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Domestic Violence Against Women is a global issue reaching across
national boundaries as well as socio-economic, cultural, racial and class
distinctions. It is a problem without frontiers. Not only is the problem
widely dispersed geographically, but its incidence is also extensive, making it
a typical and accepted behavior. Only recently, within the past twenty-five
years, has the issue been "brought into the open as a field of concern and
study" (Violence Against Women in the Family, page 38).
Domestic violence is not an isolated, individual event but rather a
pattern of repeated behaviors that the abuser uses to gain power and control
over the victim. Unlike stranger-to-stranger violence, in domestic violence
situations the same perpetrator repeatedly assaults the same victim. These
assaults are often in the form of physical injury, but may also be in the form
of sexual assault. However the abuse is not only physical and sexual, but also
psychological. Psychological abuse means intense and repetitive humiliation,
creating isolation, and controlling the actions of the victim through
intimidation or manipulation. Domestic violence tends to become more frequent
and severe over time. Oftentimes the abuser is physically violent sporadically,
but uses other controlling tactics on a daily basis. All tactics have profound
effects on the victim.
Perpetrators of domestic violence can be found in all age, racial,
ethnic, cultural, socio-economic, linguistic, educational, occupational and
religious groups. Domestic violence is found in all types of intimate
relationships whether the individuals are of the same or opposite sex, are
married or dating, or are in a current or past intimate relationship. There are
two essential elements in every domestic violence situation: the victim and
abuser have been intimately involved at some point in time, and the abuser
consciously chooses to use violence and other abusive tactics to gain control
over the victim. In some instances, the abuser may be female while the victim is
male; domestic violence also occurs in gay and lesbian relationships. However,
95% of reported assaults on spouses or ex-spouses are committed by men against
women (MTCAWA e-mail interview)
"It is a terrible and recognizable fact that for many people, home is
the least safe place" (Battered Dreams, 9). Domestic violence is real violence,
often resulting in permanent injuries or death. Battering is a widespread
societal problem with consequences reaching far beyond individual families. It
is conduct that has devastating effects for individual victims, their children
and their communities. In addition to these immediate effects, there is growing
evidence that violence within the "family becomes the breeding ground for other
social problems such as substance abuse, juvenile delinquency, and violent
crimes of all types" (MTCAWA e-mail interview). Domestic violence against
women is not merely a domestic issue; but, rather a complex socio-economical
crisis that threatens the interconnected equilibrium of the entire social
Causes & Effects
"Within the family there is a historical tradition condoning violence"
(Violence Against Women: The Missing Agenda, 29).
Domestic violence against women accounts for approximately 40 to 70% of
all violent crime in North America. However, the figures don't tell the entire
story; less than 10% of such instances are actually reported to police (The
Living Family, 204).
The causes of domestic violence against women are numerous. Many claim
stress is the substantial cause of domestic conflict resulting in violence.
Though stress in the workplace is a contributing factor, it is by no means the
substantial one. Many people suffer from stress disorders, but most don't
resort to violence as a means of release. It is apparent that the substantial
causes have more to do with the conditioning of males culturally, and within
the family of orientation than anything else.
Historically, women have been treated more as belongings than human
beings; Old English Common Law permitted a man to abuse his wife and kids, as
long as he didn't use a stick thicker than the width of his thumb--"Rule of
Thumb" (The Living Family, 201). Culturally, men have been conditioned to
repress their feelings of emotion--always acting like the tough guy, the
linebacker, the cowboy. But, when confronted with an emotionally difficult
conflict, one which is impossible to shove down deep, they irrupt in volcanic
proportions, often taking out years of repressed rage on those closest to them,
in particular their own family.
However, what seems to be the most significant cause of the male tactic
of violent conflict resolution is violence within the family of orientation.
Statistics show that 73% of male abusers had grown up in a family where they
saw their mother beaten, or experienced abuse themselves (MTCAWA e-mail
interview). Using the (relatively accepted) Freudian model, which claims that
all mental illness stems from traumatic childhood trauma, one can see how there
is a direct correlation between violence in the family of orientation and
violence within the family of procreation. And, indeed, abusers are mentally
ill, though the illness tends to be more subtle than others: many abusers
display a Jekyll&Hyde personality, where they are nothing like their domestic
selves outside the home.
