Faculty of Arts and Social SciencesPsychologyTrauma Psychology ASSIGNMENTON THE CHAPTER REGARDING THE THEORIES OF FAMILY VIOLENCE AND ABUSE Professor: Selvira DraganovicStudent: Mehmet Akif ElenStudent ID: 140102003 Sarajevo, 2017PART AINTRODUCTIONManypeople in every part of the world are touched by violence and abuse in someway. People can be exposed to violence and abuse by anyone around them. Theseacts could be performed by their parents, siblings, neighbors, or peers.
However, most of the time, perpetrators of violence and abuse are intimatepartners, parents, or caregivers.Accordingto World Health Organization (WHO) (2011), when there is an intentional use ofphysical force or power against someone which can result in physical orpsychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation, it is called interpersonalviolence (namely violence and abuse). It should be understood that violence andabuse not only result in physical harm, injuries or bruises, but also inpsychological harm. Many psychological disorders can develop as a result ofviolence and abuse. Post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders,language disorders are some other results of violence and abuse. Thereare many studies that were conducted to examine the impact of violence andabuse on the psychological wellbeing of the victim.
In one largepopulation-based study, it was observed that there is a strong associationbetween mental disorders and intimate partner violence (Isabel et al., 2017).In the same study, intimate partner violence was found to be associated withmental disorders such as suicidal ideation, mood disorders, and post-traumaticstress. Another study concluded that those children who suffer from domesticviolence have lower scores in language tasks that are acquired in earlydeveloping ages, and they got lower scores in expression, comprehension andmetalinguistic skills, meaning those children who experience domestic violencehave speaking deficits (Cobos-Cali et al., 2017).
On the other hand, empiricaldata also suggests the outcomes of violence and abuse on the functioning of thebrain. For example, dysfunction in the amygdala, and in other parts of thelimbic system were associated with violence, impairing the ability of the brainto interpret threat cues (Smith et al., 2016).PART B1. SUMMARY OF THE THEORIES OF FAMILY VIOLENCE AND ABUSEPSYCHODYNAMICTHEORIES OF FAMILY VIOLENCEUnderthe title of psychodynamic theories of family violence, three theories are present:object relations theory, attachment theory, and a theory called violence astrauma.Object RelationsTheoryAccording toobject relations theory, “others” or “other individuals” are referred as”objects”. This theory suggests that what motivates humans is their need forsignificant relationships with others in their earliest childhood.
As cited inthe chapter, Fairbrain suggested that early experiences not only play a role inpsychic development, but also form some psychological “templates” that areenduring for the individual’s future relationships. Object relations theoryargues that mental representations of the self, people around the self, and therelationships between the self and others around the self start developingduring infancy and childhood period; these mental representations lastthroughout life, and generally influence the relationship of self with others.The theoryunderlines the importance of the first years of life, stating that it isextremely important for individuals to live a life with adequate emotionalhealth. Individuals who did not have a sufficient nurturing during theirinfancy and childhood period will have some difficulties for having a healthyself-esteem, regulated emotional responses, and managing their anxiety in theirlife. When a person’s dependency is unmet during the childhood, that personwill most likely to become an abuser or a victim. There are empirical evidencessupporting this idea, saying that some individuals who did not receivesufficient nurturing in their first years of life commit intimate partnerviolence (IPV).
Furthermore, as it is cited in the chapter, there is anotherevidence suggesting that becoming a perpetrator of IPV is significantlycorrelated with being exposed to violence in their family, as well as rejectionfrom parents. On the other hand, it was argued that when an individual employsinternal defenses in an abusive, neglectful, or inconsistent relationship withthe primary caregiver in their early life, they would become victims of violencein their adolescent or adult relationships, and continue these relationshipsdespite the violence. Internal defenses are employed, and they are highlyadaptive, because doing so will help them survive in the abusive environment.However, if internal defenses of individual are being employed during futurerelationships, individual will not be able to recognize the presence or absenceof abuse in their relationships, and will be having a relationship with someonewho is much like the abusive person in their early life.Attachment TheoryAttachmenttheory, unlike the placing the emphasis on mental representations of arelationship, places the emphasis on the reciprocity between individuals withina relationship. Definition of attachment is an infant’s reciprocal, enduringemotional tie with the caregiver, where each side is actively contributing tothe quality of the relationship.
Based on what they expect from the primarycaregiver, infants develop a “working model”. Infant’s model will be strong ifthe caregiver responds in an expected way; but if the responses of thecaregiver are not predictable, infant would be revise the model, and it willaffect the security of the attachment. Those children with secure attachmentcan explore the environment, but when the child is confronted with a threat,the child will be looking for the secure caregiver.
