All countries have a number of burning social issues, which have to be solved as soon as there is a chance to do so. The solution has to be found so quickly because social problems lead to violating the public order and ethical norms that is not accepted by the civilized society. The majority of countries have similar social issues. One of such issues is violence. The research can reach the most favorable results and define certain recommendations as to solving the problem in the process of comparing the two countries, which make certain steps in this aspect. The USA and Brazil were chosen for this analysis as for both countries the scale of problem is great. The two countries have passed a long way of evaluating the situation and developing appropriate legislative norms to protect the victims, though there are still very few positive results.


Magnitude of the Domestic Violence Problem

As it was mentioned in the introduction, the USA and Brazil were not accidently chosen for the present analysis. Some statistical data will help to understand the magnitude of problem for both countries. Thus, Vagianos (2014) states that the number of American women that were killed by current or ex partners between years 2001 and 2012 is 11,766. This number is bigger than the number of American soldiers deceased in Afghanistan during the war actions. There is even more shocking data that confirms the fact that 3 women are “murdered every day by a current or former male partner in the U.S.” (Vagianos, 2014, para. 2). 1 woman in the USA is beaten every 9 seconds. The men, who were the victims of domestic violence in childhood, are three or four times more likely to become abusers in their families/relationships (Vagianos, 2014).

Unfortunately, Brazil also has its statistical data in terms of domestic violence to compare. A woman is killed every two hours in this state (Hangreaves, 2015). One woman in Brazil is assaulted every 15 seconds (Hangreaves, 2015). “Within the past three decades, at least 92,000 women there have been killed as a result of domestic violence revelation” (Hangreaves, 2015, para. 8). The scale of problem became so significant for Brazil, that Dilma Rouseff, the President of the state, introduced a new notion of “femicide” into the legislation, defining any crime committed against a woman in the form of domestic violence (Hangreaves, 2015). Therefore, it is possible to conclude that the number of homicides committed as a result of domestic violence on women is slightly bigger than that in the USA. However, the domestic violence statistical data of the USA and Brazil demonstrates that the issue needs urgent solutions in both countries.

Pervasiveness of Domestic Violence

Judging based on the above statistics, the problem is pervasive for Brazil and the USA. The statistical data is mostly general and reveals the situation for the entire states. However, it is possible to find some data about the geographical distribution of the issue on the territories of the discussed countries. The research of Alhabib, Nur, & Jones (2010) proved that no age, ethnicity or social group has immunity to the issue of domestic violence. As some ladies just hide the fact of domestic violence, the considered statistical data only reveals what the police officers learn from the words of victims and possible physical injures present. Radenkovic (2015) and her colleagues have created a list of 11 U.S. states with the highest level of domestic violence. The 1st position (the highest rate) is occupied by Alaska and makes 103.89 per 100,000 people. Kentucky is on the last place with the lowest level of 32.70 (Radenkovic, 2015). Radenkovic (2015) assumes that the data can be approximate and does not write about any reasons of such distribution. The idea of Alhabib, Nur, & Jones (2010) only confirms that these data may not have any logical or systematic explanations. It is interesting to note that the geographical factor also plays an important part in the issue of domestic violence that is spreading in Brazil. As compared to the USA, this distribution varies not according to the states, but following the parts of the country. Reichenheim et al. (2011) write that the prevalence of domestic violence in Brazil also depends on women’s age and education. One in five women in the north and northeast regions have reported a domestic violence episode. One in eight women became a victim of domestic violence in the central west, southeast and south regions (Reichenheim et al. (2011). The authors insist on the fact that there exists a distinct difference even between a form of domestic violence by the regions of Brazil, starting from punching a woman and ending with choosing the type of weapon. Therefore, the geographical data helps to describe a full picture of the pervasiveness of domestic violence in the USA and Brazil and gives a general overview of the most dangerous regions.

It is also important to evaluate the racial and social groups, as well as gender and age distribution involved in domestic violence. Vagianos (2014) states that not only women suffer from domestic violence in the USA, but men actually constitute 15% of the victims. Cook (2009) states that “male reports of spousal assault made up 6 percent of the total number reported.” ( p.2). For the comparison, in Brazil this value is smaller, but, in general, poor black and brown men are ten times more likely to become the victims of community violence and homicides than females (Reichenheim et al. (2011). Women are definitely more vastly discussed in the context of domestic violence, as they are considered to be the representatives of “weaker” sex. However, in the USA, like in Brazil, men are often reported to be the victims of a specific form of violence: “Men suffered more psychological and verbal aggression (calling men “losers” is a common form of verbal aggression)” (Radenkovic, 2015, para. 2).

