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Take A Stand Against Domestic Violence

Updated on June 24, 2015

Why is critical thinking important when it comes to social issues such as domestic violence?

The well known statement “I think – therefore I am” written by philosopher Rene Descartes is just the beginning of laying the foundation for critical thinking. The advancement of human beings in areas like science, medicine and technology can be credited to the knowledge gained and put to use by critical thinkers. Being a critical thinker is also vital in dealing with and finding solutions to concerns facing society today such as the rise of domestic violence in households. Domestic violence is a social concern that affects and endangers people globally; however with understanding and spreading awareness this problem can be better recognized and reduced in the future.

Knowledgeable understanding, thoughtful perspective, penetrating insight and sophisticated thinking are all qualities that a critical thinker needs to possess. When evaluating research on topics such as domestic violence, it’s best to use critical thinking methods such as checking it for clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, significance, logic and fairness. A critical thinker must be able to raise necessary questions that are clear and precise as well as gather information that has relevance and can effectively interpret the ideas given. In critical thinking, one must also be able to use reasoning to come to conclusions and test solutions against related criteria and standards. Finally a critical thinker should be able to think with an open mind and recognize as well as assess their own assumptions, implications and consequences.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence, which is also known as intimate partner violence (IPV), is a great concern in society as it presents itself in a great amount of families and partnerships. When people experience violence by their partners, it often has harmful effects on not only their mental and physical health but also their ability to live healthy, productive lives. Violence not only affects the victim but also the people in their lives. The children, the families, the friends are all going to be affected one way or another. There is a vast amount of information available online regarding the issue of domestic violence. Often times it is hard to know which sources are valid and the most helpful.

Gathering information on domestic violence

When applying critical thought to a topic such as domestic violence, the resources available on the subject and possible solutions to the problem, one must use a high level of consistent internal motivation. The first step one must take is to gather complete information on the topic and be sure to understand and define all terms. Before evaluating any resources on domestic violence, it is important to understand what it is, who it affects and how to recognize it. When we try to define domestic violence it is important to remember that it is a pattern of behavior in any sort of relationship that is used in order to gain and hold power and control over an intimate partner. Physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and even economic actions and threats of those actions are all forms of abuse when used influence, frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, or injure another person. When answering the question of who can be affected by domestic violence, remember that it can happen to any race, age, sexual orientation, religion and gender, all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels, anyone who is married living together or just dating.

A majority of the research that we will investigate on the topic of domestic violence will include personal accounts from victims of domestic violence. This is why it is important to recognize forms of domestic violence and indicators of an abusive relationship before we get started looking into references. Indications of an emotionally abusive relationship could be any of the following: name calling, insults and criticism, lack of trust, jealousy and possessiveness, being isolated from family and friends, monitoring of activities, phone calls and friends, keeping from seeking employment, controlling the finances and refusing to share money, withholding affection as a form of punishment, demanding that permission be asked for things, threats to hurt the individual, the children, family members or pets and humiliation in any form. A physically abusive relationship is recognized by factors such as: damaged property when angry, pushing, slapping, biting, choking, abandoning in a dangerous or unfamiliar place, scaring by driving recklessly, using a weapon to threaten, forcing to leave the house, trapping inside the house, prevention of calling the police or seeking medical attention, hurting the children, and using physical force in sexual situations. Sexually abusive relationships are also something to be considered and in these circumstances often times one had experiences such as these examples: viewing women as objects and believing in rigid gender roles, accusing one of cheating and being jealous of outside relationships, wanting the partner to dress up in a sexual way and insulting in a sexual way or calling of sexual names, forcing sex or sexual acts, holding down during sex, demanding sex while the partner is sick or tired, hurting with weapons during sex, involving other people in private sexual activities and ignoring a partners feelings regarding sex.

When gathering data on domestic violence, there are some important factors to take into consideration. Considering ethics and moral reasoning, it is safe to say that it s clear that domestic violence is unethical behavior. Domestic violence research findings are useful because they do provide information to organizations that can help victims, and also raise awareness; however an enormous ethical concern in performing the research is the potential of causing additional harm or distress for the victims who are participating in the studies. For a Psychologist who may be organizing a research study on domestic violence, it is essential to follow the guidelines set by the American Psychological Association regarding code of conduct and ethical behavior. One standard distinctly states that Psychologists must take reasonable steps to avoid harming research participants and also to minimize harm where it is foreseeable and unavoidable. An example of how this could affect participants is a study done in Mexico that dealt with domestic violence issues where no special safety precautions were taken and that resulted in three of the respondents being beaten by their partners for their involvement in the survey.