In most cases the cycle of violence starts slowly; it usually consists
of a slap in the face or a hard shove. But the frequency and degree of violence
escalates with time. The abuser will justify the abuse by pointing out his
wife's inadequacies and faults. But, no matter how wrong the wife is, there is
little, if no, justification for spousel abuse within a civil society.
The real issue at hand is the neurosis within the male psyche. Just as
in rape, the key issue is control. Male abusers are laden with fear about
losing power. They inflict physical abuse on their spouse to prove that they
have, still have, and will have control over their spouses (and/or children.)
They won't stop there either. The pattern of abuse involves severe mental
torture and humiliation--blaming, threatening, ignoring, isolating, forcing sex,
monitoring phone calls, and restricting any form of social life. It is a
vicious cycle of abuse, where the wife is almost literally chained to the
husband. Her self-esteem has been obliterated. She is financially, emotionally,
and functionally helpless. She is incapable of reaching out for help for
herself or for her children. At this point the abuse gets more routine; the
abuser sites his partner's pathetic state as more reason to beat her. And the
victim sinks deeper, and more beatings ensue. She has been infected with
psychological-AIDS; she has no defense ("immune system") to combat the disease
For women, escaping an abusive relationship is VERY difficult. And the
abuse usually doesn't stop at the discretion of the male. An in-depth study of
all one-on-one murder and non-negligent manslaughter cases in Canada from 1980
to 1984 found that 62% of female victims were killed by a male partner (Violence
Against Women Homepage). It is painfully clear that victims have little but two
choices: leave or die. Sadly, the latter is the easier one.
Domestic Violence as a Health Issue
The World Health Organization defines health as "a state of complete
physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or
infirmity" (In the Health of Women: A Global Perspective, 78). Based on this,
domestic violence against women is clearly a health problem. In 1984, the U.S.
Surgeon General declared domestic violence against women as the number ONE
health problem (Violence Against Women Homepage).
Physical violence is the most basic form of domestic violence, leading
to extensive injury, unsuccessful pregnancies and even murder. As mentioned
above, in Canada 62% of women murdered were killed by an intimate male partner.
These are deaths caused by a preventable social problem.
Actual or threatened physical violence, psychological violence and the
denial of physical and economic resources all have an enormous impact on women's
mental health. "A history of victimization is seen as a strong risk factor for
the development of mental health problems" (MTCAWA e-mail interview). These
problems take many forms, all affecting women's ability to attain a basic
quality of life for herself and her family. Abuse is strongly associated with
alcoholism and drug use in women (Facts About Domestic Violence). It also can
lead to "fatigue and passivity coupled with an extreme sense of worthlessness"
(Violence Against Women in the Family, 78 ). These symptoms together remove any
initiative and decision making ability from the victim. This lethargy, coupled
with economic barriers, makes escape from the situation very difficult. The lack
of initiative also thwarts women's abilities to participate in activities
outside of the home. High levels of stress and depression are also extremely
common mental health problems for victims of family violence, often leading to
suicide (Facts About Domestic Violence). In the United States, one quarter of
suicide attempts by white women and one half of attempts by African American
women are preceded by abuse (In the Health of Women: A Global Perspective, 128).
The World Bank's analysis found domestic violence to be a major cause of
disability and death among women; the burden of family violence is comparable
to that of HIV, tuberculosis, cardiovascular disease or cancer (Domestic
Violence Against Women: A Global Issue, 29). In industrialized nations one in
five healthy days of life are lost to women age 15 to 44 due to domestic
violence (Fact Sheet About Domestic Violence)
Domestic violence "diverts the scarce resources of national health care
systems to the treatment of a preventable social ill" (Violence Against Women
in the Family, 87). Medical costs for the treatment of abused women total at
least 3 to 5 billion dollars annually in the United States. Battered women in
the United States are four to five times more likely than non-battered women to
require psychiatric treatment, and over one million women in the U.S. use
emergency medical services for injuries related to battering each year. Finally,
families in the United States in which domestic violence occurs use doctors
eight times more often, visit the emergency room six times more often and use
six times more prescription drugs than the general population (Facts About
A Socio-Economic Crisis
Domestic violence against women is not an individual or family problem.
