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Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, dating abuse, and intimate partner violence (IPV), is a pattern of behavior which involves the abuse by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, dating or within the family. It is experienced by women and men in heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Forms of domestic violence include physical, emotional, verbal, economic and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms of abuse to violent physical abuse that results in disfigurement or death. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that globally 38% of murders against women are committed by an intimate partner.
Domestic violence often occurs because the perpetrator believes that abuse is acceptable. This is particularly insidious within intergenerational cycles of abuse and cultural systems that condone violence. Extreme forms of abuse include various forms of homicide, including honor killings where individuals, generally women, are killed for the perceived dishonor that they brought upon their family, such as for disagreeing to marry or having been perceived not to have been a virgin on her wedding night. Awareness, perception, definition and documentation of domestic violence differs widely from country to country, and from era to era.
Often there is a cycle of abuse during which tensions rise and an act of violence is committed, followed by a period of reconciliation and calm. There are different types of intimate partner violence, the dynamics can vary. In some cases there is a sole abuser, where there may be times when the victim acts in self-defense or retaliation. In other cases there may be mutual or common couple violence where both partners engage in abusive or violent behavior.
Individuals may be trapped in domestic violent situations through isolation, power and control, insufficient financial resources, fear and shame. As a result of abuse, survivors may experience physical disabilities, chronic health problems, mental illness, limited finances, and poor ability to create healthy relationships. Victims may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When children who live in a household with violence may continue the legacy of abuse when they reach adulthood.
Management of domestic violence may occur through medical services, law enforcement, counseling, and other forms of prevention and intervention. Important measures include lethality assessment to determine the extent to which an abuser is likely to murder and safety planning so that the victim have tools and plans to protect themselves.
- 1 Definitions
- 2 Abuse
- 3 Influences and factors
- 4 Causes
- 5 Effects
- 6 Management
- 7 Prognosis
- 8 World-wide implications
- 9 History
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 Bibliography
- 14 Further reading
- 15 External links
Traditionally, domestic violence (DV) was mostly associated with physical violence. For instance, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition, domestic violence is: "the inflicting of physical injury by one family or household member on another; also: a repeated / habitual pattern of such behavior."[nb 1] Domestic violence is now more broadly defined to include "all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence" that may be committed by a person who is a family member or a person that has been an intimate partner or spouse, irrespective of whether they lived together.
The term "intimate partner violence" (IPV) is often used synonymously with domestic abuse or domestic violence. Many types of intimate partner violence occur, including violence between gay and lesbian couples, by men against women, and by women against their male partners. Violence by a person against their intimate partner is often done as a way of controlling their partner, even if this kind of violence is not the most frequent.
Family violence is a broader definition, often used to include child abuse, elder abuse, and other violent acts between family members. Family violence is defined by the United Nations as follows:
- "Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation".
Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects, battery), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation. It can also mean endangerment, criminal coercion, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, trespassing, and harassment.
Physical abuse is abuse involving contact intended to cause feelings of intimidation, pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm. It includes hitting, slapping, punching, choking, pushing, burning and other types of contact that result in physical injury to the victim. Acid attacks, also seen in domestic violence, occurs when acid is thrown in anger or vengeance at their victims, usually at their faces, burning them, and damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones. This can result in long term blindness and permanent scarring of the face and body.
Denying the victim needed medical care, depriving them of sleep or other necessary functions, forcing the victim to engage in drug or alcohol use against their will, or creating any physical harm are forms of physical abuse. It can also include inflicting physical injury onto other targets, such as children or pets, in order to cause emotional harm to the victim.
Both women and men have been killed as the result of domestic violence, but the rate is generally lower for men. For instance, in the United Kingdom, 37 percent of murdered women were killed by the intimate partner and for men, 6 percent were killed by an intimate partner. From 40 to 70 percent of the women murdered in Canada, Australia, South Africa, Israel and the United States were killed by an intimate partner The World Health Organization (WHO) states that globally, about 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.
In the Middle East and other parts of the world, planned domestic homicides, or honor killings, are carried out due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or community. According to Human Rights Watch, honor killings are generally performed against women for "refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce—even from an abusive husband—or (allegedly) committing adultery," or exhibiting behavior perceived to have dishonored the family. A woman may be subject to extreme violence, including an honor killing, if she is deemed not to be a virgin on her wedding night due to the absence of blood and where the social expectation for a bride to be a virgin is extremely strong.[nb 2]
Bride burning is a form of domestic violence in which a bride is killed at home by her husband or husband's family due to his dissatisfaction over the dowry provided by her family. The act is often a result of demands for more or prolonged dowry after the marriage.
Sexual violence, or sexual abuse, is defined by World Health Organization as any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim. It also includes obligatory inspections for virginity and female genital mutilation. Aside from initiation of the sexual act through physical force, sexual abuse occurs if a person is unable to understand the nature or condition of the act, unable to decline participation, or unable to communicate unwillingness to engage in the sexual act. This could be because of underage immaturity, illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or due to intimidation or pressure.
In many cultures, victims of rape are considered to have brought 'dishonour' or 'disgrace' to their families and face severe violence, including honor killings, from their families and relatives. This is especially the case if the victim becomes pregnant.
Marital rape is non-consensual sexual intercourse or penetration perpetrated by a person against his or her spouse. Marital rape may be experienced through patterns of physical abuse, force, or demeaning sexual behavior by the perpetrator. It is under-reported, under-prosecuted, and is still legal in many countries, partly because of a myth that sex between married partners, whether consensual or not, cannot be rape. For centuries non-consensual sex in marriage was not considered a crime because it has been held historically that by marriage a woman gave irrevocable consent for her husband to have sex with her any time he demanded it.
