Faculty intimate partner violence was found to be associated





Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences


We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

Trauma Psychology




Professor: Selvira Draganovic

Student: Mehmet Akif Elen

Student ID: 140102003



Sarajevo, 2017



people in every part of the world are touched by violence and abuse in some
way. People can be exposed to violence and abuse by anyone around them. These
acts could be performed by their parents, siblings, neighbors, or peers.
However, most of the time, perpetrators of violence and abuse are intimate
partners, parents, or caregivers.

to World Health Organization (WHO) (2011), when there is an intentional use of
physical force or power against someone which can result in physical or
psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation, it is called interpersonal
violence (namely violence and abuse). It should be understood that violence and
abuse not only result in physical harm, injuries or bruises, but also in
psychological harm. Many psychological disorders can develop as a result of
violence and abuse. Post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders,
language disorders are some other results of violence and abuse.

are many studies that were conducted to examine the impact of violence and
abuse on the psychological wellbeing of the victim. In one large
population-based study, it was observed that there is a strong association
between mental disorders and intimate partner violence (Isabel et al., 2017).
In the same study, intimate partner violence was found to be associated with
mental disorders such as suicidal ideation, mood disorders, and post-traumatic
stress. Another study concluded that those children who suffer from domestic
violence have lower scores in language tasks that are acquired in early
developing ages, and they got lower scores in expression, comprehension and
metalinguistic skills, meaning those children who experience domestic violence
have speaking deficits (Cobos-Cali et al., 2017). On the other hand, empirical
data also suggests the outcomes of violence and abuse on the functioning of the
brain. For example, dysfunction in the amygdala, and in other parts of the
limbic system were associated with violence, impairing the ability of the brain
to interpret threat cues (Smith et al., 2016).




the title of psychodynamic theories of family violence, three theories are present:
object relations theory, attachment theory, and a theory called violence as

Object Relations

According to
object relations theory, “others” or “other individuals” are referred as
“objects”. This theory suggests that what motivates humans is their need for
significant relationships with others in their earliest childhood. As cited in
the chapter, Fairbrain suggested that early experiences not only play a role in
psychic development, but also form some psychological “templates” that are
enduring for the individual’s future relationships. Object relations theory
argues that mental representations of the self, people around the self, and the
relationships between the self and others around the self start developing
during infancy and childhood period; these mental representations last
throughout life, and generally influence the relationship of self with others.

The theory
underlines the importance of the first years of life, stating that it is
extremely important for individuals to live a life with adequate emotional
health. Individuals who did not have a sufficient nurturing during their
infancy and childhood period will have some difficulties for having a healthy
self-esteem, regulated emotional responses, and managing their anxiety in their
life. When a person’s dependency is unmet during the childhood, that person
will most likely to become an abuser or a victim. There are empirical evidences
supporting this idea, saying that some individuals who did not receive
sufficient nurturing in their first years of life commit intimate partner
violence (IPV). Furthermore, as it is cited in the chapter, there is another
evidence suggesting that becoming a perpetrator of IPV is significantly
correlated with being exposed to violence in their family, as well as rejection
from parents. On the other hand, it was argued that when an individual employs
internal defenses in an abusive, neglectful, or inconsistent relationship with
the primary caregiver in their early life, they would become victims of violence
in their adolescent or adult relationships, and continue these relationships
despite the violence. Internal defenses are employed, and they are highly
adaptive, because doing so will help them survive in the abusive environment.
However, if internal defenses of individual are being employed during future
relationships, individual will not be able to recognize the presence or absence
of abuse in their relationships, and will be having a relationship with someone
who is much like the abusive person in their early life.

Attachment Theory

theory, unlike the placing the emphasis on mental representations of a
relationship, places the emphasis on the reciprocity between individuals within
a relationship. Definition of attachment is an infant’s reciprocal, enduring
emotional tie with the caregiver, where each side is actively contributing to
the quality of the relationship. Based on what they expect from the primary
caregiver, infants develop a “working model”. Infant’s model will be strong if
the caregiver responds in an expected way; but if the responses of the
caregiver are not predictable, infant would be revise the model, and it will
affect the security of the attachment. Those children with secure attachment
can explore the environment, but when the child is confronted with a threat,
the child will be looking for the secure caregiver. Children will perceive
their worthiness according to their caregiver’s potential to provide care and
protection. For a child to feel secure, he or she needs to be able to use the
representations of the attachment figures without the caregiver being present.
Besides positive attachments, like secure attachment, there are some other less
predictable attachment types that can be developed between the child and the caregiver.
Following are those attachment types: avoidant, ambivalent, and
disorganized/disoriented. Several empirical data suggest that insecure
attachment theories might be linked with antisocial behavior; insecure
attachment is present.in children who are physically abused or neglected.

