Why Does Domestic Violence Go Unreported?
“ I knew I was abused but I did not want to tell anyone, what will my children think of me? I married him after loving him for so long, I thought I should try to sustain a bit more.”
“ My child was beaten and I was threatened on and on, I was scared that if I tell anyone I will face charges for not speaking up earlier.”
“ Its a shame, what will my parents say? What will my colleagues say? I have a good job and so does my partner. I cannot tarnish my reputation and career.”
- Comments victims and survivors while speaking with the interviewer.
Domestic violence happens to people who are in an intimate relationship. This can happen to people who are living together, married, in a love relationship, dating and more. When a relationship starts with love, gradually codependency happens. Staying with someone, bearing his or her issues, sharing a house, room, life and having children or a pet solidifies this bond. In most cases, the abuse starts from small and gradually escalates.
The abuser and the abused both get used to the situation and habituated with each other, and in many cases even after a series of violent abuse, victims still try to cover up for their perpetrators and partners. People in a relationship share a home, common friends, neighbors, families, communities and whenever this sensitive topic comes out in public, the situation becomes uncomfortable and uninviting for both the abused and the abuser. Many people are aversed to change and prefer to stay I an uncomfortable position as long as they can sustain than opt-out and change.
At the beginning of a relationship, many abusers are not abusers at all. They play the role of a loving partner, caregiver, empathetic spouse and the abuse might not surface for a long period. And when it surfaces by then the abused becomes accustomed to him/her being a good person. And the episodes are treated as sudden, unrelated occurrences or fabricated as a slip or mad mood/ anger issues.
When people mention Domestic Abuse, Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Violence, the majority of times it is referred to as Physical abuse. But there is more to it. Below are the main ways of abuse that falls under the domestic abuse spectrum :
Physical Abuse (hitting, pushing, strangulation, using a weapon)
Psychological/Emotional/Verbal Abuse (name-calling, degradation, stalking, threats of violence, isolation, threatening loved ones and/or pets)
Sexual Abuse (forced sexual contact, forcing to take birth control, often with the intent to conceive, or forcing a partner to end a pregnancy, revenge porn)
Financial Abuse (controlling money, preventing a survivor from having a job)
Spiritual Abuse (preventing or forcing religious beliefs)
Major reasons behind why Domestic violence is frequently unreported:
Fear of the abuser
Fear of uncertainty
Fear of belief from family friends and authority
Financial instability and risk
Broken confidence and self-esteem which is almost always present in victims who have been abused for a prolonger period
Fear of Judgement from society
Confusion and lack of information of how to deal with authority and report
High expenses of attorneys
Based on location, state and country grassroots organizations exist to help the abused get to safety and rehabilitate besides the state-run facilities. Google search, speaking to social workers, local religious facilities etc can be a good place to reach out given that it is safe and not monitored by the abuser.
For the United States these resources can come in handy:
National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-7233 or visit www.thehotline.org
Local Domestic Violence Hotlines or Organizations, such as the YMCA, YWCA, Battered Women’s Shelter
Women Helping Women, Legal Aid Society, or local church resources.
A local police officer or attorney
HRA / Human Resource Assitance offices