Intimate Partner Violence

The following paper sample is on the topic of Intimate Partner Violence by Dr. Rogue


Intimate partner violence (IPV), otherwise known as domestic violence (DV), is a significant social issue relevant for discussion in the field of legal psychology. The purpose of this work is to review the literature available on this subject in a bid to identify the theoretical concepts and other issues related to the topic. IPV and DV are interchangeably used in this discussion. Empirical literature shows a high prevalence of this vice in the Canadian community. In addition to the prevalence rates, the literature indicates that domestic violence is present across various marital profiles like heterosexual, young, old, and homosexual settings. The tendency of victims to seek help is dependent on myriad factors. For instance, the lack of reporting intimate partner violence offers a condition for this vice to thrive. Conceptual frameworks found on this subject include feminist, power control and social learning theories at the community level and situational factors at the individual level. The reader of this paper will learn of the causative factors, interventions, support systems, among other things related to domestic violence.

Background Information on Domestic Violence

Domestic violence remains a threat to the physical and psychological well-being of people who experience it. It is present across many population profiles. In other words, it does not discriminate on age, gender, racial background, or other socio-demographic characteristics. Empirical studies have, therefore, attempted to approach the matter from multiple dimensions to document the various faces it takes in the community. The definition of intimate partner violence takes into account aggression as well as the intimacy that exists between two people. According to Burelomova, Gulina and Tikhomandritskaya (2018), violence encompasses any intentional physical use of force against self or others, usually resulting in injury to the body (p. 130). Aggression directed at an intimate partner, whether present or former, constitutes domestic violence. The definition of IPV, therefore, is the physical abuse, sexual mistreatment, psychological abuse, or improper control behaviour in an intimate relationship that causes or can potentially result in physical or any other form of harm to either party (Burelomova, Gulina and Tikhomandritskaya, 2018, p. 133).

The key concepts in this paper are social learning, power control, feminism, gender equality, and violence. Additionally, the paper will discuss social, economic, and political factors related to domestic violence. These concepts are present in isolation or in combination throughout the papers reviewed in this work. Theoretical frameworks in studying domestic violence help to explicate the subject as well as the victims and perpetrators of this misconduct. Literature shows that domestic violence is a function of multiple factors like age and social-economic status. Moreover, there is scholarly evidence that indicates the continuation of this behaviour due to the absence of systems to support victims by, for example, rescuing them from abusive marriages. Deep-rooted patriarchal dominion is identified as one of the causes that motivate male partners to abuse their spouses. A discussion of theoretical frameworks will offer insights into the reasons behind intimate partner violence.

The first conceptual framework for the discussion of domestic violence is feminist theory. According to this theory, domestic violence emanates from patriarchal control over women and the subordination of the latter. Due to the widespread gender inequality, women face control through physical abuse from their male partners. The isolated cases of gender-based violence that victimizes men is arguably a gesture of self-defence by the female aggressor. This theory suggests that education aimed at the elimination of male domination in society is the short-term solution, while the overturning of male domination in society is the ultimate intervention in eliminating domestic violence (Burelomova, Gulina and Tikhomandritskaya, 2018, p. 131). A second theoretical framework that focuses on the socio-cultural context is the power control theory. As the feminism theory discussed above, this concept explains that domestic violence stems from power imbalances at the family level. Additionally, acceptance of domestic violence as the means to resolve family conflicts supports the abuse of women by men (Burelomova, Gulina and Tikhomandritskaya, 2018, p. 132).

One individual theory of IPV is social learning. Proponents of this theory opine that abusive behavior does not emerge spontaneously. It stems from exposure to similar events, especially during childhood. It follows, therefore, that children who experienced physical abuse during their childhood are more likely to cause harm to their partners later in life. This background cause of domestic violence is different from situational motivation for this misconduct. The latter is defined as “factors setting the stage for violence to occur” (Burelomova, Gulina and Tikhomandritskaya, 2018, p. 134). Some of the situations that lead to IPV according to this model are drug and substance abuse, presence or absence of intimacy, and lack of skills that inform problem-solving (Burelomova, Gulina and Tikhomandritskaya, 2018, p. 134).

In addition to the background and situational factors, individual personality has a role to play in domestic violence. The behavioral, psychological, or physiological makeup of a person dictates their tendency to engage in domestic violence. For instance, people with underlying mental conditions like depression may abuse their partners as a means of expressing their problems. Moreover, genetic predisposition to anger, lack of self-control, and respect for dignity are physiological causes of intimate partner violence. Through these theories, it will be possible to analyze literature on domestic violence. Since the targeted articles are reports of empirical studies, an understanding of these theories will help to explain the conceptual framework that authors employ in their respective works.

Literature Review

As intimated earlier, domestic violence is an important issue that cuts across social, political, and economic spheres. It is also a critical psychological issue with implications for family cohesion, the mental wellbeing of spouses, and the development of children living in abusive relationships. Due to this relevance, tremendous research has gone into the investigation of domestic violence. Five articles have been selected for the review that will not only state the research findings but also discuss the results at length. The title and authors of the article will help identify each article used in this review. 

After encountering domestic violence, women will usually seek help and report the matter to the concerned authorities. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There is no uniformity in the manner through which victims find assistance. In an article titled “Variations in Women’s Help-Seeking in Response to Intimate Partner Violence: Findings From a Canadian Population-Based Study,” Barrett and St. Pierre (2011) explore the factors that influence abused women to reach out for help from formal and informal avenues. Formal avenues in this paper are law enforcement, legal advisors, and medical professionals (Barrett & St. Pierre, 2011, p. 61) while informal helplines are family members, clergy, co-workers and friends (Barrett & St. Pierre, 2011, p. 60).