It is an important social issue. Using the Systems Theory as a theoretical
framework helps show the resonating effect of such violence. The family unit
is one of many sub-systems. Together, all these different sub-systems make up
the one big system (i.e., society). The human body serves as a good example:
when one organ (sub-system) is malfunctioning, all other organs are effected
(other sub-systems). This will have an effect on the whole body itself
(society). Although the family unit is only one among the many sub-systems, it
is considered to be the most important of them all--the heart, if you will.
Since the family unit is responsible for the socialization of children who will
later go on to participate in other sub-systems, than it is logical to assume
that a deterioration in the crucial family unit can result in a deterioration
within other sub-systems, and of course, the entire system itself.
As mentioned above, the sub-system of health care is feeling the
pressure. Something as preventable as domestic violence against women is
diverting funds from an already under-funded health care system. There are
people out there who need serious medical treatment, but will never, or at the
very most, will get insufficient treatment. In the U.S., domestic violence
against women ranks as one of the most expensive health problems (Facts About
Domestic Violence). Monies allocated to the medical treatment of abused women (3
to 5 billion dollars annually) diverts much needed funds from such already
under-funded institutions as education, law enforcement, social services etc.
Therefore the possibility exists that adults of the future will be sparsely
educated delinquents; crime will be on the increase; and important social
services won't be able to look out for the welfare of the people--such as
shelters for abused women. The result is long term decay within the entire
system, which will add further to the decay within the family, which will cause
the entire vicious cycle to continue.
As previously mentioned, 73% of male abusers were abused, or saw abuse
as children. Thus an epidemic of violence within the family of orientation is a
primary cause of psychological disfunction--in specific, violent conflict
resolution--which is responsible for the breakdown of the entire social order.
U.S. Justice Department statistics show that at least 80% of men in prison grew
up in violent homes (Facts About Domestic Violence.) And in at least half of
the wife abusing families, the children were battered as well. And 63% of boys
ages 11 to 20 who commit homicide, murder the man who was abusing their mother.
As mentioned initially, violence within the family "family becomes the
breeding ground for other social problems such as substance abuse, juvenile
delinquency, and violent crimes of all types." The all important family unit is
the centre of social universe. All other institutions revolve around it. If
the sun were to blow up the entire galaxy would go with it.
Domestic violence against women must be perceived as a socio-economical
problem rather than a private issue imbedded within family -- a domestic issue
which can be easily ignored. It must receive appropriate attention from the
various institutions within our society as an issue affecting the overall
standard of living. It is not only a women's issue, but also a problem that
threatens the harmony within our communities.
1. Carrillo, Roxanna, Battered Dreams, UNIFEM, 1992
2. Connors, Jane Francis, Violence Against Women in the Family, Toronto, 1989
3. Facts About Domestic Violence, "http://gladstone.uoregon.edu.violence.html"
4. Jarman, F.E., et al, The Living Family: a Canadian Perspective, J.
5. Kantor, Paula, Domestic Violence Against Women: A Global Issue, UNC Press,
6. Ed. by: Koblinsky, Marge, et al, In the Health of Women: A Global Perspective,
Westview Press, 1993
7. Ed. by: Koblinsky, Marge, et al, Violence Against Women: The Missing Agenda,
Westview Press, 1993
8. Metro Toronto Committee Against Wife Assault (MTCAWA), E-mail interview w/
Morag Perkens (Thurs, Nov, 15/96), email@example.com
9. Violence Against Women Home Page, "http://www.usdoj.gov/vawo"
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The list of domestic violence research paper topics below will show that domestic violence takes on many forms. Through recent scientific study, it is now known that domestic violence occurs within different types of households. The purpose of creating this list is for students to have available a comprehensive, state-of-the-research, easy-to-read compilation of a wide variety of domestic violence topics and provide research paper examples on those topics.
