Beijing Yuanzhong Family and Community Development Center, an NGO dedicated to protecting the rights of women and children, released a research report on the plight of domestic violence victims on the seventh anniversary of the implementation of the Anti-Domestic Violence Law.
By conducting surveys of domestic violence victims through telephone interviews and questionnaires, the report offers insights into the complex dilemmas and needs faced by victims.
Meanwhile, the report tries to explore and discover the challenges and shortcomings in the implementation of anti-domestic violence practices and the Anti-Domestic Violence Law from the perspective of victims, and puts forward suggestions on how to improve the social support system.
In terms of the source of violence, more than 90 percent of the perpetrators were male spouses or fathers. Nearly 40 percent of the perpetrators exhibited addictive behaviors, such as alcoholism and gambling.
The report also finds that male perpetrators generally had higher income levels than female victims. Of these, 40 percent of males received a higher income with the same or a lower level of education than their female counterparts.
In terms of those falling victim to domestic violence, the age distribution of the interviewed victims has become younger. With victims ranging in age from 13 to 59 years old, the highest number of cases were reported by women born during the 1980s and 1990s.
Around 70 percent of the victims have children. Meanwhile, 70 percent of the perpetrators reported having suffered or witnessed domestic violence as children.
Victims of intimate relationship violence are often subjected to multiple sources of violence. Nearly half of the victims interviewed reported co-occurrence of intimate relationship violence and parent-child relationship violence.
Fathers are the main perpetrators of parent-child violence. In addition to violence from parents, male children are also a major source of in-home domestic violence. At the same time, women are more likely to be marginalized in domestic violence contexts.
Of the 71 cases of intimate relationship violence collected in the report, only two victims said they did not suffer any trauma. In general, victims suffer from multiple types of trauma, such as insomnia, emotional loss, and anxiety. Sixty percent needed medical treatment for the physical harm done by domestic violence.
The report finds that the biggest consideration for victims when seeking external help is whether their requests can be effectively responded to and resolved. In addition, financial costs and professionalism are also major influencing factors.
Police and government departments are the primary destination for people seeking help for the first time. Meanwhile, victims prefer to seek help from professional resources such as anti-domestic violence professionals. About 20 percent of the respondents believed that COVID had made an impact on their situation including in terms of accessing external support.
The report finds that, overwhelmingly, the victims of domestic violence are female. Domestic violence is both a violence and a gender issue. Gender not only contributes to the occurrence of domestic violence but also magnifies the harm to women in violent relationships and exacerbates the plight of female victims.
When seeking help, victims generally face problems such as a lack of understanding, responsiveness, and awareness of the seriousness of domestic violence.
In addition, their perceptions of domestic violence and family relationships have led some women to have contradicting emotions and perceptions when experiencing domestic violence even though they recognize the illegality of it.
Following publication of the report, the Yuanzhong Family and Community Development Center has put forward four suggestions.
The first is to strengthen the promotion of domestic violence awareness and various support and services to narrow the information gap among victims.
We should let more women know what to do when they encounter domestic violence, and help society at large understand the dangers of domestic violence and the situation of domestic violence victims. This way, we can eliminate the culture of shame around domestic violence.
Local financial departments should set up special funds to support the construction and operation of shelters for domestic violence victims, and provide subsidies and support for organizations engaged in such work.
There should be more anti-domestic violence training for NGOs which operate in this arena to enhance the professionalism and timeliness of domestic violence support and further promote domestic violence awareness and gender consciousness among organizations.
There should also be more investment in legal, psychological and social work services because they are among the most needed types of support.