Family Violence & Sexual Abuse
• Although not as dangerous as war zones or urban riot scenes,
families & households are dangerous places.
• A woman is beaten by her boyfriend or husband every 30 seconds.
• Each year, at least a million American children are physically abused
by their parents.
FAMILY VIOLENCE &ABUSE
• Violence is "an act carried out with the intention or perceived
intention of causing physical pain or injury to another person.“
• Other prevalent forms of abuse include neglect & emotional
• Common couple violence refers to violence that erupts in the
course of an argument as one partner strikes at the other in the
heat of the moment.
• Intimate terrorism occurs in relationships characterized by the
desire of one partner to dominate & control the other.
• Violent resistance encompasses what is often meant by
• “self defensive" violence.
• Mutual violent control encompasses the relationships in which
both partners are violently trying to control each other &the
EXPLAINING FAMILY VIOLENCE
• Several theories have been proposed to explain why family violence
• Patriarchy / male-dominance theory maintains that in societies where
men hold the authority and in women and children are defined property,
male violence against women and children is common. The personality
theory of abuse maintains that the abuser's personality characteristics
are the major determinants of family abuse.
• Social- learning theory posits that aggression and violence are learned
by observing the behavior of others. Resource theory assumes that the
more social, personal, and economic resources people have, the more
power they command.
• Conflict theorists argue that women and children are victimized in the
family not only because they have few individual resources but also
because societal institutions rarely take violence against women and
• According to exchange theory, the assailant's violent behavior and the
victim's tolerance of the abuse carries more benefits than costs.
PREVALENCE OF FAMILY VIOLENCE
• Battering includes slapping, punching, knocking down, choking,
kicking, hitting with objects, threatening with weapons,
stabbing, shooting, & sexual abuse.
• A man who systematically batters is likely to believe the myths
believe in the traditional home;
have low self-esteem;
have a dual personality;
be sadistic, passive-aggressive,
or pathologically jealous;
use sex as an act of aggression; or believe in the moral rightness
of his violent behavior.
• The three-phase cycle of violence involves the building of
tension, the explosion, & the "honeymoon period"
• The "cycle theory of battering incidents" (Walker) proposes
that there is a three-phase cycle involved in marital abuse.
• Beginning with the tension-building phase when the wife tries to
prevent her husband's anger from escalating,
• leading to the acute battering incident where the husband
explodes into a rage of abusing his wife,
• and ending with the calm that follows the incident where the
husband begs his wife's forgiveness and promises that he will
never hurt her again.
• Marital rape is one of the most widespread & overlooked forms
of family violence, but many people
(including the victims themselves) have difficulty acknowledging
that forced sex in marriage is rape.
• Raping a wife has been a crime in all states since 1993.
• I. Acquaintance rape (date rape) is the most common form of
• Alcohol or drugs are often involved.
• 2. Physical violence often goes hand-in-hand with sexual
aggression. Three-fourths of victims who were acquaintance
rape victims sustained bruises, cuts, black eyes, & internal
• 3. Much sexual communication is done nonverbally &
• ambiguously, creating considerable confusion &
• argument about sexual consent.
1. economic dependence,
2. religious pressure to submit to her husband's will,
3. belief that the children need a father,
4. fear of being alone, especially as she may have been cut off from all other ties,
5. belief in the American dream of family bliss,
6. pity for her husband,
7. guilt & shame, feeling that it is somehow her own fault,
8. duty & responsibility to stick it out,
9. fear for her life if she tries to escape,
10. love for the partner, despite the battering,
11. cultural reasons, and
12. nowhere else to go.
• It is connected to low self-esteem & keeps battered
women feeling that they cannot control the battering
• The woman's determination that the violence must
cease is crucial to stopping it.
• Characteristics of parents who abuse their children may
include: physical punishment by one's own parents
• Children who are abused are often labeled by their parents as
"unsatisfactory" & may be: a "normal" child (who is the
product of a difficult or unplanned pregnancy or who is the
• The family ecosystem may include serious problems
contributing to stress
• Physical abuse refers to an ongoing pattern of bodily injurious
• In Munchausen syndrome by proxy, an adult feigns or induces
illness in a child to attract medical attention and support for
herself and her child.
• Sexual abuse includes making a child watch sexual acts, fondling
a child, forcing a child to engage in sexual acts for pornography
• Child neglect is a failure to provide basic caretaking obligations.
• Language neglect includes discouraging the child's
• Emotional maltreatment conveys to a child that they are
inferior, worthless, flawed, unloved or unwanted.
• This may include spurning (threatening to hurt, kill or abandon a
child), isolating (denying a child opportunities to interact with
peers or adults) or corrupting (modeling, permitting or
encouraging a child's antisocial behaviors).
CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
• The incest taboo, which forbids sexual intercourse between close blood
relatives, is a cultural norm in almost all known societies.
• Incest is defined by law as sexual intercourse or marriage between
• A national survey found that 15% of adults said they had been victims
of unwanted sexual intercourse and touching as a child.
• Theories about the role of the mother in the incestuous family can be
classified into three categories:
• as colluder (sacrifices her daughter either intentionally or
• as dependent (a helpless person who is suffering from a disabling
condition like depression or a physical infirmity),
• and as victim (fails to intervene because of her own victimization as a
Abused children are more likely to :
• have parents who abuse drugs and alcohol
• live in larger families
• have parents who are experiencing economic stress and
• live in homes where there is wife abuse and
• have divorced parents.
• Children who survive often suffer from physiological, social and
• Incestuous relationships in childhood often lead to lack of
trust, fear of intimacy and sexual dysfunctions in adulthood.
HIDDEN VICTIMS: SIBLINGS AND ADOLESCENTS
• There are various forms of sibling abuse, including name-calling
and ridicule (the most common form), degradation, promoting
fear, torturing or killing a pet, and destroying personal
• Most parents view sibling violence as a normal part of growing
• However, 10% of all murders in families are sibilcides, killing of
• Men, are more likely to be the perpetrators and victims of
sibilcide and the average age of the victim is 33.
• About 20% of teenagers are abused by their parents.
• Being abused and witnessing domestic violence has twice the
negative effect on children's development.
• Adolescent victims are more likely to be victims of other crimes,
problem drug users as adults, serious property offenders and
serious violent offenders.
• Baby boomers, now in their early forties to late fifties, are often
referred to as the sandwich generation because they care not only for
their own children but also for their aging parents.
• Elder abuse, sometimes called elder mistreatment, includes physical
abuse, negligence, financial exploitation, psychological abuse, and
deprivation of basic needs, isolation from friends and family and failure
to administer needed medications.
• Elder abuse is called the hidden iceberg because 84% of cases are not
reported. Elderly women are more likely to be abused.
• Adult children are the largest group of elder abusers, followed by the
• Overall, men are more likely to be abusers.
• Risk factors for elder abuse include shared living arrangement, weak
social network, alcohol use and abuse, impairment of the care giver or
care recipient, physical and emotional dependency in the abuser-abused
relationship, medical costs, stress, negative personality characteristics,
and the intergenerational transmission of violence.
• Child abuse prevention (CAP) programs have aimed at teaching
children that they have rights; including the right to control
their own bodies & genitals, the right to feel "safe," & the right
not to be touched in ways that feel confusing or wrong.
• Other CAP programs are directed at parents to help them
educate their children.
• CAP programs for professionals encourage them to watch for
signs of sexual abuse & to investigate children's reports of
• In recent years, both the American Medical Association (AMA)
& the federal government have become more actively involved
in fighting domestic violence.