Psychological and Sociological Theories of Domestic Violence

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Domestic violence is a crime that occurs regularly within the United States. It claims millions of victims each year. There is not a specific cause to establish why domestic violence occurs. However, it has been documented that domestic violence is a product of physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, and any other forms of torture or torment that the particular abuser wishes to employ to gain control or power over their victims (Gosselin, 2005). Due to the complexity of this crime, many criminologists and socialologists have studied its causes and the effects in order to determine social policies and additional theories to better understand the causation of domestic violence. The social policies and theories that are developed from this research can better explain, educate, and assist the victims of domestic abuse, the judicial system, and law enforcement on how to gain a clearer understanding regarding the relationship between crime causation, criminal behavior, and domestic abuse (Greene, Heilburn, Fortune and Nietzel, 2007). Most importantly, the much needed research and data will empower law enforcement with the much needed knowledge to respond and combat the growing epidemic of domestic violence. Crime theories can be grouped into four categories: biological, sociological, psychological, and social-psychological. Each of these theories have assisted the criminal justice system by providing specific knowledge and data that has been helpful with the establishment of laws (specific laws that fit the crime of domestic violence such as the stalking law), sentencing practices (different punishment guidelines for acts of domestic abuse that differ from non-domestic situations), and social policies (aid and education for abuse victims) (Greene, Heilburn, Fortune and Nietzel, 2007). In addition to existing theories, new theories are developed based on the research concluded from studies involving crime victim statistics and punishment of offenders. These theories are established in hopes to develop a means to an end for domestic abuse. Hopefully, there will be a theory developed to end the vicious cycle of abuse so the actions of an abuser can be identified before fatal incidents of abuse begin. When referring to the causation of domestic violence, more than one theory can assist in the explanation of its causation. In my opinion, the sociological theory and the psychological theory best explain the causation of domestic abuse. The sociological theory, otherwise known as the social theory, believes that criminals commit crimes due to social forces, cultural differences, specific religious beliefs, and/or as a result of their surroundings (low income or poverty stricken areas) (Gosselin, 2005). The sociological theory contains two subtopic theories which are called structural and subcultural theories. The structural theory, which applies to domestic violence, believes that individuals who possess low or lack of educational opportunities, a low income status, and/or a lack of community support are susceptible to choose a life of criminal activity (Greene, Heilburn, Fortune and Nietzel, 2007). This theory relates to domestic violence, because it has been established that economic stress is a trigger for abuse, as well as, cultural differences. Offenders that suffer from loss of employment, poverty, limited access to cash or credit, or that have someone who is dependent on them solely for support are, at times, triggered by the stress and lash out on the victim in a physical or emotional manner which results in domestic abuse (Gosselin, 2005). Cultural differences, such as, beliefs that women are inferior to males or women are the property of males, have also sparked incidents of domestic violence which have claimed victims not only in the United States but worldwide. An additional theory that falls under the umbrella of the sociological theory which, in my opinion, explains domestic violence is the rational choice theory. The...
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