Domestic Violence in Relationships





Domestic Violence in Relationships

Relationships form a basic part of many people’s lives today. A major characteristic of relationships is love and affection. Relationships face a myriad of challenges, which sometimes result to conflict and even culminating in fights. Fights in relationships when severe may result in domestic violence. Domestic violence occurs when one spouse seeks to take or maintain control over the other spouse. This paper expounds on domestic violence and relates it to two films, War of the Roses (1989) and Larry Crowne (2011) whose characters faced some kind of domestic violence, some of whom made it out of these relationships safely and some of whom did not.

Domestic violence has been a major problem affecting relationships for many decades. Domestic violence, also called spousal abuse, involves the abusing spouse almost entirely seeking to control and subdue the victim of the violence. The perpetrators of spousal violence use guilt, fear and shame to weigh their victims down. Domestic violence is indiscriminate and does not occur based on age, sex, ethnic background or even economic status. It can happen to any one, at any time and at any place. Although women are commonly victimized by men, the latter also experience domestic violence. They may be abused emotionally, verbally or sometimes physically. Domestic violence escalates from verbal abuse and threats to violence. While physical injuries may be the most obvious sign of spousal violence, psychological and emotional wounds are usually manifest and can be very severe. Emotional wounds destroys one’s sense of self-worth, lowers self-esteem and usually results in anxiety and depression. Statistics over time show that domestic violence has severally been identified as major factor leading to death or pregnancy and childbirth. In 2011 and 2012 alone, the police reported almost 800,000 domestic violence cases. The studies also found that women are more likely to be on the receiving end of domestic violence and that it is greater among women under the age of 24 years and those who are have some form of disability or illness (Burns 40). These statistics show the gravity of domestic violence and creates the need to control this menace.

There are many signs that one is in an abusive relationship. The signs of domestic violence are sometimes overlooked, ignored or denied. The most vivid sign is that of fear for one’s partner and feelings of belittlement and self-loathing for oneself. Some other common signs of spousal violence include feeling numb emotionally or hopeless, thinking that one deserves the abusive treatment, acute fear of one’s partner, a partner who criticizes and humiliates, a partner who ignores your accomplishments and opinions or one who sees you as property or as a sex object. All these and many more are signs that a relationship is abusive and unhealthy. Most cases of domestic violence report physical abuse as the main sign of spousal violence. Physical violence entails any type of abuse that inflicts physical pain, harm or even injury. A common form of physical abuse is sexual abuse. Forced sex, even when done by a spouse with whom one also has consensual sex with is an act of violence and aggression. Some other forms are common such as psychological, emotional and economic forms of violence. Physical involves intimidation, blackmail, destruction of property, stalking, and constant accompaniment. Emotional includes insults, manipulation of feelings to induce guilt in the victim, subverting the victim’s relationship with their children and silent treatment. Economic form of abuse involves withholding money or other financial resources, forbidding employment or even forced welfare fraud.

Despite what many people believe, domestic abuse does not result from the abuser’s loss of control over their behavior. Domestic violence results from the abusers deliberate choice to exercise control over their victim. Abusers use different kind of tactics such as dominance, humiliation, isolation from the outside world, threats, intimidation, blame and denial where abusers make excuses for something that is generally inexcusable. Domestic violence usually falls into a common cycle of violence. Usually abuse begins by manifesting followed by guilt where the partner is remorseful usually not for what they have done, but for fear of being caught and facing the consequences of their actions. The guilt phase is followed by excuses. Usually the abuser may blame their actions on a bad childhood or the victim for their actions (Hester 47). The abuser then resorts to their normal behavior in order to regain control over the victim and keep them in the relationship. Many victims usually put up with the abuser because this honeymoon phase gives them the illusion that the abuser has changed their ways (Wilson 24). Unfortunately, this phase does not last long and the abuser fantasizes about abusing the victim again and does it eventually. It is important that the victim identifies these tell tales signs and acts accordingly in order to avoid any serious injuries from the abusive spouse. Victims of domestic abuse are urged to speak up about their experience in order to get help, support and a solution to the problem even though the solution might involve leaving the abusive spouse (Hester 98).

