Domestic Violence is a range of behaviors that are used to establish power and control by one intimate partner over the other (Ward, 2014). Domestic violence is not caused by genetics instead it is a learned behavior. It is a choice that the person makes therefore it is not caused by alcohol or drugs although they could play a major role in why a person commits violent acts. Domestic violence is a problem in the United States as well as it is globally. Domestic violence is an issue that occurs in all cultures and in all socio economic classes.
The cycle of violence occurs in four different stages. Tension begins to build and the buser becomes angry then minor incidents of abuse begin to happen such as a push or a slap. There is no communication between the abuser and the victim. Eventually the tension becomes too much and the abuse occurs this could also be referred to as the explosion. When the episode of abuse occurs it could consist of physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, sexual, economic, or spiritual abuse. After this phase comes reconciliation where the abuser apologizes and promises that the abuse won’t happen again.
During this stage the abuser may even give the victim gifts and make new promises in order to eep their partner at their side. Then comes the calm stage what we also like to call the honeymoon stage. During this stage the abuser acts as if nothing happened and also where some promises that were made are actually met. During this stage the victims hopes that all goes well and that the abuse is over. This stage is what makes victims stay. Although a lot of the time tension builds once again and the cycle of violence continues until the victim finally decides to leave (Ward, 2014).
Throughout the film we can see Beth and Jake experience the cycle of violence. The first verbal abuse occurred when Jake got ome with plenty of sea food for his family. Beth was so excited about it they began to kiss and become intimate in the kitchen. But once he told her he got fired she became upset and so did he. He said “fuck you, you have to spoil everything don’t you”. They then made up, Jake went to the bar and after the bar he invited everyone over to drink at their place. Beth also stayed up to drink with them. This was during their calm stage where everything was good for both of them.
They were drinking together even sang a love song together for their entire guest. That same night Uncle Bully asked for eggs although she efused. Beth was upset after an altercation with her older son where she slapped him because he said she was drunk. As she said no to cooking the eggs her husband Jake walked into the kitchen. She became even more upset when he demanded for her to do it so she threw the eggs on the floor. Jake became very angry and punched her in the face. Beth spit at him and he continued to physically abuse her.
He continued to punch her across the face, choked her, threw her to the floor then took her upstairs sexually abused her and told her “you do what you are told”. The next morning he told her to go clean herself up ecause she looked ugly and he said that she was a bad example for their daughter Grace. A few days went by, Jake was acting as if nothing had happened and he told Beth “I told you I was sorry”. Jack gave Beth money, she kissed him and again they were back to the honeymoon stage they made up and planned a trip to go visit their son Boogie they even stopped for a picnic on their way there.
Jake then stopped at the bar, as she went in to try to get him to leave, he verbally abused her. He told her to shut up and fuck off. The cycle continued until their daughter Grace committed suicide and Beth finally decided to leave Jake. The power and control wheel explains how the abuser initiates threat in order to take control of the women’s life and circumstances (Ward, 2012). This wheel explains the overall pattern of abusive and violent behaviors caused by the abuser in order to maintain control over their partner.
The batterer establishes patterns of intimidation and control in their relationships such as coercion and threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, minimizing, denying and blaming, using children, economic abuse, and male privilege (Ward, 2014). In the film we see Jake use multiple threats in order to control Beth. After Grace’s suicide, Beth told Jake she was taking Grace home and Jake threatened to kill her if she didn’t stay out of his way. He thinks that this will cause for her to become afraid so that she will not leave.
A lot of times throughout the film Jake intimates Beth, he screams at her, gets close to her face as he talks loudly, raises his hand pretending like he is going to hit her, hits the wall making her jump of fear. Jake also emotionally abused her when he called her ugly the next morning after he had just beaten her up. She had a swollen face, dry blood, a busted lip and a purple eye. After this incident Jake tried to Blame Beth for it, he told her if she saw he was getting upset that she should have got out of his way. There were multiple scenarios where Jake referred to Beth being the reason why his kids were the way that they were.
He said they were like that because she always went after them trying to console them. Jake also said that she was a bad example for their daughter Grace. Children who grow up in violent homes are affected in their personal growth and development due to traumatic experiences lived in their home. They suffer emotionally and physically. A Michigan study finds that children who have experienced domestic violence within their family usually suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Usually children are also unable to build nurturing bonds with either of their parents.
Statistics show that in a year over three million children witness violence in their homes (Ward, 2014). In the film we saw a variety of examples of how Beth and Jake’s children were affected by the violence that went on in their home. Their older son joined a gang and he was barely even home. Their son Boogie was sent to a juvenile detention center and the younger ids hated their home environment and lived in constant fear. Grace seemed to be the most impacted because being the older sister she took over on some of her mother’s responsibilities such as cleaning, taking care of her siblings and trying to provide food for them as well.
Grace became very angry towards both of her parents and after she was raped things only got worse for her. Grace became isolated from her family and ran away from her home. When she came back home her father became verbally violent with her and that was her breaking point. Grace’s suicide ideation was no longer ideal instead it became real, Grace was now dead. She could no longer deal with all of the violence at home. I personally have to agree that the film accurately represented issues of domestic violence.
I think that they did a good job displaying the cycle of violence throughout the film. They had multiple scenarios of Jake and Beth both in good times and in bad times. In the film Beth made a comment that well represents the cycle of violence, when she is talking to one of her friends, Beth tells her “It’s the same old story” admitting that the violence often occurs. Beth also said “I’ve got to learn to keep my mouth shut” in domestic violence relationships the ictim tends to self-blame for the incidents that occur, in this case Beth did the same.
Some other great dynamics and characteristics the film included was in regards to the impact on the children. In the film we saw how the older son joined a gang, and how their son Boogie was sent to a juvenile detention center, Grace becomes angry with her parents and she quickly began to hate the life they were living. This allowed us to be aware of how the violence at home was affecting the children. A lot of the time we think that the victim in the only one being affected but sadly in a home fully of children we are ruining them as well.