Violence as Trauma

The theory of
violence as trauma contributed to the understanding of an individual’s
incorporation of internal defenses into his or her structure of personality and
made it clear that how those defenses can affect the relationship with others.

storing, and sequencing of future events might be affected by the traumatic
event. In this sense, understanding how a victim processed the information
regarding trauma into the brain is important. Sensory stimuli that a person is
being exposed to enters the limbic system in the brain, and disruption of the
managing of information might happen as a result of trauma. Trauma overrides
the limbic system, because high levels of stress is experienced by the person who
is being traumatized. As a result, person becomes unable to handle the
stressors, causing to switch survival techniques known as psychological

Inability of
victims of abuse to integrate their memories related to abuse will lead them to
have a kind of obligation to repeat the trauma. Through repetition,
re-enactment, and displacement of the abusive experience, victims of abuse will
emotionally repeat the trauma by collaborating with abusive people.
Furthermore, victims feel pain in their body as a physiological memory of the
abuse. Replay of the traumatic event in the memory enables chemicals in the
brain, overriding the fight-or-flight system. Since victims cannot defend
themselves, this results in vulnerability towards further abusive situations in
the victims.


with others in individual relationships or in groups creates a process that is
the focus of social theories of FV. Theories discussed under the title of
social theories of FV are following: control theory, resource theory, exosystem
factor theory, and social isolation theory.

Control Theory

Control theory
states that a person’s need to obtain power and control in a relationship
causes the conflicts in the families. Power and control is the motivating
factor for abuser’s behavior. An abuser exerts his or her power and control
over other members in the family. Generally, the more powerful members of the
families use threat or their force towards the less powerful members of the
family. Such kind of behaviors of power and control disable those who have less
power from behaving in a way that the more powerful member does not want. There
are many ways of intimidation that the abuser may use, such as coercion,
isolation, economic abuse, and denial of personal blame. Coercion is a way of
threatening the less powerful person to hurt him or her; threatening to leave
her, or to commit suicide, or making her doing illegal things are some of the
examples. Isolation is expressed as controlling what the less powerful person
does, who he or she sees or talks to, where he or she goes, or even what he or
she reads. Economic abuse is where the powerful member uses his economic
advantage over the less powerful member; preventing him or her from getting or
keeping a job, making him or her beg for money, giving him or her allowance are
some of the examples of this form of intimidation. Denial of personal blame
occurs when the denial by the more powerful member is present; saying that
abuse did not happen, shifting the responsibility for abusive behavior, or
saying the less powerful member caused this are the examples of this form of

When the
victims become used to the forms of intimidations, they become modifying their
behaviors, slowly losing their control just for the sake of surviving and
avoiding the abuse. The most harmful form of intimidation is isolation from any
social contacts, because when there is no social support, there is no
possibility 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 not
violent. Compared to men who are abusive towards their wives, men who are less
likely to abuse their wives generally have secure attachment types with
significant others, and they fear that significant others of them will react
them in a negative way.

Resource Theory

This theory is
focused on the relationship between wealth and violence. Here, the general idea
is that men who have high income and social status easily access to many
resources to control the behaviors of their wives. On the other hand, those men
who have less income and social status tend to turn to physical force or

Exosystem Factor

Life stressors
that are perceived as exceeding one’s own resources are the focus of this
study. 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 to
be some of the stressors.

When other
factors are present, such as having a history of violent family, low
satisfaction in marriage, and being isolated from the society, stress results
in FV. Violence is only one possible response to stress. Although the evidence
suggests a positive correlation between the child abuse rate and number of
stressors experienced, there are many other variables affecting the
relationship. Those who experienced use of violence during childhood and who
believed that hitting a family member is not a problem would more likely to be
a child abuser. As a conclusion, stress is not essential for predicting FV, but
is an important factor.

