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Common Causes of Domestic Violence

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

When you’ve witnessed a family that’s been destroyed by domestic violence, you’ll find yourself wondering how someone could act that way. I know because I’ve been there. After leaving my abuser I found myself questioning not only how he could act this way, but how I could let him. However, it’s important to realize that this type of behavior frequently comes about unexpectedly. This isn’t to say that there aren’t some common causes of domestic violence in a relationship that you should be aware of though. Here we’ll discuss just a few of them.

Mental Health Issues

Women who are victimized quite likely suffer from mental health issues. In my instance, it was PTSD that was caused by child abuse. Whether someone has these issues first or develops them later isn’t clear, but these are definitely cooccurring.

Poverty and Unemployment

Another one of the common causes of domestic violence in a relationship that played a significant role in my domestic abuse is poverty and unemployment. Part of the problem is that abuse victims don’t have the means of escape. For me, the only way out was to check myself into the psych ward of our local hospital claiming that I was suicidal. Here the struggle only just began because like most women who are abused, I didn’t have the money to pay for legal help to get my son out of the situation.

Lack of Education

Education plays a large role in family trauma. With each year of secondary education, a woman becomes more aware of how to protect themselves from domestic abuse. This is because education empowers women to be more self-confident. Unfortunately, this didn’t work for me because I was never self-confident to begin with.

Young Parents

Parenting at a young age (I was 25, he was 35) can result in anger, aggression, frustration, and depression. This is one of the common causes of domestic violence in a relationship because young parents are more likely to have less education, thus living in poverty.

“Relationship Retention Behavior”

Some people wrongly assume that violence will help save their relationship. Any threat to their relationship motivates them to enlist in this to maintain their relationship. I personally feel that my abuser engaged in this because he was cheating on me. What he seemingly didn’t understand is that when you wear a person down, they’ll eventually break.

Cultural Differences

This is one of the most overlooked common causes of domestic violence in a relationship. While it might seem exciting to get into a relationship with someone whose background is very different from your own, it eventually leads to problems. I, personally, don’t believe that it even has to be cultural. In my case, I feel that it was different backgrounds and goals in life that led to the domestic violence.

The point here is that when a couple doesn’t consciously accept the differences domestic violence may occur. Unfortunately, with my abuser being from a working-class background and me having a college education he saw me as a threat – someone who could make more money and thus have more “power” over him if he didn’t keep me “under control.”

Substance Abuse

Using alcohol or drugs is another one of the common causes of domestic violence in a relationship. When left unchecked it can result in a person’s need to constantly maintain and control the relationship. Fortunately, this is one thing that didn’t factor into my situation, but I’ve seen it ruin many relationships.

Suspicion of Infidelity

Trust and faith play a large role in any domestic partnership. When there’s reason to question the trust, domestic violence may occur. While he was cheating on me, I did become bitter. Empty promise after empty promise was made and yet I was still being abused. Why am I telling you this? Because infidelity of any kind in a relationship can result in this common cause of domestic violence in a relationship.

The Bottom Line

None of these things excuse the perpetrators of domestic violence. This information is meant to help you watch out for the common causes of domestic violence in a relationship. If you see any of these present, please reach out to Healing Family Trauma in Pittsburgh, PA so that we can help you seek the healing you both need and deserve.


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