Domestic violence is a blanket term that covers all violence in a domestic environment. This includes violence by parents toward children, by children toward parents, by men toward women, by women towards men, by adults towards elderly people, and violence between siblings.
Types of domestic violence include situational couple violence, intimate terrorism and violent resistance.¹ Situational couple violence generally begins with an entry argument that escalates into violence and is typically an isolated incident. Women are almost as likely as men to commit this but men typically do a lot more damage and introduce fear.¹
Intimate terrorism happens when the batterer terrorizes their partner and takes control of their lives. This type of domestic violence is almost always perpetrated by men but far less frequently than situational.¹
Violent resistance is when victim fights back with violence. This is usually transitory because it is not a sustainable solution and women usually find different means of coping eventually.¹
It is important to note that domestic violence cuts across all socioeconomic classes but situational couple violence is more prevalent in poorer families. This makes sense because having less household income typically creates tension in the domestic life.
Most people in most races do not participate in domestic violence but there is a strong relationship in the United States between race and household economics. It makes sense that there are some higher rates in some races. This is not directly because of their ethnicity, but rather socioeconomic class. That difference in rates disappears when you compare different races in the same economic class.²
Most sociologists agree that a complete understanding of something as complex as family violence requires looking closely at how social environments can be a risk factor for violence.² Not one sociological theory can account for all violence but several theories and theoretical frameworks attempt to do so.
Why is domestic violence sociological? Most sociologists argue that “humans are complex creatures and that what goes on inside us is influenced by what goes on outside us. Sociology is a way of thinking about the world." Looking at domestic violence from a sociological perspective helps us to explore how family violence, in its many forms, can be a consequence of community or of poverty.²
1. Ooms, Theodora. A Sociologist's Perspective on Domestic Violence: A Conversation with Michale Johnson, Ph.D. Retrieved May 7, 2014, from http://www.clasp.org/admin/site/publications_states/files/0314.pdf
2. Loseke, Donileen. Through a Sociological Lens. Retrieved May 7, 2014, from http://www.corwin.com/upm-data/5159_Loseke_Rev_I_Proof_Chapter_3.pdf