Ethical Dilemma: If Your Neighbor Has Domestic Violence Problems, Would You Report It?

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Domestic violence is a serious problem all over the world, and even progressive countries like the United States have its own share of domestic violence problems.

What exactly is domestic violence?

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is defined as:

“…the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background.

Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, and thus is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma, and sometimes death.”

The keyword is abuse, which includes repeated verbal aggression against an intimate partner.

The numbers

In a fact sheet, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence highlights these statistics.

  • One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
  • 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
  • Historically, females have been most often victimized by someone they knew.
  • Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
  • Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.

While most domestic violence victims are mostly women, men can be victims of abuse as well.

Why you should report domestic violence

According to Daniel Perlman, a domestic violence lawyer, in his experience, victims of domestic violence have difficulty “coming out”. Perhaps due to psychological and emotional factors, among many others, victims are able to rationalize the behavior of their partner. In spite of the harm inflicted on them, the victims may truly be unable to get out of their situation.

That, if nothing else, is a reason you would want to report domestic violence problems if you witness them. It really is the humane thing to do. If the victims can’t help themselves, maybe they need someone from the outside to intervene.

Why you might not want to report domestic violence

On the other hand, there is always the idea of “minding your own business”. In today’s modern society, people tend to have an aversion for those who poke their noses in other people’s business. If your neighbor has domestic violence problems, and they don’t want to do anything about it, why should you get involved?

This may be an especially strong reason if you’ve already tried to do something, like talk to them in an effort to draw them out and offer your help, and you’ve been rebuffed. You might even get in trouble yourself by meddling with other people’s affairs.

But is this enough of a reason to stand by and not do anything?

Back to you

I think it is rather obvious what my stand on the issue is. Domestic violence is harmful. It can even kill – in more ways than one. While every situation is different, the law does have measures in place to protect victims of domestic violence.

Now, what if you know for sure that your neighbors (or a friend, perhaps) have domestic violence problems? What are you going to do? Are you going to get involved and report the situation to the police, or are you going to let them sort their own problems?

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