Domestic Violence

Posted by Frank Gillespie MA

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is when a family member, spouse, domestic partner or ex-partner attempts or implements practices which provide power over the other party (family member, partner etc). The different forms of abuse are not just physical violence, but can be sexual, mental, financial or legal dominance. Other terms for domestic violence include domestic abuse, intimate partner violence, battering, relationship abuse, spousal abuse, or family violence. Elder abuse and child abuse fall within the category of domestic violence. Violence itself can be broadly interpreted: it may include psychological terror beyond verbal and emotional abuse, fighting, death threats, etc.

What are the causes of domestic violence?

There are many scientific explanations about the reasons of domestic violence from biological theories to psychopathological and sociocultural models. Some theories suggest that violent behavior can be the result of social learning and can be transferred through generations. Other theories use a frustration-aggression model to explain this behavior. Generally, domestic violence is caused by an interaction of situational and individual factors, for example insecurity of socio-economic conditions, learned behavioral patterns (from family, society, communities etc.), and individual psychological factors.

Who are the victims of domestic violence?

Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, or other factors. Domestic violence statistics show that women ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence. 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during their lifetimes. 3-4 million children between the ages of 3-17 and 4 million women are at risk of exposure to domestic violence each year in the U.S. Domestic violence against men occurs in 15% of the reported cases in the USA.

What are the signs of an abusive relationship?

Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to physical violence. Injuries are the most obvious signs of physical abuse. They are often excused as “accidents”. General warning signs of an abusive relationship can be fear or anxiety of the belittling, controlling, or jealous partner, isolation (from family members, social occasion, work or school), limited access to money, change in character of the person in question, feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation. Signs of emotional abuse can also include a change of character, low self-esteem, depression or suicidal behavior. Signs of child abuse can include the child being excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong, or showing extremes in their behavior (inappropriately adult or inappropriately infantile). Abused children usually don’t seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver. If you witness any warning signs of abuse in yourself, your children, or a friend, family member, or co-worker, please take them very seriously; contact a professional for advice, or the police. Do not take things into your own hands.

What are the effects of child abuse?

The effects of child abuse can be lifelong, possibly affecting future relationships, self-esteem, or putting more children at risk of abuse as the cycle of domestic violence continues. Some of these scars might be physical, but emotional scarring has long lasting effects throughout life. Emotional child abuse can severely damage a child’s mental health or social development by causing lack of trust and relationship difficulties in the future, core feelings of being worthless, or troubles in regulating emotions.

How to stop domestic violence?

Help is available for both victims and perpetrators of abuse. Statistic show that many people who commit abuse were either abused themselves as children or witnessed abuse between family members. To reduce the cases of domestic violence in the generations to come this cycle needs to be broken. Counseling can be effective and can help violent perpetrators obtain the knowledge, psychological understanding and coping skills to avoid turning to violence again.

Noticing and acknowledging the signs is the first step in the process of how to get out of an abusive relationship. Counseling can help abused men and battered women to process the negative memories and move on with their lives.

Please note, that PsychNook is NOT a Domestic Violence Hotline, we may not be able to offer immediate help. If you feel threatened in any way call 911 or any of your local helplines for advice and support.

Frank Gillespie MA

Frank Gillespie has a Master's Degree in Counseling from LaSalle University in Philadelphia. He is a nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). He has provided therapy for over 23 years. During his career, he has helped more than 10,000 people move past their obstacles towards reaching their potential and fulfillment in their lives. He practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a warm and nurturing approach. In addition to being a therapist, Frank has been an adjunct college professor teaching social work, a clinical consultant, a clinical director, and a seminar speaker. Frank has recently retired from his full time practice to focus on a part time online practice. He is married. He enjoys listening to music, watching sports, power walking, swimming, reading and writing.


- Dating - Relationships - Anxiety - Addictions - Anger Management - Bipolar Disorder - Codependency - Depression - Domestic Abuse - Self Esteem - Behavioral Issues - Coping - Divorce - Grief
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