A large number of people worldwide suffer from the domestic violence on a daily basis. The majority of them does not inform about the problems they are continuously facing and do not seek for legal and psychological assistance. The Northern America is one of not so many places on the Earth, where women have equal rights with men, but the issues of domestic violence are still acute. Understanding of social, race, gender and age equality does not prevent the cases of aggression in the Northern States of America. There is the necessity to implement some measures for improving the situation with the help of psychological integration. The source of aggression toward one’s family members may have a deep psychological background and can be associated with some mental disorder. Thus, different theories of psychology address the cases of bullying within the domestic settings. Integration of the programs of addressing the issues has a positive effect on the citizens of the Northern America, because they are based on psychological theories.
Domestic Violence Issue
Domestic violence is an intentional, willful physical or sexual assault toward one’s family members. This abusive behavior can be resulted in complicated physical damages, mental disorders, and depressive conditions. In some cases, domestic violence can be the reason of intentional or unintentional homicide. Abusers may behave quite unpretentious, and it is hard to determine the character of bullying. Thus, psychological intervention to the family issues can be the most effective, as it may notice not only the case but also the source of aggression and violence. The prevalence of the issues is quite high even in the most emancipated regions of the USA. For instance, Domestic homicides decreased by 20% from 2011 to 2012, while nondomestic homicides declined by 8% in the New York Sate. However, in comparison with the other states and regions, the Northern part of America has lower rates of domestic violence – 23%, which is the lowest in the world even in comparison with the Europe. The discussed problem has existed for a long time. The source of the issues was economic and social dependence on women and children. Even the elderly people can be the victims of aggression within the domestic settings. That is why people who have less economic, social or emotional independence in the family may be victims of the abusers and can be negatively affected. In the majority of cases, people experience violence in case when abusers feel their victims are out of control, and it may be emotional, physical or social. Moreover, the impact of the problem can be very serious and even bigger, as compared to other kinds of crimes. Family environment is the background for the children’s development. Thus, unhealthy family relations produce a destructive influence on the weak child’s consciousness. Moreover, family must be a place of love and comfort, instead of a place of conflicts. Domestic violence affects all the community, in general. For instance, community health, rates of crimes, and possible extension of criminal cases are mostly associated with the children who observed domestic violence. It is necessary to distinguish several types of domestic violence occurred in the community: physical, social, emotional, sexual, financial, and psychological, though the majority of cases still stay unreported. That is why assistance, intervention and evaluation of the domestic violence through the psychological theories seem to be the most effective.
New York is the most powerful center of the domestic violence resistance in the Northern part of America. It is hard to assume whether the present types of intervention are effective enough to reduce the bullying within the domestic settings. However, the rate of family issues is the lowest in the Northern States. The violence intervention program was initiated in New York long time ago, as the way of actively addressing the problem. It was the initiative of the New York’s Women Foundation. New York City initiated many programs for the victims’ assistance, skills development, health and wellness service, which proposed different psychological help. The intervention program proposes two of the most effective types of intervention: assistance of the police and legislative organs and the psychological service. The last one seems to be the most appropriate in such a case, since every member of the family tries to first establish some communication and improve the situation instead of just taking the most radical methods concerning the family issues. In addition, psychological theories and methods can investigate the problem deeper and find the reason of it, which can be rooted in mental disorders or psychological traumas in childhood. The domestic abuse therapists in New York, as well as in the other parts of the Northern America propose the creative solution for the complicated mental disorder for the abusers, as well as for the victims. They help to overcome anxiety, depression, panic, fear, and problems with relationships. The purpose and possibility of psychological approach are to conduct the mutual research of the key problems, launched in childhood. The therapists try to overcome distance and maintain working process for identifying the major problems. Certainly, they apply social theories of intervention. The theory of control and social isolation are applied in the majority of cases. Therapists provide certain investigation to evaluate the sources of aggression and the trauma memory. Abusive attitude toward the personality can be resulted in psychiatric consequences, rather than the other problems, since 29% of all the investigated women had suicidal attempts. In any case, the main guiding principle in intervention is the safety of a victim.
