Family Violence
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Family Violence

Legal, Medical, and Social Perspectives

Harvey Wallace, Cliff Roberson, Julie L. Globokar

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eBook - ePub

Family Violence

Legal, Medical, and Social Perspectives

Harvey Wallace, Cliff Roberson, Julie L. Globokar

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About This Book

Family Violence: Legal, Medical, and Social Perspectives examines the entire spectrum of family violence, focusing on social processes and social relationships.

The Ninth Edition of Family Violence is a comprehensive updated version of the classic text on family violence. In addition to the updates to each chapter, the new edition features new research, comments, and discussions on the #MeToo Movement, same gender couples, elder abuse, stalking, partner abuse, and law enforcement's updated responses to these incidents. The new edition, however, still retains the coverage of the seminal research studies that are the bases of popular theories on partner and family violence. In the new edition, the authors have sought to make the material more understandable to the readers so that instructors will not need to waste valuable class time explaining the text.

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Chapter Objectives

After studying this chapter, you should be able to:
  • Explain what acts or conduct are considered to constitute family violence;
  • Discuss the consequences of family violence;
  • List and explain the mandatory reporting laws on child abuse;
  • Recognize the extent of family violence in today’s society;
  • Understand the widely used intervention strategies used in dealing with family violence;
  • Recognize and explain the controversies in family violence.
Detailed Look at What You Should Know About Family Violence
  • It is difficult to define what constitutes family violence.
  • There are inherent problems in attempting to measure the extent of family violence.
  • The study of family violence is still in its infancy.
  • There are numerous myths and misconceptions that surround family violence.
  • Family violence is a wide-ranging concept that must remain flexible to adaption as we learn more about its scope and impact.
  • The term serious injury may involve physical or emotional harm or a violation of another family member’s rights and freedom of choice.
  • Intervention strategies vary widely in dealing with family violence.
  • The most commonly relied on data on the extent of family violence are reports by local law enforcement agencies, the American Humane Society, the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), and the National Crime Victimization Survey.
  • Since the adoption of the mandatory reporting laws for child abuse, and in some states mandatory arrest of those accused of intimate partner abuse, local agencies have been able to provide researchers with a wealth of information regarding family violence.
  • The Violence Against Women Act provides a fundamental change in the criminal justice system’s gathering of information on violent crimes committed against women.
  • The UCR program is a nationwide statistical compilation involving more than 1,800 cities, counties, states, and other law enforcement agencies that voluntarily report data on reported crimes.
  • The psychiatric model tries to understand family violence by analyzing the offender’s personality traits and mental status.
  • The psychopathology theory is grounded on the concept that certain individuals suffer from mental illness, personality disorders, and other dysfunctions that cause them to engage in aggressive acts within the family.
  • The substance abuse theory accepts the proposition that drugs or alcohol cause or contribute to family violence.
  • The social-psychological model analyzes external environmental factors that affect the family unit. Factors such as stress, family structure, the intergenerational transmission of violence, and family interactions are all considered as primary causes of family violence.
  • The social learning theory assumes that the type of behavior most frequently reinforced by others is the one most often exhibited by the individual.
  • The exchange theory is based on the premise that persons act according to a system of rewards or punishments.
  • The frustration-aggression theory is based on the premise that human beings display aggression toward objects that impede their achievement of certain goals.
  • The ecological theory is based on an analysis of the organism and the environment, the interacting systems in which family development occurs, and the environment in which the family resides.
  • The sociobiology or evolutionary theory is based on the concept that parents display aggressive acts toward children who are not their own or do not have the potential to reproduce.
  • The sociocultural model of family violence focuses on the roles of men and women in our society as well as on the cultural attitudes toward women and the acceptance of violence as a cause of family violence.
  • The culture of violence theory is based on the premise that violence is unevenly distributed within our society, and that violence is more prevalent in the lower socioeconomic sectors of society.
  • The patriarchy theory views society as dominated by men, with women in subordinate positions, treated by men as possessions and things.
  • The general systems theory views the maintenance of violence as a result of the social system in which families live.
  • The social conflict theory analyzes large-scale conflicts, marriages, and the communication process.
  • The resource theory is based on the proposition that the one who controls resources, such as money, property, or prestige, is in the dominant position in a relationship.
  • The intergenerational transmission of violence theory was formerly known as the cycle of violence theory.
  • One of the most obvious consequences of family violence is the physical injuries suffered by victims. These injuries are easy to observe and treat.
  • There are four general classifications of physical injuries inflicted on victims of family violence: immediate injuries that heal leaving no trace, injuries that leave visible scars, unknown long-term physical injuries, and long-term catastrophic injuries.
  • The types of physical injuries suffered by victims of family violence can cover the entire spectrum of illness, from simple bruises to deadly gunshot wounds to the head.
  • Acute stress disorder (ASD) is acute stress that is experienced in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event.
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined as the development of characteristic symptoms following a psychologically distressing event that is outside the range of usual human experience.
  • Victims of family violence may suffer a wide variety of mental disorders as a result of their victimization.


