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Women as Victims of Crime

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Gender violence is a prevalent problem worldwide, touching all aspects of women’s lives from the home to the workplace to the street. Efforts to understand the nature global extent of violence against women are recent activism and building on gender violence is in a period of fast development. In this paper I will discuss what violence against women is, signs of abuse, I will also discuss the increasing violence against women, the types of violence against women, laws on violence against women and getting help for violence.

What is violence against women one might ask? Webster’s dictionary defines violence as and exertion of physical force as to injure or abuse; an instance of violent treatments or procedure; turbulent or furious and often destructive action; injury by or as if by distortion, infringement or profanation. (According to Schuler, Margaret. Freedom from Violence. New York City. Helene Chan. 1991) A narrow view of violence may define it as an act of criminal use of physical force, violence also includes exploitation, discrimination, unequal economic and social structures, the creation of an atmosphere of terror, and other forms of religio-cul-tural and political violence. Margaret also states, while violence against women is part of general violence found in social structures such as class, religion and ethnicity, it also encompasses aspects of structural violence and forms of control and coercion exercised through hierarchal and patriarchal gender relationships in the family and society. Helen also states women specific violence functions to keep women where they are that is in the house and powerless, Lacking resources and emotionally dependent on their male counterparts.

It can be hard to know if you’re being abused. Most women don’t see the signs of abuse because they have been living in abuse for so long. There are signs that your spouse may be abusive such as he might prevent or discourage you from seeing friends or family he may get angry after drinking alcohol. He may threaten to hurt you or the children; he may also say “if I can’t have you then no one will”. He may also hurt you by hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, punching, slapping, kicking, or biting. May women might not see these as warning signs that the relationship is not healthy.

Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are severe. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy ones self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make one feel helpless and alone (Belknap 237). No one should have to endure this kind of pain. The first step to breaking free is recognizing that your situation is abusive. Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, then you can get the help you need.

Violence against women has increased in recent years. Research on violence against women especially male partner violence has increased. Since 2005, when the first results of the World Health Organization (WHO) Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence ,the number of intimate partner violence prevalence studies increased from 80 to more than 300, in 2008. There is also a growing body of evidence about the range of negative health and development consequences of violence according to Annan, K. Remarks on International Women’s Day. In: Interagency videoconference for a World Free of Violence against Women, New York, 8 March 1999.

According to Schuler women’s organizations, social analysts and feminist activist showed concern over the results of the 1991 census. The data proved that women were being killed in large numbers. This data was collected in 1991 this was almost 20 years ago so one could image how the numbers have changed over 20 years. The National Crime Victimization Survey, based on projections from a national sample survey, says that at least 248,300 women were raped or sexually assaulted in 2007, up from 190,600 in 2005, the last year the survey was conducted. The study surveyed 73,600 individuals in 41,500 households. Among all violent crimes, domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault showed the largest increases. The projected number of violent crimes committed by intimate partners against women increased from 389,100 in 2005 to 554,260 in the 2007 report (Adams 129). By comparison, the number of violent crimes against men by intimate partners went down. This shows that women are being victimized more often.

The National Crime Victimization Survey is conducted every two years; the data is gathered in phone calls made to a sample of households across the United States. Some criticism from experts in the subject caused the survey to be adjusted in 2007 to capture more accurately the incidence of gender-based violence. Two major shifts were to describe types of sexual assault to those being interviewed, and to replace “computer-assisted telephone interviews conducted from two telephone centers” nationwide with interviews “by field representatives either by telephone or in person” according to (Remarks 120).

There are many types of violent crimes committed against women. Dating violence is when one person purposely hurts or scares someone they are dating. Dating violence happens to people of all races, cultures, incomes, and education levels. It can happen on a first date, or when you are deeply in love. It can happen whether you are young or old, and in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. Dating violence is sometimes a sign that a relationship will be very destructive. Dating violence often starts with emotional abuse. One may think that behaviors like calling names or insisting on seeing you all the time are a normal part of relationships. Researchers say they can lead to more serious kinds of abuse, like hitting, stalking, or preventing you from using birth control etc.

Rape is also very prevalent in today’s society. Rape is defined as forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion as well as physical force (Wormer 196). It is said that men rape to assert control over women, to feel their own power. A more simple minded idea is that men, when in physical control of a situation, will exact sexual pleasure from the women available to them – a theory embodied “humorously” in cartoons of cavemen with clubs dragging women off by their hair (Wormer 197). Rape is the only crime you have to actually prove that you were victimized.

Domestic violence is also a growing issue when it comes to women as victims. Domestic violence is when one person in a relationship purposely hurts another person physically or emotionally. Domestic violence is also called intimate partner violence because it often is caused by a husband, ex-husband, boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend. People of all races, education levels, and ages experience domestic abuse anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. In the United States, more than 5 million women are abused by an intimate partner each year. These are some types of violence experienced by women. I think that the reason for violence against women is their inferior status to their male counterparts dominated society as educationally, economically, politically and socially for generations women have been known to be behind the man. These issued are very serious and very prevalent in today’s society.

Violence against women plays a tremendous part on the victim’s mental health. Post- traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that can occur after you have been through a traumatic event. A traumatic event is something horrible and scary that you see or that happens to you. Women who have been victimized often experience guilty or self – blame. Many victims believe they were “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” If the victim does not have someone to blame, they will often blame themselves and this will develop into Post- traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms of PTSD can usually be seen within three months of the event, although a delayed onset is also possible, one of the symptoms of PSDT is heightened anxiety. This anxiety can lead to difficulties in sleeping and heighten startle response to traumatic event (Frieze 74).

The U.S. Congress has passed two main laws related to violence against women, the Violence against Women Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was the first major law to help government agencies and victim advocates work together to fight domestic violence, sexual assault, and other types of violence against women. It created new punishments for certain crimes and started programs to prevent violence and help victims. The law has been expanded to provide more programs and services to assist women who have been victims of crime. The National Advisory Committee on Violence against Women works to help promote the goals and vision of VAWA. The committee is a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Some examples of the committee’s efforts include the Community Checklist initiative to make sure each community has domestic violence programs and the Toolkit to End Violence against Women, which has chapters for specific audience (Frieze 120). Getting out of an abusive or violent relationship isn’t easy. Many women hope that things will change. And they won’t even though leaving an abusive relationship can be frightening; the risks of staying are too great. There are many resources available for abused and battered women, including hotlines you can call for advice, shelters where you can stay; even job training, legal services, and childcare. In doing this paper I realized that no matter what age or race you are you can be a victim of any type of crime. In doing research for this paper I have learned that the image of females as victims is becoming more visible to society. Fear of victimization influences many aspects of the victim’s life and this is why a lot of victims don’t come forward.

Works Cited

* Adams, David. “Why do they kill?” Nashville, Tennessee: Vanderbilt university Press first edition 2007. * Addressing violence against women and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2005. * Annan, K. Remarks on International Women’s Day. In: Interagency videoconference for a World Free of Violence against Women, New York, 8 March 1999. Available from: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/1999/19990308.sgsm6919.html * Frieze, Arena. “Hurting the one you love”. New York City: Vicki Knight 2005. * Garcia-Moreno C, Jansen HAFM, Ellsberg M, Heise L, Watts C. WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women: initial results on prevalence, health outcomes and women’s responses. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2005. * Schuler, Margaret. “Freedom from Violence”. New York City. Helene Chan. 1991 * Wormer, Katherine
Stuart Van. “Women and the Criminal Justice System “Boston Ma: Allyn Bacon. 2007 * Belknap, Joanna. “The Invisible Woman “University of Colorado, Boulder third edition 2001.

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