Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that is used by the perpetrator to maintain power and control over an intimate partner or some other member of the family.
Domestic violence occurs between partners, ex-partners, family members, or other relatives that are in the person’s circle of contact. The term domestic violence is used whenever there is a close relationship between the perpetrator of the abuse and victim. It can take the form of sexual, psychological, or physical abuse.
Partner violence is domestic violence that occurs between romantically linked partners.
Domestic violence affects people from all religions, cultures, socioeconomic levels, and ethnic groups. Victims can be of any age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation.
Most people associate women as domestic violence victims and men as perpetrators. But victims can be men, elderly individuals, or children.
Women are the victims most affected by domestic violence, with more than 1.5 million women assaulted by an intimate partner nearly every year.
According to the 2015 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey:
Today, you would be hard-pressed to find nearly any attribute or behavior that does not have some genetic association. Research has suggested that there are genetic associations with violence and domestic violence. To note, most clinicians and the legal system typically take the view that domestic violence is a learned behavior and also a choice.
Domestic violence tends to run in families. If your father abused your mother, the risk that you will abuse your partner is increased. However, this most likely represents a combination of learned behavior and possibly genetic associations.
The driving force behind nearly every instance of domestic violence is that the perpetrator is attempting to control and gain power over their victim.
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It is well-known that domestic violence cases are often associated with alcohol or drug use.
On days when there is heavy drug or alcohol use, physical violence is 11 times more likely among batterers and their victims. Over 20 percent of male abusers report using drugs or alcohol prior to their most recent violent acts. Victims often report that the perpetrator had been consuming drugs or alcohol.
The drug that is most commonly associated with domestic violence is alcohol. There has been some discussion as to whether heavy drinking causes someone to be violent. Also, other drugs are associated with domestic violence.
There is also evidence that victims of domestic violence are at an increased risk for substance abuse.
Perhaps the main reason that some victims of domestic violence do not initially report being abused or may not seek out help is that they often do not view their situation as unusual or drastic. Their relationships are often codependent, and they view the behavior of their partner as “normal.” They may also view themselves as the cause of the aggression or inadequate.
Other obstacles to getting help include fear, concern over loss of custody of children, self-blame, or feeling that reporting abuse will worsen the situation.
Perpetrators of domestic violence are often controlling and dominating. Fear of reprisal or being unable to escape the situation often dominates the thinking of the victim.
Aside from the actual abuse aspect, some of the signs of an abusive relationship include the following:
Although domestic violence is not considered to be a formal mental health disorder, treatment typically involves addressing any underlying mental illness, substance abuse, and treating the whole family.
Substance abuse issues that co-occur with domestic violence may be addressed simultaneously. Substance use disorder treatment should include all the needed components, including medical detox, therapy, group participation, and other medical and nonmedical interventions.
Family therapy, a type of psychotherapy where the group members are family members, is especially suited to treating domestic violence. Ongoing treatment for substance abuse should continue with family therapy or any other type of psychotherapy.
Treatment programs should set up a safe and supportive environment for victims.
They should establish that all parties involved are interested in resolving their differences and continuing treatment together.
What is domestic violence? National Domestic Violence Hotline. Retrieved August 2019 from https://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) (Retrived September 2019) from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/datasources/nisvs/index.html
(February 2018) The roots of intimate partner violence. Current Opinion in Psychology. Retrieved August 2019 from https://spnlab.vcu.edu/media/spnlab/publications/pdfs/1-s2.0-S2352250X17301045-main.pdf
(October 2014) Intimate partner violence and co-occurring substance abuse/addiction. American Society of Addiction Medicine. Retrieved August 2019 from https://www.asam.org/resources/publications/magazine/read/article/2014/10/06/intimate-partner-violence-and-co-occurring-substance-abuse-addiction
(October 2016) Couples therapy for intimate partner violence: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy). Retrieved August 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5050084/