Children will perceivetheir worthiness according to their caregiver’s potential to provide care andprotection. For a child to feel secure, he or she needs to be able to use therepresentations of the attachment figures without the caregiver being present.Besides positive attachments, like secure attachment, there are some other lesspredictable attachment types that can be developed between the child and the caregiver.Following are those attachment types: avoidant, ambivalent, anddisorganized/disoriented. Several empirical data suggest that insecureattachment theories might be linked with antisocial behavior; insecureattachment is present.
in children who are physically abused or neglected.Violence as TraumaThe theory ofviolence as trauma contributed to the understanding of an individual’sincorporation of internal defenses into his or her structure of personality andmade it clear that how those defenses can affect the relationship with others. Coding,storing, and sequencing of future events might be affected by the traumaticevent. In this sense, understanding how a victim processed the informationregarding trauma into the brain is important. Sensory stimuli that a person isbeing exposed to enters the limbic system in the brain, and disruption of themanaging of information might happen as a result of trauma. Trauma overridesthe limbic system, because high levels of stress is experienced by the person whois being traumatized. As a result, person becomes unable to handle thestressors, causing to switch survival techniques known as psychologicalnumbing.Inability ofvictims of abuse to integrate their memories related to abuse will lead them tohave a kind of obligation to repeat the trauma.
Through repetition,re-enactment, and displacement of the abusive experience, victims of abuse willemotionally repeat the trauma by collaborating with abusive people.Furthermore, victims feel pain in their body as a physiological memory of theabuse. Replay of the traumatic event in the memory enables chemicals in thebrain, overriding the fight-or-flight system. Since victims cannot defendthemselves, this results in vulnerability towards further abusive situations inthe victims.SOCIAL THEORIES OFFAMILY VIOLENCE Interactionswith others in individual relationships or in groups creates a process that isthe focus of social theories of FV. Theories discussed under the title ofsocial theories of FV are following: control theory, resource theory, exosystemfactor theory, and social isolation theory.Control TheoryControl theorystates that a person’s need to obtain power and control in a relationshipcauses the conflicts in the families. Power and control is the motivatingfactor for abuser’s behavior.
An abuser exerts his or her power and controlover other members in the family. Generally, the more powerful members of thefamilies use threat or their force towards the less powerful members of thefamily. Such kind of behaviors of power and control disable those who have lesspower from behaving in a way that the more powerful member does not want. Thereare many ways of intimidation that the abuser may use, such as coercion,isolation, economic abuse, and denial of personal blame. Coercion is a way ofthreatening the less powerful person to hurt him or her; threatening to leaveher, or to commit suicide, or making her doing illegal things are some of theexamples.
Isolation is expressed as controlling what the less powerful persondoes, who he or she sees or talks to, where he or she goes, or even what he orshe reads. Economic abuse is where the powerful member uses his economicadvantage over the less powerful member; preventing him or her from getting orkeeping a job, making him or her beg for money, giving him or her allowance aresome of the examples of this form of intimidation. Denial of personal blameoccurs when the denial by the more powerful member is present; saying thatabuse did not happen, shifting the responsibility for abusive behavior, orsaying the less powerful member caused this are the examples of this form ofintimidation.When thevictims become used to the forms of intimidations, they become modifying theirbehaviors, slowly losing their control just for the sake of surviving andavoiding the abuse. The most harmful form of intimidation is isolation from anysocial contacts, because when there is no social support, there is nopossibility for the victim to escape.On one hand,control theory explains the reasons behind the violence within family members;on the other hand, it aims to find out the reasons why other people are notviolent. Compared to men who are abusive towards their wives, men who are lesslikely to abuse their wives generally have secure attachment types withsignificant others, and they fear that significant others of them will reactthem in a negative way. Resource TheoryThis theory isfocused on the relationship between wealth and violence.
Here, the general ideais that men who have high income and social status easily access to manyresources to control the behaviors of their wives. On the other hand, those menwho have less income and social status tend to turn to physical force orviolence.Exosystem FactorTheoryLife stressorsthat are perceived as exceeding one’s own resources are the focus of thisstudy. This theory suggests that stressors and life events predict the FV.Losing a job, moving to a new home, traffic, or paying bills are considered tobe some of the stressors.When otherfactors are present, such as having a history of violent family, lowsatisfaction in marriage, and being isolated from the society, stress resultsin FV.
