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Psychological Abuse in the Domestic Setting

Domestic violence is more than just physical abuse, especially in a setting that involves an aggressor and a victim, as the aggressor often has to manipulate into thinking that they have no power whatsoever. Psychological abuse consists of a person’s exposure to behaviors that might result in psychological trauma and is often related to the power imbalance in an abusive relationship. In the domestic setting, psychological abuse contributes to a unique challenge to the criminal justice system and policymakers due to its complexity.

Unlike physical domestic abuse, which is based on physical strength, psychological abuse does not have to be found on the abuser’s possession of power but their ability to manipulate the victim into the perception of power. Domestic violence entails more than physical violence and controlling behaviors that aim to gain and maintain power over one’s significant other or close family within the domestic setting. Phycological abuse is less gender-based than physical abuse, where men often abuse their female significant other, but women are likely to take their husbands through psychological violence.

Phycological maltreatment can also be verbal or nonverbal can be. Unlike physical abuse, whose aim is to inflict pain into the victim to coerce the victim into doing something, psychological abuse aims to lower the victim’s self-worth and independence through the use of insults, criticism, and even threats (Y). Therefore, it is essential to look into psychological abuse in the domestic setting to inform the justice system on how to deal with and even prevent all domestic violence.

The Nature of Interest on Psychological Abuse

Researchers at different levels in Canada and the rest of the world come up with theoretical models to illustrate this inform of abuse, thus gaining a better understanding. It is evident that the abuser and the victims’ traits, interpersonal relations, and the circumstances within which psychological violence occurs. Therefore, researchers and law enforcement must approach this matter by identifying the various social policies that would help mitigate the problem.

It is also required for these parties to develop models that can help predict, prevent, and treat any effects that could cope with this form of abuse. It is also important to note that psychological violence in the domestic setting involves more than just male-female intimate relationships and child emotional abuse, elder physiological abuse, and even domestic workers.

Personal relationships provide a conducive environment for psychological abuse due to the victim’s emotional attachment to their aggressor, which grants them the power to manipulate the victim into doing what their aggressor wants. This provides a basis for exploring domestic violence at large in other settings, for example, domestic violence in homosexual relationships, which tends to be very different from the context of heterosexual relationships (Bland & Ariel, 2015).

Psychological Domestic Abuse

The Power Dynamics Facilitating Psychological Abuse in the Domestic Setting

One can explore other power dynamics that would make psychological violence in other domestic relationships that are platonic, for example, the case of child emotional abuse. Here, parents, guardians, and other caregivers almost always have power over their children, which they can use to interfere with cognitive and emotional abuse to influence their behavior, persuading them to do something that they would otherwise not agree to. However, this could be unintentional as poor parenting skills, past trauma, social isolation, and the lack of resources may lead to this behavior among parents.

Caregivers who were abused as children are likely to pass this trauma to their children without the awareness of the effects of their course of action on the child’s physical, social, cognitive, and even emotional development. The other form of psychological domestic abuse exposes the flaws in our society and the economic system, which is elder emotional abuse. This form of abuse facilitates the lack of a social security system that protects the dignity of the elders in our society, thus leaving them vulnerable to the influence of their caretakers or even their children, on whom they depend (Fraser, 2017).

Overt Aggression Vs. Passive-aggressive Behaviour

Psychological violence can take aggressive behaviors whereby the abuser directly confronts the victim to control their behavior. It may also take the form of passive-aggressive behaviors whereby the abuser fails to voice their concerns but instead use their behavior to control their victims, at times without their knowledge indirectly. This behavior is generally expected among codependent people who use passive hostility to manipulate them into doing things they would not otherwise agree to.

This behavior may take the form of bitterness and hatred, intentional delay, aggressive demeanor, and frequent complaints. Some of the common traits of passive aggressors are anxiety disorder, stress, bipolar disorder, and even drug abuse. This makes it a unique concern to criminologists and even law enforcement as there is often no physical evidence to prove any form of abuse, unlike the cause of physical violence where bruises and other body injuries are evidence.

This characteristic is usually common in all forms of physiological abuse. However, the unique trait of passive-aggressive behavior as a form of physiological abuse is that the victim is often unaware of its occurrence, making it difficult for law enforcement to press charges and get any legal recourse on behalf of the victim.

