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Domestic Violence Problem Overview and Analysis

Domestic violence is a controversial aspect of life, evolving from both physical and mental abuse of a person. In contemporary society, violence against another person can be justified and even encouraged as an acceptable form of decent behavior. Consequently, domestic violence has its origin in societal tolerance to the victimization of an individual. Such tolerance is explained primarily by the existence of cultural norms and beliefs that justify the use of force in interpersonal relationships with relation to children or adults. The macro-sociological theory explains that the root of violence in families lies within the core organization of society, and is a reaction to negative incidents inside and outside the family.

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Macro-sociological violence theory substantiates how the culture makes violent relationships possible. Social norms, supporting the dominance of men over women and adults over children, promote the formation of a special environment that encourages coercion to achieve a dominant position (Fisher & Lab, 2010). Cultural patterns underline that cultures are significantly different from each other in the degree of violence expressed, as those displaying violent acts in public are prone to manifestation of violence in families (Hegarty, 2011). Existing norms (such as the death penalty, for instance) reinforce violence against people as an acceptable form of punishment. It goes without saying that the role of cultural norms is very high with regard to domestic violence between spouses. For instance, according to the World Health Organization survey of violence in families, from 15 to 71% of respondents have experienced a slap or other physical abuse from a spouse (Hegarty, 2011).

Another factor is the unequal distribution of power between men and women, parents and children, and the impact of situational variables on life conditions and the phases of family development (Fisher & Lab, 2010). Such stressful situations as

the birth of children, diseases, divorce, death of a family member, or poor living conditions are risk factors for the emergence of violence in the family towards weaker members. Violence has an “intergenerational effect with children witnessing abuse,” which means that children who were bystanders at home are likely to act violently themselves later (Hegarty, 2011, p. 171).

Another characteristic of family structure, reinforcing the likelihood of domestic violence, is the privacy of the family. The inability to obtain protection, which society could ensure, leads to the isolation of family members and the fear of going public about abuse at home (Davies & Lyon, 2013). Ms. Gosselin claims that domestic abuse is the leading reason for injury to American women (Gosselin, 2010). Family privacy often inhibits victims from seeking help, thus making concealing a crime easy. The lack of public attention, as well as the limited capacity of special social services to intervene in the internal problems of families, also reduce family members’ being held responsible for committing violence.

Within macro-sociological theory lies an assumption that conformity restricts the behavior of people who are anti-social in nature. Needless to say, the more that people believe in the values adopted by society, the more actively they tend to engage in a socially approved activity. The more deeply they attach to parents, school, and friends, the less likely they are to commit deviant behavior (Fisher & Lab, 2010). At the same time, people tend to weigh rationally the benefits and costs of their behavior. Therefore, the likelihood of anti-social behavior is high in those situations where it brings some benefits for individuals, and social and legal sanctions for this behavior are too small

(Gosselin, 2010). The cause of domestic violence lies in the fact that the potential price for committing violence against one or more family members is too low. Thus, even when there is an act of violence, it will not necessarily be followed by detention. For example, cases involving the beating of children are often transferred to child protection services, rather than to the court. Thus, the price of committing domestic violence is so low that it cannot deter potential abusers.

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While arrest implies the unacceptability and blameworthiness of behavior, it has a particular impact on the victim as well. Thus, in the case of a perpetrator’s arrest, the victim may feel safeguarded by authority (Davies & Lyon, 2013). Victims may change their assessment of the situation under the influence of arrest. However, the threat of legal sanctions can only have a deterrent effect on people who have respect in society and are afraid of social judgment. According to a survey among American women who occasionally faced violence at home, 71% had left home instead of calling the police (Davies & Lyon, 2013). Unfortunately, arrest can serve as a stepping-stone to future violence for people with a low degree of conformity to accepted social norms.

Further, environmental factors are mentioned and described as incentives for committing violent acts. Frustration and stress occur most often as a result of negative social structural factors (for instance, unemployment or low income, poor health, and so on), and are transformed into aggressive actions against those who are closer, and reachable, namely the spouses and children (Fisher & Lab, 2010). As a result, a higher level of domestic violence is characteristic of families from the lower socio-economic class, where social deprivation, together with the inevitable stressors, lead to a high level of frustration and violence. In addition to social and structural factors, there are also those that strengthen or weaken their effect. The presence or absence of social support coming from all kinds of sources play a decisive role (Gosselin, 2010). Social support is able to mitigate the stress caused by different environmental aspects.

In summary, special attention during the assessment of factors causing domestic violence is given to the macro-sociological theory of home abuse. Factors involved in external and internal environment, such as cultural norms, especially in society and in the family, and the sanctions used to deter anti-social behavior, should be taken into account when developing the most effective measures to combat domestic violence. It is crucial to learn about the background of the relationships, and the impact of social environment on the microstructure of the family. Clearly, domestic violence is not limited to physical aggression; it covers the whole range of hostile and dangerous family interactions. It goes without saying that family violence will take its toll on all aspects of human life. Emotional abuse can have more negative consequences than physical. Adults may experience profound psychological distress in their relationships with other people throughout their lives, and children who experienced or witnessed violence in childhood can develop deep psychological trauma, or practice the same negative behavioral acts in communication with others in the future.


Davies, J., & Lyon, E. (2013). Domestic violence advocacy: Complex lives/difficult choices. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Fisher, B. S., & Lab, S. P. (2010). Encyclopedia of victimology and crime prevention. In K. Anderson & A. Turner (Eds.), Family and domestic violence, theories of (pp. 371-374). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Gosselin, D. K. (2010). Heavy hands: An Introduction to the crimes of family violence. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Hegarty, K. (2011). Domestic violence: The hidden epidemic associated with mental illness. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 198(3), 169-170.

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