Family violence manifests itself in many forms and can have lasting effects for those involved, including children, parents, and spouses. Social workers play a vital role in helping individuals prevent, recognize, and recover from family violence.
Though incidents of family violence can often be difficult to acknowledge and resolve, social services are crucial in helping people heal from volatile experiences and rebuild their lives.
What Is Family Violence?
Family violence (aka domestic violence) is a broad term that encompasses many different forms, so it can be difficult to define exactly what family violence is. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, family violence can include emotional, verbal, physical, sexual, psychological, and financial abuse. It can occur between any family members, such as spouses, partners, co-habitants, parents and children, and caregivers and children.
People often use family violence to exert power and control in their relationships due to jealousy, feelings of inferiority, low self-esteem, psychological disorders, anger issues, or issues with drugs or alcohol. This violence is never justified, regardless of the issues, the abuser may be experiencing.
Family violence can include felony or misdemeanor crimes. These crimes can occur as isolated incidents or be repeated over time, causing years of trauma or injury to the abused. As a result, this type of domestic violence can have a substantially negative impact on an individual’s short- and long-term behavioral patterns. It can also have a lasting effect on children’s physical, emotional, and psychological development.
Family violence doesn’t just affect the victim of the abuse, but also other relations and immediate family members. For example, parents who fight or engage in violent acts with each other can cause emotional and psychological harm to their children.
As the National Institute of Justice reported, children exposed to violence or aggression from their parents may grow to exhibit signs of antisocial behavior, criminal tendencies, drug or alcohol abuse, and mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. Similarly, warning signs of family violence in children and adults can include withdrawal from family, friends, and regular routines; unexplained injuries; shifts in personality and mood; and sudden changes in physical appearance.
A Look at Family Violence Statistics
Family violence can be difficult to categorize and understand. Because it isn’t always physical, it can be hard to detect. Indeed, children and partners may not recognize that they are experiencing family violence. Moreover, many victims of family violence may be in denial of their situations.
Family violence statistics can help individuals involved in these experiences, as well as social workers caring for victims, better understand the impact of this form of abuse.
Consider these facts about family violence in gauging its effects.
- There were nearly 1.2 million reported cases of domestic violence victimization in 2019, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey.
- Up to 10 million children and teens witness violence between their parents and caregivers each year, as reported by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men have reported experiences of physical violence, sexual violence, or stalking by an intimate partner. More than 43 million women and 38 million men have also been victims of psychological aggression.
- Only 52% of domestic violence victimizations and 58% of intimate partner violence victimizations were reported to the police, according to the Criminal Victimization 2019 report from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs.
- NBC News found that reports of domestic violence increased across the United States as a result of lockdowns and isolation at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some cities saw up to a 20% increase in these calls between February and March 2020.
- The number of people affected by domestic violence, which includes elder abuse, is projected to increase over the next 20 years, with the increased retirement of the baby boomer population, according to a paper by the medical education provider StatPearls Publishing.
Types of Family Violence
There are many different types of family violence. Some involve contact that is physical or sexual in nature, while other types inflict a psychological toll on the victim, including emotional abuse, economic abuse, or generally controlling behavior.
Common types of family violence include the following.
Physical abuse involves the use of force, often causing injury or pain. Examples of physical abuse include hitting, kicking, punching, shoving, beating, slapping, stabbing, and shooting. Physical abuse may involve weapons, such as guns, knives, or objects thrown at or near another person. Physical abuse also includes physical restraint against someone’s will, such as holding a person hostage or locking them in a room, and withholding physical needs such as sleep and food. Additionally, the threat of bodily harm or assault is considered a form of physical abuse.
Sexual abuse involves forcing sex or sexual acts upon another person without their consent. Sexual abuse in the family context may occur between people who are married, dating, or cohabitating. Examples of this form of abuse include engaging in sexual activity with someone who is underage, asleep, or intoxicated; exposing someone to sexual content against their will; and withholding sex as a form of control or manipulation.
Emotional abuse involves using words, actions, insults, intimidation, or manipulation to control, exploit, frighten, or humiliate another person. Examples of emotional abuse include name-calling, yelling, threatening, brainwashing, and bullying. Emotional abuse may also involve taking deliberate steps to make someone feel confused, preventing someone from practicing their religion or seeing friends and family, or influencing them to deny other forms of abuse.