Violence is only one possible response to stress. Although the evidencesuggests a positive correlation between the child abuse rate and number ofstressors experienced, there are many other variables affecting therelationship. Those who experienced use of violence during childhood and whobelieved that hitting a family member is not a problem would more likely to bea child abuser.
As a conclusion, stress is not essential for predicting FV, butis an important factor.Social IsolationTheorySocialisolation is the intervening factor between stressors and FV. This theorysuggests that, abuse and neglect of child is occurred in the families who areisolated from the society. Empirical evidence suggests that, in high-riskneighborhoods, there are worse family problems when those families are isolatedfrom the society, rather than being a part of the community.
COGNITIVE/BEHAVIORAL THEORIES OF FAMILY VIOLENCEFocus of thesetheories is on factors in the individual level that are contributing to FV.There are four theories under the title of cognitive/behavioral theories offamily violence: social learning theory, behavior genetics theory, the theoryof reactive aggression, and the theory of learned helplessness.Social LearningTheorySocial learningtheory suggests that through observing and imitation, individuals learn aboutsocial behaviors. Children’s learning is affected by imitating of the models.
Especially in the processes of development of language, aggression, and moraldecision-making, this process can be seen. Because individuals learn aggressivebehaviors through operant conditioning and observing role model’s behaviors,they tend to become aggressive towards their family members. Corporalpunishment is seen as a discipline method because it makes children to obey therules of the parents. However, empirical data points that, corporal punishmenthas negative effects both in long and short term, such as antisocial behaviors,poor relationship with parents, aggression, criminal behavior, mental healthproblems, and partner or spousal abuse in the future. It is proposedthat, children receive feedback of their own behaviors, which enables them tocreate a standard for evaluating their own behavior. When a child grows up inviolent families, the kind of behaviors that they imitate are violentbehaviors, then they will most likely behave in the same way as theyexperienced. Also, men who experienced their father abusing their mother whenthey were children have a great risk of abusing their own wives. Behavioral GeneticsThis theorypoints that, besides the factors related to social learning, genetic factorscould explain the family violence.
Behavioral genetics’ literature suggeststhat aggression and antisocial behavior is genetically influenced. When thegenetical predisposition toward engaging in aggressive behavior of an individualcombines with stress and exposure to violence, that individual will most likelybe an abusive partner. To sum up, both environment and heredity impact theperpetuation of FV from one generation to another.Reactive AggressionFocus ofreactive aggression theory is on emotional and cognitive processes that lead tobehavioral responses. The theory proposes that when an individual faces with anunpleasant event, following situations might occur: (1) an aversive stimulusresults in a negative emotional response, (2) that negative emotional responsewill cause the person to hurt other people, and (3) aggressive behavior unlessinhibiting factors are present will occur.LearnedHelplessnessThe mostimportant characteristic of this theory is in its ability to seek for thereasons why victims of FV often choose to stay in the abusive relationship.
Ascited in the chapter, Seligman, while investigating the depression with dogs,discovered that dogs sometimes learn that their behaviors did not result theexpected outcome in situations where electric shock was present. The dogs, as aresult, would stop doing the same behavior when the electric shock is removed.The result of this investigation suggests that, those women who are batteredmay be falling into same pattern. However, this theory is perceived ascontroversial, because women who are in a violent relationship all of the timemaintains a sense of dignity, and they learn the skills to survive, and mayeven fight back.FAMILY AND SYSTEMSTHEORIES OF FAMILY VIOLENCEFocus of thetheories of family and systems is on family unit, and seeks to explainindividual behaviors in the context of interpersonal relationships, and inlarger systems; and also seeks to explain how these are related to familyviolence. Under the title of family and systems theories of family violence,there are three theories: family systems theory, family life cycle theory, andmicrosystem factor theories.Family SystemsTheoryThis theory isbased on the premise that individuals should be regarded in terms of theinteraction, transitions and relationships within the family. What affects oneindividual will affect the entire family system, likewise, what affects thefamily system will affect each member in the family.
Family systems theoryobserves and understands general characteristics of relationships ofindividuals, and their functioning within their families, and the waysemotional problems are moved out to the next generation.Family Life CycleTheoryThe family lifecycle theory suggests that in order to understand families, transitions in thefamily should be examined. The theory also posits two important concepts ofindividual development that could enable us to understand how and why FV occursand repeats: (1) families should be reorganizing to accommodate the growth andchange of their members, and (2) development in any generation of the familymight be having an impact on one or all of the members of the family.It’s importantto indicate that, any kind of family formations, lifestyles, and behaviorsexist, and they can result in stress by the family system. A family systembecomes dysfunctional when it is unable to adapt and maintain the balancebetween stability and change.Microsystem FactorTheoriesEmphasis ofmicrosystem factor theories is on stresses that exist inherently within thefamily as a social structure. There are two types of microsystem factortheories: intrafamilial stress theory, and dependency relations theory.Intrafamilial Stress TheoryFactors likehaving more children than the parents can afford, having children withdisabilities, or overcrowded living conditions are contributing theintrafamilial stress.
