Domestic violence in Nevada is one of the state’s more prevalent legal concerns. In 2016 alone, law enforcement received domestic violence-related emergency calls at least 65,026 times. As recently as last year, the state ranked fourth nationwide in terms of domestic violence-related homicides, with many of the victims being women. Despite the relative downward trend in cases, being part of the top five is still a cause for concern among domestic violence advocates in Nevada.
While the numbers can raise some eyebrows, another problem comes into view: domestic violence cases aren’t as well-reported as they should be. The high number of domestic violence-related homicides is reflective of this; rather than seek help, many of these abused partners choose to endure their predicament, putting them at even more risk until it is too late.
Let’s look at a few reasons why domestic violence cases may not be reported.
Domestic abusers are often described as controlling, imposing their will on their partners and always believing that they are in the right and their partner is always in the wrong. It can be anything as simple as constantly nagging on who is calling them, to physically hurting their partner when they do something that the abuser believes is contrary to what they want. In the worst cases, the abuser outright blames their partner for the abuse they are receiving.
A person that has been in such an abusive relationship for so long may eventually lose confidence in their own judgement. They become more guarded, choosing what they say and do, trying to make sure they please their partner. The brewing self-doubt within the victim can discourage them from seeking help from the authorities.
American society has put a lot of importance on a stable and whole family. Despite the growing trend of divorcees, single-parent homes, or childless couples, many of the more traditional inidividuals insist on upholding the model American family, with each member playing their traditional roles. This traditionalist approach may discourage abused spouses from filing a domestic violence complaint against their partners if the abuse becomes abusive or near-lethal.
Cultural norms in many places across the world do not hold many domestic violence abusers culpable of crime, even if what they did may result in irreparable damage on the part of the victim. While this is slowly being rectified and dealt with, there are still countries that believe it is a natural part of their culture. There were at least 13 countries that did not decriminalize domestic violence as late as 2017, a sombre sight in the modern era.
For the Kids
Related to the previous point, many abused partners stay in abusive relationships to keep their family stable. In this case, the reason is not always due to cultural or societal norms that they grew up with. For instance, the abuser may have the more stable source of income; leaving the abuser may mean that the children’s future is no longer assured.
In a more dire case, the abuser may have something against the victim that they can use for blackmail. This not only affects the victim, but the children as well; knowing this, the victim chooses to stay. Most domestic violence victims do not realize that children witnessing the abuse have indirectly become domestic abuse victims as well. Furthermore, staying in an abusive relationship ‘for the kids’ puts the children at a greater risk of receiving direct abuse themselves.
Acts of Passion
It is not unheard of for a long-standing couple to suddenly be involved in domestic issues, only for things to normalize. Yet after a period of time, tempers flare up again, entering into a repetitive cycle where things are calm and smooth-sailing with rare interludes of familial disputes. To some, it may look like the typical ‘trouble-in-paradise’ situation driven by excessive emotions; however, things can head in a different direction if said interludes always involve excessive abuse, and the peaceful periods become noticeably shorter.
Some abused partners believe that the abuse they’re experiencing is only temporary, caused by excess tension between them and their partner. They think that their partner just snapped due to a particularly bad day at work or any other form of emotional distress that has been brewing for a long time, and that they only need a one-time release to let it all go, physical or emotional pain notwithstanding. This misguided belief in acts of passion affects both new couples (who may have only seen their partner’s good side during the dating phase) and long-time spouses (who only find out too late about how abusive their partner can be) and can lead to them staying far too long to be healthy.
One of the strong beliefs of many traditionalists is that family problems stay with the family and are not an issue for outsiders to handle. As such, domestic violence victims tend to avoid discussing their abuse with other people, even their closest friends. In some extreme cases, even close relatives (like siblings or cousins) are deliberately kept out of the loop, either by the victim or the abuser.
This is one of the worst myths that affect reporting of domestic violence cases. By thinking that such issues need only to be talked about between spouses, a proper solution is not introduced into the conversation and the cycle of hurting continues.
Domestic violence is a serious issue that is best addresssed with prompt reporting and continued cooperation on the part of the victim. The only way for the victim to break free is to seek direct help.