Financial abuse entails using economic resources to exploit or manipulate another person. This can include taking someone’s property without their permission, withholding money, or taking control of their assets. Financial abuse can also involve making someone lose their job by preventing them from working or intentionally jeopardizing their career.
Harassment and Stalking
This form of family violence involves following someone without their permission, tracking their locations or phone calls, showing up at their home repeatedly, and causing a person to fear for their own safety or that of their loved ones.
Neglect is a form of family violence in which a parent or caregiver fails to provide their child with basic necessities, such as food, shelter, nutrition, hygiene, and health care.
Family violence can also occur among different genders, ages, and relations. Common types of family violence defined by the relation between abuser and victim include those listed here.
Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate partner violence can occur between spouses or partners at any time throughout their relationship. It typically occurs when one person wants to control the other due to jealousy, feelings of inferiority, drug or alcohol abuse, or mental illness.
Child abuse can be committed by a parent, caregiver, sibling, or other relatives. It can be inflicted directly on the child, or it can be committed by making the child a witness to another form of abuse, such as intimate partner violence.
Elder abuse can be committed by an adult child, caregiver, or other family members. It commonly involves physical, emotional, or financial abuse such as misusing power of attorney or failing to provide necessary medical attention. Elder abuse often goes unreported due to lack of understanding, fear, or shame on the part of the victim.
How to Prevent Family Violence
Social workers can use key strategies and resources to help people learn how to prevent family violence or cope with the abuse. Because many cases of family violence go unreported, it’s especially important that victims have trustworthy professionals to turn to for lifesaving information and services.
In their roles, social workers are helpers. They are responsible for identifying people in need and assisting them in solving problems and coping with issues in their lives. They may be on-call to respond to crisis situations and may work with people on an ongoing basis as they heal and recover.
Social workers commonly connect people to vital services, such as therapy, as part of their practice. They also act as advocates for vulnerable populations, working with communities, organizations, and policymakers to spread awareness about certain issues or advocate for legislation.
Clinical social workers with medical training are equipped to diagnose patients and provide certain treatments such as therapy. Social workers can also specialize in a particular field, such as child and family social work, school social work, health care social work, and mental health social work.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the largest employers of social workers in 2019 included the following.
- Individual and family services (18%)
- Local government organizations (14%)
- Ambulatory health care services (14%)
- State government organizations (13%)
Whether they work in schools, community centers, or hospitals, social workers can use a variety of methods to help prevent family violence. According to the CDC, these six strategies are crucial in reducing incidents of family violence, such as intimate partner violence, and reducing its harmful impacts.
- Teaching healthy relationship skills to youth and couples
- Educating influential adults and peers about the signs of abuse
- Disrupting the pathways toward partner violence by conducting early childhood home visits, family engagement at school, and treatment for at-risk youth
- Creating safe environments for vulnerable people in schools, workplaces, and communities
- Increasing economic support for families through financial security programs
- Supporting survivors of abuse through housing programs, legal protections, and treatment services
Government programs are also in place to help prevent family violence. For example, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act authorizes funding to support emergency shelter and assistance for victims of domestic violence, including adults and children. The act also calls for increased public awareness of family violence, support for local domestic violence programs that provide trauma-informed care, and services for children exposed to violence at home.
Family Violence Prevention Services
Many resources exist to help people learn about, prevent, and mitigate the threat of family violence — whether they are victims seeking information, family members in need of education, or social workers building strategies to effectively handle cases of family violence in various forms.
Use these family violence prevention services and resources to better understand and respond to these experiences.
- gov, Family Violence Prevention Services. This resource outlines the benefits of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, including eligibility and contact information.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Preventing Intimate Partner Violence. The CDC provides statistics and prevention strategies for stopping intimate partner violence before it starts.
- Family Violence Prevention Services, Inc. This organization offers temporary housing, legal services, and counseling to those recovering from family violence.
- National Association of Social Workers, Domestic Violence Media Toolkit. This web page provides a list of websites, expert references, and resources social workers can use for their role at the forefront of preventing domestic violence.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline. This website includes a free, confidential hotline and chat service that people can use 24/7 to get help and find local resources.
- National Institute of Justice, Victims & Victimization. This web page provides a database of programs for victims of abuse, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Partner Aggression, and Cognitive-Processing Therapy for Female Victims of Sexual Assault.
