The high profile case of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice has brought the problem of domestic violence to light again.
A good research paper topic for your sociology or women’s studies class might be to provide a definition of domestic violence, offer domestic violence statistics, discuss organizations like the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and report on actions to prevent domestic abuse.
Sports figures and domestic violence
NFL player Ray Rice was caught on an elevator security camera punching his then-girlfriend now wife Janay Palmer Rice so hard she passed out, after which he carried her unconscious body out of the elevator. Due to public uproar, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been forced to change his position of suspending Rice for only two games and suspend him indefinitely.
In other sports-related cases, Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was suspended after being convicted of violence against his then-girlfriend, while Minnesota Vikings player Adrian Peterson was suspended for allegations of child abuse. It’s a shame it takes the suspension of multimillion dollar popular sports figures to bring to light the viciousness of domestic violence, but at least it gets people talking about the problem.
Definition of domestic violence
According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, “Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that can include physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse or financial abuse (using money and financial tools to exert control). Domestic violence is a pervasive, life-threatening crime that affects millions of individuals across the United States regardless of age, economic status, race, religion or education.”
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) made a statement following the NFL decision against Ray Rice. The NCADV “supports the National Football League (NFL) in its efforts to prevent domestic violence by suspending Ray Rice indefinitely. To finally be heard and have people understand the impact of domestic violence is encouraging. However, although this is a step in the right direction, NCADV recognizes that domestic violence does not live only on the football field.”
Health and monetary costs of domestic violence
A research paper topic choice might be to describe the economic and healthcare costs of domestic violence. Studies have seen victims of abuse exhibit debilitating symptoms many years after leaving abusive situations. “[Victims] now face far higher than normal rates of chronic health problems, including arthritis and hormonal disorders, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, chronic pain, severe headaches and irritable bowel syndrome,” reported Alexis Jetter in “Domestic Violence: A Hidden Cause of Chronic Illness” posted on More.com, November 2013.
“As a result, these women spend nearly 20 percent more money on medical care than other women. Annual U.S. medical costs attributable to domestic violence, including years-old assaults that still cause health problems, range from $25 billion to $59 billion, according to a 2008 study funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some of the damage is from old physical injuries, some from the chronic stress of living in terror for too long,” wrote Jetter.
Violence Against Women Act: 20 year anniversary
Another idea for a research paper is to trace the recognition and steps taken to abolish domestic violence. It’s hard to believe but only 20 years ago, on September 13, 1994, the U.S. government during President Bill Clinton’s administration passed the Violence Against Women Act, which recognized domestic violence as a serious crime, rather than a private family matter.
The act funded programs to train police to investigate attacks and funded shelters for battered women. As Congress renewed the bill over the years, it has added elements to protect women from abusive boyfriends, initiated training programs for doctors to screen patients for physical abuse, and offered social services to victims of domestic abuse regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, as reported by Carrie Johnson at NPR.org.
How to stop domestic violence
Basically, giving women the same rights as men, which are due all human beings—education, safe housing, healthcare, justice, and political representation—goes a long way to curbing domestic violence. In the book The Political Economy of Violence against Women, published in 2012, Jacqui True writes: “Women are less vulnerable to violence when they have a good economic status, including access to full-time employment, land/property rights, access to credit/capital, and enjoyment of social and political rights… However, this broader political economic order is often neglected in analyses of violence against women. Governments, nonstate actors, and international organizations need to work together to create enabling conditions for the enjoyment of economic and social rights. Doing so would represent a major step toward eliminating violence against women, its causes, its consequences, and its costs.”
What are some other areas of domestic violence that can be pursued for a term paper?