The cause of domestic violence

Why Do People Abuse | The National Domestic Violence Hotline

Domestic violence stems from a desire to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abusive people believe they have the right to control and restrict their partner’s lives, often either because they believe their own feelings and needs should be the priority in the relationship, or because they enjoy exerting the power that such abuse gives them.

Tactics of abuse (in any form) may be aimed at dismantling equality in the relationship in order to make their partners feel less valuable and undeserving of respect.

Remember that everyone deserves to have a healthy, loving, and respectful relationship—no matter what.

Abuse is a learned behavior. Some people witness it in their own families growing up; others learn it slowly from friends, popular culture, or structural inequities throughout our society. No matter where they develop such behaviors, those who commit abusive acts make a choice in doing so — they also could choose not to.

There are many people who experience or witness abuse who use their experiences to end the cycle of violence and heal themselves without harming others. While outside factors (including drug or alcohol addiction) can escalate abuse, it’s important to recognize that these issues do not cause domestic abuse themselves.

Who does abuse affect?

Anyone can be abusive and anyone can be the victim of abuse. Abuse happens regardless of gender, age, sexuality, race, economic status, ability, citizenship status, or any other factor or identity. Feelings of confusion, fear, or anger are normal responses to abuse, but they may also make you feel isolated or like no one will understand. Remember that expert advocates from The Hotline are available 24/7 to talk through your situation and help you build a safety plan tailored to your circumstances.

Being abusive is a decision: it’s a strategic behavior by your partner to create their desired power dynamic.

Regardless of the circumstances of your relationship or past, no one ever deserves to be abused and you’re never responsible for your partner’s abusive actions.

Domestic violence can also strain the people who witness, intervene, or simply recognize the tragic realities of relationship abuse. It can be painful and draining — physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially — to watch the people in our lives abuse or be abused. In that regard, we are all impacted by any and all forms of abuse, and it’s on each of us to take steps in our daily interactions to end and prevent future abusive behavior.

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Beyond the physical risks of leaving an abusive relationship, there are countless other reasons why people stay in their relationships. Survivors deserve to be supported in their decision-making and empowered to reclaim control over their own lives—no matter the circumstances.

What Causes Domestic Violence? | Psych Central

Domestic violence is about power and control. Abuse can happen to anyone of any race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.

Being hurt by an intimate partner or spouse can be a very confusing and traumatizing experience for survivors of domestic abuse.

People on the outside may wonder why survivors don’t “just leave,” but abusive or violent relationships are often marked by complex dynamics that make it difficult to get away.

And despite societal and cultural stigma around who might experience abuse, domestic violence can happen to anyone. More than 10 million adults in the United States experience abuse by their romantic or intimate partner every year.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, it’s essential to understand that you aren’t at fault for your partner’s behavior. Survivors don’t “make” their abusers punish or target them with physical or psychological abuse.

Abusers use domestic violence to gain power and control over their targets. Domestic violence is a choice on the part of the abuser, but certain underlying factors might sometimes contribute to a person’s propensity for abuse, including:

  • experiencing childhood trauma
  • holding certain belief systems about hierarchy and domination
  • witnessing domestic violence as a child

Domestic abuse, also known as intimate partner abuse, describes any situation where a romantic or intimate partner or spouse uses dominating or violent behavior to exert control over a partner, physically, sexually, or psychologically.

Abuse can begin subtly for many people who experience it. This may make abusive behaviors difficult to discern in some cases, especially during the initial onset of abuse.

The goal of abusers who engage in domestic violence is almost always to control. Abusive partners and spouses may be looking for a way to manipulate you and maintain a sense of dominance.

Domestic abuse can take many forms, including these common types:

  • Sexual. Forcing you to participate in nonconsensual acts, including sexual assault and rape, demeaning behaviors, infidelity, or exploitation.
  • Physical. Any behaviors that directly harm you physically, including violence such as assault or withholding needs, like food, sleep, or housing.
  • Isolation. Preventing you from seeing family, friends, or attending social events.
  • Control. Eliminating freedom by controlling you from making your own choices, checking up on you obsessively, dictating your clothing or style choices, or using your children as leverage.
  • Emotional. Targeting your insecurities or vulnerabilities; brainwashing.
  • Verbal. Using words to threaten, blame, or demean you; screaming and flying into rages.
  • Male privilege. Adhering to cultural beliefs that men must be dominant over women.
  • Economic. Your partner has complete control over your spending and income, or squanders money on nonessentials.