Cook (2009) states that men report the cases of domestic violence even more rarely, as compared to women. Moreover, the author confirms that he has communicated with men who stated that they had to hide all the knives and other possible weapons before going to bed (Cook, 2009). The situation with collecting adequate statistical data on domestic violence among males is more complicated than in the case of females and special agencies should apply to healthcare settings and corresponding organizations to get some more or less exact statistical information (Cook, 2009).
As for the social and racial factors, which can be considered in the context of domestic violence, Reichenheim et al. (2011) are certain that the main victims in Brazil are poor black women and children and the above mentioned group of men. It is important to note that the situation in the USA is the same, as black ladies become the victims of domestic violence much more often, as compared with women of other nationalities (Alhabib, Nurs, Jones, 2010). A separate group important for the USA, but statistically not so significant for Brazil, are the immigrant Asian females. The highest prevalence rate for the Japanese women in the USA was 47%, almost equal with black women (Mahapatra, 2012). The data was collected mostly from clinical settings and not the police stations. Mahapatra (2012) is certain that the statistical results can be compromised either by over- or under-reporting. Over-reporting is caused by the fact that the Asian immigrants try to use the American domestic violence legislation to pursue their own benefits. The authors note that some cultural factors explain why the number of Asian victims of domestic violence is so high in the USA. To illustrate, the girls of the Japanese nationality were brought up with the idea that family values are more important than the individual morals.

The Asian females will most likely choose to save the family and avoid reporting the case of domestic violence (Mahapatra, 2012).
The ages of victims of domestic violence vary. In the northern part of Brazil, elderly people suffer the most and in the south, young people and adolescents are the biggest risky group (Reichenheim et al., 2011). Reichenheim et al. (2011) write that in Brazil, the number of cases of psychological and physical violence against children and adolescents are conspicuously high (p. 1963). This rate has been 15.7% for the recent years and Reichenheim et al. (2011) confirm that this value is higher than in the USA (4,9%). At the same time, Vagianos (2014) writes that a great number of children are being annually exposed to domestic violence in the USA, 10,000,000 to be exact. The issue of domestic violence on children creates more topics for discussion. Reichenheim et al. (2011) write that physical violence in Brazil is more common on boys, children with health problems and disabilities and in the families where violence on one of the spouses takes place or in the couples, who have many children, especially the small ones. The author affirms that many scholars and psychologists write about child neglect and try to specifically focus the attention of the readers on this aspect, but no vast and population based states of this problem have even taken place in Brazil in the context of domestic violence (Reichenheim et al., 2011). As compared to Brazil, the USA has a number of researches on the reasons of domestic violence on children, but the statistical data still confirms that the problem continues to exist. The results of studies show that from 3 to 4 million children between the ages of 3 – 17 are at risk of being exposed to domestic violence each year (Vagianos, 2014). While Reichenheim et al. (2011) discuss more factors which can cause child abuse in the family, the only factor, which is considered to be the leading cause of domestic violence on children in the USA is the fact that a man abuses his female partner and the child sees it and takes the process for granted (Vagianos, 2015). Therefore, violence at home is common for all geographical areas of Brazil and the USA; it was discovered that black people suffer most of all among all other nationalities and men, as well as children and adolescents often become the victims of abuse.

Structural Factors, Accounting for the Problem

Domestic violence is not a new notion for the society. From the medical point of view, domestic violence is defined as “the victimization of a person with whom the abuser has or has had an intimate, romantic, or spousal relationship.” (Burnett, 2016, para. 2). Burnett (2016) notes that domestic violence has a variety of forms that might start from sexual abuse and end with stalkering. The author writes about chronic domestic violence and the fact that some victims do not report the cases of abuse, because they just do not know where to turn for help (Burnett, 2016). The factors enumerated by Burnett (2016) may serve as reasons for both – the Americans and the Brazilians applying to domestic violence. The factors are as follows: (1) social (social tolerance of violence); (2) institutional and legal (inappropriate domestic violence legislation); (3) personal (psychological disorders and personal history of abuse (Burnett, 2016). These are not all the factors that may influence the occurrence of domestic violence incidents. Thus, Reichenheim et al. (2011) write that scholars have determined a number of sociocultural risk factors, which are considered to promote domestic violence. Some of them were mentioned in the context of Japanese women becoming victims. Other possible factors include sex inequality, tolerance of violence at schools, disrespect of elderly people and a weak network of support for the victims (Reichenheim et al., 2011).