The study of family violence as a discipline is still in its infancy. In U.S. society, numerous myths and misconceptions are present when examining family violence issues and prevention techniques. Many laypersons, students, and professionals are skeptical regarding the dynamics involved in family violence. It is not uncommon to hear “Persons who molest children are mentally deranged,” and “Women who stay with abusive partners must really like it or deserve it.” Otherwise knowledgeable individuals display an alarming lack of understanding regarding the various aspects and issues involved.
The media, including television and popular magazines, have brought the specter of family violence into our living rooms on a daily basis. For example, in 2007 Court TV covered the trial of Mary Winkler, a former schoolteacher accused of killing her pastor husband. During the three days of jury selection, the defense lawyers and prosecutors used phrases such as “spousal abuse,” “brainwashed,” and “fog of war.” Through questions from Winkler’s lawyers about battered wife syndrome and posttraumatic stress disorder, the defense painted a picture of the defendant as an abused spouse whose role as a minister’s wife elevated her status in the community while isolating her from it within a “fishbowl.” Her lawyers suggested that her situation rendered her incapable of seeking help or escaping the abusive marriage. During jury selection, the defense attorney asked potential jurors: “Do you all agree with me that people, especially women, will live in an abusive relationship for a variety of reasons?” Two prospective female panelists, who said they were once victims of domestic violence, agreed that abandoning the abusive relationships was not as easy as it seemed.1
From May to July 2011, CNN and other news media brought the investigations and court proceedings involving the death of two-year-old Caylee Marie Anthony into our living rooms with numerous updates each hour. Caylee’s mother Casey Anthony was charged with killing Caylee. Casey was acquitted on July 5, 2011. The verdict was greeted with public outrage, and was both attacked and defended by media and legal commentators. Some complained that the jury misunderstood the meaning of reasonable doubt, while others said the prosecution relied too heavily on the defendant’s allegedly poor moral character because it had been unable to show conclusively how the victim had died. Time magazine described the case as “the social media trial of the century.”
In 2014, a video surfaced of then-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancé out of an elevator at an Atlantic City casino. A second video later surfaced showing the preceding moments when Rice knocked his fiancé unconscious in the elevator. The NFL came under criticism for initially only giving Rice a two-game suspension for the incident and increasing his penalty only after the case began to draw more publicity. Many believed that the NFL was failing to sufficiently address the issue of violence against women among its players.
In response to this criticism, the NFL took a number of steps to improve their internal handling of domestic violence and sexual assault cases. They contracted with former FBI Director Robert Mueller to evaluate their response to such incidents. In response to his feedback they hired a former sex crimes prosecutor to assist with investigations and enlisted a panel of domestic violence experts for consultation. They also implemented more stringent penalties for violations of the League’s personal conduct policy. The NFL began to air public service announcements to raise awareness about domestic violence in stadiums and during NFL broadcasts.
There continue to be questions about whether these steps have been sufficient. In 2018, a video emerged of then-Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt assaulting a woman in a Cleveland hotel. Many felt that, similar to the Rice incident, the League’s response to the incident was prompted primarily by bad publicity, not concern for the behavior. Another incident around the same time involved then-San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster. While Foster was released from the team, the Washington Redskins quickly expressed interest in acquiring him. These incidents and others continue to draw attention to the NFL’s handling of domestic violence cases.
Numerous controversies in the area of family violence are discussed in this textbook. No definition of the term family violence has been universally accepted by all scholars, researchers, and other professionals. The full extent and nature of the subject is still being debated. However, statistics gathered from independent research as well as projections from state and federal agencies clearly establish...

Table of contents

Citation styles for Family Violence
APA 6 Citation
Wallace, H., Roberson, C., & Globokar, J. (2019). Family Violence (9th ed.). Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from (Original work published 2019)
Chicago Citation
Wallace, Harvey, Cliff Roberson, and Julie Globokar. (2019) 2019. Family Violence. 9th ed. Taylor and Francis.
Harvard Citation
Wallace, H., Roberson, C. and Globokar, J. (2019) Family Violence. 9th edn. Taylor and Francis. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Wallace, Harvey, Cliff Roberson, and Julie Globokar. Family Violence. 9th ed. Taylor and Francis, 2019. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.