Domestic violence research paper topics can be divided into seven categories:
- Victims of domestic violence,
- Theoretical perspectives and correlates to domestic violence,
- Cross-cultural and religious perspectives,
- Understudied areas within domestic violence research,
- Domestic violence and the law,
- Child abuse and elder abuse, and
- Special topics in domestic violence.
100+ Domestic Violence Research Topics
Part 1: Research Paper Topics on
Victims of Domestic Violence
Initial research recognized wives as victims of domestic violence. Thereafter, it was acknowledged that unmarried women were also falling victim to violence at the hands of their boyfriends. Subsequently, the term ‘‘battered women’’ became synonymous with ‘‘battered wives.’’ Legitimizing female victimization served as the catalyst in introducing other types of intimate partner violence.
- Battered Husbands
- Battered Wives
- Battered Women: Held in Captivity
- Battered Women Who Kill: An Examination
- Cohabiting Violence
- Date Rape
- Dating Violence
- Domestic Violence in Workplace
- Intimate Partner Homicide
- Intimate Partner Violence, Forms of
- Marital Rape
- Mutual Battering
- Spousal Prostitution
Read more about victims of domestic violence.
Part 2: Research Paper Topics on
Theoretical Perspectives and Correlates to Domestic Violence
There is no single causal factor related to domestic violence. Rather, scholars have concluded that there are numerous factors that contribute to domestic violence. Feminists found that women were beaten at the hands of their partners. Drawing on feminist theory, they helped explain the relationship between patriarchy and domestic violence. Researchers have examined other theoretical perspectives such as attachment theory, exchange theory, identity theory, the cycle of violence, social learning theory, and victim-blaming theory in explaining domestic violence. However, factors exist that may not fall into a single theoretical perspective. Correlates have shown that certain factors such as pregnancy, social class, level of education, animal abuse, and substance abuse may influence the likelihood for victimization.
- Animal Abuse: The Link to Family Violence
- Assessing Risk in Domestic Violence Cases
- Attachment Theory and Domestic Violence
- Battered Woman Syndrome
- Batterer Typology
- Bullying and the Family
- Coercive Control
- Control Balance Theory and Domestic Violence
- Cycle of Violence
- Depression and Domestic Violence
- Education as a Risk Factor for Domestic Violence
- Exchange Theory
- Feminist Theory
- Identity Theory and Domestic Violence
- Intergenerational Transfer of Intimate Partner Violence
- Popular Culture and Domestic Violence
- Post-Incest Syndrome
- Pregnancy-Related Violence
- Social Class and Domestic Violence
- Social Learning Theory and Family Violence
- Stockholm Syndrome in Battered Women
- Substance Use/Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence
- The Impact of Homelessness on Family Violence
- Victim-Blaming Theory
Read more about domestic violence theories.
Part 3: Research Paper Topics on
Cross-Cultural and Religious Perspectives on Domestic Violence
It was essential to acknowledge that domestic violence crosses cultural boundaries and religious affiliations. There is no one particular society or religious group exempt from victimization. A variety of developed and developing countries were examined in understanding the prevalence of domestic violence within their societies as well as their coping strategies in handling these volatile issues. It is often misunderstood that one religious group is more tolerant of family violence than another. As Christianity, Islam, and Judaism represent the three major religions of the world, their ideologies were explored in relation to the acceptance and prevalence of domestic violence.
