The Spectre of Domestic Violence

by TarikA on February 19, 2014 - 11:09am

Whether we choose to ignore it or not, it can still be said that violence is a ubiquitous characteristic of our society. Though we usually see it as being manifested through regional armed conflicts or local crime, violence is something that can also be found, quite commonly, at home. Across the world, millions of households are gripped with the horror of domestic violence, which can lead to many victims suffering from physical and psychological pain, or worse. The issue of domestic violence is explored in two articles – one from The Gazette and another from the Guardian.

In The Gazette article, titled “Preventing domestic violence is everyone’s business: shelter director”, by Sue Montgomery, the issue of domestic violence is brought up within the context of the recent killings that have occurred in Quebec during the month of February, which have claimed the lives of 9 people in total. All incidents, according to a professor and researcher at Université Laval, can be linked by one concluding statement – that “things weren’t going well” for the involved parties beforehand. In other words, these slayings were the product of unstable domestic lives and long periods of rumination, where the anger and resentment possibly felt by the assailants was left unabated by friends or loved ones around them. The killings in Ste-Croix-de-Lotbinière, Trois-Rivières and Terrebonne have left an indelible reminder on the horrors that domestic imbalance can bring, and have, many hope, helped shed a needed light on the significance that should be accredited to crimes such as harassment.

In the Guardian article, titled “Campaigners welcome Hamid Karzai’s intervention on domestic abuse law”, by Emma Graham-Harrison, it was announced that the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, had blocked a law that “would silence victims of domestic violence, forced marriage and child abuse,” due to pressure mounted from a campaign by Afghan activists and Western diplomats. The law in question bans “relatives from testifying against each other,” which largely undermines the efforts of the prosecution in even the most blatant cases of violence, mostly perpetrated against women. The law, which has since been altered, has still many worried about the fragile rights of women in Afghanistan, as the legislature does not grant “legal rights” to call relatives to testify in court; the decision is still optional, meaning that fair representation of an incident may be still hard to come by. In recent years, women’s rights in Afghanistan have faced a re-emerging wave of resentment from hardliners in the country, and many organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, have emphasized the importance that international diplomacy can retain on forming a more modest and fair criminal prosecution code in Afghanistan.

Though we may live an era where the spectre of domestic violence may be more readily denounced through portals such as social media and other parts of the Internet, domestic violence has still managed to profit from another growing web phenomenon – cyber stalking. In a journal published by the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice, the issue of cyber stalking is raised within a legal context, wherein legislature aimed at preventing cyber stalking (in the United States) is discussed, as well as how laws differ from state to state. The journal relates to the two previous articles as it emphasizes the importance that must be accredited to proposing stronger legislature with the aims of reducing or altogether preventing domestic abuse cases from transpiring. The legal system should be a barrier readily available to strike down on cases of stalking or abuse expressed at home.

Though the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice encompasses a whole range of disciplines in its journals, the most relevant in the case of domestic violence would have to be that of criminal law. According to the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario, this discipline is concerned with “harmful or undesirable conduct” perpetrated in society and a how an agent of the law (lawyer, attorney general, etc.) must respond to this. It is very much related to the issue of domestic violence as it deals precisely with how to handle the outcome of violence perpetrated amongst partners in a relationship or even between children and their respective guardians. Overall, the issue of domestic violence is indeed something that must be resolved more effectively through the legal system, but the issue also demands attention from people who witness, or have reason to believe, that their friends or members of the family are experiencing domestic abuse. Cases need to be reported and victims need to be guided and aided more heavily in order to insure a faster and more stable recovery from their given predicament. It’s easier said than done, but we need to promote awareness of the issue and solidify a need in our society for an open conversation on how to resolve it. Domestic violence is a spectre that has lingered for too long and it will continue to do so if inaction is the only thing that we are able to muster against it. 


You are so right that domestic violence has become a major problem in our society today. The law and legislation aimed at reducing or eliminating DV is certainly one way to approach the problem. Another is by education and outreach, particularly towards men. Many groups are forming around the country to educate men on rethinking their perceptions of the roles of men and women today and to have a healthier respect towards women. There’s a group like that in my area, where I’m doing my internship actually. It’s called Stand Up Guys. If you’d like to know more you can visit their website at and click on the Stand Up Guys link.

I think this is a very informational and educational topic to choose and to bring to light. I agree that domestic violence is something that needs to be talked about more and not such a taboo. I also think that it is not only important to educate men about the perceptions of the roles of men and women, but to educate everyone. More specifically, I think its important to bring about the fact that men are victims of domestic violence too. 40% of men are the victims of domestic violence cases, and that is just the statistics of men who reported it. We need to teach men that it's okay to come out and reach for help and awareness. They may feel emasculated, but need to understand that this can happen to anyone and they are not alone. I also think that it is important to bring to light that there are different forms of domestic violence that's not just physical. People can also suffer from emotional abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, and spiritual abuse.
I think that this was a great post with good information and use of recourse. Maybe you should think about adding a paragraph of outreach numbers and warning signs that the person, friends, or family can look for and be aware of.

This is a great article and topic to research. Domestic violence is on of the largest and most unreported crime in North America. This form of crime falls into the dark figure of crime and is one of the greatest factors of the crime. As we all know, many are afraid to report the crime and they feel that they can change their loved one. Previously, there was a domestic violence case at my college that resulted in the death of a student in the building I lived in. I was very close with this victims friends and knew the victim. It was a very hard time for my friends who were very affected by the death. It created quite the grieving process for the school and the people in my building, including myself. Domestic violence is a topic that I have been very interested in, and it is a crime that I have strong feelings against. This crime is one that we need to get those victims to report. I agree with what you said about how the media denounces domestic violence and I agree that this is one way we could help victims feel comfortable coming forward. This was a well written piece that I found quite informative.

Providing informal information to both women and men about domestic violence can help reduce these horrible acts of violence. With so many scared to report this violence it makes it nearly Impossible to stop. I feel if more information is provided it can create a safe comfortable feeling for more women and men to speak up and get the help they need.

Absolutely. It's definitely a size-able challenge to prevent violence from occurring in the most private place of all -- someone's home. Awareness can have a profound impact and we should encourage people to foster the notion that they can help others who they feel are in need of refuge.

Thanks for the comment @rachelsignorelli. Glad you took the time to respond to my post and happy to know you're also concerned with the issue.

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