Children as Witnesses of Domestic Violence Essay

Children as Witnesses of Domestic Violence Essay

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There is a preconceived notion that all families are a “great big happy family”, unfortunately this is entirely false for a hand full of families; not all families are filled with love and joy, a few possess a very dark side (Sev’er, 2014, pp. 273). This dark side is the violence that occurs within the family, whether it be child abuse or domestic violence. Domestic violence is defined as violent or aggressive behaviour within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner (Oxford Dictionary). Although there are instances where women are violent, Kimmel and Holler (2011) state “most family violence is perpetrated by males - husbands beating wives, fathers hitting children, sons hitting their parent, boys hitting their brothers or their sisters. The actual or implicit threat of physical coercion is one of many factors underlying male dominance in the family” (355). To refrain from the phrase ‘domestic’ violence, bell hooks used the phrase ‘patriarchal’ violence to describe abuse that occurred within the family. Patriarchal violence “is based on the belief that is acceptable for a more powerful individual to control others through various forms of coercive violence. This belief is associated with male domination” (as cited in Kimmel and Holler, 2011, pp. 355). Many would correlate the term ‘domestic violence’ with ‘wife-battering’ (Kimmel and Holler, 2011, pp. 355), meaning that people automatically think of a man physically or mentally abusing a women when they hear ‘domestic violence’. These examples make it evident that family violence is extremely gendered, and it continually reproduces and reinforces gender inequalities within the family.
Mitchell (2012), also argues that families are “one of the most ...


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... of interpersonal violence, 18(4), 338-355.

Kimmel, M. S., & Holler, J. Z. (2011). The gendered violence: Domination's endgame. The gendered society (Canadian ed., pp. 342-376). Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University Press.

Mitchell, B.A. (2012). Chapter 14: Families in crisis: Violence, abuse and stress. In Family matters: An introduction to family sociology in Canada (2nd ed., pp. 339-364). Toronto, ON: Canadian Scholars' Press.

Sevʼer, A. (2002). Children: Reluctant targets and witnesses. Fleeing the house of horrors women who have left abusive partners (pp. 104-118). Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.

Sev’er, A. (2014). All in the family: Violence against women, children, and the aged. In D. J. Cheal & P. Albanese (Eds.), Canadian Families Today: New Perspectives (3rd ed., pp. 272-289). Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.

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