Reichenheim et al. (2011) also confess that alcohol and drug abuse, as well as uncontrolled usage of firearms, serve as serious causes of domestic violence in Brazil. The fact that a Brazilian woman is married to a much older man, who completely provides for her financially, or a man, who does not practice any religion, is often indicated as a leading reason for domestic violence in Brazil (Reichenheim et al., 2011). The factors named by Burnett (2016) can be applied to the situation with domestic violence in the USA. However, to compare, Vagianos (2014) names a financial factor as a leading cause of why men make their spouses their victims. Men’s desire to control the way money are spent by their female partners rules them (Vagianos, 2014). Mahapatra (2012) mentions one of the leading reasons for domestic violence to take place in both – Brazil and the USA. These circumstances are valid for any country with a rich history and cultural traditions: “the context in which domestic violence takes place may differ due to the culture, societal norms, and history of the community.” (Mahaptra, 2012, p. 381). The cultural norms, which different national groups, living in both states have, form their attitude to domestic violence. Thus, Asian people and Muslim representatives have always followed the patriarchic family organization and their attitude to women shows no respect (Mahaptra, 2012). More historic traditions are revealed in the attitude to women in Brazil: “In a society fuelled by machismo, there is quite a lot of resistance from the police and this is an issue we continue to work hard to combat.” (Andrade, 2013, para. 8). Andrade (2013) also writes about some religious prejudices, which the Brazilians may have.

Besides Brazilian husbands not being believers, there are many influential religious societies in Brazil, who suppose that a woman should not have the right for abortion or the right to independently take other decisions as to her financial state or state of health. This approach violates women’s freedom of choice and leads to humiliating the dignity of the Brazilian females, which can also become a reason of domestic violence. If a woman is not respected by the society, her husband or partner thinks he has the right to behave the way he wants to, regardless of what a woman feels (Andrade, 2013). In contrast with Brazil, in the USA this factor has more a more material basis. In the broader context, the factors of the high level of immigration and globalization, as well as financial situation in the USA and Brazil, can influence the situation with domestic violence in two directions: on one hand, people from immigrant countries can feel more freedom provided for them by more progressive legislations; on the other hand, immigrants often experience the lack of work and education to become independent highly-qualified professionals in the countries of destination and create additional favorable financial factors to become domestic violence victims of their materially independent spouses. To conclude, it is important to state that there is a number of social, cultural and other factors, which cause domestic violence in Brazil and the USA and eliminating the religious and patriarchal prejudices for the first country and giving the U.S. women more possibilities to find a job are the keys to successfully fight the domestic violence.

Steps to Tackle the Problem of Domestic Violence

The information and statistical data about domestic violence in the USA and Brazil confirm the fact that the governments of both countries are aware of the scale of problem and the negative influence it has on the society in general. In order to evaluate the steps taken by the countries to tackle the issue, it is worth giving a short historic review of what the situation with domestic violence had been in Brazil and the USA before their governments took control over the problem. Sardenberg, Gomez, Tavares & Pasinato (2010) write that before 2006 Brazil did not have any criminal law to protect citizens (women) from domestic violence. The only law that could be applied in these cases was the Law 9,099/95. However, it was ineffective and did not criminalize the cases. The most severe punishment was some help to the victim in the form of food; the abusers were not afraid of these measures at all. Unfortunately, by the year 2006, Brazil had already had a long history of wife-murder cases and that was the reason why the feminist movement, united with some public organization and promoted the adoption of women’s protection law, which answered the international standards, by the Brazilian government (Sardenberg et. al, 2010). These were the first steps taken by the state to solve the issue.