Social Isolation

isolation is the intervening factor between stressors and FV. This theory
suggests that, abuse and neglect of child is occurred in the families who are
isolated from the society. Empirical evidence suggests that, in high-risk
neighborhoods, there are worse family problems when those families are isolated
from the society, rather than being a part of the community.


Focus of these
theories is on factors in the individual level that are contributing to FV.
There are four theories under the title of cognitive/behavioral theories of
family violence: social learning theory, behavior genetics theory, the theory
of reactive aggression, and the theory of learned helplessness.

Social Learning

Social learning
theory suggests that through observing and imitation, individuals learn about
social behaviors. Children’s learning is affected by imitating of the models.
Especially in the processes of development of language, aggression, and moral
decision-making, this process can be seen. Because individuals learn aggressive
behaviors through operant conditioning and observing role model’s behaviors,
they tend to become aggressive towards their family members. Corporal
punishment is seen as a discipline method because it makes children to obey the
rules of the parents. However, empirical data points that, corporal punishment
has negative effects both in long and short term, such as antisocial behaviors,
poor relationship with parents, aggression, criminal behavior, mental health
problems, and partner or spousal abuse in the future.

It is proposed
that, children receive feedback of their own behaviors, which enables them to
create a standard for evaluating their own behavior. When a child grows up in
violent families, the kind of behaviors that they imitate are violent
behaviors, then they will most likely behave in the same way as they
experienced. Also, men who experienced their father abusing their mother when
they were children have a great risk of abusing their own wives.

Behavioral Genetics

This theory
points that, besides the factors related to social learning, genetic factors
could explain the family violence. Behavioral genetics’ literature suggests
that aggression and antisocial behavior is genetically influenced. When the
genetical predisposition toward engaging in aggressive behavior of an individual
combines with stress and exposure to violence, that individual will most likely
be an abusive partner. To sum up, both environment and heredity impact the
perpetuation of FV from one generation to another.

Reactive Aggression

Focus of
reactive aggression theory is on emotional and cognitive processes that lead to
behavioral responses. The theory proposes that when an individual faces with an
unpleasant event, following situations might occur: (1) an aversive stimulus
results in a negative emotional response, (2) that negative emotional response
will cause the person to hurt other people, and (3) aggressive behavior unless
inhibiting factors are present will occur.


The most
important characteristic of this theory is in its ability to seek for the
reasons why victims of FV often choose to stay in the abusive relationship. As
cited in the chapter, Seligman, while investigating the depression with dogs,
discovered that dogs sometimes learn that their behaviors did not result the
expected outcome in situations where electric shock was present. The dogs, as a
result, would stop doing the same behavior when the electric shock is removed.
The result of this investigation suggests that, those women who are battered
may be falling into same pattern. However, this theory is perceived as
controversial, because women who are in a violent relationship all of the time
maintains a sense of dignity, and they learn the skills to survive, and may
even fight back.


Focus of the
theories of family and systems is on family unit, and seeks to explain
individual behaviors in the context of interpersonal relationships, and in
larger systems; and also seeks to explain how these are related to family
violence. Under the title of family and systems theories of family violence,
there are three theories: family systems theory, family life cycle theory, and
microsystem factor theories.

Family Systems

This theory is
based on the premise that individuals should be regarded in terms of the
interaction, transitions and relationships within the family. What affects one
individual will affect the entire family system, likewise, what affects the
family system will affect each member in the family. Family systems theory
observes and understands general characteristics of relationships of
individuals, and their functioning within their families, and the ways
emotional problems are moved out to the next generation.

Family Life Cycle

The family life
cycle theory suggests that in order to understand families, transitions in the
family should be examined. The theory also posits two important concepts of
individual development that could enable us to understand how and why FV occurs
and repeats: (1) families should be reorganizing to accommodate the growth and
change of their members, and (2) development in any generation of the family
might be having an impact on one or all of the members of the family.

It’s important
to indicate that, any kind of family formations, lifestyles, and behaviors
exist, and they can result in stress by the family system. A family system
becomes dysfunctional when it is unable to adapt and maintain the balance
between stability and change.

