Domestic violence is a crime that can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, religion, or sexual orientation. It occurs in all socioeconomic classes and affects people from all walks of life. Domestic violence may include physical abuse such as hitting, kicking, choking, emotional abuse such as threats and intimidation, and sexual assault like forced sex acts. The victim often suffers physical harm and psychological trauma that can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can be caused by one traumatic event or repeated exposure to harmful stimuli.
The six most common causes of domestic violence are:
- A history of family abuse, substance use problems.
- Substance use problems
- Mental illness.
- Financial difficulties.
- Access to firearms for self-protection or aggressiveness against the partner or children.
- A desire to control the victim.
Many of these issues are closely linked to abusive behavior, but not all abusers have them.
1. A History of Family Abuse
Domestic violence is often generational. If the abuser witnessed, experienced, or was otherwise exposed to violent behaviors in childhood, it can be more likely that domestic violence will occur later in life. However, not all abusers who witnessed family violence were victims themselves; several other risk factors include mental illness and substance use problems.
2. Substance Use Problems
According to a study in England, substance abuse was linked to about 44% of reported domestic violence cases, and alcohol 12% of those cases. The Survey found that more than a third of all female victims of violent crimes were attacked by a partner who abused alcohol or other substances. Furthermore, abusers who drink heavily are more likely to be violent toward their partners.
3. Financial Difficulties
Economic problems can lead to stress, which can result in domestic violence. The abuser may feel like he does not have complete control over finances; this stress can lead to abusive behavior. Domestic violence is about power and control; the abuser may use financial problems as an excuse to be aggressive toward his partner or children.
4. Mental Illness
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Mental disorders are common in people who commit violent acts; however, violence is not always caused by mental illness.” Research suggests there is a link between mental illness and domestic violence. However, the connection isn’t clear yet because research is ongoing. While experts agree that mental illness can raise the risk of violence, most people with severe mental health conditions are not violent.
People living with depression or other mood disorders may be at greater risk for domestic violence because they often struggle with poor impulse control and have impaired judgment. Furthermore, many people who abuse their partners also have clinical conditions such as borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder.
5. Access to Firearms
The presence of a gun in the home increases the risk of homicide and suicide. A gun in the house also increases the risk for domestic violence. Firearms are the most common method of suicide.
In domestic violence situations, the abuser may use the gun to threaten or intimidate the victim. The presence of a firearm in the home also increases the risk that the victim will be killed.
6. A Desire to Control the Victim
The abuser may want to control his partner by using threats, isolation, financial abuse, or other methods. He may also try to control her children (if there are any in the relationship). He often wants power in all aspects of their lives. The abuser will have an intense need to know where she is every minute of the day and night, and may become extremely jealous. This desire to control the victim can lead to domestic violence.
While these are some of the most common causes of domestic violence, it’s important to remember that not all abusers have these risk factors. Many abusers do not have a history of family abuse, mental illness, or substance use problems. Abuse is about power and control, so an abuser may have no risk factors- yet still be dangerous.
There’s Hope for Domestic Violence Victims
Even though domestic violence is a devastating and all-too-common experience, victims have hope.
A lawyer can help a victim file for a restraining order and protect herself from future abuse. There are also many shelters and support groups available for victims of domestic violence. With the right help, victims can reclaim their lives and move on from the abuse.