A contribution of the feminist movement to solve the problem is great, as the mentioned law helped the Brazilian women promote the application of all possible international regulations, protecting their rights. This law of 2006 is called Maria de Penha Law (LMP). Maria de Pehna suffered from numerous beatings of her husband and he even tried to murder her two times. The worst thing is that this man was found guilty only 20 years after the episodes of domestic violence took place (Sardenberg et al., 2010). “LMP is the only legislation in Brazil that treats specifically and more comprehensively the issue of domestic and family violence against women, guaranteeing women’s human rights and their access to justice.” (Sardenberg et al., 2010, p. 4). The greatest contribution of LMP is the fact that it advocates for imprisonment of the domestic abusers. The Brazilian government did not limit its initiatives with adopting this important law. The government also implemented the Straw Hat Project (Sradenberg, 2010). It is named after the straw hats, which women used to wear when working in the fields. The name hints at the fact that modern Brazilian women have the right to choose where to work and what to become. The Straw Hat Project is valid only in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, but will, hopefully, be expanded to more regions (Sradenberg et al., 2010). It is simple in its essence, but very important.

The project teaches the Brazilian females, living in the region, about their legal rights and gives clues to recognizing the different forms of violence they may experience at home (Sradenberg, 2010). Therefore, though Brazil is named a newcomer in terms of legal regulation and criminalization of domestic violence, Brazilian feminists showed the entire world an example of the way it is possible to effectively fight for their rights. Describing the efforts of the governments in fighting domestic violence and analyzing their strategies, it is also important to summarize the practical results of their activities. Thus, though new rules and regulations were developed to protect the Brazilian women from violence, the question of access to justice is still an issue of concern. Brazilian females do not have the same level of juridical protection in Brazil as men have. To be more precise, from the juridical point of view, they are equal, but sexism, racism and homophobia are additional barriers cultivated in the Brazilian societies for the ladies to fight for their rights. This fact leads to the gender bias in the court cases, which deals with domestic violence: “in defense of the “family”, women are prevented from realizing their rights and thus of breaking with a situation of domestic violence.” (Sardenberg et al., 2010, p.3). In the complementation of the mentioned LMP, there are certain obstacles created, namely non-professional officers and lack of resources, which interfere with the efficient law application. At the same time, the efforts of Brazilian feminists still gave some positive practical results.

In 1985, there were officially created specific police stations for women. The stations are called “Delegacias Especiales” (DEAMs). This was the first case, when public police showed their concerns related to the situation of domestic violence on females. Their status and functions have been slightly changed with time, but their main goal is to initiate domestic violence courts cases. More than 450 stations were created in Brazil, but their distribution on the territory of the country is not equal for all municipalities, as only 7% of all the counties have these stations for the suffered women (Sardenberg et al., 2010). One more problematic issue in terms of these police stations is the fact that the survey of 2000 demonstrated that they were operating in very poor conditions, lacking even the simplest equipment. The female officers had to work up to 10 hours a day and, as a result of an extended working day, their results are not very productive. A separate issue is a tendency to hire more male officers for these special departments. This fact clearly demonstrated that the sex of an officer does not influence the productivity of the work with the victim, but lack of education interferes with giving some quick assistance to the suffered woman (Sardenberg et al., 2010). Therefore, there are certain important steps made by the Brazilian government on the way of domestic violence prevention, namely the adoption of LMP, creation of DEAMs and adaptation of the international standards. However, some trite perspectives of the family connections and lack of financial resources create additional problems with productive application of the laws.

