Local January 7, 2024 | 8:00 am

Why has violence become normalized in the country?

Santo Domingo–The social environment in the country has been transformed by the violence that permeates the family, neighborhoods, traffic, and other spaces, becoming normalized and changing the peaceful coexistence that characterized Dominicans.

Dr. Luis Vergés, clinical psychologist, family therapist, researcher, writer, and professor, analyzes that the violence in the country is the result of a combination of personal and environmental factors. He indicates that on a personal level, there is a lack of empathy in a nation increasingly lacking in trust among its citizens, disregard for social norms, hostility towards individuals or groups, impulsivity due to drug consumption, distortions in some people who interpret the vulnerable position of others as permission to violate them.

He points out that violence uses as dissemination mechanisms the same media that are called to counteract it; that is, it is learned in the family and is validated in society by actors or spokespersons who irresponsibly promote and legitimize it through social networks and other formal and informal media.

The family of abducted girl was recommended to receive psychological help.
He understands that violence increases or is maintained in those societies where messages, actions, or attitudes that justify it predominate instead of transforming the conditions that trigger it. Thus, some of these maintenance factors are social inequalities that generate defenselessness in some groups, such as violent behaviors without exemplary sanctions. Another critical factor is the tendency to see, as usual, that people with more strength and power dominate or abuse those who are more defenseless without consequences for their actions. She laments that violence is normalized in homes through physical and psychological abuse and also in our culture when sexist or discriminatory messages towards social or gender groups are allowed.

Few role models
He adds that there is a shortage of references that invite coexistence based on respect and good manners. Individualism has displaced the ideal of tolerance, respect, and harmony that should prevail to fulfill the social contract of healthy coexistence. Added to this is a populism where very few use their leadership to question and reject what is happening.

As for the mental health factors that are most related to violence, Vergés indicates that they are the consumption of alcohol and other drugs, behaviors associated with impulse disorders, stress, mood, and anxiety. “The persistence of these conditions increases the chronicity of violence over time and ends up condemning several generations within the same family to repeat the same patterns.”

He emphasizes that social violence should not be overlooked as it is transferred to the school environment, acutely annihilating the main pillars that support the mental health of children and adolescents.

It is estimated that, in general terms, 35% could be affected by some mental health condition, a situation that has skyrocketed since COVID and which highlighted the weaknesses of health systems to respond to these problems.

It indicates that the less people can change their negative judgments in the face of unexpected situations, the more difficult it will be for them to manage their anger appropriately. Overexposure to stressful situations, messages that invite violence, or breaking the rules represent the main barriers for anger or any emotion to be regulated in the best way, increasing the risk of detonating in destructive behaviors for oneself and others.

Are we born violent?
As to whether one is born violent or whether it is a social construction, the specialist indicates that one is not born with this condition and that the best examples are the countries that are today referents of healthy and peaceful coexistence, such as Germany, Japan, Italy, which in the past were very violent societies. “Genetics is not chosen; violence is. It is a decision made to harm others to obtain some advantage, control or domination, you are not born with it; it is learned in unequal societies that promote disrespect for fundamental rights or have weak, inconsistent and slow systems when condemning these actions,” he explains.

Vergés says that violent behavior can be changed in frequency and intensity, and cases can be reduced and not be as horrifying as some that have been seen. Also, as a society, there is an agreement to deny permission that with attitudes of indifference and normalization, many times is stimulated, using in a better way the family, the school, the church, the media, and new technologies. Therefore, it indicates that public policies should focus on determining the most predominant forms of violence and the spaces where they occur most frequently. Also, Congress should establish legislation that contributes to neutralizing the actors who make the dissemination and normalization of messages that invite us to violence their norm of life. In addition, there should be more programs aimed at families, schools, universities, and communities to prevent violence and encourage the promotion of models of social behavior that invite good treatment, a culture of peace, and the promotion of forms of coexistence based on respect, compassion, and love.

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juan aquino
January 8, 2024 11:24 am

This article is not acurate at all, violence has not been normalized, on the contrary, there have been a steep reduction in violence in the country since the 80s and 90s. the murder rate in the country droped from 25 per 100 thousands in 1999 to just 9 last year, and the overall amounts of violence have also decreased.

Last edited 1 month ago by juan aquino