- Africa: Domestic Violence and the Law
- Africa: The Criminal Justice System and the Problem of Domestic Violence in West Africa
- Asian Americans and Domestic Violence: Cultural Dimensions
- Child Abuse: A Global Perspective
- Christianity and Domestic Violence
- Cross-Cultural Examination of Domestic Violence in China and Pakistan
- Cross-Cultural Examination of Domestic Violence in Latin America
- Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Domestic Violence
- Cross-Cultural Perspectives on How to Deal with Batterers
- Dating Violence among African American Couples
- Domestic Violence among Native Americans
- Domestic Violence in African American Community
- Domestic Violence in Greece
- Domestic Violence in Rural Communities
- Domestic Violence in South Africa
- Domestic Violence in Spain
- Domestic Violence in Trinidad and Tobago
- Domestic Violence within the Jewish Community
- Human Rights, Refugee Laws, and Asylum Protection for People Fleeing Domestic Violence
- Introduction to Minorities and Families in America
- Medical Neglect Related to Religion and Culture
- Multicultural Programs for Domestic Batterers
- Qur’anic Perspectives on Wife Abuse
- Religious Attitudes toward Corporal Punishment
- Rule of Thumb
- Same-Sex Domestic Violence: Comparing Venezuela and the United States
- Worldwide Sociolegal Precedents Supporting Domestic Violence from Ancient to Modern Times
Part 4: Research Paper Topics on
Understudied Areas within Domestic Violence Research
Domestic violence has typically examined traditional relationships, such as husband–wife, boyfriend–girlfriend, and parent–child. Consequently, scholars have historically ignored non-traditional relationships. In fact, certain entries have limited cross-references based on the fact that there were limited, if any, scholarly publications on that topic. Only since the 1990s have scholars admitted that violence exists among lesbians and gay males. There are other ignored populations that are addressed within this encyclopedia including violence within military and police families, violence within pseudo-family environments, and violence against women and children with disabilities.
- Caregiver Violence against People with Disabilities
- Community Response to Gay and Lesbian Domestic Violence
- Compassionate Homicide and Spousal Violence
- Domestic Violence against Women with Disabilities
- Domestic Violence by Law Enforcement Officers
- Domestic Violence within Military Families
- Factors Influencing Reporting Behavior by Male Domestic Violence Victims
- Gay and Bisexual Male Domestic Violence
- Gender Socialization and Gay Male Domestic Violence
- Inmate Mothers: Treatment and Policy Implications
- Intimate Partner Violence and Mental Retardation
- Intimate Partner Violence in Queer, Transgender, and Bisexual Communities
- Lesbian Battering
- Male Victims of Domestic Violence and Reasons They Stay with Their Abusers
- Medicalization of Domestic Violence
- Police Attitudes and Behaviors toward Gay Domestic Violence
- Pseudo-Family Abuse
- Sexual Aggression Perpetrated by Females
- Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: The Need for Education in Servicing Victims of Trauma
Part 5: Research Paper Topics on
Domestic Violence and the Law
The Violence against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 helped pave domestic violence concerns into legislative matters. Historically, family violence was handled through informal measures often resulting in mishandling of cases. Through VAWA, victims were given the opportunity to have their cases legally remedied. This legitimized the separation of specialized domestic and family violence courts from criminal courts. The law has recognized that victims of domestic violence deserve recognition and resolution. Law enforcement agencies may be held civilly accountable for their actions in domestic violence incidents. Mandatory arrest policies have been initiated helping reduce discretionary power of police officers. Courts have also begun to focus on the offenders of domestic violence. Currently, there are batterer intervention programs and mediation programs available for offenders within certain jurisdictions. Its goals are to reduce the rate of recidivism among batterers.
- Battered Woman Syndrome as a Legal Defense in Cases of Spousal Homicide
- Batterer Intervention Programs
- Clemency for Battered Women
- Divorce, Child Custody, and Domestic Violence
- Domestic Violence Courts
- Electronic Monitoring of Abusers
- Expert Testimony in Domestic Violence Cases
- Judicial Perspectives on Domestic Violence
- Lautenberg Law
- Legal Issues for Battered Women
- Mandatory Arrest Policies
- Mediation in Domestic Violence
- Police Civil Liability in Domestic Violence Incidents
- Police Decision-Making Factors in Domestic Violence Cases
- Police Response to Domestic Violence Incidents
- Prosecution of Child Abuse and Neglect
- Protective and Restraining Orders
- Shelter Movement
- Training Practices for Law Enforcement in Domestic Violence Cases
- Violence against Women Act
Read more about Domestic Violence Law.