How Social Workers Make an Impact
Career social workers impact lives and help people cope with real-world issues such as family violence. Ohio University’s online Master of Social Work program is designed to equip professionals with advanced and specialized skills that can be applied to a range of settings. The program also prepares students to make a difference in their field by bringing much-needed resources to vulnerable communities lacking access to critical services, such as those in rural areas.
Build a rewarding career in the growing social services industry, and learn more about how Ohio University’s online MSW program can help you pursue your professional goals.
Career Spotlight: Marriage and Family Therapist
Important Social Work Job Skills
Working as a School Social Worker
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Domestic Violence and Children
Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence, Types of Domestic Violence
Child Welfare Information Gateway, Domestic Violence and Worker Safety
Family & Youth Services Bureau, Family Violence Prevention and Services Program
Government of Canada Department of Justice, About Family Violence
Hands of Health South Carolina, Family Violence
National Association of Social Workers, Domestic Violence Media Toolkit
National Association of Social Workers, Why Choose the Social Work Profession?
NBC News, “Police See Rise in Domestic Violence Calls Amid Coronavirus Lockdown”
RaisingChildren.net, “Family Violence: What Is It?”
StatPearls Publishing, “Domestic Violence”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social Workers
U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Victimization, 2019
U.S. Department of Justice, Family Violence
What are the statistics for family violence? ›
In 2020-21, 3 in 10 (33% or 7,600) assault hospitalisations were due to family and domestic violence. Of all family and domestic assault hospitalisations in 2020–21: 74% (5,600) were female and 26% (2,000) were male. 64% (4,900) had the perpetrator reported as a spouse or domestic partner.What is the most common form of violence within families? ›
- Physical Abuse: This can include actions such as pushing, restraining, slapping/punching, kicking, scratching, etc.
- Emotional Abuse: Typically, emotional abuse begins verbally. ...
- Economic Abuse: This can happen when a partner doesn't allow their spouse to have control over their own finances.
In general, DV statistics come from three main sources: the law enforcement and criminal justice systems, the healthcare and public health systems, and self-reported surveys.What are the statistical reports on domestic abuse related crimes? ›
The number of domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by the police increased by 7.7% to 910,980 compared with the year ending March 2021. This continues the trend of increases seen over recent years which may, in part, be driven by increased willingness of victims to come forward to report domestic abuse.What is 1 statistic about domestic violence? ›
Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the US have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.What percentage of family relationships are violent? ›
Nearly 20% of marriages and intimate partnerships will experience physical violence, according to the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Emotional abuse is even more common.What are three 3 groups of people who are at an increased risk of family violence? ›
Although family violence can affect anyone, regardless of their social or economic status, or their racial and cultural background, some people are at greater risk, including: Indigenous women. women in regional or remote areas. young women.What are three drivers of family violence? ›
- Driver 1: Condoning of violence against women. ...
- Driver 2: Men's control of decision-making and limits to women's independence in public and private life. ...
- Driver 3: Rigid gender stereotyping and dominant forms of masculinity.
- physical violence.
- verbal violence (including hate speech)
- psychological violence.
- sexual violence.
- socio-economic violence.
- What is domestic violence? ...
- What are resources available for victims? ...
- Why do victims sometimes return to or stay with abusers? ...
- Do abusers show any potential warning signs? ...
- Is it possible for abusers to change? ...
- Are men victims of domestic violence? ...
- Do LGBTQ people experience domestic violence?
What is the most accurate method of measure for the incidence of family violence? ›
Population-level surveys based on reports from survivors provide the most accurate estimates of the prevalence of intimate partner violence and sexual violence.Which of the following is the strongest predictor of family violence? ›
Physical aggression prior to marriage is a strong predictor of aggression in the marriage.What is abuse in statistics? ›
Data abuses include the incorrect application of statistical tests, lack of transparency and disclosure about decisions that are made, incomplete or incorrect multivariate model building, or exclusion of outliers.What is the CDC domestic violence statistic? ›
About 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime and reported at least one impact of the violence (like being concerned for their safety).What type of abuse has the most reported cases? ›
Neglect is the most common form of child abuse.How domestic violence effects children statistics? ›
Children in homes with violence are physically abused or seriously neglected at a rate 1500% higher than the national average. Those who grow up with domestic violence are 6 times more likely to commit suicide and 50% more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.What state has the highest domestic violence rate? ›
1. Oklahoma. About 49.1% of Oklahoma women and 40.7% of Oklahoma men experience domestic violence in their lifetimes, including intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner rape, or intimate partner stalking. This is the highest in the United States.What type of abuse is the most difficult to prove in court? ›
It is one of the most difficult forms of abuse to prove because it does not leave physical scars or other evidence, but it is nonetheless hurtful. Verbal abuse may occur in schools or workplaces as well as in families.