Experiences of domestic abuse can often include many tactics at once.

You might find verbal and emotional abuse go hand in hand. Or your partner may control all your personal finances because of a belief that “that’s what men are supposed to do.”

Signs of domestic abuse

Because domestic abuse can be subtle and complex, you may not be sure whether what you’re experiencing qualifies as abuse.

Domestic abuse can be much more than physical violence. Even if they don’t cause you physical harm, controlling or dominating behaviors can still be considered domestic abuse.

Signs of financial abuse:

  • All the finances are under your partner’s name.
  • Your name is used for legal documents without your permission.
  • You have an allowance that’s often unrealistic and not self-imposed.
  • You’re not allowed to work or have income.

Signs of sexual abuse:

  • You’re forced into sexual acts or sex work.
  • You’re harmed during intimacy or sexually assaulted
  • Birth control is either withheld or forced on you without your consent.

Signs of physical abuse:

  • You experience physical assault.
  • Unwanted rough play occurs.
  • Partner aggression is directed at things you care about, like belongings, children, or pets.
  • You’re punished with deliberate reckless driving.
  • You’re forced or pressured into taking substances nonconsensually.
  • Your partner withholds food, water, or prevents sleep.
  • Your partner holds you down or keeps you imprisoned.

Signs of emotional abuse:

  • Your partner devalues or dismisses your beliefs.
  • Your partner withholds praise or appreciation.
  • Your partner is excessively jealous.
  • You’re accused of constant infidelity.
  • Your partner harms themselves or threatens to harm themselves to get you to cooperate.
  • Your partner makes you feel as though you deserved to be punished.

Signs of verbal abuse:

  • Your partner insults and demeans you.
  • Your partner belittles you in front of others.
  • You’re called names.
  • Your partner yells, screams, or rages at you.

Signs of control and isolation:

  • Your phone calls, text messages, or emails are constantly monitored.
  • Your partner demands you prove where you’re at whenever you’re apart.
  • You can’t wear certain clothes, do your hair a certain way, or wear makeup, or else your partner guilts or punishes you.
  • You’re not allowed to see family and friends.
  • Your partner stops you from attending social events.

Patriarchal domination:

  • Your partner refuses to do certain “women-only” chores.
  • You’re expected to behave in a submissive way.
  • You’re not allowed to contribute to decisions.

Domestic violence can be varied and individual, and there is no one cause of domestic violence.

It’s important to remember that domestic violence is a choice, not an uncontrolled impulse. A survivor’s actions cannot cause abusive behavior.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, you are never to blame. You can’t “make” someone abuse you, no matter what an abuser may say.

Even if you could do everything possible to please an abusive partner, their need to control you will likely still show itself through their behavior eventually.

In some cases, intimate partner abuse can be influenced by situations, including your own state of behavioral well-being. For example, if you and your partner both experience tendencies toward domestic violence, the situation may quickly spiral out of control.

While the possible causes of domestic violence may be as complex as some of the warning signs, research suggests much of domestic violence behavior is learned.

Children who witness domestic abuse may grow up thinking physical or psychological violence are acceptable ways to solve conflict. In the same way, raising children to believe a different gender is inferior may result in exhibiting controlling behavior later in life.

The need for control that could lead to domestic violence may be linked to several individual factors, including:

  • less access to education
  • personality disorders
  • substance use
  • cultural attitudes
  • gender ideologies
  • low self-esteem
  • struggling with anger management
  • insecurity

However, having some of these traits doesn’t automatically mean someone will have an unmet need for control that develops into domestic violence.

Having a partner who is insecure or experiences low self-esteem doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll have tendencies for abuse.

Power and control

Domestic violence is set apart by one partner’s behavior pattern used to gain or maintain control and power over another partner. Abusers tend to use these behavioral tactics to keep their partner in the relationship.

Usually, abusive behavior starts subtly and gradually and can become continuous over time. With domestic violence, these nuanced behaviors lead to physical, sexual, or psychological violence.

Even when domestic abuse escalates, the more subtle behaviors — like financial or emotional abuse — may continue being used as a method of reinforcing violence by subduing the abused partner further, making them easier to control.