Feminists worked systematically since the 1960s to criminalize marital rape. In 2006, a study by the United Nations found that marital rape is a prosecutable offense in at least 104 countries For instance, a few of the countries where it is illegal are Australia, Denmark, England, the United States, Argentina, Canada, and Zimbabwe. There are many countries in which marital rape is legal, including Afghanistan. Where marital rape is legal, women are instructed before marriage that sex with the husband is their absolute duty, that they do not have the right to ever refuse it and it has been considered the right of the husband to take it by force, if "necessary". In Lebanon, for instance, while discussing a proposed law that would criminalize marital rape, Sheik Ahmad Al-Kurdi, a judge in the Sunni religious court, said that the law "could lead to the imprisonment of the man where in reality he is exercising the least of his marital rights."
Emotional abuse (also called psychological abuse or mental abuse) can include verbal abuse and is defined as any behavior that threatens, intimidates, undermines the victim’s self-worth or self-esteem, or controls the victim’s freedom. This can include threatening the victim with injury or harm, telling the victim that they will be killed if they ever leave the relationship, isolating them from others, and public humiliation. Constant criticism, devaluing statements, and name-calling are emotionally abuse behaviors. Emotional abuse may include conflicting actions or statements which are designed to confuse and create insecurity in the victim. These behaviors also lead the victims to question themselves, causing them to believe that they are making up the abuse or that the abuse is their fault. Perpetrators may alienate a child from a parent or extended family member by teaching or forcing them to harshly criticize another person.
People who are being emotionally abused may feel that their significant other has nearly total control over them. Isolation damages the victim's sense of internal strength, leaving them feeling helpless and unable to escape from the situation. Victims often suffer from depression, which puts them at increased risk for suicide, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse.
Verbal abuse is a form of emotionally abusive behavior involving the use of language, which can involve threats, name-calling, blaming, ridicule, disrespect, and criticism. Less obviously aggressive forms of verbal abuse include statements that may seem benign on the surface that are thinly veiled attempts to humiliate, falsely accuse, or manipulate others to submit to undesirable behavior, make others feel unwanted and unloved, threaten others economically, or isolate victims from support systems.
Economic abuse is a form of abuse when one intimate partner has control over the other partner's access to economic resources. Economic abuse may involve preventing a spouse from resource acquisition, limiting the amount of resources to use by the victim, or by exploiting economic resources of the victim. The motive behind preventing a spouse from acquiring resources is to diminish victim's capacity to support his/herself, thus forcing him/her to depend on the perpetrator financially, which includes preventing the victim from obtaining education, finding employment, maintaining or advancing their careers, and acquiring assets.
In addition, the abuser may also put the victim on an allowance, closely monitor how the victim spends money, spend victim's money without his/her consent and creating debt, or completely spend victim's savings to limit available resources
Gender aspects of abuse
The relationship between gender and domestic violence is a controversial topic. There continues to be debate about the rates at which each gender is subjected to domestic violence. Reasons for mixed findings include the limitations of existing survey tools (e.g., conflict tactics scale) to measure all relevant aspects of domestic violence and the use of disparate samples in studies. Sociologists Michael P. Johnson and Kathleen J. Ferraro argue that the rate of domestic violence against men is often inflated due to the practice of including self-defense as a form of domestic violence.
Gender differences in reporting violence have been cited as another explanation for mixed results. A 2011 review article by Chan found evidence of gender-specific reporting patterns: men tended to under-report their own perpetration of domestic violence while women were more likely to under-report their victimization. Factors which according to the reviewed studies can lead women to under-report their partner's violence include financial or familial dependence on the abusive partner, the tendency to excuse or normalize the partner's violence with the reasoning that their partner really loves them, and self-blaming. By contrast, men who under-report their own violence may be influenced by the fear and avoidance of legal consequences, the tendency to blame their partner, and a narrative focus on their needs and emotions during reporting. Furthermore, cultural factors can influence men's under-reporting of their own violence. In cultures where machismo is prevalent and where men are considered the head of households in control of their family, wife battering may be not perceived as a serious behavior that needs to report.
A problem in conducting studies that seek to describe violence in terms of gender is the amount of silence, fear and shame that results from abuse within families and relationships. Because there are different viewpoints about what constitutes domestic abuse, it is difficult to compile study results. In addition, people who have experienced subtle forms of abuse or have lived through patterns of abuse over many years begin to see it as normal.
Some authors have criticized the gender-based approach of DV. A 2013 review of studies from five continents examined the correlation between a country's level of gender inequality and rates of domestic violence and the authors concluded that "partner abuse can no longer be conceived as merely a gender problem, but also (and perhaps primarily) as a human and relational problem, and should be framed as such by everyone concerned." In an effort to shift consciousness about the connections between gender and abuse, many organizations have made an effort to use gender-neutral terms when referring to perpetratorship and victimhood. For instance, broader terms like "family violence" are used rather than "violence against women".
Violence against women
Although the exact rates are widely disputed, especially within the United States, there is a large body of cross-cultural evidence that women are subjected to domestic violence significantly more often than men. In addition, there is broad consensus that women are more often subjected to severe forms of abuse and are more likely to be injured by an abusive partner and the situation can be worse if the woman is dependent on the offender economically, socially or as regards her right to residence".
The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) states that "violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which has led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men".
The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women classifies violence against women into three categories: that occurring in the family (DV), that occurring within the general community, and that perpetrated or condoned by the State.
During pregnancy a woman may begin to be abused or long-standing abuse may change in severity, which may have negative health affects to the mother and fetus. Pregnancy can also lead to a hiatus of domestic violence when the abuser does not want to harm the unborn child. The risk of domestic violence for pregnant women is greatest immediately after childbirth.
Violence against men
Domestic violence against men refers to abuse against men or boys in an intimate heterosexual or homosexual relationship. It can include physical, emotional and sexual forms of abuse. Signs of abuse may be difficult to anticipate initially in a relationship and may begin as the relationship grows increasingly controlling. An abusive relationship may involve mutual violence or require a man to leave with his children if his wife or partner is abusive to their children.