These situations make it harder for family systems tofunction properly, especially in terms of time and resources. The ecologicalperspective posits that intrafamilial stress and beliefs regarding parentingmay interact. As an example, the association between parental stress and therisk of child abuse differs depending on the parent’s belief in implementingcorporation.Dependency Relations TheoryDependencyrelation theory is based on the idea that victims are dependent on theirabusers. Generally, children become dependent on their abusers, because theydon’t have enough capacity to escape from it, and because they are weak andsmaller. Also, some elder people become dependent on their abusers, becausethey are feeble due to their age.
In spousal abuse, the reason why wives remaindependent on their abusive husbands is because of economic dependency. Theygenerally think that because they have little or no income of their own, theycannot leave the abusive relationship. 2. WHY PEOPLE ABUSE INTIMATEPARTNERS?There are manyreasons why people abuse their intimate partners. Theories of family violenceand abuse can explain the factors that contribute to intimate partnershipabuse. Some abuser partners could have experienced a violence in their familiesduring their childhood, and because of their experiences related to violence,they demonstrate violent behavior towards their intimate partners. Also, havingan insecure attachment type during childhood can cause a person to become aperpetrator of intimate partnership violence.
When one partner has more powerthan the other partner has, the more powerful person might use his power tocontrol the other one, and this can result in abusive behaviors within intimatepartnerships. Likewise, when a partner has high income and a good socialstatus, they have access to many resources to control the other partner,resulting in intimate partnership abuse as well. Furthermore, daily stress ofone partner with, let’s say, a history of growing in a violent family couldcause him or her to abuse the other partner. One of the most important factorswhy people abuse intimate partners can be caused from social isolation. Whenpartners are not living as a part of a community, there is high possibilitythat intimate partnership abuse would occur. Moreover, in addition to growingup in a violent family, genetic factors are important in explaining why peopleabuse their intimate partners.
Lastly, each family has some life cycletransitions, but when there is an inflexibility and imbalance between stabilityand change, this can lead to intimate partnership abuse. 3. WHY SURVIVORS OF INTIMATEPARTNERSHIP ABUSE STAY IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP?Based on thethings I learned from the theories of family violence, the first reason whysurvivors of intimate partnership abuse stay in an abusive relationship isbecause of their economic dependency to the other partner. Some partners,generally women, have little or no income of their own, as a result theybelieve that they cannot support themselves or their children if they leave theabusive relationship. Another reason why survivors of intimate partnershipabuse stay in an abusive relationship is because learned helplessness. When apartner experiences repeated violence or abuse, they become passive becausethey start thinking that nothing will result in a positive outcome.PART CConclusionTo conclude, there are number of psychological theories that areexplaining the causes of family violence (FV). Most prominent of them aregenerally emphasizing the power and control by the abusers.
There are four maintheoretical categories: (1) psychoanalytic theories of FV, (2) social theoriesof FV, (3) cognitive behavioral theories of FV, and (4) family and systemstheories of FV. Under the title of psychodynamic theories of family violence,three theories are present: object relations theory, attachment theory, and atheory called violence as trauma. Interactions withothers in individual relationships or in groups creates a process that is thefocus of social theories of FV. Theories that are related to the title ofsocial theories of FV are: control theory, resource theory, exosystem factortheory, and social isolation theory. Focus of the cognitive/behavioral theoriesis on factors in the individual level that are contributing to FV. Fourtheories discussed under the title of cognitive/behavioral theories of familyviolence: social learning theory, behavior genetics theory, the theory ofreactive aggression, and the theory of learned helplessness.
Theories that werementioned lastly was the theories of family and systems. Focus of this theoryis on family unit, and seeks to explain individual behaviors in the context ofinterpersonal relationships, and in larger systems; and also seeks to explainhow these are related to family violence. Under the title of family and systemstheories of family violence, three theories discussed: family systems theory,family life cycle theory, and microsystem factor theories. Theories of family violence explain thedevelopment, existence, and maintenance of FV. However, there is no singletheory that sufficiently explains the family violence.
The integration of oneor more theories is the best way of understanding the theories of familyviolence.