If you notice your partner’s behaviors are increasingly focused on controlling or manipulating you, this could indicate that you may be in an escalating domestic violence situation.

It can sometimes be challenging to seek help if you’re experiencing domestic violence. You might not have access to private communication, or it may not be possible for you to leave your home.

Even if you’ve decided you want to leave, you might not feel safe enough to get out yet.

Options are still available for you as a survivor of domestic violence, even if you might sometimes feel like you’ve hit a dead end in getting help.

No matter where you are in the world, you can find resources available through the United Nations Critical Incident Stress Management Unit at [email protected].

In the United States, you may also receive anonymous, confidential help at any hour through the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 (TTY).

The National Domestic Violence Hotline also offers an online chat feature as well as the option to text by sending “START” to 88788.

Additional resources can be found by calling the National Center for Victims of Crime: 855-484-2846.

In the event of an emergency, dialing 911 or contacting your local authorities can provide immediate assistance.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, you are not alone. Millions of people live with and report domestic violence by an intimate or romantic partner every year.

Your actions can’t cause abusive behavior, and nothing you’ve done can make you “deserve” any form of abuse from your partner or anyone else.

Domestic violence is varied and individualized in different situations. There is no one cause of domestic violence.

Abuse is a choice, and domestic violence stems from a partner’s need to gain power and control. These behaviors may be rooted in:

  • childhood experiences
  • psychological disorders
  • cultural beliefs

Domestic abuse isn’t just physical violence but can be a complex mixture of emotional and mental manipulation. You may find you’re being isolated or can’t wear the things you’d like to wear. You may not have any privacy or freedom.

These nuances and complexities mean that it sometimes can be challenging to identify abuse.

However, help is available if and when you are ready and feel safe enough to leave. And even if you don’t yet feel safe enough to leave, there are still options for seeking support. There are ways to get help and heal.

Where to find help

If you’re experiencing domestic violence, support is available:

  • You can call the the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 for free, confidential, 24/7 care and support.
  • You can call at 866-331-9474 or text LOVEIS to 22522 for support if you think you could be in an abusive relationship.

In addition, you can visit The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), a domestic violence prevention advocacy group with a list of resources for relationship abuse help.

The problem of domestic violence and explaining the role of trade unions

1. What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence refers to all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence that occur within a family or in the home between former or current spouses or partners. Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used by one person to control or dominate another with whom they have or have had an intimate or family relationship. nine0005

Psychological abuse can take many forms, such as harassment, harassment or coercive control. Through coercive control, the perpetrator's behavior is directed towards subjugation and/or dependence on the victim/survivor through threats, humiliation, intimidation, or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, intimidate, and isolate victim/survivor from any support. nine0005

Economic abusers seek to prevent a person from gaining access to employment opportunities and economic resources.

Domestic violence can result in long-term physical, mental and emotional health problems; in the most extreme cases, violence against women can lead to death. This is one of the most extreme forms of harassment a woman can face.

Sources: Istanbul Convention; Unione Unite “Domestic Violence and Abuse. Negotiation Guide; ILO report, 2018.

2. What is the difference between domestic violence, family violence and intimate partner violence?

Intimate partner violence is defined as “physical, sexual or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse”. Domestic violence is “partner violence, but […] can also include child or elder abuse, or violence by any family member.” Domestic violence means “child abuse, sibling abuse, intimate partner abuse, and elder abuse.” nine0005

Source: ILO Brief Report on Domestic Violence and its Impact on the World of Work, 2020

3. Victim or survivor of domestic violence?

The terms “victim” and “survivor of domestic violence” are used depending on the situation. The word “victim” is used by law enforcement officials and during legal proceedings. However, people may prefer the term “domestic violence survivor”, which emphasizes an active, proactive, and constructive response to violence, as opposed to the term “victim”, which can mean passive acceptance. nine0005

Ultimately, it is critical to follow the signals of the person seeking support, as each person has a different path from being a victim to being a “survivor of domestic violence”. As a result, many are beginning to use the term victim/survivor of domestic violence.

Source: A Handbook for Survivors of Violence, Aid Women, Words We Use. Women Against Abuse

4. Who is the most likely victim/survivor of domestic violence? nine0003

What do we call people who seek help while in an abusive relationship or after a breakup?

