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Domestic Violence Typology and Characteristics


These days, domestic violence is perceived as a serious large-scale problem that often evolves into other social and personal problems. Much research has been carried out to investigate the current problem, its triggers, and its consequences. For this paper, information and data from peer-reviewed journals have been analyzed; thus, the provided information is deemed credible. Specific characteristics of abusers are associated with the types of violence they perpetrate. The typology of domestic violence is based on the nature of the abusive act and provides clues to the underlying reasons for it. It is thus necessary to classify each situation according to its character.

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Domestic abuse can be divided into four types, including economic, physical, sexual, and psychological (or emotional) violence. In most cases, the violence is integrative, so these categories are not mutually exclusive; specifically, any kind of abuse always implies psychological (emotional) intimidation (Gosselin, 2010). Economic abuse is an attempt to deprive another member of the family of an opportunity to manage the family budget, or to prevent him or her from having personal financial resources.

It also implies economic pressure put on minors and elderly people. Physical abuse is commonly seen as the deliberate infliction of injury; however, it actually encompasses a broader scope to include the infliction of physical pain, imprisonment, as well as the deprivation of food, clothing, and other appropriate living conditions. Moreover, negligence in relation to minors and the deliberate violation of children’s rights to adequate care and safety is included under the “physical abuse” umbrella.

Sexual violence is an infringement on the sexual integrity of an adult family member, as well as on adolescents; in particular, any sexual acts in relation to the minor members of the family are considered sexual abuse. The involvement of the child, with or without the child’s consent, in any sexual activities with adults can be defined as sexual violence (Gosselin, 2010). It is critical to note that the child’s consent to sexual intercourse can never be considered as grounds to consider the action as non-violent because children cannot foresee all of the negative consequences of such an act. Put simply, they may not fully understand the context of the situation. Notably, sexual violence is often a part of physical abuse and vice versa.

Psychological abuse is considered the most controversial type of violence; it implies the deliberate humiliation of the honor and dignity of a family member and includes moral threats, insults, and blackmail (Gosselin, 2010). According to statistics, people do not, in the majority of cases, recognize psychological intimidation, which gives the abuser a sense of impunity and a feeling of limitless power over the victim. Psychological violence therefore frequently goes unpunished (Sweet, 2015).

Needless to say, there exist varying degrees of severity, ranging from verbal humiliation to total mental control over the victim. Despite the fact that men and women endure abuse in different ways, men do fall victim to all types of domestic violence, as do women, children, and the elderly (Straus, 2010).

Among factors that may trigger violence in families, substance abuse often plays a major role. Excessive alcohol and drug consumption lead to aggression and other negative feelings that often provoke abusive behavior (Lander, Howsare, & Byrne, 2013).

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However, not all cases of domestic violence can be linked to substance abuse. In fact, a number of primary and secondary factors trigger this dysfunctional phenomenon, where socio-cultural and economic backgrounds are primary factors and substance abuse (consumption of alcohol, inhalants, amphetamines, opiates, hashish, LSD, and other legal and illegal substances) is considered a secondary factor. Apart from alcohol and narcotic substances consumption, prescription drugs (for instance, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications) reduce a person’s ability to control his or her behavior (Sweet, 2015).

Still, it should not be claimed that the offender, even if intoxicated, acts unconsciously, which is evidenced by the fact that sexual abusers often choose the time and place to commit sexual violence, and that they often make certain that the location is witness-free. Consequently, this kind of behavior cannot be defined as unconscious.

Statistics vividly demonstrate that many men who do not consume alcohol still do become rapists and that those who have received treatment for substance use disorders might continue to be aggressive and violent toward their family. Substance abuse does not justify domestic violence, but rather serves as a catalyst for it (Sweet, 2015). Drug addiction is different from that of alcohol dependency: some substances cause deferred reactions and act as inhibitors, while others provoke aggression.

Nevertheless, abusers are more likely to commit violence under the influence of withdrawal symptoms. At this point, it is crucial to mention that substance abuse may be a cause of violence, as well as the consequence of it. Both the abuser and the victim may consume alcohol or drugs to escape from reality, which only further leads to more serious health and mental consequences.


The problem of domestic violence reflects the disharmony that exists in relationships and indicates an unhealthy social and cultural atmosphere within society. Domestic violence negatively affects the overall well-being and welfare of people; nonetheless, an in-depth analysis of the current reality may help to better unravel the root causes of violence and help to build guidelines toward stopping the spread of violence in families. Raising awareness will enable people to better recognize a potential abuser and to more promptly take measures to protect themselves and their families.


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

Lander, L., Howsare, J., & Byrne, M. (2013). The impact of substance use disorders on families and children: From theory to practice. Social Work in Public Health, 28, 194–205.

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Straus, M. A. (2010). Thirty years of denying the evidence on gender symmetry in partner violence: Implications for prevention and treatment. Partner Abuse, 1(3), 332-362.

Sweet, P. L. (2015). Chronic victims, risky women: domestic violence advocacy and the medicalization of abuse. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 41(1), 81-106.

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StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Domestic Violence Typology and Characteristics'. 27 December.

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