This research highlights the involvement of abused women in help-seeking behaviors. Female victims from all social-demographic backgrounds like Aboriginals, immigrants, low-economic status women seek help from both formal and informal avenues. All classes of battered women are actively involved in pursuing assistance to run away from an abusive marriage ((Barrett & St. Pierre, 2011, p. 59). the research shows that numerous barriers come in the way of women seeking help from any of the avenues above. Fear for threats to one’s life is the most significant barrier to seeking help. Additionally, the high frequency of domestic violence incidences normalises the vice to a point that women become used to the abuse. Moreover, the victim may have sustained severe physical injuries that render her incapable of moving out to report the case (Barrett & St. Pierre, 2011, p. 60).

Research on domestic violence against women has ventured into the exploration of factors that determine help-seeking behavior among different age cohorts. Literature indicates that older women encounter DV in equal magnitude as young ones (Bonomi et al., 2007, p. 39). While access to help avenues is easy for young women, it is not so among their older counterparts. Beaulaurier et al. (2007) identify four factors that prevent women from seeking social and professional support in the case of intimate partner violence. The family is the most accessible source of social support for women experiencing domestic violence. Ahmad et al (2013) identify family support as one of the resources for abused South Asian women in Canada. The family is especially resourceful when the woman needs to flee from an abusive relationship (p. 1062). However, older women shy from sharing their struggles with their families because they think no aid will result from this step (Beaulaurier et al., 2007, p.749). Moreover, they also refrain from exposing marital affairs to the clergy for fear of bringing shame to the family (Beaulaurier et al., 2007, p.750). Similarly, they think that sharing their struggles with the police will attract ridicule. Additionally, the historical indifference from law enforcement discourages older victims from reporting IPV cases (Beaulaurier et al., 2007, p.751). Lastly, unavailability or inaccessibility of community resources is also an external barrier to seeking help (Beaulaurier et al., 2007, p.752)

In another article titled “Intimate Partner Violence in Older Women,” the authors document the statistics of gender-based violence involving older women. The authors define “older women” as those with 65 years and above (Bonomi et al., 2007, p. 34). Older women, like their younger counterparts, face domestic abuse in their marriages. However, literature about the nature, prevalence, and severity of these incidences among this cohort was sparse when the study was carried. According to the findings, 26.5% of women interviewed had encountered domestic violence at one point in their lives (Bonomi et al., 2007, p. 34). The majority of this violence was non-physical, although sexual and physical abuse was common among these (Bonomi et al., 2007, p. 37). The non-violent abuse was mostly psychological involving threats and unwarranted control (Bonomi et al., 2007, p. 38). The results of the prevalence of domestic abuse among this cohort are consistent with that in younger women, meaning that issues that precipitate this violence are present in all marriages regardless of how long the two partners have stayed together.

Besides the prevalence statistics presented in this report, the authors indicate that older women received repeated abuse from their spouses. Some women reported encountering more than 20 cases of physical abuse or psychological mistreatment from their intimate partners. Women who have had more than one intimate partner in their lifetime reported more episodes of IPV than those with only one partner throughout their married lives. The researchers classified the severity of IPV as none, slight, moderate and extreme (Bonomi et al., 2007, p. 39). Most respondents revealed that the abuse they received from their partners was moderately severe especially for threats and physical abuse. The authors, however, disclaim that cognitive degeneration and the time-lapse may have a limitation on the victims’ classification of abuse severity (Bonomi et al., 2007, p. 39).

Minority women in Canada face disproportionately more incidences of IPV than French or English speaking, educated, and socio-economically stable women (Barrett & St. Pierre, 2011, p. 59). Some of these minority women groups are South Asian immigrants and Aboriginals.   Regardless of the prevalence of domestic violence among these minority women, research shows that help-seeking behaviour is observable both in formal and informal avenues (Barrett & St. Pierre, 2011, p. 61). Professional counselling is one of the formal avenues where abused victims seek help. It means, therefore, that methods to ensure the safety of victims are essential in psychological service delivery. Riel et al. (2014) find that community support, mandatory reporting, personal commitments by the alleged aggressor, and organizing for specific aid for the victims are the major ways of ensuring the safety of women seeking psychological counselling (p. 478).

The articles reviewed are informative on the subject of intimate partner violence. While the majority of authors do not reveal the limitations of their reports or suggest areas for future research, Barrett and St. Pierre (2007),  cite that the quantitative nature of their study does allow for the examination of why disparities exist in seeking formal support for women across the social-economic spectrum (p. 64). In the same vein, Beaulaurier et al. (2007) lament that their study could not explore concepts not deduced from the respondents' comments. In addition to these limitations, it is recommended that researchers continue studying the evolving nature of IPV in the wake of emerging issues like women empowerment, global pandemics, and social media technology.


Defining IPV begins with describing violence and discussing it in the context of marital or intimate relationships. Scholarly evidence on this matter is vast, although common trends are observable in the study of prevalence, effects, and interventions. It is arguable from the readings that gender-based violence affects women more than men, and that it is disproportionately high among Aboriginal, poor, minority, and immigrant women In Canada. Both formal and informal sources of help exist, although myriad factors determine the victim’s tendency to call for aid. Among older women, it is impossible to approach social sources of support for fear of the stigma that may arise from this process. Like most research, the studies reviewed above have limitations in data collection, analysis, and interpretation. The information available sets the stage for continuous research on IPV to focus on emerging issues that have a potential impact on the prevalence, severity, and nature of domestic violence.