Does Location Matter?: The Impact of Family Violence in Rural Areas

Does Location Matter?: The Impact of Family Violence in Rural Areas

Samar Adi (COPE Community Services, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0228-9.ch004
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Abstract

Domestic Violence is a societal issue that affects all members of a family where it occurs; children are especially vulnerable even when violence isn't directed towards them. Exposure to family violence has been shown to impact all the developmental stages of childhood; the consequences this exposure to trauma can have lifelong effects. As a result many programs attempt to provide children services to assist with increasing resiliency as well as mitigating the effects caused by exposure to violence. Rural communities face specific barriers unique to their areas – this chapter will explore the impact Domestic Violence has on people living in these underserved regions. While there is limited research on the impact of domestic violence on children living in rural communities this chapter will summarize some of the risks faced by families as well as discuss considerations with assessment and treatment.
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Background

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used by individuals to establish power and control over other human beings through the use of fear and intimidation. This pattern occurs within families, and it operates under the basis of the strong victimizing the weak. Other terms often used interchangeably to describe this pattern of behavior include interpersonal partner violence (IPV), battery, family violence, and spousal abuse. IPV encompasses abuse that is physical, emotional, verbal, psychological, sexual, and financial; it influences the persons it is directed against to change their actions as a result of the abuse directed toward them. Not all acts of domestic violence are defined as criminal acts; nevertheless, these are still acts of abuse. Victims may involve law enforcement for physical abuse, but the emotional and psychological aspects of their victimization are left untreated. Consequences experienced by victims of DV may include an increased risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, substance abuse problems, and suicide attempts. Further psychological effects on those being abused include fear, difficulty with trust and intimacy, problems with memory, difficulty concentrating, health concerns, anger and irritability, and cognitive confusion (Jordan, Nietzel, & Walker, 2004). These psychological effects are significantly affected by the severity and frequency of the abuse (Jordan et. al., 2004). Although terminating an abusive relationship may lead victims toward feelings of increased safety, thus decreasing some of those negative effects, there are still secondary stressors that occur as a result of this termination. Such stressors can include potential increase of physical abuse from the offender, financial difficulties, and parenting stressors; often times, the most dangerous time for victims is the period after they leave the offender (Jordan et al., 2004).

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