Part 6: Research Paper Topics on
Child Abuse and Elder Abuse
Scholars began to address child abuse over the last third of the twentieth century. It is now recognized that child abuse falls within a wide spectrum. In the past, it was based on visible bruises and scars. Today, researchers have acknowledged that psychological abuse, where there are no visible injuries, is just as damaging as its counterpart. One of the greatest controversies in child abuse literature is that of Munchausen by Proxy. Some scholars have recognized that it is a syndrome while others would deny a syndrome exists. Regardless of the term ‘‘syndrome,’’ Munchausen by Proxy does exist and needs to be further examined. Another form of violence that needs to be further examined is elder abuse. Elder abuse literature typically focused on abuse perpetrated by children and caregivers. With increased life expectancies, it is now understood that there is greater probability for violence among elderly intimate couples. Shelters and hospitals need to better understand this unique population in order to better serve its victims.
- Assessing the Risks of Elder Abuse
- Child Abuse and Juvenile Delinquency
- Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States: An Overview
- Child Maltreatment, Interviewing Suspected Victims of
- Child Neglect
- Child Sexual Abuse
- Children Witnessing Parental Violence
- Consequences of Elder Abuse
- Elder Abuse and Neglect: Training Issues for Professionals
- Elder Abuse by Intimate Partners
- Elder Abuse Perpetrated by Adult Children
- Filicide and Children with Disabilities
- Mothers Who Kill
- Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome
- Parental Abduction
- Postpartum Depression, Psychosis, and Infanticide
- Ritual Abuse–Torture in Families
- Shaken Baby Syndrome
- Sibling Abuse
Part 7: Research Paper Topics on
Special Topics in Domestic Violence
Within this list, there are topics that may not fit clearly into one of the aforementioned categories. Therefore, they are be listed in a separate special topics designation.
Analyzing Incidents of Domestic Violence: The National Incident-Based Reporting System
- Community Response to Domestic Violence
- Conflict Tactics Scales
- Dissociation in Domestic Violence, The Role of
- Domestic Homicide in Urban Centers: New York City
- Fatality Reviews in Cases of Adult Domestic Homicide and Suicide
- Female Suicide and Domestic Violence
- Healthcare Professionals’ Roles in Identifying and Responding to Domestic Violence
- Measuring Domestic Violence
- Neurological and Physiological Impact of Abuse
- Social, Economic, and Psychological Costs of Violence
- Stages of Leaving Abusive Relationships
- The Physical and Psychological Impact of Spousal Abuse
Domestic violence remains a relatively new field of study among social scientists but it is already a popular research paper subject within college and university students. Only within the past 4 decades have scholars recognized domestic violence as a social problem. Initially, domestic violence research focused on child abuse. Thereafter, researchers focused on wife abuse and used this concept interchangeably with domestic violence. Within the past 20 years, researchers have acknowledged that other forms of violent relationships exist, including dating violence, battered males, and gay domestic violence. Moreover, academicians have recognized a subcategory within the field of criminal justice: victimology (the scientific study of victims). Throughout the United States, colleges and universities have been creating victimology courses, and even more specifically, family violence and interpersonal violence courses.
The media have informed us that domestic violence is so commonplace that the public has unfortunately grown accustomed to reading and hearing about husbands killing their wives, mothers killing their children, or parents neglecting their children. While it is understood that these offenses take place, the explanations as to what factors contributed to them remain unclear. In order to prevent future violence, it is imperative to understand its roots. There is no one causal explanation for domestic violence; however, there are numerous factors which may help explain these unjustified acts of violence. Highly publicized cases such as the O.J. Simpson and Scott Peterson trials have shown the world that alleged murderers may not resemble the deranged sociopath depicted in horror films. Rather, they can be handsome, charming, and well-liked by society. In addition, court-centered programming on television continuously publicizes cases of violence within the home informing the public that we are potentially at risk by our caregivers and other loved ones. There is the case of the au pair Elizabeth Woodward convicted of shaking and killing Matthew Eappen, the child entrusted to her care. Some of the most highly publicized cases have also focused on mothers who kill. America was stunned as it heard the cases of Susan Smith and Andrea Yates. Both women were convicted of brutally killing their own children. Many asked how loving mothers could turn into cold-blooded killers.
Browse other criminal justice research topics.