October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

Domestic Violence

“That only happens to other people.”

It is a common thought. People tend to think that domestic violence doesn’t happen to folks like them. However, violence happens to people just like us, no matter who we are.

Domestic violence is experienced by those in every age group, race,
ethnicity, culture, social class and sexual orientation.

Intimate partner violence is an equal opportunity phenomenon. Whether the parties involved are in a committed relationship and living in the same home, or just casually dating, violence knows no boundaries. According to recent statistics, the domestic violence problem in the United States may be generating nearly 8 million victims per year. Furthermore, despite what popular opinion may be, the percentage of males abused by their partners is nearing that of women who are victimized within their intimate relationships.

Intimate Violence or Domestic Violence Online CE Courses

Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Violence – Recap

  • Intimate partner violence (IPV) resulted in over 2,000 deaths a year in the US. Of these deaths, 70% were females and 30% were males.
  • While relationships in which lethal violence occurs grab our attention, they represent just a drop in the bucket of domestically violent relationships.
  • Researchers have identified two very different forms of domestic violence: patriarchal terrorism and common couple (or situational couple) violence.
    • Patriarchal terrorism assumes that the violent behaviors represent the larger context of male power and control, male entitlement, and male dominance
    • Common couple violence stems from a less specific purpose. The intent with common couple violence is not specifically to control the partner, but more to express frustration.
  • Intimate partner violence is an equal opportunity phenomenon.
    • Domestic violence is limited neither to heterosexual couples nor to male abusers. A UCLA Center for Health and Policy Research study showed that bisexual (40.6%), gay or lesbian adults (27.9%) are almost twice as likely to experience intimate partner violence as heterosexual adults (16.7%).
    • It may come as a surprise and disbelief to many clinicians that almost as many men as women are battered each year. However, men are less likely to report domestic violence by their female or male partners for several obvious reasons: shame, machismo or fear of humiliation by police and male peers, etc.
  • Traditional feminist theory conceptualizes intimate partner violence as a matter of control, rooted in patriarchal traditions of male dominance in heterosexual relationships, especially marriage.
  • Family violence theory sees intimate partner violence as a matter of conflict, rooted in the everyday stresses of family life that produce conflicts that may or may not escalate to violence.
  • Partners in relationships marred by intimate terrorism may become deadened to the cues to some degree. Because they unconsciously recognize that these behaviors occur in a cycle, they begin to numb themselves to the actual insults, making them more and more vulnerable as time marches on.
  • The core idea of theories of coercive control is that even the nonviolent control tactics (threats, intimidation, etc.) take on a violent meaning that they would not have in the absence of their connection with violence.
  • Dr. Dutton’s research on the origins of male battering identifies the ways in which socialization combined with psychological influences can create an abusive personality.
  • Only when victims see the inevitability of the recurring cycle and understand that their partner has both the capacity to be loving and cruel will they be able to better protect themselves and their children.

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