Addressing the Issue
The psychological approach to the domestic violence problem proposes four different theories addressing the issues, because they regard the aspect from the different perspectives. Psychologists distinguish several theoretical categories: psychoanalytic theories, social theories cognitive behavioral theories, and family and systems theories. Psychoanalytic theories mainly deal with the personal problems of the patient with their unhealthy intentions to be abused or accept violence coming from a family member. Social approaches concern the comprehension of the traumatic information by the other members of the family. Cognitive theories focus on the problem of transmission the abusive behavior and the necessity to violate someone’s personal space from the generation to generation. However, cognitive theories also try to investigate the cases when children from families with perfect relations have quite abusive intentions and aggressive behaviors. Family and system theories associate with the relations within the family among the members taking into consideration their understanding and sharing the aspect of responsibility for the cases of violence. Nevertheless, the psychological approach defines several other conceptions, which are not widely applied because of their low effectiveness or single side perspective. For instance, feministic theories regard domestic violence as an attempt to establish patriarchal order in the family. Cultural and historical concepts have a focus on ethical peculiarities and traditions.
The Psychodynamic Theories
The psychodynamic group of theories is object relations theory, attachment theory, and a theory called violence as trauma. In fact, these theories discuss the motivation and development of intention of violence, reciprocity of violence in the family relations, and process of comprehending the trauma information in one’s memory. The object relation theory focuses on the idea of a human’s early motivation to communicate and have relationships with the other people. In other words, it is a natural need of a person. However, these early relationships or friendships produce a certain model for future relationships within the family. The primary form and understanding of the attitude toward others give stable, enduring memory, which is also reflected in a person’s future family issues. The first years of life are extremely important for individuals to ensure the development of adequate emotional health in later life. During this period, a person develops the skills of defense. It can be quite useful in future for understanding and identification of abusive behavior. Unlike this theory, the attachment conception focuses on the reciprocity between the members of the family. Even the firs relations between the infant and parents can be an education for the personality. From the early years, a child has to feel secure and safe, as well as be close to the parents. It is some kind of secure attachment. In the other case, the person can have social and emotional problems. Children who experienced complicated childhood of abuse and neglect attitude can have insecure attachment with the family members in future. The theory of violence and trauma focuses on the understanding of the stressful event and the possible reflection of them in future. In other words, it is a conception, which basically deals with the posttraumatic disorders. However, these are quite complicated and debatable issues, since all the people comprehend the information about trauma differently. This theory investigates the problem why the victims of violence experience the abusive situation. A person is not able to integrate the memory about the problem and repeat it emotionally. In many cases, they try to align with people who can abuse them again. Consequently, the problem is the personal consciousness and the memories about violence in the past.
Social Theories of the Domestic Violence
The social theories categories are control theory, resource theory, exosystem factor theory, and social isolation theory. These conceptions concern the process of interaction with the surrounding settings and people or groups of people. Control theory is the most popular in the modern psychological approach, since it researches an intention of the person to obtain control over the other members of the family. Thus, the motivations for abusive behavior are control and power. The potential abusers may want to control the family and use some force in order to gain it. Control theory tries to explain the actual source of violence. Resource conception focuses on economic issues, which can be a source of aggression and violence. Financial resources can be an additional reason to attain some control over the family members for a person with the lesser income. However, the statistics confirm that men with low income and limited resources are more likely to commit domestic violence. In comparison with the internal issues resulted in family bullying, psychology distinguishes the other theories, confirming the existence of the outside sources of aggression. Exosystem factor theory focuses on the multiple external sources of aggression and violence; for instance, multiple stressors, such as job loss, conflicts, bills, traffic, moving to a new home, etc. However, stressors can result in abuse, in case the other factors are also present. In the majority of cases, it concerns childhood problems, social isolation or violent family. Certainly, stress is important but not necessary for violent intentions. If a person experienced some aggression from parents, an individual may also be abusive toward own children. A stressful situation can be a premise for the domestic violence. The problem has a deep cognitive background when a member of the family feels some relation between the stressful situation and violence. Social isolation theory focuses on the problem of social isolation. It can be a serious problem when a family is isolated from a community. The statistics confirm that the regions of New York with the high social disorganization have the highest rates of crime among the children and adolescences. The problem is that social isolation becomes a threatening issue in the United States. Probation departments reported a significant increase in the number of Family Court cases handed statewide, from 76 in 2014 to 92 last year. All social aspects of relations highly depend on the personal cognitive issues.
