By Jeanette Arnold, MSW, LCSW, ACSW
What is family violence? It's the maltreatment of one family member by another. Family violence can include physical mistreatment such as slapping, hitting, burning etc. Sexual abuse can include threats, insults and harassment. Neglect can include inadequate physical or emotional care. Family violence is a serious problem in our society.
Family violence often goes unreported. Often, victims feel ashamed about what's happened or hopeless about improving their situation. In the meantime, family members suffer. Family violence often results in physical suffering, emotional pain and economic loss. Learning about it can help.
Why are some people violent toward family members? They may act out feelings of hostility rather than resolving them in nonviolent ways. Other factors may include:
- A need for power and control. For some people, violence becomes a way to gain power and control over family members. Because it works, the violence continues.
- Stress such as job worries, unpaid bills and strained relationships. These can mount until a person feels overwhelmed and resorts to violence.
- Abuse of alcohol and other drugs.
- Family background. Studies show that some people learn to be violent toward family members as they grow up. Abused children may grow up to abuse their own families.
- Isolation. In today's mobile society, many people lose contact with family and friends who could provide emotional support. These people can feel trapped, not knowing where to turn for help.
Family violence can happen anywhere in families of any economic or social class.
Family violence can be prevented. Recognition of the problem and positive actions are key.
What can you do? As a family member, people in your family who respond to tension and conflict by resorting to violence should learn to:
- Recognize their tendency towards violence.
- Realize that violence is not an acceptable way to solve problems.
- Seek help to find ways to communicate feelings, resolve conflicts and express anger without resorting to violence.
If you know someone who is involved in a family violence situation, encourage them to attend a support group. Many communities offer groups that increase public awareness of family violence, teach parenting skills and help people learn to express feelings, provide encouragement and support treatment.
Family violence hurts everyone family, friends and society. Make your home a place for love not violence.
Your employer cares about your life as well as your work. BJC EAP is here to help you gain the balance you need to overcome and succeed.