Anyone can be a victim/survivor or perpetrator of domestic violence. People experience domestic violence regardless of their gender, ethnicity, class, age, race, religion, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

However, there is clear evidence that among those who suffer from domestic violence, understood as intimate partner violence, the majority are women, and among the perpetrators of violence, the majority are men. nine0005

35 percent of women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence by another person during their lifetime. Most cases of violence against women are committed by intimate partners. Every day, 137 women die at the hands of a partner or family member.

Domestic violence is a manifestation of gender-based violence.

Gender-based violence and violence against women are two terms that are often used interchangeably, because in most cases violence against women is committed (by men) on a gender basis, and the percentage of women who experience gender-based violence is disproportionately higher. Gender-based violence against women is violence against a woman precisely because she is a woman; the term also reflects the fact that the incidence of violence against women is disproportionately higher. nine0005

Sources: Facts and Figures: Ending Violence Against Women, UN Women; Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, UN 1993

5. Why are the majority of victims/survivors of domestic violence women?

Domestic violence is an abuse of power. Violence against women is a manifestation of the historically unequal balance of power between men and women, which has resulted in the domination of women and discrimination against women by men. Violence prevents women from developing fully; Violence against women is one of the defining social mechanisms that leads to the fact that women are forced to occupy a subordinate position compared to men. nine0005

Violence against women, whether in public or private spaces, is deeply ingrained in the social structures and cultural traditions, norms and values ​​upheld by society, including patriarchal societies, and is often perpetuated by a culture of denial and silence.

Source: UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, 1993

6. Are some women more at risk than others?

Any woman can experience domestic violence, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. However, certain groups of women are more at risk, including young women with disabilities, bisexual women and migrant women.

Shame and dishonor are powerful cultural concepts and some minority women may face social ostracism and rejection if they seek help. Lesbians and gay men may also experience domestic violence and stigma from police and support services; The situation of transgender men and women also requires special consideration. Older women, women with disabilities, men and people living in rural areas also face additional barriers. nine0005

Sources: ITUC, Workplace support for victims of domestic violence; Unione Unite “Domestic Violence and Abuse. Negotiating guide

Government indifference is one of the causes of domestic violence in Russia – DW – 03/07/2020

Photo: picture-alliance/empics/D. Lipinski


Elena Barysheva

March 7, 2020

Canadian professor Alexandra Lysova told DW about what, in her opinion, hinders the effective fight against domestic violence in Russia Russian law on this subject. nine0005


From March 8 to March 10, a charity event "Not Guilty" will be held in Russian cities in support of women who have experienced domestic violence. Professor Alexandra Lysova has been dealing with the problem of domestic violence for many years. First, in the Russian Federation, where since the early 2000s she worked on this topic at the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok. After - in Canada.

Lysova is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. At the request of DW, she commented on the draft Russian law against domestic violence and shared her experience in dealing with this problem in Canada and the United States. nine0005

DW: Can we say that there is an epidemic of domestic violence in Russia right now?

Alexandra Lysova: It's hard to say without reliable statistics. We need research, analysis of official data and surveys of the population in Russia, which are not currently available. But personally, I do not see serious reasons for the epidemic - the greater publicity of individual incidents does not always correlate with the growth of this type of crime.

On the other hand, there is no reason to talk about a decrease in the level of domestic violence. In Russia, as I understand it, the reaction of the police is still the same - when they kill you, then come. Indifference and lack of victim support services only exacerbate the problem. For example, studies in the United States show that with the growth of support services and shelters for women who are victims of violence, the number of women killing their abusive partners has decreased. That is, support services prevent the escalation of violence. nine0005

- What else affects the level of domestic violence?

Alexandra Lysova Photo: privat

- In addition to individual factors, such as personality disorders, mental illness, various kinds of addictions and experiences of domestic violence in childhood, there are also social factors of everyday stress, uncertainty about tomorrow, anger, injustice, poverty, degree of gender inequality. In my paper with scholar Murray Straus, we also pointed out that the level of legitimate violence in a country can also contribute to domestic violence. nine0005

- Looking at what is happening in Russia, where would you start solving the problem as a scientist?