Psychological abuse is closely linked to physical abuse

Both psychological abuse and physical abuse are often aimed at influencing or controlling the victim’s behavior; for example, violence against women in Canada has attributed a significant amount of phycological abuse to physical violence (Yeoh et al., 2020). In addition to this, domestic violence victims may also suffer psychological abuse due to constant threats of domestic violence. Psychological maltreatment entailed more than a third of the cases of physical abuse, in addition to half of the possibilities of sexual abuse.

Often, the perpetrators of this form of other forms of violence use phycological mistreatment to manipulate the victim from not reporting them to the relevant authorities. This co-occurrence of psychological abuse, physical violence often masks their individual effects on the victims and how this trickles down to the rest of society. This form of abuse’s self-reported impacts is often undermined as the victims are often demoralized by this vice’s perpetrators (Fraser, 2017).

Factors Facilitating Psychological Abuse in Canada

Various factors in the present-day society facilitate the occurrence of psychological abuse in the domestic setting, including differences in age, sex, physical strength, and financial capabilities. These factors depend on the parties and the dynamic involved; for example, the risk for psychological abuse on a child is often due to parental neglect and the parent-child relationship’s nature. The risk of a child suffering psychological problems in the domestic setting may increase due to addiction or even phycological issues that the parent may be undergoing, thus lacking the ability to empathize with their child’s circumstances.

The parent may give disabilities related to their temperament; thus, they lack the sensitivity to their children’s needs, for example, due to substance abuse. Poverty is another factor that may expose a child to phycological violence, which is not fully under their parents’ control. However, the lack of financial resources denies the child a supportive network that may enable their physical, psychological, cognitive, and emotional development (Walker & Zuberi, 2020).

The Risk Factors for Phycological Damage

Various risk factors may expose adults to psychological damage, such as disability, which could be physical or cognitive, which is most likely to occur due to the victim’s ability to defend themselves or even notice its occurrence. Old age may also contribute to phycological abuse among adults, 10 percent of males and 6 percent of adult female senior citizens in Canada being reported as victims of psychological abuse. They often undergo insults, ridicule, and other forms of emotional abuse perpetrated directly on them.

Senior citizens may also be exposed to psychological abuse due to the negative societal attitude towards them, especially in the Western World, where they are held in w lower regard than they would if they were in an Asian or African setting. Older adults’ social and physical isolation may also lead to psychological damage, for example, as their relative shun visiting them or locking them alone.

First Nations people are often victims of psychological abuse in the domestic setting as they often live in isolated communities; thus, victims are not likely to get help from law enforcement. Thirty-six percent of male aboriginals are likely to suffer emotional abuse as compared to 17 percent of non-aboriginals (Walker & Zuberi, 2020).

The Contribution of Culture on Psychological Abuse

The culture has a significant contribution to the present-day state of behavioral or psychological abuse as women are often victims of psychological abuse in a patriarchal society compared to their male counterparts in some societies or female counterparts from relatively more balanced societies. This form of abuse enables male domination especially in heterosexual relationships and ensures female subordination. The law enforcement’s inability to deal with the devastating effects of psychological abuse in the domestic setting is mostly due to the victims’ inability to prove psychological damage or trauma while seeking legal recourse were civil or criminal.

The matter is also made complicated by the multiple variables involved primarily in the domestic setting. There are also inconsistencies in the detection of the various indicators of psychological abuse. The type of relationship also impacts whether the nature of violence is overt or passive-aggressive; overt violence is often perpetrated by men in heterosexual relationships or gay male relationships while women often perpetrate passive-aggressive behavior (Fraser, 2017).

Psychological Domestic Abuse

The Impact of Psychological Abuse on People

Psychological abuse impacts the victims, affecting their general wellbeing, which can also identify their occurrence. Among children aged 12 years and below, psychological abuse could lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); low cortisol levels may also be used to detect psychological abuse. This is a stress hormone whose production is damaged by psychological abuse, limiting their ability to regulate their emotional reactions or even form memories.