Microsystem Factor

Emphasis of
microsystem factor theories is on stresses that exist inherently within the
family as a social structure. There are two types of microsystem factor
theories: intrafamilial stress theory, and dependency relations theory.

Intrafamilial Stress Theory

Factors like
having more children than the parents can afford, having children with
disabilities, or overcrowded living conditions are contributing the
intrafamilial stress. These situations make it harder for family systems to
function properly, especially in terms of time and resources. The ecological
perspective posits that intrafamilial stress and beliefs regarding parenting
may interact. As an example, the association between parental stress and the
risk of child abuse differs depending on the parent’s belief in implementing

Dependency Relations Theory

relation theory is based on the idea that victims are dependent on their
abusers. Generally, children become dependent on their abusers, because they
don’t have enough capacity to escape from it, and because they are weak and
smaller. Also, some elder people become dependent on their abusers, because
they are feeble due to their age. In spousal abuse, the reason why wives remain
dependent on their abusive husbands is because of economic dependency. They
generally think that because they have little or no income of their own, they
cannot leave the abusive relationship.


There are many
reasons why people abuse their intimate partners. Theories of family violence
and abuse can explain the factors that contribute to intimate partnership
abuse. Some abuser partners could have experienced a violence in their families
during their childhood, and because of their experiences related to violence,
they demonstrate violent behavior towards their intimate partners. Also, having
an insecure attachment type during childhood can cause a person to become a
perpetrator of intimate partnership violence. When one partner has more power
than the other partner has, the more powerful person might use his power to
control the other one, and this can result in abusive behaviors within intimate
partnerships. Likewise, when a partner has high income and a good social
status, they have access to many resources to control the other partner,
resulting in intimate partnership abuse as well. Furthermore, daily stress of
one partner with, let’s say, a history of growing in a violent family could
cause him or her to abuse the other partner. One of the most important factors
why people abuse intimate partners can be caused from social isolation. When
partners are not living as a part of a community, there is high possibility
that intimate partnership abuse would occur. Moreover, in addition to growing
up in a violent family, genetic factors are important in explaining why people
abuse their intimate partners. Lastly, each family has some life cycle
transitions, but when there is an inflexibility and imbalance between stability
and change, this can lead to intimate partnership abuse.


Based on the
things I learned from the theories of family violence, the first reason why
survivors of intimate partnership abuse stay in an abusive relationship is
because of their economic dependency to the other partner. Some partners,
generally women, have little or no income of their own, as a result they
believe that they cannot support themselves or their children if they leave the
abusive relationship. Another reason why survivors of intimate partnership
abuse stay in an abusive relationship is because learned helplessness. When a
partner experiences repeated violence or abuse, they become passive because
they start thinking that nothing will result in a positive outcome.



To conclude, there are number of psychological theories that are
explaining the causes of family violence (FV). Most prominent of them are
generally emphasizing the power and control by the abusers. There are four main
theoretical categories: (1) psychoanalytic theories of FV, (2) social theories
of FV, (3) cognitive behavioral theories of FV, and (4) family and systems
theories of FV. Under the title of psychodynamic theories of family violence,
three theories are present: object relations theory, attachment theory, and a
theory called violence as trauma. Interactions with
others in individual relationships or in groups creates a process that is the
focus of social theories of FV. Theories that are related to the title of
social theories of FV are: control theory, resource theory, exosystem factor
theory, and social isolation theory. Focus of the cognitive/behavioral theories
is on factors in the individual level that are contributing to FV. Four
theories discussed under the title of cognitive/behavioral theories of family
violence: social learning theory, behavior genetics theory, the theory of
reactive aggression, and the theory of learned helplessness. Theories that were
mentioned lastly was the theories of family and systems. Focus of this theory
is on family unit, and seeks to explain individual behaviors in the context of
interpersonal relationships, and in larger systems; and also seeks to explain
how these are related to family violence. Under the title of family and systems
theories of family violence, three theories discussed: family systems theory,
family life cycle theory, and microsystem factor theories.

 Theories of family violence explain the
development, existence, and maintenance of FV. However, there is no single
theory that sufficiently explains the family violence. The integration of one
or more theories is the best way of understanding the theories of family