerous Battering Intervention Programs. Nevertheless, numerous cases of domestic violence today require appropriate solution and presume professionalism and high level of knowledge and skills in social sphere.

Today social work does not only presume physical and psychological rehabilitation after accidents of domestic violence and child abuse. It is very important to reveal real causes of these cases and to prevent them in future. Being aware of the fact that frequently repeated cases of domestic violence in one family are often conditioned by women’s low self-esteem and dependence, social workers should work on the women’s feeling of independence. Psychological and economic freedom allows a woman break up with the abuser and start a new happy life. Social workers present carefully organized and structuralized plan of rehabilitation for all women providing regular meetings, economic assistance and psychological support. In mental health settings, including substance abuse services, universal domestic violence screening of women and girls should be routine. Abuse has significant, lasting mental health effects that, if left undetected, would hinder care. Domestic violence is a significant risk factor for depression, PTSD, anxiety and substance abuse in women (Winkvist, 2001, p. 67).Despite all these efforts the rates of domestic abuse are still high and difficult to measure. A lot of abused women are afraid to reveal the truth because the act of abuse is committed by their intimate partner. However, official data show that about 4 million women are raped or physically injured by their male partners every year. These figures are frightening in the modern society and social workers in cooperation with other professionals should do their best to reduce them.

Social work provides different kinds of services for the victims of domestic violence. Direct services are concentrated on shelter programs, individual counseling, court advocacy, private practice settings, etc. There are also special programs for batterers which learn them to deal with their aggressive behavior, anger and impulsive actions. Direct services, such as shelter programs across the country or private practice settings, are usually hold by Direct Service Providers. However, these programs usually require other professionals, such as Education Coordinators. These social workers are responsible for different types of community education, which can include professional trainings, practices, etc. Many shelters across the country have a Community Education Coordinator on staff who may be a social worker. This person is accountable for managing all types of community education from professional development and training to providing speakers for civic or social groups (Danis, 2003, p. 193). Social workers also provide therapies to abused persons in the frame of shelter or rehabilitation program.

The duration and intensity of rehabilitation is defined by the council of social workers and is conditioned by the act of violence. Social worker should always be very careful while working with victims because their abusers are usually very intimate persons for them and victims can either have feelings towards them or be in their dependence.

To sum up, domestic violence is still the theme of great concern and social work plays an important role in this problem solution. Domestic violence is in no case an isolated individual case, it is a social phenomenon and has consequences on all representatives of the society. Social workers today look for new approaches and methods of rehabilitation. It is obvious that victims of violence act require help but it is also important to define what kind of help. Acts of domestic violence are usually frequently repeated in one family and it means that victims get used to them. Social workers should help them to feel independent, strong and able to deal with these accidents and stop this violence. Social workers should be very careful and provide regular support in order to get rid of this harmful phenomenon in our society.

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