Determining how many instances of domestic violence actually involve male victims is difficult. Male domestic violence victims may be reluctant to get help for various reasons. Some studies have shown that women who assaulted their male partners were more likely to avoid arrest even when the male victim contacts police. Another study examined the differences in how male and female batterers were treated by the criminal justice system. The study concluded that female intimate violence perpetrators are frequently viewed by law enforcement and the criminal justice system as victims rather than the actual offenders of violence against men.
Research has suggested that gay men are at higher risk of domestic violence than their heterosexual counterparts.
Domestic violence occurs in some same-sex relationships. Gay and lesbian relationships have been identified as a risk factor for abuse in certain populations.
Historically, domestic violence has been seen as a heterosexual family issue and little interest has been directed at violence in same-sex relationships. It has not been until recently, as the gay rights movement has brought the issues of gay and lesbian people into public attention, when research has been conducted on same-sex relationships. A 1999 analysis of nineteen studies of partner abuse concluded that "[r]esearch suggests that lesbians and gay men are just as likely to abuse their partners as heterosexual men."
People in homosexual relationships, however, face special obstacles in dealing with the issues that some researchers have labeled "the double closet". A recent Canadian study by Mark W. Lehman suggests similarities include frequency (approximately one in every four couples); manifestations (emotional, physical, financial, etc.); co-existent situations (unemployment, substance abuse, low self-esteem); victims' reactions (fear, feelings of helplessness, hypervigilance); and reasons for staying (love, can work it out, things will change, denial). At the same time, significant differences, unique issues and deceptive myths are typically present.
Lehman points to added discrimination and fear gay and lesbian people can face. This includes potential dismissal by police and some social services, a lack of support from peers who would rather keep quiet about the problem in order not to attract negative attention toward the gay community, the impacts of HIV status or AIDS in keeping partners together, due to health care insurance/access, or guilt; outing used as a weapon, and encountering supportive services that are targeted and/or structured for the needs of heterosexual women and which may not meet the needs of gay men or lesbians. However Lehman himself noted that "due to the limited number of returned responses and non-random sampling methodology the findings of this work are not generalizable beyond the sample" of 32 initial respondents and final 10 who completed the more in-depth survey.
Cycle of abuse
Lenore E. Walker presented the model of a Cycle of abuse which consists of four phases. First, there is a build up to abuse when tension rises until a domestic violence incident ensues. During the reconciliation stage, the abuser may be kind and loving and then there is a period of calm. When the situation is calm, the abused person may be hopeful that the situation will change. Then, tensions begin to build, and the cycle starts again.
Intimate partner violence types
Distinctions are made among the types of violence, motives of perpetrators, and the social and cultural context based upon patterns across numerous incidents and motives of the perpetrator. Types of violence identified by Johnson:
- Common couple violence (CCV) is not connected to general control behavior, but arises in a single argument where one or both partners physically lash out at the other.
- Intimate terrorism (IT) may also involve emotional and psychological abuse. Intimate terrorism is one element in a general pattern of control by one partner over the other. Intimate terrorism is more likely to escalate over time, not as likely to be mutual, and more likely to involve serious injury. IT batterers include two types: "Generally-violent-antisocial" and "dysphoric-borderline". The first type includes people with general psychopathic and violent tendencies. The second type are people who are emotionally dependent on the relationship. Support for this typology has been found in subsequent evaluations.
- Violent resistance (VR), sometimes thought of as "self-defense", is violence perpetrated by victims against their abusive partners.
- Mutual violent control (MVC) is rare type of intimate partner violence occurring when both partners act in a violent manner, battling for control.
Others, such as the US Centers for Disease Control, divide domestic violence into two types: reciprocal, in which both partners are violent, and non-reciprocal violence, in which one partner is violent.
Influences and factors
The social views on domestic violence vary from person to person, and from region to region, but in many places outside the West, the concept in very poorly understood. This is because in most of these countries, the relation between the husband and wife is not considered one of equals, but instead one in which the wife must submit herself to the husband. This is codified in the laws of some countries – for example, in Yemen, marriage regulations state that a wife must obey her husband and must not leave home without his permission.
"Disobeying" a husband can often result in violence. These violent acts are not considered a form of abuse by society (both men and women) but are considered as being provoked by the behavior of the wife who is seen as being at fault herself. While beatings of wives are often a response to "inappropriate" behaviors, in many places extreme acts such as honor killings are approved by a high section of the society. In one survey, 33.4% of teenagers in Jordan's capital city, Amman, approved of honor killings. This survey was carried in the capital of Jordan, which is much more liberal the other parts of the country; the researchers said that "We would expect that in the more rural and traditional parts of Jordan, support for honour killings would be even higher".
In a 2012 news story, The Washington Post reported, "The Reuters TrustLaw group named India one of the worst countries in the world for women this year, in part because domestic violence there is often seen as deserved. A 2012 report by UNICEF found that 57 percent of Indian boys and 53 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 think wife-beating is justified."
In conservative cultures, a wife dressing in attire deemed to be not sufficiently modest can result in serious violence by her husband or relatives, with such violent responses being seen as appropriate by most of the society: in a survey, 62.8% of women in Afghanistan said that a husband is justified to beat his wife if she wears inappropriate clothes.
As written in Domestic Violence Cross Cultural Perspective: "No religion sanctions violence against women." There are some religious scriptures that have been "taken out of context" to support male-dominance within a community.[nb 3] However, Judaism, Christianity and Islam have supported male-dominant households and "socially sanctioned violence against women has been persistent since ancient times," starting with Romulus in 753 BCE when he enacted the first marital law which made women the possessions of men, who they were required to obey.
Religious leaders play an important role in preventing and treating domestic violence when they provide abusers with guidance and treatment option information and offer their to support those who have been subject to abuse.