The U.S. government, as well as the Brazilian state administration, did not react immediately on the importance of the state control of domestic violence. However, the U.S. government tried to control domestic violence by some legal means earlier than the Brazilian government did. According to the official web site of the Office on Women’s Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (, this department was appointed responsible for domestic violence control and prevention. The body developed and issued a number of important documents at once. The first regulation adopted in terms of the discussed issue was the Violence against Women Act (VAWA): “it created new types of punishments for certain crimes and started programs to prevent violence and assist the victims.” (U.S. Department of Health, 2015, para. 2). The scope of the act was expanded with time and as for now, the document determines the criminal responsibility for certain violence cases, offers a set of preventive measures and provides state funding for the victims. It also defines the criminal responsibility for immigrant groups. The State Advisory Committee works to develop the strategies to convey the importance of the VAWA’s goals and make sure that each community has the checklists for domestic violence and is aware of the existing regulations. Thus, the activities of the U.S. government in the aspect of domestic violence do not end with simple issuing of the document (U.S. Department of Health, 2015). The second regulation, which is worth the special attention, is the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) (U.S. Department of Health, 2015). It helps the victims of domestic violence and is focused on their dependents (mostly children). The Act defines that a victim of domestic violence, especially a child, who has the right to receive a shelter. The document provides assistance in three main directions: formula grants (the financial aid to victims through different support programs), the national domestic violence hotline (gives 24-hour confidential help, all calls are free and the victim is immediately connected with the corresponding service provider) and the Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancements and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA) Program, which recognizes domestic intimate violence to be a community problem, which should not be solved by the suffered victim only (U.S. Department of Health, 2015). There are more state regulations and laws, which were created by the U.S. government in order to prevent and determine the level of criminal responsibility for domestic violence. The state has also adopted the international regulations mentioned in the context of Brazil. The practical results of issuing the enumerated documents led to the fact that the Office has performed a significant volume of works related to women not only suffering from violence at home, but also females in prison and tribal women. They educated them as to the rights these women have according to the current legislation. Moreover, women with disabilities became a focus of special attention of the Department in the context of domestic violence ( The Department has established partnership with other U.S. state organizations to reconsider the concept of domestic sexual assault. The body offers some practical guidelines as to what a woman, suffering from domestic violence, can do to solve her problem. It is important to note that though both the Brazilian and the U.S. government realize that fighting domestic violence is their primary aim and take corresponding measures, there is only some statistical data as to the percentage rates of the improvements for the countries. Thus, Radenkovic (2015) states that though domestic violence statistics prove the importance of the issue for the USA, the rate of domestic violence in the state has only improved from 5.1 per 1000 people in 2005 to 4.2. in 2014. In contrast, the situation in Brazil has become worse for the recent years and the number of domestic violence cases keeps increasing (Sardenberg et al., 2010). Some possible reasons for this difference is the lack of reporting, which may be still a stronger factor in Brazil than in the USA. From the facts mentioned above, it is logic to conclude that the USA and Brazil have quite a developed legislative system to control the level of domestic violence. However, as it was mentioned in the main factors, leading to abuse at home, the legislation is not quite effective. The reason of this is lack of social work with possible and real victims of domestic violence, who do not report the cases.

It is essential to note that the U.S. and Brazilian governments are not the only sources of assistance to domestic violence victims. There exist a number of social non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which actively work to fight against domestic violence. One of such influential organizations in the USA is the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) ( According to the official website of the organization (, its members are the voices of victims and survivors. They promote zero tolerance to domestic violence and impact the public policies to decrease the influence of domestic violence on the normal life of victims. These unfavorable consequences may include “health problems, including chronic pain, physical disability, drug and alcohol abuse, and depression.” (Alhabib, Nur, & Jones, 2010, p. 370). The most important activity of the NCADV lies is cooperation with other international societies to influence the world policy. The members of organization have already developed a number of effective programs to help the victims of domestic violence. These programs involve cosmetic surgery help for the suffered individuals, honoring the names of those ladies and children, who were murdered at home, HIV/AIDS prevention through free trainings for the population, assisting pregnant ladies, who suffer from abuse at home ( Their goals and programs are not written on paper only, but are fulfilled in practice. They cooperate with the U.S. Congress and organize thematic conferences to show all the victims of domestic violence that they exist and always ready to help.