- From data collection. This is the very first thing to be done. Moreover, no laws against domestic violence should be passed before we know what kind of violence we are dealing with. For example, statistics may show that there is more gender-based violence in Russia that is directed against women and is perpetrated by men who seek power.

Or we will see that in society, in principle, there is a lot of violence in the family, that both spouses are powerful, that both children and other relatives suffer. In this case, programs to work with rapists should be developed for both men and women.

- What happens if , do not collect such data , immediately take some measures to combat domestic violence?

- Let me explain using the example of the USA, where they made a big mistake. In Minneapolis, they conducted a large six-month experiment led by Lawrence Sherman (crime prevention expert. - Rev. ) by type of response to domestic violence. It turned out that in families where the police immediately arrested the man after the woman's call, domestic violence actually decreased. These results had such an effect on the American public that, without any further experiments, the practice of mandatory arrest was introduced in many states.

A few years later, Sherman's experiment was repeated, but in different social environments. And it turned out that in some families, after the release of the man from custody, violence became even more. This was manifested in black families, those with nothing to lose, families from disadvantaged parts of the city - all these are populations where violence is already most prevalent. nine0005

Then there were a lot of works that showed that victims of domestic violence also began to fall under arrest. The police could not figure out who was to blame, and took both. Finally, many women have stopped calling the police altogether, because the husband will be arrested, he will lose his job, and the family will lose income. The consequences of the adoption of the law turned out to be worse than the situation before. Even Sherman himself admitted that he had made a mistake.

- It is hard to imagine that the domestic violence situation in Russia could be worse than it is now. nine0014

- Yes, I can imagine how my words sound. Like, how can you talk about research when women suffer from violence every day. I understand this reasoning, but still I think that in the conditions in which laws are adopted in Russia, a bureaucratic machine is launched, which is then very difficult to stop, an ill-conceived law will do more harm than good.

And then - those studies that I'm talking about can really be done in a few months. For example, questions about violence could be included in the next population census. There is an excellent tool - the scale of tactics of behavior in conflict situations. It was designed not only to ask: "Have you been a victim of violence?", but also to find out how each of the partners behaved in the conflict in relation to the other partner. nine0005

Many feminists and, unfortunately, many non-profit organizations and even the World Health Organization do not ask women about their partner violence because they say it puts them in danger. This is not true: the scales have been perfectly tested, they do not expose anyone to any danger.

And without them, society does not get the important information that many of the women who were victims were also rapists. Modern research shows that often both partners are quite aggressive towards each other. Women very often initiate violence that they do not consider as such. For example, they can give a slap in the face, spit or scratch, throw some object. Although it is undeniable that women are more likely than men to suffer from the most serious forms of violence and murder. nine0005

- What do you think about the bill against domestic violence in Russia?

- I read two versions of the bill: the one prepared by the feminists and the one that ended up in the Federation Council. The second contains more references to existing legislation, the terms of the protective order are shortened, and many of the details prescribed in the first version are completely absent. I am not a lawyer, but I think that the version in the Federation Council is too general. It is not clear how to implement it in life without prescribed details, allocated large financial resources (domestic violence is a very expensive problem), trained personnel, and so on. nine0005

- In Canada, if I understand correctly, there is no separate law against domestic violence?

- Yes, it's just the Criminal Code. But in Canada, everyone is trained to seriously deal with this problem. The police have special response protocols of 19 criteria. For example, police officers look to see if there are differences in strength between two partners, if weapons are involved, if there are children in the house, and if one of the spouses is drunk.

Another thing is that initially the policy of responding to domestic violence in Canada was proposed by feminists and the police a priori believe women more than men. But the overall situation of domestic violence in Canada is improving. From 19In 1999, its level has dropped so much that now violence against men is even higher (2.9%) than against women (1.8%).

- In Russia, since the 1990s, they have been trying to pass this law, but both the authorities and society are resisting. Why hasn't this problem been tackled at the state level for 30 years?

- Yes, there was resistance before. Some, such as criminologist Dmitry Shestakov from St. Petersburg, have linked this to traditional family norms and values ​​in Russia. Personally, I have a feeling that all the time is somehow not up to it. The problem is not considered important and serious, and in general they are not very concerned about the well-being of people. This is part of the general trend when there is no reverent attitude and attention to human life. This is noticeable both at the individual and at the societal level. It is difficult to say when the situation may change.

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