Further research shows that when taking issues of severity into consideration, fathers or father surrogates are responsible for more severe physical abuse and fatalities than female perpetrators (US Department of Health and Human Services [US DHHS], 2005).What profession has the highest domestic violence rate? ›
That would be police officers. Studies have found that a minimum of 40 percent of families of officers have experienced some type of domestic violence. This can include anything from harassment and stalking to homicide.
Which country has the highest rate of family violence? ›
A UN report compiled from a number of different studies conducted in at least 71 countries found domestic violence against women to be most prevalent in Ethiopia.What are the 4 risk factors for violent behaviors? ›
- History of violent victimization.
- Attention deficits, hyperactivity, or learning disorders.
- History of early aggressive behavior.
- Involvement with drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.
- Low IQ.
- Poor behavioral control.
- Deficits in social cognitive or information-processing abilities.
- High emotional distress.
Types of Prevention: Primary, Secondary, Tertiary
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2004) recognizes that there are several ways to classify sexual violence prevention and intervention activities.
Specific risk factors include the abuse of alcohol, actual and perceived inequality of treatment, exposure to violence in the media, gang association, accessibility of weapons, and child abuse of various types.What is Type 4 category of violence? ›
In Type 4 violence, the perpetrator has a relationship to the nurse outside of work that spills over to the work environment. For example, the husband of a nurse follows her to work, orders her home and threatens her, with implications for not only this nurse but also for her coworkers and patients.What are the 4 levels of violence? ›
- Physical violence.
- Sexual violence.
- Psychological violence.
Type III: Violence involves a “worker-on-worker” relationship and includes “employees who attack or threaten another employee.”What are the 7 areas of abuse? ›
Types of abuse include; physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, emotional and mental, financial and spiritual.What are the 8 forms of abuse? ›
- Physical abuse.
- Domestic violence or abuse.
- Sexual abuse.
- Psychological or emotional abuse.
- Financial or material abuse.
- Modern slavery.
- Discriminatory abuse.
- Organisational or institutional abuse.
- Physical abuse is intentional bodily injury. ...
- Sexual abuse is nonconsensual sexual contact (any unwanted sexual contact). ...
- Mental mistreatment or emotional abuse is deliberately causing mental or emotional pain.
What are the different types of violence research? ›
Four patterns of violence are described: Coercive Controlling Violence, Violent Resistance, Situational Couple Violence, and Separation-Instigated Violence.What are domestic violence primary sources? ›
Typical examples include letters, diaries, photos, newspaper articles, eyewitness accounts, autobiographies, government reports, paintings, maps, etc.What are the variables in domestic violence research? ›
Among the four main variables of domestic violence, occurrence of physical violence was found to be 19.6%, emotional violence in 25.3%, financial violence in 11.3% and sexual violence in 2% of victims [Table 3].What is controversial in the field of family violence? ›
The extent of male victimization is controversial in the field of family violence (Dobash et al., 1992).What works to prevent violence at scale? ›
The 'What Works to Prevent Violence – Impact at Scale' Programme is a seven-year initiative funded by the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to improve prevention and response to violence against women and girls.What is the psychopathology theory of violence? ›
The psychopathology theory is grounded on the con- cept that certain individuals suffer from mental illness, personality disorders, and other dysfunctions that cause them to engage in aggressive acts within the family. This mental disorder, or illness, causes the individual to react violently within the family.What groups are most vulnerable to violence? ›
- People with children.
- Young people.
- Older people.
- Pregnant people.
- People with disability and impairment.
- People with mental illness.