Cognitive or Behavioral Theories of Domestic Violence
It concerns only individual factors and reveals the problem on the cognitive level of a certain personality. The behavioral group is distinguished into several theories: social learning theory, behavioral genetics, reactive aggression, and the theory of learned helplessness. The social model serves as a learning object for people and they perform their behaviors according to their experiences. In other words, children learn of the behavioral issues based on the social model imitation. However, it concerns not only external social relations but also the problems with parents and parents’ attitudes toward the children. People from violent abusive family may reproduce such attitude in their own families. Thus, the social learning theory describes transmission of violence from generation to generation. Behavioral genetics focus on the genetic factors that can influence on abusive character of the individual. Nevertheless, this factor is appropriate in connection with the other external and social irritants. The scientific investigations confirm that antisocial behavior and aggression can be genetically influenced. Although, a person can have some genetic predisposition to aggression or abusive behavior, it can be the case that he/she will never show it. Naturally, it is associated with the variety of external factors. Genetic factors, together with the social and environmental factors, can stimulate the domestic violence. The theory of reactive aggression regards cognitive and emotional issues causing aggressive responses. Some aversive stimuli can produce negative emotions, leading to aggressive response. Investigations confirm that strict and even aggressive discipline of the parents can be reflected in the future behaviors of the person. In some cases, they cannot resist violence, being afraid of a negative reaction. In the other cases, the behavior simulates the discipline of parents. Certainly, the men can have such an attitude toward their wives who were being punished by the parents. Thus, the theory of learned helplessness deals with the situations when the victims of the domestic violence prefer to accept the abusive attitude toward them, rather than seeking for some help. The problem is that the victims learned to be and fell helpless, so they stay in their casual abusive circumstances. The women do not resist, as they feel that any of her actions would result in positive consequences. However, this theory has many controversial issues. Some women have quite a strong feeling of personal dignity and can even fight back. However, the community consists of the families as its system of units. The psychology of domestic violence takes into consideration the family as a structure.
Family Systems Theory
These theories regard the family unit in the framework of the social groups and communities trying to evaluate the source of aggression and violence within the domestic settings. These are family systems theory, family life cycle theory, microsystems factor theories (including two-factor theories of interfamilial stress theory and dependency relations theory). The family system theory is mainly focused on the idea that every person should be considered not only from the individual perspective, but also in the aspect of a person’s interactions within the family settings. It concerns the pattern of relations among all the members of the family group. Family life cycle theory associates with the conception of the different family issues transition. The concept regards several cycles of the family life for instance, moving to a new home, finding a new boyfriend/girlfriend, birth of a child, etc. During these periods, the members of the family have to accommodate to each other and may affect to the other members of the group. Certainly, every life cycle periods can result in stressful factors producing violence. It associates with the critical period for everyone, as well as for the family in general. If the family is inflexible, it is unable to adapt to new circumstances. Microsystem factor approaches investigate the stress that can be inherent as a social factor. It is a complicated interaction between the developing personality and some setting, such as home, job or school. The presented theory distinguishes the two main approaches to the concept: intrafamilial stress theory and dependency relations theory. Intrafamilial stress regards such factors as many children, lack of money can be the reason for stressful situations and violence as the overcrowded conditions of life. Dependency relations theory is based on the idea that children, wives, and elderly people are weaker and have to be dependable. The complex of all the theories can be an effective background for the evaluation of a plan for intervention.