Custom and tradition
Local customs and traditions are often responsible for maintaining certain forms of DV. Such customs and traditions include son preference (the desire of a family to have a boy and not a girl, which is strongly prevalent in parts of Asia), which can lead to abuse and neglect of girl children by disappointed family members; child and forced marriages; dowry; the hierarchic caste system which stigmatizes "lower castes" and "untouchables", leading to discrimination and restricted opportunities of the females and thus making them more vulnerable to abuse; strict dress codes for women that may be enforced through violence by family members; strong requirement of female virginity before the wedding and violence related to non-conforming women and girls; taboos about menstruation leading to females being isolated and shunned during the time of menstruation; female genital mutilation (FGM); ideologies of marital 'conjugal rights' to sex which justify marital rape; the importance given to 'family honor'.
In recent years, there has been progress in these areas, with laws being enacted in several countries: for example the 2004 Criminal Code of Ethiopia has a chapter on harmful traditional practices – Chapter III – Crimes Committed against life, person and health through harmful traditional practices. In addition, a convention was held by the Council of Europe to address domestic violence and violence against women. It called for the creation and fully adjudicate laws against acts of violence previously condoned by traditional, culture, custom, in the name of honor, or to correct was is deemed unacceptable behavior. The United Nations created the Handbook on effective police responses to violence against women to provide guidelines to address and manage violence through the creation of effective laws, law enforcement policies and practices and community activities to break down societal norms that condone violence, criminalize it and create effect support systems for survivors of violence.
Relation to forced and child marriage
A forced marriage is a marriage where one or both participants are married without their freely given consent. In many parts of the world, it is often difficult to draw a line between 'forced' and 'consensual' marriage: in many cultures (especially in South Asia, the Middle East and parts of Africa), marriages are prearranged, often as soon a girl is born; the idea of a girl going against the wishes of her family and choosing herself her own future husband is not socially accepted – there is no need to use threats or violence to force the marriage, the future bride will submit because she simply has no other choice. As in the case of child marriage, the customs of dowry and bride price contribute to this phenomenon. A child marriage is a marriage where one or both parties are younger than 18.
Forced and child marriages are associated with a high rate of domestic violence. These types of marriages are related to violence both in regard to the spousal violence perpetrated inside marriage, and in regard to the violence related to the customs and traditions of these marriage: violence and trafficking related to the payment of dowry and bride price, honor killings for refusing the marriage.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that women in abusive relations are at significantly higher risk of HIV/AIDS. WHO states that women in violent relations have difficulty negotiating safer sex with their partners, are often forced to have sex, and find it difficult to ask for appropriate testing when they think they may be infected with HIV. The WHO stated that:
|“||There is a compelling case to end intimate partner violence both in its own right as well as to reduce women and girls vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. The evidence on the linkages between violence against women and HIV/AIDS highlights that there are direct and indirect mechanisms by which the two interact.||”|
The causes of domestic violence are not made clear through research, but there are several factors that can result in violence. One of the most important is a belief that abuse, whether physical or verbal, is acceptable. Related to that, growing up in a violent home or living within a culture that accepts domestic violence are factors. Other factors are substance abuse, unemployment, psychological problems, poor coping skills, isolation, and excessive dependence on the abuser.
Intergenerational cycle of violence
A common aspect among abusers is that they witnessed abuse in their childhood, in other words they were participants in a chain of intergenerational cycles of domestic violence. That does not mean, conversely, that if a child witnesses or is subject to violence that they will become abusers. Understanding and breaking the intergenerational abuse patterns may do more to reduce domestic violence than other remedy for managing the abuse.
Responses that focus on children suggest that experiences throughout life influence an individuals' propensity to engage in family violence (either as a victim or as a perpetrator). Researchers supporting this theory suggest it is useful to think of three sources of domestic violence: childhood socialization, previous experiences in couple relationships during adolescence, and levels of strain in a person's current life. People who observe their parents abusing each other, or who were themselves abused may incorporate abuse into their behaviour within relationships that they establish as adults.
Psychological theories focus on personality traits and mental characteristics of the offender. Personality traits include sudden bursts of anger, poor impulse control, and poor self-esteem. Various theories suggest that psychopathology and other personality disorders are factors, and that abuse experienced as a child leads some people to be more violent as adults. Correlation has been found between juvenile delinquency and domestic violence in adulthood. Studies have found high incidence of psychopathy among abusers.
For instance, some research suggests that about 80% of both court-referred and self-referred men in these domestic violence studies exhibited diagnosable psychopathology, typically personality disorders. "The estimate of personality disorders in the general population would be more in the 15–20% range [...] As violence becomes more severe and chronic in the relationship, the likelihood of psychopathology in these men approaches 100%." Dutton has suggested a psychological profile of men who abuse their wives, arguing that they have borderline personalities that are developed early in life.
However, these psychological theories are disputed: Gelles suggests that psychological theories are limited, and points out that other researchers have found that only 10% (or less) fit this psychological profile. He argues that social factors are important, while personality traits, mental illness, or psychopathy are lesser factors.
Psychiatric disorders are sometimes associated with domestic violence, such as borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, drug abuse, and alcoholism. It is estimated that at least one-third of all abusers have some type of mental illness.
Marital conflict disorder
The American Psychiatric Association planning and research committees for the forthcoming DSM-5 (2013) have canvassed a series of new Relational disorders which include Marital Conflict Disorder Without Violence or Marital Abuse Disorder (Marital Conflict Disorder With Violence). Couples with marital disorders sometimes come to clinical attention because the couple recognize long-standing dissatisfaction with their marriage and come to the clinician on their own initiative or are referred by an astute health care professional. Secondly, there is serious violence in the marriage which is "usually the husband battering the wife".
In these cases the emergency room or a legal authority often is the first to notify the clinician. Most importantly, marital violence "is a major risk factor for serious injury and even death and women in violent marriages are at much greater risk of being seriously injured or killed (National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women 2000)". The authors of this study add that "There is current considerable controversy over whether male-to-female marital violence is best regarded as a reflection of male psychopathology and control or whether there is an empirical base and clinical utility for conceptualizing these patterns as relational."
