Of the most important factors in domestic violence is a belief that abuse, whether physical or verbal, is acceptable. Other factors include substance abuse, unemployment, mental health problems, lack of coping skills, isolation, and excessive dependence on the abuser. The motive for committing acts of domestic and interpersonal violence in a relationship is to establish and maintain relationships based on power and control over victims.
· Cycle of abuse
Lenore E. Walker presented the model of a cycle of abuse which consists of four phases. First, there is a buildup 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.
· Intergenerational 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 remedies for managing the abuse.
Responses that focus on children suggest that experiences throughout life influence an individual’s 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.
- Social Stress
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 people speculate that poverty may hinder a man’s ability to live up to his idea of “successful manhood”, thus he fears losing honour and respect. A 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:-
Power and control in abusive relationships is the way that abusers exert physical, sexual and other forms of abuse to gain control within relationships. 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. 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. Sometimes, one person seeks complete power and control over their partner and uses different ways to achieve this, including resorting to physical violence. The perpetrator attempts to control all aspects of the victim’s life, such as their social, personal, professional and financial decisions.
Effects on the family
- Violence and the threat of violence at home creates fear and can destroy family environments and lead to the break-up of families
- Frequent moving to avoid the abuser
- Regular household conflict
- Child protection or police involvement
Effects on the community
- Children growing up without learning about positive and respectful relationships
- Abusers going to prison
- Higher rates of alcohol and other drug use, and mental health problems
- Domestic and family violence is estimated to cost the NSW economy more than $4.5 billion each year
Effects on Children
Of those women who experience violence, more than 50% have children in their care. Children and young people don’t have to see the violence to be affected by it. Studies show that living with domestic violence can cause physical and emotional harm to children and young people in the following ways:
- ongoing anxiety and depression
- emotional distress
- eating and sleeping disturbances
- physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomach aches
- find it hard to manage stress
- low self-esteem
- be aggressive towards friends and school mates
- feel guilt or blame themselves for the violence
- have trouble forming positive relationships
- develop phobias and insomnia
- struggle with going to school and doing school work
- use bullying behaviour or become a target of bullying
- have less empathy and caring for others
Children and young people need to grow up in a secure and nurturing environment. Where domestic or family violence exists, the home is not safe or secure and children are scared about what might happen to them and the people they love.