Domestic violence refers to acts of abuse, physical or emotional for example, against one person by the other in a mutual relationship such as a spouse or intimate partner. But it may also involve acts against parents or children. In the majority of cases, it involves acts perpetrated against females, but this does not mean that men are never victims.
In terms of physical abuse, methods could include using fists or some type of weapon to inflict hurt and pain to the victim. The choice of weapon can include a knife, cutlass, piece of furniture, a bat, a household tool, acid, a stone, a gun or almost anything on which the assailant can lay his or her hand.
According to Trinidadian criminologist, Dr. Randy Seepersad, domestic violence “includes, but is not limited to, kicking, shoving, pushing, slapping, clubbing, stabbing, shooting, or verbal and psychological terrorization of the individual concerned. As well as causing physical damage, domestic violence can lead to psychological distress and trauma, with effects possibly lasting a lifetime.”
Classification of physical trauma may include blunt force trauma or penetrating trauma.
The first, blunt force trauma refers to injuries that occur at the surface of the body but which may or may not lead to deeper levels of injury including bone fractures.
Penetrating trauma is injury that occurs when an external object breaks the surface of the skin and enters the body, for example when a bullet bores into someone.
Penetrating trauma is associated with the use of firearms. Firearms are weapons that can be carried by hand and inflict wounds by utilizing missiles or small projectiles such as bullets or fragments that possess sufficient kinetic energy to penetrate living tissue.
The type and extent of injury inflicted depends two main factors: the dynamics of the projectile and the local reaction of the tissue under attack.
Generally all firearms are made up with a tube of variable length called the barrel. Within the barrel is an area, called the chamber, that contains the cartridge of ammunition, the bullet, a propellant and a primer.
When the trigger is pulled, the propellant undergoes combustion, a reaction that is highly exothermic ( a lot of energy is given off). This helps to develop a high pressure due to the presence of expanding gases in the chamber and causes the bullet to be accelerated down the barrel.
As the bullet leaves the firearm, it spins and yaws (moves from side to side along the main axis of the trajectory). The amount of kinetic energy transferred by the bullet to the tissue and the angle at which the bullet enters the tissue determine the extent and nature of the injury.
The types of injuries received by women as a result of domestic violence result from some of the most gruesome violent attacks. The statistics internationally on acts against women are staggering. [Please note that this is not a comprehensive study on domestic violence but one that focuses on the use of firearms to commit acts of domestic violence.]
Strangulation seems to be a common means for murder in this context. Beatings by hand or the use of some other tool, use of acid or knife may leave the victim with significant signs of battering. The victim may end up in the hospital needing stitches, painkillers, surgery and other medical assistance.
The use of firearms in domestic violence raises the bar. With a gun or firearm, the capacity to kill is greatly enhanced.
Empirical evidence provided by American criminologist, Franklin Zimring, points to the conclusion that whether a victim lives or dies in an attack depends on the lethality of the weapon with which the first two strikes are made.
A firearm is a tool designed for destruction. Any tool that makes a task easier will encourage that task to be done more frequently and with greater probability of success.
Thus, the ready availability of firearms, internationally and locally, make them an increasingly more popular choice for domestic violence with the accompanying more appalling and lethal results.
What this says then, is that violence with the use of a firearm is heavily weighted in favour of murder as opposed to violence using weapons with less capacity to kill.
Violence of any type is unwanted and unnecessary. Domestic violence, violence against “loved” ones, is abhorrent. Domestic violence with the use of a firearm is sure to result in critical wounding or fatality.
We must make efforts to stem the tide of violence resulting from frustration, anger, lack of coping skills and the need for control and immediate acquisition of wealth or property.
We need to do all that we can as a nation to remove firearms from our streets and homes, to make them less easily accessible.
It is alarming that the man on the street who may be experiencing domestic problems or who is either a criminal or potential criminal can easily obtain an illegal firearm while persons seeking through legitimate channels to obtain licensed firearms have great difficulty accessing same.
I do not endorse the possession of firearms, legally or illegally.
Reducing the volume of available guns, reduces the chance of violence that results in fatalities.
Saturating every aspect of school life with character development programmes is highly recommended for long term and sustainable crime prevention. This can lead to reduction in anger, frustration, self-absorption and lack of respect for self, others and life and to an increase in modes of conflict management, leading to decreased violent responses.