Recommendations for clinicians making a diagnosis of Marital Relational Disorder should include the assessment of actual or "potential" male violence as regularly as they assess the potential for suicide in depressed patients. Further, "clinicians should not relax their vigilance after a battered wife leaves her husband, because some data suggest that the period immediately following a marital separation is the period of greatest risk for the women. Many men will stalk and batter their wives in an effort to get them to return or punish them for leaving. Initial assessments of the potential for violence in a marriage can be supplemented by standardized interviews and questionnaires, which have been reliable and valid aids in exploring marital violence more systematically".
The authors conclude with what they call "very recent information" on the course of violent marriages which suggests that "over time a husband's battering may abate somewhat, but perhaps because he has successfully intimidated his wife. The risk of violence remains strong in a marriage in which it has been a feature in the past. Thus, treatment is essential here; the clinician cannot just wait and watch". The most urgent clinical priority is the protection of the wife because she is the one most frequently at risk, and clinicians must be aware that supporting assertiveness by a battered wife may lead to more beatings or even death.
Many cases of domestic violence occur due to jealousy when one partner is either suspected of being unfaithful or is planning to leave the relationship. It can also be seen in a situation where one partner is doing better than the other. For example: the woman being more successful than the husband. An evolutionary psychology explanation of such cases of domestic violence against a woman is that they represent male attempts to control female reproduction and ensure sexual exclusivity through violence or the threat of violence. Though often jealousy is used as an excuse for the abusers behavior, most often it is just an excuse in order to exert more control over their partner and a blaming technique in order to isolate the victim further from friends and family. Violence related to extramarital relations is seen as justified in certain parts of the world. For instance, a survey in Diyarbakir, Turkey, found that, when asked the appropriate punishment for a woman who has committed adultery, 37% of respondents said she should be killed, while 21% said her nose or ears should be cut off.
Behavioral theories draw on the work of behavior analysts. Applied behavior analysis uses the basic principles of learning theory to change behavior. Behavioral theories of domestic violence focus on the use of functional assessment with the goal of reducing episodes of violence to zero rates. This program leads to behavior therapy. Often by identifying the antecedents and consequences of violent action, the abusers can be taught self control. Recently more focus has been placed on prevention and a behavioral prevention theory.
Looks at external factors in the offender's environment, such as family structure, stress, social learning, and includes rational choice theories. Though these external factors may heighten the frequency and severity of violence, ultimately it is not the cause, but merely fueling the abusers need to seek control in their life else where and enacting that need for control in the only way that they can, which is against their partner.
Social learning theory
Social learning theory suggests that people learn from observing and modeling after others' behavior. With positive reinforcement, the behavior continues. If one observes violent behavior, one is more likely to imitate it. If there are no negative consequences (e. g. victim accepts the violence, with submission), then the behavior will likely continue.
Resource theory was suggested by William Goode (1971). Women who are most dependent on the spouse for economic well being (e.g. homemakers/housewives, women with handicaps, the unemployed), and are the primary caregiver to their children, fear the increased financial burden if they leave their marriage. Dependency means that they have fewer options and few resources to help them cope with or change their spouse's behavior.
Couples that share power equally experience lower incidence of conflict, and when conflict does arise, are less likely to resort to violence. If one spouse desires control and power in the relationship, the spouse may resort to abuse. This may include coercion and threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, economic abuse, isolation, making light of the situation and blaming the spouse, using children (threatening to take them away), and behaving as "master of the castle".
Stress may be increased when a person is living in a family situation, with increased pressures. Social stresses, due to inadequate finances or other such problems in a family may further increase tensions. Violence is not always caused by stress, but may be one way that some people respond to stress. Families and couples in poverty may be more likely to experience domestic violence, due to increased stress and conflicts about finances and other aspects. Some speculate that poverty may hinder a man's ability to live up to his idea of "successful manhood", thus he fears losing honor and respect. Theory suggests that when he is unable to economically support his wife, and maintain control, he may turn to misogyny, substance abuse, and crime as ways to express masculinity.
Power and control
In abusive relationships, violence is posited to arise out of a need for power and control of one partner over the other. An abuser will use various tactics of abuse (e.g., physical, verbal, emotional, sexual or financial) in order to establish and maintain control over the partner.
Abusers' efforts to dominate their partners have been attributed to low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy, unresolved childhood conflicts, the stress of poverty, hostility and resentment toward women (misogyny), hostility and resentment toward men (misandry), personality disorders, genetic tendencies and sociocultural influences, among other possible causative factors. Most authorities seem to agree that abusive personalities result from a combination of several factors, to varying degrees.
A causalist view of domestic violence is that it is a strategy to gain or maintain power and control over the victim. This view is in alignment with Bancroft's "cost-benefit" theory that abuse rewards the perpetrator in ways other than, or in addition to, simply exercising power over his or her target(s). He cites evidence in support of his argument that, in most cases, abusers are quite capable of exercising control over themselves, but choose not to do so for various reasons.
An alternative view is that abuse arises from powerlessness and externalizing/projecting this and attempting to exercise control of the victim. It is an attempt to 'gain or maintain power and control over the victim' but even in achieving this it cannot resolve the powerlessness driving it. Such behaviours have addictive aspects leading to a cycle of abuse or violence. Mutual cycles develop when each party attempts to resolve their own powerlessness in attempting to assert control.
Questions of power and control are integral to the widely utilized Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project. They developed a "Power and Control Wheel" to illustrate this: it has power and control at the center, surrounded by spokes (techniques used), the titles of which include: coercion and threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, minimizing, denying and blaming, using children, economic abuse, and male privilege. The model attempts to address abuse by challenging the misuse of power by the perpetrator.
The power wheel model is not intended to assign personal responsibility, enhance respect for mutual purpose or assist victims and perpetrators in resolving their differences. Rather, it is an informational tool designed to help individuals understand the dynamics of power operating in abusive situations and identify various methods of abuse.
