Why does domestic/dating violence occur?

There are many factors that contribute to the occurrence of domestic/dating violence. Whether alcohol and drug use is a factor or not, domestic violence and abuse is a very serious problem—for the victims and the abusers.

Stop teaching girls that when a boy is mean to her, it means he likes her. Stop teaching boys that being a man means asserting power.

Even before COVID-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions. Globally, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year. Meanwhile, less than 40 per cent of women who experience violence report it or seek help.

As countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified – in some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold. In others, formal reports of domestic violence have decreased as survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. School closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, and more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, forced marriage, and harassment.

There are varying theories about what makes batterers abuse those closest to them. One view is that batterers are hardened criminals who commit their crimes in a conscious, calculated manner to achieve the dominance they believe they are entitled to. Others believe abuse is the product of deep psychological and developmental scars.

Experts have reached a consensus on several common characteristics among batterers. Domestic abusers:

  • Are controlling

  • Are manipulative

  • Believe that men have a pre-ordained right to be in charge of all aspects of a relationship

  • Often see themselves as victims

For some abusers, violence is a tool to keep their intimate partner from leaving the relationship or keeping them from being unfaithful, even if it means physically forcing them to stay.

The Abuse Cycle

The issues of power and control are essential to an understanding of domestic violence. One way this is accomplished is by becoming familiar with the cycle of violence. Here is an overview of the phases:

  • Build-Up Phase: The tension builds

  • Stand-Over Phase: Verbal attacks increase

  • Explosion Phase: A violent outburst occurs

  • Remorse Phase: The abuser excuses their behavior ("You shouldn't have pushed me, it was your fault.")

  • Pursuit Phase: Promises are made ("It will never happen again, I promise.")

  • Honeymoon Phase: A brief respite before the cycle begins again ("See, we don't have any problems!")


Forms of Abuse

For violence to be ‘domestic’, it doesn’t have to occur within your home, only within a relationship (with a family member or an intimate partner). It occurs when someone close to you has power and control over you. This control or abuse can be expressed in different ways.

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse often goes unrecognised, but it can be very hurtful. Someone who is emotionally abusive towards you wants to chip away at your feelings of self-worth and independence. 

For example: Insulting, humiliating, scaring, threatening to hurt a loved one

Let’s stand united against all who attempt to blur the lines around sexual consent, place blame on victims, and excuse perpetrators.

Sexual abuse

The term ‘sexual abuse’ covers rape, indecent assault and a wide range of other unwanted sexual behaviours used by offenders as a way to control their victims. 

For example: Forcing sexual intercourse, forcing degrading or humiliating sexual acts

Social abuse

Social domestic violence occurs when someone insults or humiliates you in front of other people, keeps you isolated from family and friends, or controls what you do and where you go.

Financial abuse

If someone close to you controls your finances and access to money, and keeps you financially dependent on them so that you always have to ask them for money, this is a form of domestic violence.

For example: Prohibiting her from working, refusing to give money for household expenses

Spiritual abuse

Spiritual domestic violence involves preventing you from having your own opinions about religion, cultural beliefs and values. It may also involve causing you to doubt your thoughts on spirituality in order to make you feel powerless. Attempting to cause shame is a large part of spiritual abuse, as is preventing people from practising their religious or cultural beliefs.

Physical abuse

If you are in a relationship where you are being hurt or threatened, it’s important to know that you don’t have to stay and you don’t have to deal with it on your own. Lots of different kinds of support are available to help you.

For example: Slapping, hitting, kicking, choking, using a weapon

Help for Victims of Abuse

The threat of physical harm plus the economic and physical isolation they usually find themselves in makes getting help even more difficult for the victims of domestic abuse. Simply leaving can provoke more and greater violence.

Well-coordinated services that take into account the particular needs of the victims, and treat them with respect and integrity are essential.

If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence, please contact:

CSAGA: 024 3333 55 99

Peace House Shelter: 1900 969 680

Anh Duong House: 1800 1769

National hotline for child protection: 111

Tu Pham