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Related to Abuse in Relationships And Marriages

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According to our textbook, violence is defined as physical aggression with the purpose of controlling or intimidating the partner (Marriage and Family). Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any background, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic and etc. Abuse is about gaining control and power over a person (National Domestic Violence Hotline). Reasons why people often stay in abusive relationships often includes fear, embarrassment/shame, low self-esteem, love, cultural/religious reasons, lack of money or resources, and disability (National Domestic Violence Hotline).

Reasons Violence Occurs in Relationships

Cultural factors for violence is violence in the media, corporal punishment of children, and gender inequality. This can be seen in hardcore Muslim countries because men are dominant over women and children. Some Muslim parents have even done “honor killings” because their child disobeyed them, so they killed them. It is probably in other countries/religions as well, but this is the most well known example (Marriage and Family).

Community factors includes social isolation, poverty, and inaccessible or unaffordable community services. Social isolation occurs when people live away from their extended families, and often it results because the abuser makes the partner isolate from their families. Spouses who live nearby their family are less vulnerable to abuse. Poverty is a factor because it creates high stress for couples, which often leads to expression of the stress by violence and abuse (Marriage and Family).

Individual factors include dependency, jealousy, need for control, history of aggressiveness, blaming others, isolation, alcohol/drug use, criminal/psychiatric background, and impulsiveness. Abusers are often dependent on their partners. Jealousy often results in isolation. Abusers often have an excessive need to exercise power over their partners and to control them. Abusers usually have a history of aggression, and they have poor impulse control and become instantly enrages and lash out at their partner. Usually abusers take no responsibility for their problems. The abusive person isolates a partner from family friends, and activities, as mentioned above. Alcohol and drug use allows the abuser to avoid responsibility for being violent or increases one’s aggression. Shorey et al. (2012) identified mental health problems in men that were arrested for domestic violence and found high rates of PTSD, GAD, depression, panic disorder, and social phobias. Miller et al. (2012) found that impulsiveness was one of the most prominent personality characteristics associated with abuse (Marriage and Family).

Family factors includes child abuse in family of origin, family conflict, and parents who abuse each other. Sometimes children who were abused grow up to be abusers themselves. Children whose mother or father were not very affectionate were more likely to be abusive to their own children. Parents who are aggressive toward each other create a norm of aggression in the family (Marriage and Family).

Sexual Abuse in Younger Adults

Acquaintance rape means the victim knew the perpetrator. Behaviors of sexual coercion range anywhere from verbal pressure and threats to threats of physical force. Sexual abuse also occurs in same-sex relationships. Rothman et al. (2011) reviewed studies of gay, lesbian, and bisexual females and males and found that the highest estimates reported for lifetime sexual abuse were for lesbian and bisexual women. Date rape refers to nonconsensual sex between people who are on a date or dating. Alcohol is considered the most common rape drug. People under the influence cannot give consent. Farris et al. (2010) found that alcohol dose was related to men interpreting a woman’s friendliness as sexual interest. Date rape drugs, such as Rophypnol, causes sedation and short term memory loss. The Drug-Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996 makes it a crime to give a controlled substance to someone without their knowledge and with the intent of committing a violent crime, such as rape (Marriage and Family).

Abuse in Marriages

In abusive marriages often times the husband feels that he has ownership of his wife and feels the need to control her, and vice versa because females can be abusive too. Abuse in marriage often leads to accusations, fear, shame, control, physical abuse, and rape. Marital rape is forcible rape committed by one’s spouse. Unfortunately over 30 countries have no laws against marital rape, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China (Marriage and Family).

Effects of Abuse on Victims

Abuse has devastating consequences. Often times the victim looks at their own behavior to try to explain the partner’s violence. Victims with low self-esteem are more likely to take responsibility for their partner’s behavior. Some victims overlook or rationalize their partners behavior while others are hurt by it and the effects are very negative. Often times being a victim is associated with PTSD, depression, inability to sleep, and irritability. Children who witness abuse also incur the negative effects. Russella et al. (2010) found that children who observe domestic violence were more likely to be depressed as adults. Children who witness or are actually abused also sometimes grow up to be abusers themselves (Marriage and Family).

Cycle of Abuse

The cycle starts when the victim is abused and then the perpetrator starts to feel regret, wants forgiveness, and starts acting in a positive manner. After the victim forgives them, they go through a honeymoon phase, which makes the victim hopeful that their partner has changed. Anxiety, stress and tensions build, and the abuser abuses again, in which the cycle starts again. Some victims choose not to prosecute their partners. However, Los Angeles has a zero tolerance policy in which the arrested person is required to stand trial and the victim is required to testify against them. Battered woman syndrome is a legal term used in the court system in which a person is accused of murder, but was suffering from abuse, so it justifies his or her actions because it was self defense (Marriage and Family).

Female Abuse of a Partner

Female abusers often verbally abuse, belittle, humiliate, are possessive, jealous, accuse of being unfaithful, control keys or medications, control what the victim does or goes, control money, make false allegations, and threaten to leave and prevent them from seeing the kids if they choose to report the abuse (Hotline.org)

However, Swan et al. (2008) found that females who were abusive towards their partner were more likely motivated by fear and self defense. Abusive women are rarely arrested (Marriage and Family). Men are usually reluctant to report abuse because they feel embarrassed, fear that they won’t be believed, or that the police will assume that since they’re male that they are the perpetrator of the violence and instead of being the victim (Hotline.org).

Why Victims Choose to Stay

Often times victims stay because of their emotional attachment to the partner they are in “love” with. Another reason is that sometimes the abuse is only one part of of the relationship. Sometimes when partners aren’t being abusive, they are loving, kind, and caring, which keeps the victim hooked. When children are involved, some mothers leave the abuser so that the children are not subjected to the abuse anymore. Some mothers stay because they want to keep the family together (Marriage and Family).

Fighting Back

The first goal of fighting back is to avoid serious injuries. Injury is often increased if the abuser is drunk, on drugs, or has a weapon. Verbal resistance is more helpful in escaping injury such as crying or pleading.

How to Leave

The first step is to make a plan. Pack clothes, belongings, and move in with someone or go to a homeless shelter. This does not always work because sometimes the partner finds them and convinces them to come back or the victim might go back on their own free will, in which the cycle starts again. Sometimes the victim calls the police while the abuser is working, and has them arrested. While the partner is in jail, the victim may move out and leave town. Sometimes if a victim leaves the abuser tries to find them and if they do, they may murder them. Some victims chose to take out a protective order, so that the abuser is prohibited from being in close proximity to them. The best answer is most likely for the victim to remove oneself from the abuse and into a safe environment, such as a women’s shelter or with family (Marriage and Family).


In conclusion, abuse is a very complicated subject. They are so many different variables and situations that occur. It seems like men are more likely to be the abusers, although sometimes it’s a female abuser. Marriage and family needs to be taught in high school. Kids need to know what the different types of abuse look like, and how to stop the abuse if they find themselves in that situation. Kids desperately need to be taught what a healthy relationship looks like (Marriage and Family).

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