Limitations and Advantages
It is hard to distinguish which theory is the best for the presented problem. However, it is necessary to admit that the conceptions of the cognitive and behavioral approaches bring the most useful information for addressing the issues, because the problem of violence concerns the individual character and the ability to abuse someone or not. The theories of cognitive and behavioral conception can evaluate the internal psychological gaps or serious disorders. Any external factors, even the most complicated cannot force an individual to commit an act of violence toward the dearest people. Certainly, it is a psychological phenomenon, which can be evaluated with the help of cognitive and behavioral approaches. It is one of the most complicated problems of the society. Naturally, the aspect of domestic violence can have multiple limitations. The reduction of bullying within the family demands deep intervention into personal consciousness and family relations. In any case, it is some kind of violation of the personal space. Moreover, any proposed theory cannot be appropriate for all the cases of violence, since all the events are unique and exceptional, rather than casual. It exemplifies the impossibility of the psychological service to intervene into the issues without getting the permission. Naturally, the cases of violence are less investigated, because people are afraid to report and inform the police about it. Thus, it is a concealed threat to the smallest part of the social unit, which destructs the society from the inside since sufficient limitations connected with the intervention.
Ethical Consideration and Issue Gaps
The intervention should be based on ethical norms of the justice and assistance integration. For instance, the social learning theory admits the impossibility of a person to resist the violence and unintentional cooperation with the assistance service. However, the psychological therapy cannot propose help without the permission, even if the theory confirms the pathology of such cases, where the victim feels some necessity to be abused or feels ashamed. The issues of the domestic sexual assault should be regarded from the perspective of ethical norms, understanding, responsibility and anonymity. Moreover, some details of childhood, which may be quite useful during an investigation, cannot be applied due to ethical issues. The problem of the domestic violence is not investigated appropriately and has many gaps. Emotional violence is as dangerous as physical but the methods of intervention are less developed. The factors of risk are quite high. The presented intervention plan does not take into consideration the safety of the victims. The issue of inheriting genetic aggression is still one of the most debatable gaps in knowledge. It is not the secret and doubt any more that genetics has direct relations to the crimes of sexual assault. However, it is still one of the less investigated gaps in knowledge, though genetic researches may assist in reduction of the sexual violence in family and society as well.
Thus, it is highly recommendable to apply the innovative technologies of investigation. It is better to use more effective methods for data collection. For instance, anonymous volunteers from the community may communicate with women and children, observing the changes in their behaviors, which can be the result of some violence. The community participation can become the most effective method of collecting information, which is not common and available. The next step is the police assistance reorganization. The radical methods of the abuser’s resistance and punishment are useful but police officers should be prepared for these cases more sufficiently. It is necessary to apply psychological education for better and effective evaluation of the essence of the problem without the risks and rough penetration, which violate personal space. The potential limitation of the proposed idea concerns the possibility of the participants and police officers to assess the problem. The contemporary society gradually develops the aspect of the domestic violence intervention, understanding that radical methods are less effective than the psychological approach.
Thus, the problem of domestic violence is one of the most serious at the chosen community. The statistics for the last years informs that the Northern America is a region with the lowest rates of domestic abuse. New York City statistics confirm the issue. It is an evidential proof that the psychological and radical assistance in the Northern America is the most effective in the world. The intervention to the domestic violence problem is based on several psychological theories. The most effective is the cognitive a behavioral conception as the possibility to abuse depends only on the individual issues. Nevertheless, the issues demand a deeper investigation, further intervention and new approaches to data collection methods, since the problem has variety of gaps and limitations.