Critics of this model argue that it ignores research linking domestic violence to substance abuse and psychological problems. Some modern research into the patterns in DV has found that women are more likely to be physically abusive towards their partner in relationships in which only one partner is violent, which draws the effectiveness of using concepts like male privilege to treat domestic violence into question; however, it may still be valid in studying severe abuse cases, which are mostly male perpetrated. However, modern research into predictors of injury from domestic violence suggests that the strongest predictor of injury by domestic violence is participation in reciprocal domestic violence.
3.3 million children witness domestic violence each year in the US. There has been an increase in acknowledgment that a child who is exposed to domestic abuse during their upbringing will suffer in their developmental and psychological welfare. During the mid 1990s, the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study found that children who were exposed to domestic violence and other forms of abuse had a higher risk of developing mental and physical health problems. Because of the awareness of domestic violence that some children have to face, it also generally impacts how the child develops emotionally, socially, behaviorally as well as cognitively.
Some emotional and behavioral problems that can result due to domestic violence include increased aggressiveness, anxiety, and changes in how a child socializes with friends, family, and authorities. Depression, emotional insecurity, and mental health disorders can follow due to traumatic experiences. Problems with attitude and cognition in schools can start developing, along with a lack of skills such as problem-solving. Correlation has been found between the experience of abuse and neglect in childhood and perpetrating domestic violence and sexual abuse in adulthood.
Additionally, in some cases the abuser will purposely abuse the mother or father in front of the child to cause a ripple effect, hurting two victims simultaneously. It has been found that children who witness mother-assault are more likely to exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Consequences to these children are likely to be more severe if their assaulted mother develops post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and does not seek treatment due to her difficulty in assisting her child with processing his or her own experience of witnessing the domestic violence.
Family Violence prevention in Australia and other countries has begun to focus on breaking intergenerational cycles, according to the National (Aust) Standards for Working with Children Exposed to Family Violence it is important to acknowledge that exposing children to Family Violence is child abuse. Some of the effects of Family Violence on children are highlighted in the Queensland Government and SunnyKids awareness raising campaign.
Bruises, broken bones, head injuries, lacerations, and internal bleeding are some of the acute effects of a domestic violence incident that require medical attention and hospitalization. Some chronic health conditions that have been linked to victims of domestic violence are arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain, pelvic pain, ulcers, and migraines. Victims who are pregnant during a domestic violence relationship experience greater risk of miscarriage, pre-term labor, and injury to or death of the fetus.
Among victims who are still living with their perpetrators high amounts of stress, fear, and anxiety are commonly reported. Depression is also common, as victims are made to feel guilty for ‘provoking’ the abuse and are frequently subjected to intense criticism. It is reported that 60% of victims meet the diagnostic criteria for depression, either during or after termination of the relationship, and have a greatly increased risk of suicidality.
In addition to depression, victims of domestic violence also commonly experience long-term anxiety and panic, and are likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. The most commonly referenced psychological effect of domestic violence is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD (as experienced by victims) is characterized by flashbacks, intrusive images, exaggerated startle response, nightmares, and avoidance of triggers that are associated with the abuse. These symptoms are generally experienced for a long span of time after the victim has left the dangerous situation. Many researchers state that PTSD is possibly the best diagnosis for those suffering from psychological effects of domestic violence, as it accounts for the variety of symptoms commonly experienced by victims of trauma.
Once victims leave their perpetrator, they can be stunned with the reality of the extent to which the abuse has taken away their autonomy. Due to economic abuse and isolation, the victim usually has very little money of their own and few people on whom they can rely when seeking help. This has been shown to be one of the greatest obstacles facing victims of DV, and the strongest factor that can discourage them from leaving their perpetrators.
In addition to lacking financial resources, victims of DV often lack specialized skills, education, and training that are necessary to find gainful employment, and also may have several children to support. In 2003, thirty-six major US cities cited DV as one of the primary causes of homelessness in their areas. It has also been reported that one out of every three homeless women are homeless due to having left a DV relationship. If a victim is able to secure rental housing, it is likely that her apartment complex will have "zero tolerance" policies for crime; these policies can cause them to face eviction even if they are the victim (not the perpetrator) of violence. While the number of shelters and community resources available to DV victims has grown tremendously, these agencies often have few employees and hundreds of victims seeking assistance which causes many victims to remain without the assistance they need.
Domestic violence can trigger many different responses in victims, all of which are very relevant for any professional working with a victim. Major consequences of domestic violence victimization include psychological/mental health issues and chronic physical health problems. Some long term effects on a child who comes from an abusive household, or have been abused themselves are guilt, anger, depression/anxiety, shyness, nightmares, disruptiveness, irritability,and problems getting along with others. Although they may have not been the ones being abused it still affects them because they had to experience and witness their loved ones being abused, which takes a toll on them as well. Domestic violence also teaches poor family structure. A child who grows up being abused thinks of that as a way a family functions, and will grow up and repeat the cycle because that is all they know. Some other long term affects include but are not limited to poor health, low self-esteem, difficulty sleeping, drug and alcohol abuse risk, isolation, suicidal thoughts, and extreme loneliness and fear. A victim’s overwhelming lack of resources can also lead to homelessness and poverty. A person who has suffered abuse is at risk for a lot of negative consequences that can put them on a destructive path for their future. 
Due to the gravity and intensity of hearing victims’ stories of abuse, professionals (social workers, police, counselors, therapists, advocates, medical professionals) are at risk themselves for secondary or vicarious trauma (VT), which causes the responder to experience trauma symptoms similar to the original victim after hearing about the victim’s experiences with abuse. Research has demonstrated that professionals who experience vicarious trauma show signs of exaggerated startle response, hypervigilance, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts although they have not experienced a trauma personally and do not qualify for a clinical diagnosis of PTSD.
Researchers concluded that although clinicians have professional training and are equipped with the necessary clinical skills to assist victims of domestic violence, they may still be personally affected by the emotional impact of hearing about a victim’s traumatic experiences. Iliffe et al. found that there are several common initial responses that are found in clinicians who work with victims: loss of confidence in their ability to help the client, taking personal responsibility for ensuring the client’s safety, and remaining supportive of the client’s autonomy if they make the decision to return to their perpetrator.