The same as the USA, Brazil has some societies to fight with domestic violence. The organization number one is the Brazilian Alliance. Compared to the NCADV, the official web site of the Brazilian Alliance ( presents this organization more as a domestic volunteer society, engaged only in solving the issues within separate counties in Brazil and not reaching to the state level. However, a deeper research demonstrates that the scale of this organization is not lower than of the NCADV. The Brazilian Alliance team offers to all its site visitors to call an attorney at once indicating his or her number. This approach confirms serious intentions of the organization and is oriented at women with different educational levels, namely for those, who do not use the Internet actively and do not have much experience of surfing the websites, looking for the necessary information. Actually, receiving some quick help is what a victim needs most. As against the NCADV, the Brazilian alliance does not promote any programs at the state level, but offers assistance as an intermediary from the Immigration Office and the Office of Civil Rights ( This assistance includes some juridical and healthcare services and educational activities. It also promotes a healthy form of family empowerment, which is not surprising, keeping in mind the way Brazilians value their family ties. The tasks of the Brazilian Alliance seem to be even more complicated, as compared to the NCADV, because it has to find a balance between promoting modern family values and combining them with the old cultural traditions. The Alliance closely cooperates with the Brazilian communities and organizes various educational seminars ( There is no doubt that both the American and Brazilian societies have an aim to stop domestic violence by all possible means. However, their approaches are different. If the NCADV acts more on the state level, the Brazilian Alliance more actively works with the citizens. It is not possible to conclude with absolute certainty the approach of which organizations is more effective as the statistical data of both countries is not very soothing. However, the Americans are more successful in fighting the domestic violence as for now.

The State of the Problem in Ten Years

The research performed for the current paper gives sufficient grounds to judge about the future of the problem of domestic violence in countries such as Brazil and the USA in next ten years. The statistical data confirms that the present state of the problem is not favorable. Moreover, in spite of the legislative improvements made by the governments of both countries, the situation has not significantly improved. These facts do not mean that the governments and social organizations are the only participants to be blamed of the situation. The problem of lack of reporting had always existed in this aspect, as well as the issue of gender inequality, especially burning for Brazil. Neither the governments, nor the social organizations are capable of ruining the order and cultural traditions, which have existed in the countries for many centuries. It is possible to make certain recommendations to them as for improving the situation with domestic violence within the next ten years to at least somehow improve it. These recommendations are as follows:
• Develop more materials to convey the information about the women’s rights,
available assistance services and other aspects of the domestic violence legislation in both countries. It is important to use a more simple language for
poorly educated and immigrant groups to be able to understand everything.
• Widely distribute these materials in the form of leaflets and other visual developments among the corresponding agencies, as well as schools, healthcare centers and other facilities, where it is useful for individuals to possess this information.
• Promote the social advertising and information campaigns through all possible media resources.
• “Promote workshops of continued training to police officers, deputies and clerks, as well to personnel and professionals in other network agencies, focusing especially on those who have more direct contact with women who seek assistance.” (Sardenberg et al., 2010, p. 10)
• Organize training workshops for all officers and policy makers to make sure that they are well aware of the corresponding legislation.
• Offer a set of incentives for police officers (financial and non-financial), activate their cooperation with NGOs.
• Implement special courses on domestic violence legislation and the women’s rights in high school and Universities. Make these courses expanded for juridical professions.
• Convey to the citizens the importance of reporting the domestic violence cases at the very beginning and create special study groups and effective instruments for confidentially collecting the information.
• Support the initiatives of all the possible national and international governmental bodies and NGOs in developing more new methods to fight domestic violence (Sardenberg, 2010).

The steps taken by the governments of Brazil and the USA nowadays generally follow the enumerated recommendations. However, these activities do not cover all the involved groups and are mostly aimed at correcting what has already been done than at preventing domestic violence. If the governments of the considered countries do not follow the guidelines, the situation with domestic violence in Brazil and the USA will stay complicated and not change in the coming ten years. If some radical steps are taken, the states will be able to confirm that the situation has improved. Thus, the family values in Brazil will not be broken, but more Brazilian ladies will become policewomen and will find some safe approaches for other women to come to the police station and report. As the USA is a multinational country, it will be important to solve the issue with domestic violence for immigrant groups. Therefore, it is most probable that the U.S. government will also form the separate police stations, like on Brazil or at least make certain policemen (policewomen) responsible for domestic violence cases. A close cooperation with social workers will be very helpful.

A person, who is interested in the issue of domestic violence, has a chance to learn many new facts from the research, performed for the current paper. First of all, it is possible to conclude that the issue of domestic violence is really important for both countries and needs urgent solutions. It is surprising that the governments of both countries and NGOs have passed a long way of reforms and changes to improve the situation, but the violence levels are still at its peak. Though the situation is complicated, it is worth noting that there are still some useful recommendations for Brazil and the USA to tackle the issue and in case of following them, domestic violence situation will not be a burning problem in ten years.

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