I have already written an introductory article on the subject of how domestic violence may affect children (CLICK HERE) and, in this article, I want to look at the cycle that often underlies domestic violence, leading to the violence being repeated again and again in the affected household (domestic violence is most often repetitive, although it can, of course, also occur as a one off event).
THE CYCLE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE :
The cycle of domestic violence can be represented as being made up of three main elements; these are :
1) The Pre-Existing Conditions Within The Family
2) The Trigger Incident
3) The Violent Incident Itself
Let’s look at each of these in turn :
1) The Pre-Existing Conditions Within The Family I have said before that any type of family can be affected by domestic violence; however, families with the following types of characteristics may be particularly at risk :
– excessive use of alcohol
– use of narcotics
– very limited understanding by the parent/s of normal childhood emotional/psychological development (eg that rebelliousness during adolescence is normal)
– the parent/s have used violence against those outside of the family
– a strong emotional bond has failed to form between the child and parent
– financial anxieties
– a poor and stressful relationship between the parents
– poor communication between trhe parents
– poor social support/social isolation
– parent/s has/have low stress tolerance
– low self-esteem of parent/s
– parent/s have emotional problems/problems with impulse control
Of course, some families may have several of the above characteristics and different families will experience different levels of severity of the characteristics.
All else being equal, the more of the characteristics the family has, and the more severe these problems are, the greater the risk of domestic violence within the family (not least because many of the problems often compound one another).
2) The Trigger Incident : The incident that immediately precipitates the violence may be very trivial or more serious. The reason a trivial incident can trigger violence is often because the perpetrator of the violence already feels under stress (due to problems such as those referred to above) and is very close to his/her tipping point anyway (ie. the point at which s/he will become violent).
Because of this, s/he takes out his/her stress, anger and frustration (the psychological term for this is DISPLACEMENT) on the family member even though the family member and the trivial initiating incident are not be the main cause of the violence.
3) The Violent Incident Itself : The type of violent incident is also part of the cycle as the perpetrator of the violence will tend to repeat the particular type of violence s/he deploys against the victim/s.
For example, a perpetrator who uses physical violence will tend to stick to this, while a perpetrator who uses psychological/emotional abuse (CLICK HERE to read my article on emtional abuse) will tend to stick to that. Often, of course, a perpetrator may use both forms of abuse simultaneously.
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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).