As well as protection from an abuser, it is important to help minimize any emotional distress that sensitive topics can conjure in a victim whose interviews will cause them to relive painful and frightening memories. Another standard set in place to protect those involved in research is the privacy and confidentiality standard. There is a primary obligation to take responsible precautions to protect confidential information obtained in research. Protecting privacy is essential when it comes to ensuring the safety of a victim of domestic violence therefore any interviews of those in danger should be done in complete isolation or creative solutions should be examined to try to find ways of carrying out the research without drawing attention.

Each scientific study must exhibit a research based process to search for truth. If a study is unethical in that it puts subjects at risk or inconveniences them and also achieves no benefit in knowledge it is considered scientifically unsound. While examining research on domestic violence, other areas of critical thinking to be aware of are questioning the methods that have been used to gather facts and come to conclusions and also to question the source of those facts. Looking for assumptions in the research and the researcher’s bias as well as being able to understand self bias on the topic of domestic violence are key considerations too. Most importantly, take time to examine the big picture while not expecting all the answers.

Because of technology there is a wealth of information on domestic violence available online. Having access to this information also means that there is also unfortunately a great opportunity for people to create false information, and this is why it is so important to evaluate any research with criticism. The internet has made it helpful to find important documents and research studies as well as interviews and even web pages dedicated to domestic violence instantly and without having to spend time gathering information and waiting for responses from outside resources.


How to recognize the signs.

The first scholarly source in review is an article called “Dealing with the Effects of Domestic Violence” by Lynda Gibbons and argues in favor of nurses needing special training to recognize the signs of domestic abuse when treating patients who could possibly be victims of such attacks. Gibbons states that it is extremely difficult to assess injuries from domestic and sexual abuse because the victims are often times unwilling to seek help or treatment for their injuries. According to this article statistics from the UK indicate that among people whose ages range from 16 to 59, 23 per cent of women and 15 per cent of the men have experienced physical abuse from a partner and in regards to murder victims 76 per cent of women and 50 per cent of men were killed by people that they had known. Some of the striking statistics from Ireland were that one in seven women and one in 16 men have had experience with abusive behavior but only 8 per cent of women and 1 per cent of men reported domestic violence.

The article goes on to explain what sort of signs to look for in patients that could be clues to a domestic violence injury. According to Gibbons, the lists of potential signs are as follows:

  • Patients presenting with choking or attempted strangulation injuries; these are ‘red flag’ indicators of high-risk abusive situations.
  • Patients making light of their injuries.
  • Patients exhibiting extreme panic, fear and apprehension.
  • The constant presence of overly attentive spouses or partners.
  • Patients giving inaccurate or incomplete explanations for injuries.
  • Frequent presentations to emergency departments (EDs). These may not be injury related but involve substance or alcohol abuse, para-suicide, anxiety, chronic pain, deterioration of or poor compliance with long-term medical problems.
  • Delays between when patients sustained injuries and when they present to EDs. These delays can be calculated by assessing bruises, which change from a red or purple color to blue, green and yellow.
  • Signs of sexual violence.
  • X-rays showing old, healed fractures and fractures at various stages of healing.
  • The presence of injuries to sites such as the head, face and neck, chest, breasts or abdomen that are associated with domestic violence.
  • The presence of injuries, such as forearm fractures, bruising, marks to the back of shoulders or neck, or those of a defensive nature

Gibbons points out that as a healthcare professional assessing a patient who exhibits these signs consideration of the immediate risks to the patient is needed. She goes on to explain the importance of keeping consultations confidential in order to protect a potential victim from the attacker who might very well be the victims caretaker. Although nurses are not allowed to give patients advice they should be ready to give them a list of agencies to refer to for help. So really the key ideas here are that nurses should be trained to recognize signs and know where to refer victims in need of help.

The author is definitely somewhat biased with her opinions on the importance of recognizing signs of patients who have injuries acquired through domestic abuse because she is a clinical nurse manager, however her experience does give her credit as someone who would know what procedures should be implemented for this type of situation thus making her argument extremely valid. The article even addresses the benefits society can gain by putting these methods to use. Not only can nurses help treat the patients more effectively and help them seek assistance for their situation, but nurses are also in a prime position to help raise public awareness of the issue of domestic violence.