It has also been shown that clinicians who work with a large number of victims may alter their former perceptions of the world, and begin to doubt the basic goodness of others. Iliffe et al. found that clinicians who work with victims tend to feel less secure in the world, become "acutely aware" of power and control issues both in society and in their own personal relationships, have difficulty trusting others, and experience an increased awareness of gender-based power differences in society.
The best way for a clinician to avoid developing VT is to engage in good self-care practices. These can include exercise, relaxation techniques, debriefing with colleagues, and seeking support from supervisors. Additionally, it is recommended that clinicians make the positive and rewarding aspects of working with domestic violence victims the primary focus of thought and energy, such as being part of the healing process or helping society as a whole. Clinicians should also continually evaluate their empathic responses to victims, in order to avoid feelings of being drawn into the trauma that the victim experienced. It is recommended that clinicians practice good boundaries, and find a balance in expressing empathic responses to the victim while still maintaining personal detachment from their traumatic experiences.
Vicarious trauma can lead directly to burnout, which is defined as "emotional exhaustion resulting from excessive demands on energy, strength, and personal resources in the work setting". The physical warning signs of burnout include headaches, fatigue, lowered immune function, and irritability. A clinician experiencing burnout may begin to lose interest in the welfare of clients, be unable to empathize or feel compassion for clients, and may even begin to feel aversion toward the client.
If the clinician experiencing burnout is working with victims of domestic violence, the clinician risks causing further great harm through re-victimization of the client. It should be noted, however, that vicarious trauma does not always directly lead to burnout and that burnout can occur in clinicians who work with any difficult population – not only those who work with domestic violence victims.
Management of domestic violence to reduce the rate of victimization and promote the well-being of the affected individuals can include: Participants in domestic violence may required medical treatment, such as being seen by a by a family physician, other primary care provider, or emergency room physicians. Law enforcement may be called in response to intimate partner violence.
Counseling is another means of managing domestic for the victim of abuse, including the assessment of the presence, extent and types of abuse. A lethality assessment is a tool that can assist in determining the best course of treatment for a client, as well as helping the client to recognize dangerous behaviors and more subtle abuse in their relationship. In a study of victims of attempted domestic violence-related homicide, only about one-half of the participants recognized that their perpetrator was capable of killing them, as many domestic violence victims minimize the true seriousness of their situation. Another important component is safety planning, which allows the victim to plan for dangerous situations they may encounter, and is effective regardless of their decision on whether remain with their perpetrator.
Prevention and intervention includes ways to prevent domestic violence by offering safe shelter, crisis intervention, advocacy, and education and prevention programs. Community screening for domestic violence can be more systematic in cases of animal abuse, healthcare settings, emergency departments, behavioral health settings and court systems. Tools are being developed to facilitate domestic violence screening such as mobile apps. The Duluth Model or Domestic Abuse Intervention Project is a program developed to reduce domestic violence against women, which is the first multi-disciplinary program designed to address the issue of domestic violence by coordinating the actions of a variety of agencies dealing with domestic conflict.
New research illustrates that there are strong associations between exposure to domestic violence and abuse in all their forms and higher rates of many chronic conditions. The strongest evidence comes from the Adverse Childhood Experiences' series of studies which show correlations between exposure to abuse or neglect and higher rates in adulthood of chronic conditions, high risk health behaviors and shortened life span. Evidence of the association between physical health and violence against women has been accumulating since the early 1990s.
Studies have indicated that it is important to consider the effect of domestic violence and its psychophysiologic sequelae on women who are mothers of infants and young children. Several studies have shown that maternal interpersonal violence-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can, despite traumatized mother's best efforts, interfere with their child's response to the domestic violence and other traumatic events. Thus, practitioners and service agencies addressing the needs of domestic violence victims should assess the victim-as-parent and evaluate the safety and well-being of children in the home.
More recently work by such researchers as Corso have begun to quantify the economic impact of exposure to violence and abuse. A recent publication, Hidden Costs in Health Care: The Economic Impact of Violence and Abuse,  makes the case that such exposure represents a serious and costly public health issue that should be addressed by the health care system.
Domestic violence occurs across the world, in various cultures, and affects people of all economic statuses. According to one study, the percentage of women who have reported being physically abused by an intimate partner vary from 69% to 10% depending on the country.
Laws on domestic violence vary by country. While it is generally outlawed in the Western World, this is not the case in many developing countries. For instance, in 2010, the United Arab Emirates's Supreme Court ruled that a man has the right to physically discipline his wife and children as long as he does not leave physical marks. The social acceptability of domestic violence also differs by country. While in most developed countries domestic violence is considered unacceptable by most people, in many regions of the world the views are different: according to a UNICEF survey, the percentage of women aged 15–49 who think that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances is, for example: 90% in Afghanistan and Jordan, 87% in Mali, 86% in Guinea and Timor-Leste, 81% in Laos, 80% in Central African Republic. Refusing to submit to a husband's wishes is a common reason given for justification of violence in developing countries: for instance 62.4% of women in Tajikistan justify wife beating if the wife goes out without telling the husband; 68% if she argues with him; 47.9% if she refuses to have sex with him.
Traditionally, in most cultures, men had a legal right to use violence to "discipline" their wives. Although in the US and many European countries this right was removed from them in the late 19th/early 20th century, before the 1970s criminal arrests were very rare (occurring only in cases of extreme violence), and it was only in the 1990s that rigorous enforcement of laws against domestic violence became standard policy in Western countries.
Prior to the mid-1800s, most legal systems accepted wife beating as a valid exercise of a husband's authority over his wife. One exception, however, was the 1641 Body of Liberties of the Massachusetts Bay colonists, which declared that a married woman should be "free from bodilie correction or stripes by her husband."
