The Dangers of Domestic Violence, and How You Can Help

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence occurs when physical assault and battery, willful intimidation, threats, controlling, and other harmful behaviors occur between people in a committed relationship. Both husbands and wives can suffer from domestic abuse, and if there are children in the home, the children often suffer as well—whether firsthand or secondhand. The dangers of domestic violence can be dire: physical injury from hitting, kicking, and the like; emotional trauma from both physical and verbal abuse. Some cases even result in death. The results of domestic violence will last a lifetime, and can even cross generations.

What are the social and cultural issues that often lead to domestic violence?

Domestic violence can occur in any home. It is not limited to a certain nationality, gender, religion, or race. As a family law attorney since 1995, I have seen far too many cases of domestic violence in my practice. Name-calling, shaming, and accusing behaviors are prevalent in the cases I have seen; and I have witnessed some severe cases of physical abuse as well.

Due to the fact that I work primarily with the Indian American community, many of the domestic violence cases I have seen have been among Indian Americans. It seems that there is a deep social programming within this culture in which one spouse controls the relationship—and sometimes it goes much too far. They control the bank account, they determine whether the partner can see their family, and they can even control whether their spouse can leave the country in the case of an H-4 visa. That can lead to trying to control every little thing that the spouse does, with violent results.

A recent high-profile case was that of an Indian American former Apple engineer, who was physically and emotionally abused by her husband for 10 years. Disturbingly, he appeared to be being let off on a very lenient plea deal, but I started a petition on Change.org which gathered over 10,500 signatures. Now, in latest ruling, the judge is reviewing the evidence again. I believe that victim statement at the sentencing hearing as well as community’s outrage contributed to fair evaluation of the case by a very qualified judge. See the petition here.

That being said, there are many cultures that have similar ideals, and domestic violence and abuse can happen anywhere and to anyone. Human behavior or abuse is not the legacy of one particular community or social group. It transcends all barriers.

What can be done to spot and prevent domestic violence?

In your own family life, make sure your children know that violence toward family members is never acceptable, no matter what. This includes verbal and physical abuse. Show them this in both words and in actions. I read somewhere: “Children do not listen, they observe”. Set a good example.

If you sense that something is wrong in a friend’s or family’s marriage, you should be on the lookout for warning signs. If your friend or family member is not allowed to spend time with you or with other family and friends, that is a sign of an abusive relationship, even if the potentially-abused person denies it. Victims will often deny abuse and resist help, especially early on. Look out for frequent injuries, as they can be signs of physical violence. Also watch out for name-calling, mocking, and controlling behaviors, as these behaviors are sometimes carried out in public as well as in the home.

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Written by Ahluwalia Law Professional Corporation

Ahluwalia Law Professional Corporation

Welcome to Ahluwalia Law, P.C., the home of Attorney Madan Ahluwalia. Madan has been practicing law since 1994, and has been managing his own firm serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1995. He is passionate about building long-lasting relationships with each client, which begins by offering affordable, efficient, and personalized services.