Violence against girls and women occurs at different stages in their life cycle. Many women experience multiple episodes of violence, which can start from childhood through to adulthood and old age.
The life-cycle approach to gender-based violence helps to understand the cumulative impact of violence faced by girls and women, particularly in terms of its consequences for physical and mental health. These aspects are also important in documenting cases, but also in analyzing the phenomenon.
From the experience of several countries, violence and the female life cycle can be addressed, studied and monitored in a multi-directional way, where several forms of violence can be identified among both residents and refugees or asylum seekers.
Thus, among people from different cultures and according to age, different forms of violence can be identified and documented, as listed in the study entitled “Documenting Gender Based Violence”:
Forms of violence
The causes and roots of gender-based violence can be individual or societal.
Individual causes can be root causes or immediate causes:
Root causes are:
· Alcohol and other substance abuse;
· Mental disorders (including post-traumatic);
· (exaggerated) Desire for control;
· Personality disorders;
· Aggressive behavior (not only in the family but also in society).
An important factor is childhood abuse and trauma. The risk of violence and abuse of a young person who has also been abused is high. Abuse becomes a model of the good or a solution to his psychological problems, deprivation or failed relationships. Abusive behavior becomes a habit for abusers because: it provides solutions for the present; it is based on control over others, which is something abusers want; it is admitted, unpunished or even supported and therefore teaches them that they can multiply abusive behavior to their benefit.
One important factor is childhood abuse and trauma. The risk of violence and abuse being applied to a young person who has also been abused is high. Abuse becomes a model of good or a solution to his psychological problems, deprivation or failed relationships.
Abusive behavior becomes a habit for abusers because: it provides solutions for the present; it is based on control over others, which is something abusers want; it is admitted, unpunished or even supported and therefore teaches them that they can multiply abusive behavior to their benefit.
The immediate causes are:
· Acute or chronic stress (stress levels can also increase as a result of major structural changes that occur as a result of going through the family life cycle);
· Anger attacks (especially in people with low self-control);
· Depression (which can be caused by various factors or by previous trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder);
· Despair (often linked to major changes in the person’s life or in society);
· Jealousy attacks;
· Material deprivation, economic problems, unemployment.
The societal causes of perpetuating antisocial behavior by perpetrators can be linked to several factors and may include:
· Discrimination against women (in the family, at work, in politics, etc.);
· Societal stereotypes, based on social sexualization, which privileges men;
· Promotion of the male model of success in society;
· Imperfect legal framework, which does not facilitate victims’ access to justice;
· In many cases, domestic violence is not seen as a potentially criminal act, but is often seen as a “family dispute” in which no one should get involved;
· Lack or inadequacy of rehabilitation and support services for victims;
· Lack or insufficiency of knowledge and skills of different professionals in the field of trauma and documentation of the consequences of violence;
· The courts do not have a firm response to perpetrators, and court cases can take a long time, so perpetrators are rarely subject to severe economic sanctions or deprivation of liberty;
· The community tolerates perpetrators, often seeking explanations/justifications for them, blaming the woman (victim);
· Tolerance of violence, thanks to norms that legitimize the use of physical force as a means of education;
· The community may see abuse as part of the relationship (“when it’s good, when it’s bad”/”bad with bad, but worse without bad”);
· Negative/abusive involvement in the family relationship of other community members, relatives (brothers-in-law, in-laws), who induce tension and generate conflict, through destructive actions due to jealousy, envy, revenge, etc.;
· The insistence of the community (counsellors, church, relatives, etc.) to offer a second chance to restore the relationship or maintain the family, “in the interests of the children”;
· The social inequality and financial dependence of women, who cannot work because of the need for childcare. This situation is also aggravated by the lack/lack or poor quality of childcare services (e.g. crèches, kindergartens, day centers for children with disabilities, etc.);
· Lack of a culture of assertive communication in society and inability to manage conflict;
· Lack of family counselling services at district center, village level (lack of psychologists or insufficient training for such services);