Political agitation during the nineteenth century led to changes in both popular opinion and legislation regarding domestic violence within the United Kingdom and the United States. In 1850, Tennessee became the first state in the United States to explicitly outlaw wife beating. Other states soon followed suit. In 1878, the Matrimonial Causes Act made it possible for women in the UK to seek separations from abusive husbands. By the end of the 1870s, most courts in the United States were uniformly opposed to the right of husbands to physically discipline their wives. By the early twentieth century, it was common for police to intervene in cases of domestic violence in the United States, but arrests remained rare.
Modern attention to domestic violence began in the women's movement of the 1970s, particularly within the contexts of feminism and women's rights, as concern about wives being beaten by their husbands gained attention. The first known use of the expression "domestic violence" in a modern context, meaning "spouse abuse, violence in the home" was in an address to the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1973. A few months later the world's first domestic violence services federation (Women's Aid) was set up in 1974, providing practical and emotional support as part of a range of services to women and children experiencing violence in England. Studies by the 1990s showed that men may also be victims of domestic violence.[nb 4]
Until quite recently, children had very few rights in regard to protection from violence by their parents, and still continue to do so in many parts of the world. Historically, fathers had virtually unlimited rights in regard to their children and how they chose to discipline them. In many cultures, such as in Ancient Rome, a father could legally kill his children; many cultures have also allowed fathers to sell their children into slavery. Child sacrifice was also a common practice. Today, corporal punishment of children by their parents remains legal in most countries, but in Western countries that still allow the practice there are strict limits on what is permitted. The first country to outlaw parental corporal punishment was Sweden (parents' right to spank their own children was first removed in 1966, and it was explicitly prohibited by law from July 1979. By 2011, 30 additional countries banned parental corporal punishment.
- Outline of domestic violence
- Effects of domestic violence on children
- Parental abuse by children
- Relational disorder
- Reproductive coercion
International human rights law
- Terms such wife abuse, wife beating, and battering are descriptive terms that have lost popularity recently for several reasons:
- There is acknowledgment that many victims are not actually married to the abuser, but rather cohabiting or in other arrangements.
- Abuse can take other forms than physical abuse. Other forms of abuse may be constantly occurring, while physical abuse happens occasionally. These other forms of abuse, that are not physical, also have the potential to lead to mental illness, self-harm, and even attempts at suicide.
- Males as well as females may be victims of domestic violence, and females as well as males can be the perpetrators.
- All forms of domestic abuse can occur in same sex partnerships.
- Sex outside marriage is illegal in many countries, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Oman, Mauritania, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Sudan, Yemen.
- For instance, there are several passages in the Bible which are subject to debate in regard to gender relations, such as Ephesians 5:22–33 (wives subordination to their husbands) or 1 Corinthians 7:3–5, wrongly interpreted by some religious figures as to render the concept of marital rape impossible. In Islam, many interpretations of Surah, An-Nisa, 34 in the Qur'an find that a husband hitting a wife is allowed. Taj Hashmi states in the book Popular Islam and Misogyny: A Case Study of Bangladesh:
[T]hanks to the subjective interpretations of the Quran (almost exclusively by men), the preponderance of the misogynic mullahs and the regressive Shariah law in most “Muslim” countries, Islam is synonymously known as a promoter of misogyny in its worst form. Although there is no way of defending the so-called “great” traditions of Islam as libertarian and egalitarian with regard to women, we may draw a line between the Quranic texts and the corpus of avowedly misogynic writing and spoken words by the mullah having very little or no relevance to the Quran.
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Intimate partner violence
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- Chang, V. N. (1996). I Just Lost Myself: Psychological Abuse of Women in Marriage. Praeger. ISBN 978-0-275-95209-9.
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- Graham-Kevan, N.; Archer, J. (2003). "Physical aggression and control in heterosexual relationships: The effect of sampling". Violence and victims 18 (2): 181–196. PMID 12816403.
- Johnson, M. P. (2006). "Conflict and Control: Gender Symmetry and Asymmetry in Domestic Violence". Violence Against Women 12 (11): 1003–1018. doi:10.1177/1077801206293328. PMID 17043363.
- Johnson, Michael P. (2000). "Conflict and Control: Images of Symmetry and Asymmetry in Domestic Violence". In Booth, A., A. C. Crouter, and M. Clements. Couples in Conflict. Erlbaum. ISBN 0-8058-3545-8.
- Johnson, Michael P. (1995). "Patriarchal Terrorism and Common Couple Violence: Two Forms of Violence against Women". Journal of Marriage and Family 57 (2): 283–294. doi:10.2307/353683. JSTOR 353683.
- Johnson, Michael P. (2006). Violence and abuse in personal relationships: Conflict, terror, and resistance in intimate partnerships. In A. L. Vangelisti & D. Perlman (Eds.), Cambridge handbook of personal relationships (pp. 557–576). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press ISBN 0-521-82617-9
- Kirkwood, C. (1993). Leaving Abusive Partners: From the Scars of Survival to the Wisdom for Change. Sage. ISBN 0-8039-8686-6. OCLC 29049176.
- Leone, J. M.; Johnson, M. P.; Cohan, C. L.; Lloyd, S. E. (2004). "Consequences of Male Partner Violence for Low-Income Minority Women". Journal of Marriage and Family 66 (2): 472. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2004.00032.x.
- Morgan, R.E. and J.L. Truman. (2014). Nonfatal Domestic Violence, 2003–2012. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
- Roberts, A. R. (1996). "Battered women who kill: A comparative study of incarcerated participants with a community sample of battered women". Journal of Family Violence 11 (3): 291–304. doi:10.1007/BF02336946.
- Tilbrook, E.; Allan, A.; Dear, G. (2010). "Intimate Partner Abuse of Men" (PDF). Men's Advisory Network. Perth, Western Australia: Edith Cowan University School of Psychology. Archived from the original on 2013-07-12. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Domestic violence.|
- Family violence at DMOZ
- Domestic violence against women at DMOZ
- Hot Peach Pages international directory of domestic violence agencies with abuse information in over 100 languages