Domestic or Intimate Partner Violence Intervention

Dynamics of Partner Violence: Psychosocial and Cultural

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is the imparting of harm in relationships, often through physical force or psychological abuse, which may range from gaslighting and emotional manipulation to bodily harm. From childhood to late adulthood, many factors affect the likelihood of people to resort to violence to achieve situational control (Eriksson & Mazerolle, 2015). Each partners’ social and economic background, such as stress from low income and unemployment, as well as alcohol and drug abuse, affects the prevalence of IPV in their relationships (Hamel, 2017). Therefore, the dynamic, wherein one person in a relationship takes on the role of an aggressor and the other of a victim, becomes plausible through the effect of outside factors on an individual’s psychosocial situation.

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Culture, as the basis for any person’s background and, therefore, their future, also plays a significant role in deciding the dynamics of IPV. If merely familial experiences may already affect a person’s disposition to using violence, then entire cultures where the use of force is normalized could help propagate the idea of IPV as natural (Barner & Carney, 2015; Hamel, 2017). Stockl, Devries, and Watts (2015) report that “Southeast Asian, Eastern Mediterranean, and African regions” harbor 5% more IPV victims than other regions, with these results potentially linking to the attitudes surrounding relationships in these regions (p. 44). Thus, IPV may be outlined as a result of not only individual temperament and problems but also cultural phenomena and lack of support structures for the victim.

Psychological Factors

A variety of psychological factors may also affect the rates of IPV, in addition to psychosocial and cultural, as people sublimate their negative experiences. A history of childhood abuse or being witness to parental fights could also lead people to consolidate IPV as a relationship constant, rather than an outlier (Eriksson & Mazerolle, 2015). Stressing children’s emotional health may give rise to unhealthy attitudes, in addition to “behavioral, learning, and health problems,” as well as deficient coping tendencies, without which grown-up children become IPV perpetrators or, more commonly, victims (Schilling & Zolotor, 2018, p. 123).

Additionally, depression and emotional insecurity may lead to people resorting to self-destructive inclinations, as the lack of communicative skill-building may “manifest themselves into abusive behaviors” (Hamel, 2017, p. 369). From PTSD to somatization, internalizing the effects of IPV leads to victims recurrently participating in toxic relationships (Stewart, Vigod, & Riazantseva, 2016). In this way, people’s backgrounds coach them into acting out patterns that are either positive or negative, depending on previously encountered experiences.

Cycle of Violence

Since both culture and socioeconomic background affect the entirety of people’s lives, pre-determining the recurrence of certain behaviors, no action may be considered stand-alone. Primarily, the creation of a cycle of violence depends on experiencing or witnessing IPV at a young age, with children learning seemingly appropriate relationship tendencies from their parents, who may be abusive towards each other (Stockl et al., 2015).

The apperception of parental roles, either victimized or sadistic, leads to the imitation of their guardians’ functions as children understand them (Eriksson & Mazerolle, 2015). This process potentially explains another reason for the mimicking of childhood-perceived IPV, which is that children stop differentiating between loving and hateful acts, which incapacitates them emotionally and forces them to choose violent partners (Stockl et al., 2015).

Furthermore, economic and psychosocial factors in adulthood may act as catalysts for abusive conduct, creating the basis for a person to resort to IPV (Barner & Carney, 2015). Learned behavior, outside influences, and catalytic circumstances lead to the propagation of IPV.

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Intervention Strategies: Pharmacological and Non-Pharmacological

Practitioners may primarily aim pharmacology-based IPV intervention strategies at relieving the effects of abuse that victims encounter, which may range from mild distress to PTSD. However, even solely prescriptive treatment requires the establishment of trusting lines of communication, without which treating IPV may become complicated due to the refusal of patients to participate, for example, because of self-victimization (Schilling & Zolotor, 2018).

Successfully treating patients for their conditions deals with helping them stabilize their mental health, with Stewart et al. (2016) recommending benzodiazepines to relieve anxiety. However, another potential route for treatment is the alleviation of the effect of outside factors, such as substance abuse, which lead to the actualization of offenders (Stockl et al., 2015). Thus, both prevention and support may be provided to victims and perpetrators alike, creating circumstances in which IPV potentially ceases to exist.

Non-pharmacological strategies to help reduce the occurrence of IPV, other than the strict separation of offenders from their victims through arrest and conviction, are variations of therapy. As an appropriate example, Hamel (2017) conducts a program, which deals with the various factors that lead people to resort to IPV, dissecting their attitudes towards relationships and helping them build non-violent problem-solving skills.

Addressing the “errors in thinking and providing a significant focus on skills training and anger management” is a modern trend when working with IPV perpetrators and victims (Barner & Carney, 2015, p. 220; Schilling & Zolotor, 2018). This approach aims to help both sides of the issue, helping people to potentially end the cycle of violence through the development of non-abusive and de-victimized behavioral patterns.


Barner, J. R., & Carney, M. M. (2015). Interventions for intimate partner violence: A historical review. In L. E. Ross (Ed.), Continuing the war against domestic violence (2nd ed., pp. 213-232). New York, NY: CRC Press.

Eriksson, L., & Mazerolle, P. (2015). A cycle of violence? Examining family-of-origin violence, attitudes, and intimate partner violence perpetration. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 30(6), 945-964. Web.

Hamel, J. (2017). Understanding and intervening with partner abuse. In J. L. Ireland, C. A. Ireland, M. Fisher, & N. Gredecki (Eds.), The Routledge international handbook of forensic psychology in secure settings (pp. 362-373). New York, NY: Routledge.

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Schilling, S., & Zolotor, A. J. (2018). Domestic violence, abuse, and neglect. In T. P. Daaleman & M. R. Helton (Eds.), Chronic illness care: Principles and practice (pp.121-132). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

Stewart, D. E., Vigod, S., & Riazantseva, E. (2016). New developments in intimate partner violence and management of its mental health sequelae. Current Psychiatry Reports, 18(1), 1-7. Web.

Stockl, H., Devries, K., & Watts, C. (2015). The epidemiology of intimate partner violence. In P. D. Donnelly & C. L. Ward (Eds.), Oxford textbook of violence prevention: Epidemiology, evidence, and policy (pp. 43-48). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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