Children may also have difficulty developing language, social withdrawal, anxiety, academic and cognitive problems, overt aggression, and even passive-aggressive behavior. On the other hand, adolescents may show signs of undergoing psychological abuse through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which tends to cause difficulties in concentration, anxiety, social withdrawal, depression, abusive behavior in intimate relationships, and even suicide attempts (Yeoh et al., 2020).

On the other hand, adults may develop shame and guilt, fear, significant medical problems, PTSD, low self-esteem, and extreme affinity to risky activity. On the other hand, older adults may show PTSD, discomfort, passivity, and even difficulty adjusting to retirement life due to psychological abuse in the domestic setting. Other indicators include substance abuse, difficulty stepping, and sudden loss of appetite (Yeoh et al., 2020).

The Costs of Psychological Domestic Abuse

The cost of psychological abuse includes personal expenditures on the victim and the spillover effect on society. The economic fees of this form of psychological domestic abuse can be accounted for by including the mental health costs, the cost of therapy and counseling sessions, and the loss of a means of livelihood due to psychological abuse. An individual’s trauma due to domestic violence is through transmitting this abuse to their children, and the trend continues perpetually through generation.

They may also spread these effects to the rest of the society by frequently resulting in bullying tactics and another form of controlling behavior. Interparental physical or psychological violence is the psychological abuse of a child. Psychological abuse often leads to substance abuse, homelessness, prostitution, and engaging in other criminal activities. The health system incurs costs in billions of dollars precisely due to the effects of psychological abuse in the domestic setting. For example, the cost of the medical treatment of PTSD, more extended medical treatment that would otherwise take if the victim did not develop complications due to psychological abuse (Postmus et al., 2020).

Legal Recourse for Phycological Abuse in the Domestic Setting in Canada

While trying to discourage the occurrence of acts of domestic violence, it is vital to formulate legal recourse that is of equal magnitude as their effects. However, this is complicated as various passive aggressive behaviors that are often traumatizing may not be considered crimes. However, this is a civil and criminal recourse for psychological abuse in the domestic setting; for example, psychological abuse is regarded as a crime under the Canadian Criminal code.

These acts include the utterance of threats, for example, death threats, on the victim or anyone related to them, knowingly is considered a crime under the criminal law. For example, any form of assault, a direct act or a gesture on a person, that is intentional and is likely to have caused psychological trauma on the victim is considered assault and, consequently, a crime under the Canadian Criminal Law. Criminal harassment is another legal recourse for psychological abuse in the domestic setting, for example, stalking or overt threats on the victims (Durrant & Stewart-Tufescu, 2017).

In conclusion, psychological abuse impacts the victim’s wellbeing, and this effect tends to spill over to the rest of society. However, it is difficult to deal with psychological abuse in law enforcement, mainly. There is limited evidence that one can use to prove victimhood, and most to most acts of psychological abuse are everyday activities that tend to have a significant impact on the victim’s psychological wellbeing.

Psychological Domestic Abuse

References

Bland, M. P., & Ariel, B. (2020). Serial Domestic Abuse. In Targeting psychological domestic abuse with Police Data (pp. 103-123). Springer, Cham.

Durrant, J. E., & Stewart-Tufescu, A. (2017). What is “Discipline” in the Age of Children’s Rights?. The International Journal of Children’s Rights, 25(2), 359-379.

Fraser, J. (2017). Making Domestic Violence a Crime: Situating the Criminal Justice Response in Canada. In Global Responses to Domestic Violence (pp. 41-59). Springer, Cham.

Postmus, J. L., Hoge, G. L., Breckenridge, J., Sharp-Jeffs, N., & Chung, D. (2020). Economic abuse as an invisible form of domestic violence: A multicountry review. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse21(2), 261-283.

Walker, J., & Zuberi, D. (2020). School-aged Syrian refugees resettling in Canada: Mitigating the effect of pre-migration trauma and post-migration discrimination on academic achievement and psychological well-being. Journal of international migration and integration21(2), 397-411.

Yeoh, B. S., Goh, C., & Wee, K. (2020). Social protection for migrant domestic workers in Singapore: International conventions, the law, and civil society action. American Behavioral Scientist, 0002764220910208.