The connection between domestic violence, mental health, and “the escape”

Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and any other factors. In this essay, I plan to analyze it as being especially detrimental to women’s health, both mentally and physically. This approach yielded more details because the reported prevalence of women being victims of domestic violence is higher than men. I am not trying to make a claim that men do not experience domestic violence, but with the ideologies of hegemonic masculinity and the pressure to maintain a tough image, it makes sense why men fail to report their own cases of domestic violence.
Before delving deeper into the topic, I think it’s beneficial to get some exposure to the statistics surrounding this issue.
• 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
• Women experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes because of their partners, and men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults.
• Women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men
• Women ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
• Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner.
• 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
• Women experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes because of their partners, and men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults.
• Women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men
• Women ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
• Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner.
Domestic violence is more common than one may think. It is a issue that a person may have found others in once or twice, but loosely placed themselves into the victim’s shoes. As we look around and see this issue occurring in everyday life, it’s difficult not to ponder a few questions: What truly defines domestic violence? Why do the women who face domestic violence stay with their abuser? How does this issue tie into identity as a whole? Is this a women’s health issue?
For those who don’t have a full grasp on the meaning of domestic violence, it is noteworthy that the term is a mosaic of negative acts; there is no single act that encompasses the entire definition.
The US Department of Justice defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.
From this definition alone, it’s easy to see why domestic violence is such a common issue.

Moreover, Tyler Perry is a producer who explores the mental and physical detriments of domestic violence. In all of his movies, there’s always at least one woman experiencing abuse. His productions, in essence, follow a formula, where he presents a timeline of how women escape from this physical and mental abuse.
For example, in his production Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Perry presents the audience with two characters: Helen (the protagonist so to speak) and Charles (the antagonist). Helen had the marriage that most women aspire to have. She was a stay at home wife, lived in a luxurious mansion, drove only expensive cars, and was married to a prestigious lawyer. Beforehand, the couple experienced an unbreakable love and their 18 years of marriage was a testament to this. When Charles started having intercourse with a mistress, his relationship with Helen started to become less than ideal. He would dodge the love of his wife, leaving her alone most nights. He would five her little attention, often treating her like a pet rather than spouse. He would say things to break her down mentally, often leaving her distressed and pondering what she could do to save her broken marriage. Helen is eventually beaten and dragged out of her own house, later to find out that she has been replaced by her husband’s mistress.

During a conversation with her Aunt, Helen seems immensely bitter with her own actions rather than her husband’s actions. She explains that her husband has stripped all her ties with her family, repressed her true identity, and developed her into someone who resembles a leech. She has no money, she has no clothes…All of her possession are essentially gifts from her previously loyal husband. She has never had a job, and doesn’t have substantial education to jump into the workforce. This ultimately causes Helen to experience mental distress, and she later shows obvious signs of depression.
(I will not spoil the entire movie, but if you enjoy empowered endings then please go watch this film!)

This movie highlights one of the many reasons women feel they can’t escape their abuser and even depicts the overall effect of domestic violence. In this particular case, Helen did not escape because of financial reasons. Throughout her 18 years, she has always had financial security. This is something that has never been a struggle for her, and the thought of having nothing gives her extreme anxiety. Other reasons women may feel escaping their abuser is farfetched are fear that the abuser will come after her and her family, fear that their children will not have the experience of a full household, or fear that that no one else will “love” them like their abuser (which is ironic but it’s something that is actually said alot). All of these things have something in common, they all stem from fear itself.

This movie also illustrates the pivotal role domestic violence has on identity deconstruction. Like many other women who experience domestic violence, Helen lost her true self. She started to see her issue as something that was initiated by her actions, and this caused rising confusion about her role as a wife and a woman. Women start to analyze their self worth and purpose amidst the catastrophe and this does lead to a great deal of distress (as seen in the film).

So is domestic violence a women’s health issue?
It is in my own opinion. It’s an issue that can lead to mental distress and eventually mental disorders. Domestic violence is not discussed enough, and this becomes problematic when women are experiencing the abuse. The world must loudly speak out, discuss the resources for the victims, and show that victims are not alone. This approach could help a victim or two who feel they’ve had enough but have no recognition of what to do next.

In your opinion….
What are some strategies the nation could take to ease the cases of domestic violence? Do you think cracking down on the laws would help? Do you think longer sentence time would get abusers attention? But I’m also interested to know…Do you think this is a women’s health issue?

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One thought on “The connection between domestic violence, mental health, and “the escape”

  1. I defiantly feel that if we crack down on the laws for domestic violence and increase the sentence it would help with cases, but honestly it might not because these men have gotten away with it for long. And with that I do feel that this can be a health issue for women because of the emotional trauma they have to go through to get over their attack or attacks.

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