One study of 96 cases of domestic abuse recorded by the police found that men are significantly more likely to be repeat perpetrators and significantly more likely than women to use physical violence, threats, and harassment.What is the strongest risk factor for predicting abuse? ›
- Caregivers with drug or alcohol issues.
- Caregivers with mental health issues, including depression.
- Caregivers who don't understand children's needs or development.
- Caregivers who were abused or neglected as children.
- Caregivers who are young or single parents or parents with many children.
Most States recognize four major types of maltreatment: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse.
How can we prevent statistical abuse? ›
- Implement identity and access management. ...
- Establish need-to-know access. ...
- Set up behavior alerts and analytics. ...
- Educate your teams. ...
- Build clear processes around data access.
Age; health; and physical, mental, emotional, and social development are factors that may increase a child's vulnerability to maltreatment.What are some interesting statistics about domestic violence? ›
1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed. On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.What are the statistics for emotional abuse? ›
An estimated one in four women (23% or 2.2 million) have experienced partner emotional abuse since the age of 15, including: 6.1% (575,400) by a current partner. 18% (1.7 million) by a previous partner.What is the most common type of family abuse? ›
Sibling abuse is the most common form of family violence, according to your text. In approximately 90% of elder cases, the perpetrators are are family members.What are the 5 protective factors? ›
Five Protective Factors are the foundation of the Strengthening Families Approach: parental resilience, social connections, concrete support in times of need, knowledge of parenting and child development, and social and emotional competence of children.Which form of abuse is the most difficult? ›
Emotional abuse often coexists with other forms of abuse, and it is the most difficult to identify. Many of its potential consequences, such as learning and speech problems and delays in physical development, can also occur in children who are not being emotionally abused.Does violence run in the family? ›
Although domestic abuse is not literally passed down through the generations through blood and genetics, researchers have found that violence does often pass from parent to child—creating a cycle of abuse.How to prevent violence? ›
- Tell someone. If you are the victim or are witness to violence, tell someone. ...
- Take all violence and abuse seriously. ...
- Take a stand. ...
- Be an individual. ...
- Take back the power. ...
- Remember, putting others down doesn't raise you up. ...
- Wrong. ...
- Be a friend.
Examples include: abuse and neglect in the family, incest, sexual abuse, infanticide; bullying and other forms of violence in the school; corporal punishment; psychological aggression; child trafficking, sale of children, child sexual exploitation and other commercial sexual exploitation of children; child labour; ...
How many children grow up in abusive households? ›
Child abuse and neglect are common.
At least 1 in 7 children have experienced child abuse or neglect in the past year in the United States.
Children and youth who are exposed to domestic violence experience emotional, mental, and social damage that can affect their developmental growth. It also has adverse effects on the community at large.Which US state has the most domestic violence? ›
1. Oklahoma. About 49.1% of Oklahoma women and 40.7% of Oklahoma men experience domestic violence in their lifetimes, including intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner rape, or intimate partner stalking. This is the highest in the United States.How bad is domestic violence in the US? ›
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Institute of Justice, nearly 25% of women experience at least one physical assault during adulthood by a partner. 22% of the women had been subject to domestic violence during some period of their life, according to a United Nations study.What is the domestic violence rate in America? ›
Every year, more than 10 million men and women in the U.S. are subjected to Domestic Violence. Its impact can be felt far and wide: More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the U.S. will experience rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.Is violence a learned behavior or genetic? ›
Over twenty years of research has shown that there are links between genetics and aggressive behaviors.Is there a gene for violence? ›
The MAOA gene –located in the X chromosome- is also known as the warrior gene, since abnormal versions of the gene often result in aggressive behaviors. Several animal models in which the function of MAO-A is defective display excessive levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) in the brain.What are 3 protective factors that prevent violence? ›
- Intensive supervision.
- Clear behavior rules.
- Firm disciplinary methods.
- Engagement of parents and teachers.
Stay in well-lighted, busy areas; travel with a friend if possible; walk in a confident, assured way. Avoid known trouble spots. 4. Report crimes and suspicious activity to police; agree to testify when necessary.What are 3 ways to prevent abuse? ›
- Volunteer your time. Get involved with other parents in your community. ...
- Discipline your children thoughtfully. ...
- Examine your behavior. ...
- Educate yourself and others. ...
- Teach children their rights. ...
- Support prevention programs. ...
- Know what child abuse is. ...
- Know the signs.