Causes of Domestic Abuse or Domestic Violence

by Tina de Benedictis, Ph.D., Jaelline Jaffe, Ph.D., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. and

 What are the causes of domestic abuse or domestic violence?

A strong predictor of domestic violence in adulthood is domestic violence in the household in which the person was raised. For instance, a child’s exposure to their father’s abuse of their mother is the strongest risk factor for transmitting domestic violence from one generation to the next. This cycle of domestic violence is difficult to break because parents have presented violence as the norm.

Individuals living with domestic violence in their households have learned that violence and mistreatment are the way to vent anger. Someone resorts to physical violence because:

-they have solved their problems in the past with violence,

-they have effectively exerted control and power over others through violence, and

-no one has stopped them from being violent in the past.

Some immediate causes that can set off a bout of domestic abuse are:


-provocation by the intimate partner

-economic hardship, such as prolonged unemployment