The two films, War of the Roses and Larry Crowne contain some characters who are victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. In the film, War of the Roses, Oliver and his wife Barbara resorted to brutish ways of trying to resolve their conflict. Many instances in the film depict their inhumane acts towards each other that eventually ended in their tragic deaths. In one instance, an initially doting and loving Barbara took pleasure in seeing her husband suffer a heart attack a day after they had an intense argument. Barbara felt a sense of relief amid a bit of shock when she realized that Oliver might be dead. She later narrated to him that she no longer loved him and that she wanted a divorce. This however did not happen as Oliver realized that all she wanted was the house they lived in and everything that was in it. Tension rose between them and this became a herald of their constant fights and disagreements.

Domestic violence as aforementioned may be manifested in many different ways. In the film, Barbara wounded Oliver emotionally when she attempted to seduce Oliver’s lawyer into supporting her instead of her husband. Oliver loved his wife and her actions elicited hurtful feelings in him, as he could not understand why his wife resented him as she did. In another incident, Barbara attempted to throw Oliver out of the house not caring where he would stay when their divorce could not successfully push through. The violence escalated when Gavin, Oliver’s lawyer was unable to get the two to settle the matter amicably. Physical and emotional abuse was self-evident when the couple began to humiliate each other in public. They both destroyed the house furnishings and another fight culminated in Barbara almost killing Oliver when she ran him over while in his prized Morgan 4/4 sports car. Oliver ran over Barbara’s cat although this was by accident. In another shocking turn of events, Barbara avenged her cat by brutally locking Oliver in their in-house sauna and he nearly succumbs to dehydration and heatstroke.

In another instance of spousal abuse, Oliver attacked Barbara when she claimed that the pâté she had made him was from his dog. As she fled to the attic, she loosened the chandelier with the hope that it would detach and kill Oliver instantly. Their quarrel however culminated in both hanging dangerously from the loose chandelier and eventually leaping to their deaths. Their acts of violence ended tragically, as they both wished to control each other in their marriage. Oliver however appeared to be more of the victim as most of his actions were born of a desire to retaliate or even sometimes an attempt to make peace with Barbara. Both had control of their choices although they chose to keep fighting. They both used the tactics of dominance and isolation to hurt each other and this is seen where Oliver boards up the house to prevent Barbara from escaping. The couple exhibited all the signs of domestic abuse and they were stuck in the vicious cycle of violence as they fought repeatedly and rather fiercely.

In the film Larry Crowne, several instances of domestic violence are evident between the two characters Mercedes and her sluggard husband Dean. Dean subjects Mercedes to emotional torture when he spends most of his time watching pornography instead of attending to their marital needs and making her happy. When confronted by his wife on this, he replies that it was natural for men to behave the way he did. In another instance, the two are involved in an intense argument after which Mercedes alighted from Dean’s car and resorted to take the bus home. Dean’s insulting habits had resulted in this and this is a common form of emotional abuse in relationships. Usually the victim may begin to have a reduced sense of self worth or feel hopeless. Mercedes was humiliated by Dean’s comments about her physique and this was a common from of emotional abuse. Domestic abuse in some instances culminates in separation of the couple. In the film, Mercedes and Dean are divorced since she could not put up with his habits. Mercedes rekindles her passion for teaching and this goes to show that the emotional abuse that she put up with was taking its toll on her life. Many victims of domestic violence and abuse are subjected to suffering that usually adversely affects them.

These two films are clear depictions of how detrimental domestic abuse and violence can be to its victims and abusers in general. Victims of domestic violence and abuse may suffer physically, emotionally and even economically. They are subjected to brutish ways that reduce their sense of self worth. The two films contain characters who suffered domestic violence, which did not end well for some of the characters. Domestic violence is detrimental to both the abuser and the victim and thus adequate support should be given to the victims while appropriate action should be taken against the perpetrators of the violence.

















Works Cited

Burns, Kate. Violence against Women. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2008. Print.

Hester, Marianne. Making an Impact: Children and Domestic Violence : a Reader. London: J. Kingsley Publishers, 2007. Print

Leeson, Michael, James L. Brooks, Arnon Milchan, Danny DeVito, Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, G D. Spradlin, and Warren Adler. The War of the Roses. New York: Twentieth Century Fox, 2001. Film

Roberts, Julia, Bryan Cranston, Cedric, Taraji P. Henson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wilmer Valderrama, Pam Grier, Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Nia Vardalos, James N. Howard, Alan Cody, and Philippe Rousselot. Larry Crowne. Universal City, CA: Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 2011. Film

Wilson, Mike. Domestic Violence. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Print.

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