Understanding Family Violence: 5 Types of Family Abuse

Commonly known as “domestic violence,” family violence affects even the most seemingly well-adjusted households. As the name suggests, this type of crime is often associated with physical violence, but it also comes in a variety of psychological forms.

If left unchecked, family violence can tear families apart and cause lifelong emotional scars. Developing a strong understanding of family violence is sure to benefit anyone considering a career in social work or criminal justice.

Emotional Family Violence

Emotional and psychological torment can affect families every bit as harshly as physical abuse. Emotional family violence occurs when one or more family members verbally berates another family member on a consistent basis. These verbal attacks often call attention to the victim’s physical appearance or personality flaws.

family violence

In many cases, the perpetrators of such abuse want their victims to feel worthless or incompetent. Since people who engage in emotional family violence tend to view themselves in a negative light, making others feel bad gives them a twisted sense of superiority.

Not all verbal attacks constitute emotional family violence. At some point, everyone argues with family members and says things they will regret. However, when a family member’s verbal attacks are consistent and begin to erode your self-esteem, you’re likely dealing with an abuse situation.

If the problem isn’t dealt with by a counselor, social worker or law enforcement official, victims may start accepting their tormentors’ insults as fact. Being able to recognize emotional family violence is a valuable skill for students studying criminal justice.

Financial Family Violence

It’s little wonder why certain individuals use money as a tool for abuse, as money is more than crucial for existence in regular society. Financial family violence takes place when the primary breadwinner takes steps to prevent his or her significant other from working. By doing this, perpetrators believe that their partners will become financially dependent on them.

In some cases, they’ll allow their partners to work but demand to be given paychecks. People who engage in this type of abuse do so because they are generally insecure and live in constant fear of being abandoned by their significant others.

Financial family violence can also occur when a family member refuses to work or frequently spends exorbitant amounts of money. Out-of-control spending habits and a partner’s refusal to contribute can put families in precarious financial situations. Additionally, taking money, credit cards or checks from your partner without his or her consent constitutes another form of financial abuse.

Sexual Family Violence

One of the most devastating types of family violence, sexual violence can take on a number of different forms. People who force their partners or children to engage in sexual activity are perpetrating this type of family violence. Certain individuals don’t believe anything they do to a spouse or significant other constitutes molestation or rape, but as anyone who’s been on the receiving end of this abuse can tell you, this is a mistaken assumption. Sexual family violence can also take place when a person deliberately withholds sex or intimacy to control his or her partner.

As is the case with any form of sexual abuse, victims of sexual family violence are often afraid to come forward. This fear can be attributed to embarrassment, feelings of worthlessness or fear of retribution from the perpetrator.

Physical Family Violence

The most well-known form of family violence, physical violence can have horrific consequences if left unchecked. Although physical family violence is often perpetrated by a single party, this isn’t always the case. In some households, multiple family members use physical violence in place of words to settle disputes.

People who physically abuse family members often suffer from untreated anger issues and possess poor conflict management skills, making them virtually impossible to reason with. Like financial and sexual family violence, physical violence serves as a means to control family members and deplete self-worth.

Social Family Violence

An offshoot of emotional family violence, social violence takes place when an individual goes out of his or her way to humiliate family members in social settings. This can involve bringing people down in public or in the presence of friends. The goal of social family violence is often to prevent family members from having lives outside the home and building up solid support networks.

Untreated family violence can ruin even the most closely-knit household. As the National Coalition against Domestic Violence reports, children who witness or experience family violence are highly likely to engage in it in the future. By learning how to identify family violence in all its forms, you can ensure that your loved ones never fall victim to this increasingly widespread domestic problem.

Photo Credit By: unc.edu


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