Social networks, informal support.

The next scholarly source under review is titled “A Call for a Social Network-Oriented Approach to Services for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence” by Lisa A. Goodman and Katya Fels Smyth which confronts the problem that the anti-domestic violence movement has not had the wanted success with one of its primary goals of making intimate partner violence a problem of the community instead of just a problem between two individuals. A prime example of using technology to reach out to society and address social concerns, this article actually takes into consideration that social networks are often a central aspect in the daily lives of the victims of domestic violence and therefore pushes the issue of using the social networks to promote domestic violence services. Domestic violence is a social concern and should be addressed by the community, as the article points out the community really is affected in that both the abuser and the victim are connected to outsides through their relationships with family, friends, and neighbors.

Focusing on women with the reasoning that it is mostly the battered women who turn to their informal social support instead of domestic violence services, the authors stress that these informal community members are crucial to a victims long-term safety, emotional health and overall well being. The article proposes that social services would take into consideration and practices domestic violence victim’s natural tendencies to look for support from informal counseling support systems.

One factor to take into consideration is that often times the abuser is likely to cut off the victims contact with their social networks of friends and family members who serve as vital sources of support. Statistics do show however that in the United States, gain informal social support for their domestic violence issues from family or friends. A huge reason why this is beneficial to survivors of domestic violence is that it erases the stigmatization that could be associated with seeking outside help from a professional service and cut the chances of being pushed to leave their partner and also create less of a change of retaliation from their partner. Seeking help through a social network can also be beneficial in that a friend or family member can provide comfort and personal instances to show a victim their self-worth which is often times stripped away by the dehumanizing that an abuser often puts the victim through.

Options of formal help for victims of domestic violence include things like therapists, crisis hotlines, emergency shelters and community-based services like peer-support groups. The key is linking these services with the support given through social networks. A Domestic Violence Services Practitioner would be someone who becomes trustworthy to a victim and works to tie together formal systems and informal social networks so that a victim can be successful in accessing effective support. Domestic violence services should work to help survivors engage their networks, help network members support the survivors, and help survivors develop new forms of support. This is vital because although victims do utilize formal help, research shows that informal social networks are being sought out sooner, more often and for longer periods of time than formal assistance programs.

The biggest flaw with this article is that it does focus on women, when in fact men are often victims of domestic abuse as well. However, with more public awareness on the subject perhaps the male victims will be more likely to seek help for their own abuse. The article pushes for public and private to merge in a way that will benefit victims. Using formal assistance programs to help victims reach out to their informal social networks as well as educating the individuals in those social networks on how to deal with the issue and effectively counsel a victim would be an effective stepping stone in raising public knowledge and awareness for domestic violence.

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PTSD, how does experiencing abuse as a child effect you as an adult?

The final scholarly source is the article “Assessing PTSD and resilience for females who during childhood were exposed to domestic violence” by Kim M. Anderson and Eun-Jun Bang. This article explains a study done on 68 females who were exposed to domestic violence as children and examines their adult relationships and levels of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the experiences as children.

The authors indicate that children who witness a parent being abused suffer developmentally because of the exposure. Studies show that witnessing violent acts will often times have an effect on a child’s adaptive ability, emotional well-being, social functioning and physical health and witnessing parental violence is a significant predictor of post-traumatic stress disorder in children. The present study did indicate that adults who were exposed to domestic violence during childhood can recover and be resilient especially in cases of lower levels of post-traumatic stress disorder. There was however limitations in the participants emotional attachments and ability to concentrate. Factors that were found to help lower the chance of post-traumatic stress disorder in the children of domestic violence households were the abused parent’s ability to recover from their own experiences and break free of the abusive relationship. Another interesting factor was if an abused mother was able to obtain full-time employment it would lessen financial stress on the family and show independence, productivity and achievement in spite of going through a domestic violence experience.

The study did have limitations in that the sample of participants did not range in gender, location or ethnic and racial diversity. It did however provide successful information that can help researchers gain a better understanding of long term recovery from a child’s exposure to domestic violence. The most beneficial aspect of this article from a social influence standpoint is the information about how witnessing domestic violence can affect a child and what can be done to help the child overcome the problems that arise from it before the damage is carried over into adulthood.

History repeats itself.

