There are many different theories as to the causes of domestic violence. These include psychological theories that consider personality traits and mental characteristics of the perpetrator, as well as social theories which consider external factors in the perpetrator's environment, such as family structure, stress, social learning. As with many phenomena regarding human experience, no single approach appears to cover all cases.
Whilst there are many theories regarding what causes one individual to act violently towards an intimate partner or family member there is also growing concern around apparent intergenerational cycles of domestic violence. In Australia where it has been identified that as many as 75% of all victims of domestic violence are children Domestic violence services such as Sunnykids are beginning to focus their attention on children who have been exposed to domestic violence.
Responses that focus on children suggest that experiences throughout life influence an individuals' propensity to engage in family violence (either as a victim or as a perpetrator). Researchers supporting this theory suggest it is useful to think of three sources of domestic violence: childhood socialization, previous experiences in couple relationships during adolescence, and levels of strain in a person's current life. People who observe their parents abusing each other, or who were themselves abused may incorporate abuse into their behaviour within relationships that they establish as adults. (Kalmuss & Seltzer 1984)
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