Survey: Victims of domestic violence reluctant to seek help
by Anadolu Agency
ANKARAApr 06, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Anadolu Agency
Apr 06, 2015 12:00 am
A government-sponsored survey shows women often avoid seeking legal or any other aid for domestic violence, either viewing it as "not a serious problem," out of shame, or believing that their spouse may change.
A survey on domestic violence in Turkey conducted by the Family and Social Policies Ministry and Hacettepe University found a common aversion by women subjected to violence to seek help.
Only one in every 10 women asks for help against violence, and more than half of them only do so when the violence reaches unbearable levels, according to the survey. The majority of women downplay the severity of violence by saying it is not a serious problem, while others believe their spouses may change their behavior in time.
A total of 7,462 women between the ages of 15 and 59, both married and unmarried, were interviewed for the survey.
The cause of violence is primarily problems with the husband's family, according to the survey's results, followed by problems related to the spouse and economic difficulties, respectively.
Forty-four percent of those surveyed who had been subjected to physical and sexual violence said they did not tell anyone about it.
The survey, conducted annually since 2008, found the proportion of women speaking to their friends or close relatives about the violence they experienced rose to 56 percent from 51 percent. This is likely due to rising awareness of domestic violence that has seen wider media coverage in recent years. However, about six in every 10 women whose education level is barely past grade school still do not speak out about domestic violence. A small percentage of women talk to their husbands' parents about the domestic violence.
The survey showed that women's reluctance can partly be attributed to a lack of assistance from others and a lack of knowledge about where to file a complaint and seek assistance. However, it is mainly due to women's own attempt to brush off the instances of violence as a familial matter, fear of retaliation by the spouse or fear of suffering economically, as most depend on their husbands' income as the sole means of living.
The survey showed that 39 percent of the women surveyed were unable to receive help from people who knew and witnessed the acts of violence inflicted on them. Worse, only 19 percent spoke to their parents or family about the violence and received help from them. Experts say this might be attributed to the disturbing fact of keeping everything "in the family," including instances of domestic violence as part of a warped cultural tradition.
Still, women first turn to their family when they suffer at the hands of their husbands and extreme cases of violence when they cannot endure any more is the primary reason for leaving home. Of those surveyed, 30 percent of women said they left home at least once due to physical and sexual violence and another 30 percent said they responded with self-defense when they fell victim to domestic violence.
According to the survey, 89 percent of the women surveyed, or one in 10, do not lodge complaints to any state authority over domestic violence and when they do, they only file complaints to police.
The survey found that complaints often end up with settlement of the matter with the husband, while 23 percent of complaints led to restraining orders against violent spouses. Survey results show many women file complaints and seek assistance only after they were subjected to physical violence at the hands of their spouses and, rather frighteningly, 27 percent said they only sought help when their spouses threatened them with death or attempted to kill them.
Researchers said that nearly half of married women expressed their approval of gender-specific distribution of roles in family life. They believe women "should not disagree with their husbands," and "men are responsible in shaping the behavior of women." However, a large majority of women also advocated that women should be free to spend the money they have freely without intervention from their spouse and men should also do housework.