There is a particular podcast called Domestic Violence: A survivor’s story which explores several of the issues brought up in the previous articles that we have reviewed and shows how one individuals account can exhibit so many factors we have learned. This podcast involves an interview with a woman named Jenissee who is a survivor of domestic abuse. This is her personal account with violence. Jenissee explains that she had experienced abuse in her household as a child and when she left home at 17 she entered into an abusive relationship right away. This story explains the classic situation where growing up with abuse can lead an individual to believe that abuse is normal and that person will be less likely to recognize warning signs because the cycle of violence has taught them that it is normal behavior.

The podcast, although it describes a personal account also explains how much abuse can be a learned behavior. One specific instance that is also touched on is during the cycle of abuse where the abuser exhibits sorrow and remorse and the victim is often manipulated by this. Another key experience that Jenissee had is something experienced by many victims of domestic abuse and that is the fact that often times a victim leaves many times before they are really gone.

The podcast is somewhat bias because it is one persons account, however she does answer questions asked by the interviewer and goes into detail about her experience, her emotions, her therapy, and her healing. For someone listening to this, it is easier to relate to Jenissee because they can hear her and the voice of a real person is certainly more human than just reading words on paper, or a screen. In this podcast, several important issues are brought up pertaining to the cycle of violence and types of violence endured. Economic abuse is even brought into light here, being where a person is put in a situation where they are unable to support themselves because the abuser take all of their money and independence from them.

The podcast also includes how children are affected by domestic violence within the household as Jenissee raised her children in two separate violent relationships before she finally broke free of the cycle. Children’s perceptions of relationships are always influenced by their parent’s behaviors and violent behavior is often conditioned when a child grows up surrounded by violence. Although exposure to domestic violence doesn’t always affect children the same way, many of children who are exposed to it do develop physical and mental health problems, deficits in social skills as well as cognitive and academic difficulties. Jenissess’s interview can help people who are suffering from abuse consider how it is also affecting any children who might be involved and that might be the extra push they need to get out of the situation.

Knowledge IS Power

Knowledge gained by all of these resources can greatly benefit society on a global scale. Community awareness is a key factor in any social concern and thanks to technology and the internet, the word “community” can include people from all over the world not just in ones backyard. As more knowledge is gained and made available, the more individuals it will reach. Someone from Africa can learn about experiences, gain insight and even receive help through the knowledge of someone experiencing the same thing in Ireland.

Research studies done on domestic violence such as one conducted regarding the male batterers readiness to change, look for solutions to things like domestic violence by examining the Transtheoretical Model of Change which predicts that matching interventions with a person’s readiness to change should improve treatment outcomes. Findings from studies such as this provide solutions like using contemplation; reducing physical aggression and manipulative parenting styles to increase the change an abuser will take action to stop the violence.

By working together and actively approaching the topic of domestic violence, society may successfully be able to make a dent in the number of domestic violence instances in the near future.


Anderson, K. M., & Bang, E. (2012). Assessing PTSD and resilience for females who during childhood were exposed to domestic violence. Child & Family Social Work, 17(1), 55-65. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2206.2011.00772.x

Ellsberg, M., & Heise, L. (2002). Bearing witness: Ethics in domestic violence research. The Lancet, 359(9317), 1599-604. Retrieved from

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Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, Including 2010 Amendments. (2013, April 8). Retrieved from American Psychological Assosiaction:

Fortin, A. D. (2011). Children's appraisals as mediators of the relationship between domestic violence and child adjustment. Violence and Victims, 26(3), 377-92. Retrieved from .

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Gibbons, L. (2011). DEALING WITH THE EFFECTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Emergency Nurse, 19(4), 12-17.

Goodman, L. A., & Smyth, K. (2011). A call for a social network-oriented approach to services for survivors of intimate partner violence. Psychology Of Violence, 1(2), 79-92. doi:10.1037/a0022977

Hellman, C., Johnson, C., & Dobson, T. (2010). Taking Action to Stop Violence: A Study on Readiness to Change Among Male Batterers. Journal Of Family Violence, 25(4), 431-438. doi:10.1007/s10896-010-9304-x

Jones, V. (2011, August 5). A Philosopher Needs to be a Critical Thinker. Retrieved from Scienceray:

Krebs, C., Breiding, M. J., Browne, A., & Warner, T. (2011). The association between different types of intimate partner violence experienced by women. Journal of Family Violence, 26(6), 487-500. doi:

Metcalf, M. (2011, April 21). PODCAST: Domestic Violence: A survivor's story. Retrieved from Thirdcoast Digest:


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