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What causes domestic violence?

Being injured by a spouse or intimate partner can be incredibly perplexing and traumatic for victims of domestic abuse. People from outside the relationship may wonder why survivors don't "just leave," but abusive or violent relationships frequently have complex dynamics that make leaving challenging. Despite the cultural and social stigma that domestic violence carries, anyone can be impacted by it. In the United States, more than 10 million adults report experiencing abuse from a romantic or intimate partner each year. Unfortunately, I was a part of this statistic for six years. It's sufficient to prompt the question, "What causes domestic violence?"

What causes domestic violence?

Before we can even begin to answer the question, "What causes domestic violence?" we need to define what domestic violence is. Domestic violence is a tool used by abusers to exert control and power over their victims. Although domestic violence is a choice made by the abuser, there are some underlying factors that can occasionally increase a person's propensity for abuse, such as: having experienced childhood trauma, holding particular tenets about dominance and hierarchy, and growing up with domestic violence. In my case, I was abused by a mother who believed strongly in the tenet, "spoil the rod, spoil the child," and she was also being abused verbally.

There is no single answer for what causes domestic violence. Instead, it can take many different forms and be very personal. It's critical to keep in mind that domestic violence is a decision, not an unrestrained impulsive behavior. Abuse cannot be brought on by a survivor. (You are never to blame if you are a victim of domestic violence. Despite what an abuser may claim, you cannot "make" someone abuse you.)

What causes domestic violence?
What causes domestic violence?

In some cases, circumstances your own level of behavioral well-being can have an impact on intimate partner abuse. For instance, if both you and your partner have a history of domestic violence, things could easily get out of hand.

Even though the causes of domestic violence may be as complex as some of the warning signs, research suggests that much of the behavior is learned. When they get older, children who witness domestic violence may come to believe that using physical or emotional force to settle disputes is acceptable. Similar to how instilling in kids a sense of inferiority toward people of a different gender can result in controlling behavior later in life. Chuck shared some of this with me, so it's clear that he dealt with it as a child. The fact that I did not engage in domestic violence despite seeing my father verbally abuse my mother is intriguing and supports the idea that what leads to domestic violence is not always clear.

The need for control may be influenced by a number of different factors, such as:

  • Lower accessibility to education (Chuck was dyslexic to the point of being illiterate).

  • Personality dysfunction

  • Use of drugs

  • Cultural beliefs

  • Sexist beliefs

  • Low self-esteem

  • Trouble controlling your anger

  • Insecurity


Hopefully, this information will help you understand what causes domestic violence. However, there's something even more important that you should know: If you are a victim of domestic abuse is that you are not to blame for your partner's actions. Those who have been abused do not "make" their abusers harm them physically or psychologically.

Surviving child abuse and domestic violence is a traumatic experience that can leave lasting scars. By sharing my story in Healing Family Trauma Pittsburgh, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania I hope to reach out to others who may be going through similar situations. It's important to know that you're not alone and that there is support available. By visiting my Etsy store, you can contribute to this site and its goal to help support as many survivors of child abuse and domestic violence as possible.


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