Physical Abuse: Screening and Treatment

REPRINTED BY PERMISSION from The Annals of The American Psychotherapy Association, 2001, vol. 4, No. 5, pp.15-17. Do not be fooled into thinking the percent of battering victims (about 16%) in this country is small. Stripped of the obfuscation of statistics, that comes to between two and four million (Medical Education Group Learning Systems, 1997) and 8.7 million women a year (Feld & Straus, 1990) resulting in “more injuries to women victims than accidents, muggings, and cancer deaths combined” (Valentine, Roberts, & Burgess, 1998, p. 29). Twenty-five percent of abused women try to commit suicide Twenty-five percent of abused women try to commit suicide (MEGLS). Eighty percent of male batterers aggress against parents, children, pets, and outsiders. Arrests and convictions for other violent behavior of these men is significantly higher than for the general population (Walker, 1984). Domestic violence kills police too, at the rate of 25% of all slain on duty (Guerney, Waldo, & Firestone, 1987). Violence also has a medical cost: over 50 million dollars (Hart, 1993). The costs in people hurt or killed and dollars spent are actually not the worst aspect of violence. In the long run, its most pernicious element is that it takes place within families–the precise location where people expect a safe harbor from harm, and, even worse, it is intergenerationally transmitted (Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz, 1980). Conservative estimates of the number of children whose parents assault them while beating each other ranges between 1.4 and 1.7 million (Hotaling, Straus, & Lincoln, 1990). Unfortunately for child victims, not only are they the likely recipients of their father’s anger at their mother, but...
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