Domestic violence is one of the most pressing issues facing social workers today. It occurs between individuals of all ages and nationalities, at all socioeconomic levels, and in families from all types of religious and non-religious backgrounds (Straus & Gelles, 1990; Carter & McGoldrick, 1999). Domestic violence remains a significant social and public health problem affecting not just the couple but the entire family as well. Increased parental conflict negatively impacts children’s academic, behavioral and social-emotional functioning and the parents’ well being (Carlson, 2000; Carter & McGoldrick, 1999; Lyon, 1998). The overall rate of incident has been found to be similar for city, suburban, and rural communities (Straus & Gelles, 1990). According to Carter and McGoldrick (1999), violence is a widespread occurrence in families throughout the life cycle in our society as it is in all other patriarchal cultures. The World Health Organization (2002) cited a study brought together population surveys in 48 countries, which indicated that 10-69% of women reported experiencing physical violence from a male partner at some stage in their life. In the United States, approximately 4.8 million acts of physical or sexual violence are perpetrated against women; while 2.9 million physically aggressive acts are committed against men each year (Straus & Gelles, 1990).
Domestic Violence is the most widespread form of violence in the United States and is the major cause of injury to women. In the United States a woman is beaten every nine seconds (Kosof, 1995). According to the first major study of battered women, conducted in 1976, women experienced physical assault in nearly one third of all American families (Kosof, 1995). Every year, an estimated three to four million women in the United States were beaten in their homes by a husband, ex-husband, or male lover (Kosof, 1995). Twenty percent of hospital emergency room visits by women are due to battering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, a woman is in nine time’s more likely to be a victim of a violent act in her own home than on the streets (Kosof, 1995). In the same manner, more than fifty percent of all women killed in the United States are killed by their male partners (Kosof, 1995). According to the American Medical Association, certain groups of women are at higher risk for becoming victims of abuse (Kosof, 1995). These include women who: are single, separated or divorced (or planning a separation or divorce), are between the ages of 17 and 28, abuse alcohol and/or other drugs or whose partners do, are pregnant, and have partners who are excessively jealous or possessive. Domestic Violence is a silent epidemic that occurs in all socioeconomic, ethnic, cultural, racial and religious groups. These statistics are frightening, and so too is the life of the person who has been battered or is being battered. The Ecological Perspective
According to the ecology of human development an individual is not seen as a passive, static, and isolated entity on which the environment exerts great influence, but as a dynamic and evolving being that interacts with, and thereby restructures, the many environments with which it comes into contact (Gardner & Kosmitzki, 2008). The ecological model offers a broad-based conceptualization of domestic violence that takes into account the complex interactions between the individual, the family, the community, and societal risk factors. For example, at the individual level, factors that can increase the level of risk to the victim include substance abuse, unemployment, and poverty, history of abuse as a child, isolated from friends and/or family, and mental or physical disability. These factors increase the likelihood of domestic abuse. However, other factors may be protective and reduce the level of risk to the victim, which include:...